|“Religion and poli-tics don’t mix.” I have heard that old saw all my life. No doubt, so have you. It’s not true, of course. Religion and politics do mix, sometimes in the most awful brew. A great deal of harm has been done through the years, and in our own day, by those who claim to be on God’s side of an issue. |
But does that mean I should leave my faith convictions outside city hall, the state capitol, and Washington, D.C.? Does that mean my faith cannot inform my opinions about issues? Should I park my religious values on the sidewalk before entering the voting booth?
Of course not. If my faith impacts only the “spiritual” side of my life (whatever that means), it’s as empty as a dry well. I can no more divide myself into “religious” and “secular” than I can be in two places at once.
Yet, each person’s faith can lead him or her to various conclusions. Deeply committed Christians can honestly disagree on any number of issues.
So, as we approach election day, our faith may not prescribe who we should vote for, but it does give us a context for decision that is different from anything we will find on Fox News or MSNBC.
First, in Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul says, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one
|another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Let others attack, and snarl, and blame, and fight, and mock, and divide, and hold grudges. You and I follow a Christ who modeled a different way for us. Nothing says you and I cannot be passionate and kind at the same time. Nothing says we have to spit venom at those with whom we disagree. |
I confess to often forgetting Paul’s words myself. Other viewpoints just seem so wrong-headed, even dangerous, to me. And then I remember Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Enough said.
Second, in Revelation 11:15, John says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” In other words, there is nothing ultimate or final about the United States, or any other nation, or any political system. God alone has the last word. Call this “pie in the sky” if you want to, but it’s a belief that sustained the early church through some tough times.
Therefore, while we seek to make God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, we must remember that our country — as wonderful as it is — is not the kingdom of God. That should give us the capacity to step back and put an issue, or any election, in proper perspective. We might even find some good-natured humor in it.
So, yes, take your faith with you into the voting booth. But make sure you also carry it with you every day thereafter.