Politics 2016

An expended salmon...

An expended salmon...

I said after the political conventions that I would wait a little longer to make up my mind.

There’s still a lot of time before election day, I thought. A lot can happen between now and then. Time will clarify things.

That made sense… back in the summer.

It is now October. Election Day 2016 is a month away and a circus has come to our nation.

I find myself thinking this whole affair is occurring somewhere else. That sentiment is my soul in denial.

Remember the outlandish uniforms Muammar Gadhafi used to wear? How about the recent rants by the leader of the Philippines? He wants to be like Hitler, of all people. What about the leader of North Korea, the fellow with the bad haircut, setting off nuclear explosions and threatening annihilation? Never mind the folks blowing themselves up at wedding celebrations to kill off infidels in another country. It’s crazy stuff. But it’s always been “over there.” Until it wasn’t.

The world thinks we have lost our collective minds.

And our media outlets? They get up every morning, find out what blew up overnight—lately it has been Trump, which eases Clinton’s mind—and run their story for the day with a serious face.

 

Someone wrote on Facebook, “Is your refrigerator running? If so, I’ll vote for it.”

 

Truth? Something worthwhile? Balanced? Are any of these people trafficking in actual thought? In case you missed it, any one of them will tell you their theatrics are to garner ratings. If they get higher ratings, they sell more advertising at a larger price. If you haven’t read Seth’s blog from today, you need to. It’s here.

By my count this morning, there are fifteen stories in my Yahoo news feed about the presidential election. All fifteen castigate Donald Trump. I’m not a Trump fan, but the imbalance here is stunning. My Google news feed has six stories about the presidential election. All six are anti-Trump. I don’t even bother to go look at Fox or MSNBC, i.e. the type outlets that openly state their bias.  

The conservative magazine, “Christianity Today,” published a story by Andy Crouch, the Executive Editor. He spends three pages of print telling evangelical Believers why they should throw Mr. Trump under the bus for numerous biblical infractions. He dismisses Mrs. Clinton (and her entire party) in a paragraph. It’s a long paragraph, but my observation stands. And, the editor is correct. Neither candidate comes close to measuring up against biblical standards.

By the end of the article I felt almost hopeless. Someone wrote on Facebook, “Is your refrigerator running? If so, I’ll vote for it.”

Speaking of which, I’m amused by Facebook. Of course, amusement is one reason I check Facebook every now and then. But I ran across a vitriolic post recently from a Christian “friend” who stated that if anyone disagreed with her political and sociological assessment, her finger was poised over the un-friend button. She went ahead to state how nice it would be to get rid of all the people with whom she disagreed. If she’s serious, then before long she will have a friend count of one.

If this circus wasn’t occurring in America, I would find it fascinating. Fascinating in the awkward way a voyeur must feel looking from the outside in. Being in the midst of our democracy has become more disconcerting than I’m used to—and November 8, 2016 is approaching.

 

You didn’t really expect me to tell you how to think, did you?

 

Churchill observed, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Have you seen the clip on Facebook about voting anguish snipped from “3rd Rock from the Sun?” By Facebook’s count, it has been viewed twenty-eight million times.

I’m comforted by Churchill’s backhanded reassurance, but I’m finding this cycle of democracy a formidable test. I know there are true political followers out there—people who truly believe their candidate is the right person for the big chair in DC, but I have yet to meet one of either persuasion. All the people I’ve met who are in possession of a decided opinion are voting against the other candidate, not for their candidate. As is obvious in the news, anyone endorsing either candidate is in jeopardy.  

Now, the moment you’ve been reading for—the moment in these lines when I reveal to you whose name I will check on November 8th.

Hold your breath no longer.

I remain undecided, and the part of my soul clinging to denial continues declaring, “There is yet time. Maybe something reasonable will present itself.”

You didn’t really expect me to tell you how to think, did you?

No. You know better. I’m writing to offer a few thoughts on how I’m approaching Election Day 2016—as well as politics in general, history, nationalism, government, and social change.

 

It is profoundly hard to find God in this year’s election, thus if feels as though I’m somewhere, i.e. America, where God no longer is.

 

No doubt you have seen the video clip of Andy Stanley chiding his church for their election-year fear mongering. To those over 45 who are distraught about the election, the government, world affairs, and the economy, he says, “Knock it off! You’re scaring the children.”

Andy goes ahead to name the source of our fear: false belief, i.e. a lack of faith.

Our fears have traction in our lives because we have faith—belief—in something unworthy of our belief and unable to shoulder the weight of our needs for confidence and security. My definition of fear—adopted from Malcolm Smith—is the belief that I can find myself somewhere where God is not. It is profoundly hard to find God in this year’s election, thus if feels as though I’m somewhere, i.e. America, where God no longer is.

The temptation is to adopt a plan to bring God back to where we are, to insert Him into the political system, to reinsert Him into school, and most important of all: to have whoever is the next President carry Him with them into the oval office. If we can achieve this, then we will manage our fears. It’s a nice idea, but it is crummy theology, lousy history, poor world affairs, really shortsighted sociologically, insufficient psychologically, and abysmally inadequate to provide proper care for your soul. Apart from these things, it’s okay I suppose.

 

The last time a non-Christian was President of the United States was in 1865.

 

As Americans, especially Americans over age forty-five, it is SO tempting to have faith in the democracy we grew up with—even to associate the democracy of our past with our Christianity. It is true that our founding fathers drew heavily upon their Christian roots when drafting the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. And, Christian principles are powerful. It was shocking to us when President Obama declared that “whatever America used to be, it is not a Christian nation.” It has rattled our belief—our faith in the system—that we have gone through the election cycle leading up to November 8, 2016 and have Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump to choose from. We have to look no farther than our monthly investment report to grasp that the best and the brightest among the economic and political community who tout a successful financial recovery must surely be crossing their fingers behind their backs. You know something has gone fundamentally awry when a justice of the Supreme Court, one of the people who can’t even express approval or disapproval during the President’s State of the Union Address each January, weighs in on the election thus recusing herself from being unbiased.

Andy’s point, and the point I want to make before jumping into my own waters of thought, is that we who are followers of Jesus Christ know better than to look to economics, government, elections, the Supreme Court, our military, and the United States Constitution as reliable sources for security. Even though America is the greatest nation on Earth and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, the best of this country and our world is insufficient to carry the load of our soul’s requirements.

The last time a non-Christian was President of the United States was in 1865 (Andrew Johnson). We are accustomed to believing that someone who shares Christian values occupies the big chair in DC and that we are a Christian nation. We are also inclined in Christian circles to believe having a friend of the faith in Washington will make us secure, to believe they will adhere to Christian principle, and lead us collectively toward a Christian ideal. It is enticing to believe we can bring heaven to earth through political, economic, and governmental ends.

Friends, there is plenty of evidence throughout world history that Christianity influences governments to behave nobly toward its citizens. However, this doesn’t mean our essential goal is for a Christian to be in the White House. Such a goal is ignoble and severely shortsighted compared to our calling of faith in Jesus Christ.

 

The majority of Americans are struggling more than ever before with where to put their mark on November 8th.

 

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump claim not only Christianity but claim to be Christian. I have yet to pull my refrigerator out from the wall to look at the production plate and see if it is a Christian.

The majority of Americans, not just Christians or Republicans, are profoundly troubled by their political options for 2016. This election cycle’s presidential candidates are the most unpopular in the history of American politics. That means the majority of Americans are struggling more than ever before with where to put their mark on November 8th.

As Believers in Jesus Christ, our scriptures guide us to be engaged in society. We are instructed to pray for those in governmental leadership. We are guided to pay our taxes and be involved in the marketplace. We are instructed to go, to influence, to love, and to pray. We are supposed to do these things because we are called to be salt and light in a world that needs God’s salvation. We are expressly told we are ambassadors for Christ, meaning our true home is elsewhere and we are temporarily representing our homeland in a foreign land, i.e. this world.

We are to care about the process of our Republic form of democracy. We are to be involved. But to what end? So we can enjoy heaven on earth? Hardly. An Ambassador who abandons his homeland and joins the government of the country where he is posted is called a traitor.

No system of man is ingenious enough, robust enough, or strong enough to securely support your soul. A political system cannot provide the confidence you need to declare every moment of every day that you are secure.

Your security is so important, so essential, and so crucial that God determined He would not let anyone or anything be responsible for this need other than Himself. He goes to great lengths throughout Scripture to reinforce that nothing can separate you from Him, come to you without His knowledge, or interfere with you without His awareness and permission. His message to you is in many places throughout the Bible, but none more pointed than John 14:20: “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Take note: For anything at all to arrive on the doorstep of your soul, it first must pass through God, and through Jesus, to get to you. And when circumstances do reach you, they find you filled with Jesus. He is in you, you are in Him, you are enveloped in the omnipotence of God. Simply: You are secure. Even if the world crumbles into the sea, you are secure.

 

These are important days and who you vote for is a civic responsibility not to be taken lightly.

 

How this works out in daily living is a discussion for another day. However, you can read numerous articles I’ve written on this subject at my blog. Follow the link to the theme that suits you. You can also subscribe and whoever is in charge of the Internet these days will deliver my thoughts to your Inbox.

Today, the point I wish to make is the fact of your current, irrevocable, unalterable status as a secure family relation of God’s who cannot be separated from God. These are tumultuous and disorienting days. Make certain you digest the first sentence of this paragraph before rushing to the next.

Pay attention to what is transpiring in the world around you. These are important days and who you vote for is a civic responsibility not to be taken lightly.

This said, whoever sits in the oval office does not determine your destiny and lacks the wherewithal to either guarantee or sabotage your security. Even though the best option in the world, Washington is a poor place to invest your faith.

Your polling place is your civic duty and privilege. Your faith must be in Jesus Christ. He is the author (originator) and finisher (completer) of your faith (Heb. 12:2).

Pay attention. Be thoughtful. Discuss options. Debate. But don’t let this political climate pass without seizing the opportunity to secure the location of your soul’s investment.