Voting by the Book

My wife brought up a good point in the comment section of Mr. Lee Goes to Iowa. I thought I would address it.

Voting according to scripture in America is like dating according to scripture. The institution is in direct opposition to Christian ideals. Dating consists of foreplay without sex, emotional intimacy without commitment, and in the end is practice for divorce becuase you bail out when you are no longer happy. Voting for Christian ideals under a capitalist democracy (free market with supposed Judeo/Christian values) falls short for two main reasons:

1. If you let the market determine the culture (ie. What people want and need: healthcare, schools, donations, etc.) then people, being mostly greedy, tend to hoard and not share resources: creating a society in direct opposition to Christian values.

2. If you seek to regulate the culture (ie. governmental control of health care, lack of states control, etc.) then people, being mostly lazy, take advantage of the system draining it of progress and personal change: creating a society in direct opposition to Christian values.

Once again I will be labeled a idealistic Judeo/Christian socialist, but I am also a realist. I believe that we need to vote based on at least a three-tiered system based on:

1. Efficacy
2. Our Values
3. Change

Our values must be primary, but when it is not efficacious to do so we must reexamine. For example: if I am pro-life, but there is no pro-life candidate, or the pro-life candidate is so polarizing as to not be able to get a pro-life judge nominated (Ron Paul), then it would be foolish for me to vote for a candidate that works for the “pro-life” party or one that is pro-life but is impotent to actually accomplish what I would vote them in for. Or as Vicky clearly points out, the pro-life candidate actually promotes a international policy that kills more babies than a non pro-lifer would (like Bush).

Now, what are the next set of issues that we believe in. Well the Bible clearly warns us not to favor the rich while ignoring the poor (I say warn, James basically says your not a Christian if you do this). The Bible gives us many examples of taking care of the poor which we would consider enabling. This is where voting according to ideals hits a major roadblock. A government needs to take into consideration the issue of enabling, even when Jesus did not (yeah, I just wrote that, but it’s true). What do we do?

We walk the thin line. We screw up. But ultimately we need to realize that our government will not save people. Living more environmentally sustainable lives will not save a world that, as much as Brian McLaren dislikes, God will create a new version of. The gospel will save people, and as much as we are called to seek the good of the societies we live in, the gospel will not save those societies in this life. Jesus will create a new heavens and new earth where people from every tongue tribe and nation will live in the greatest government ever: a theocracy led by a good God who dwells with his people forever. Can I vote for that?

matt

NOTE: The comments on this post have been discombobulated due to a time change I made on the blog. Even I am not sure what posts are responding to what anymore. I would advise that future comments should specifically address a person, and their comment.

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10 Responses

  1. Yes, our government can’t save people. Governments were not designed to do so. In God’s societal structure, governement exists for the *protection* of its people. *Provision* falls to the economic institutions, and caretaking and saving fall to the family and the religious system. A good government should get out of the way of both families and churches and allow them to take up the burden of caretaking and saving. But each of the four institutions has a clearly defined role that it alone serves better than the others do.

    And I’m sorry guys, but other country’s babies, in the world system, are there own government’s problem. Our government has no responsibility to them (even though we, as people, do). Our foreign policy operates under the assumption, right or not, that we can remove barriers to other’s self-determination. But this is basically extra-curricular for our or any other governement. You can choose to see that as extremely benevolent, or extremely greedy and controlling, when the truth is it is probably both.

  2. Sorry to do this Adam, but you left it out there.

    “And I’m sorry guys, but other country’s babies, in the world system, are there own government’s problem.”

    Well then, it is a good thing that you were not foreign policy director while German’s were killing thousands of babies that were that “government’s problem”. But I’m sure you would say that enough were being killed to produce our action. So what’s the number? How many babies have to be killed for us to get involved? 10,000? 50,000? 100,000?

  3. Ouch, matt. It’s a good thing you guys have thicker skin than I do. Just a thought:

    Adam, from an international political view even if we take the responsibility of us as Christians out of the equation- I would argue there are grave political dangers of how we treat the marginalized throughout the world. Again I don’t know the answer but every time we step back from providing where we can more hatred grows.

    In every society when the marginalized have had enough there is an uprising and eventually the proletariat will fall. As our global community becomes more and more the society we function within we must be weary of any candidate who does not have the credentials to manage this society well, not just in our eyes but in the worlds.

  4. No Matt, purely as a function of the US government, there was no burden to act in WWII. When a.) the people of the US willed to act because they themselves were moved, b.) when our allies in Europe could no longer contain Germany, and c.) the direct interests of the US as related to the protection of its citizens and interests abroad…all meant action was finally appropriate.

    A government is amoral…that is, it is without personality or will. It is the agglomeration of its people. It has no responsibility to anyone outside that agglomeration. Once the people will to act, then it has the responsibility and authority to do so. It is the role of the church to act os the conscience of the society and convince the people to act when appropriate.

    Your politics gripe on the one hand when the US intervenes, but then complain when we don’t intervene enough.

    Vicky – international goodwill is non-existent. No matter how much a country does, no matter how much money is given, it will still never be enough. Goodwill for the US was high during the 90s, in 93 when the Trade Centers were attacked, in 97 when the USS Cole was attacked, and when the bulk of the 9/11 attacks were planned. Will we ever do better than Bill Clinton for international goodwill? I doubt it, and I don’t think it will even matter.

    Goodwill is not an end in itself, and should not be tried for. The people of a country should demand right action, and if that happens to produce goodwill, great. If not, right action was taken.

    Sometimes war is right action. Sometimes it is not. But mere appeasement is often worse than war.

  5. We’ve been slow at work lately, I’ve had lots of time to comment. Gotta love the financial industry right now.

    Flip through the pictures on this story. Our brothers and sisters, poor, dead, children. Is this not a part of our call as Christians in this country to use our political influence (which is quite heavy) to push for life throughout the world!!!

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/01/03/kenya.violence/index.html

  6. Sorry for the comments being out of whack. I was trying to fix the time on the blog, and it completely jacked up the order of these comments.

  7. My point exactly….. Where is Huckabee??? Where is the concern from the traditionally Christian party. Maybe everything spiritual isn’t on the right.

    http://savedarfur.org/page/content/voteredu

    Seriously last comment on this, I’m done.

  8. Vicky…I know you and I agree on much more than we disagree about this issue. You are right to say that we must act to relieve the suffering of those elsewhere in the world. I am saying though that governmental channels, as currently operating, are not the best way, and in fact are so poorly stewarded as to amount to wastefulness and sin.

    Foreign aid? A joke. Our tax revenues flushed down the drain. Even should we give more, the world community would still scoff.

    Diplomacy? Only effective when you can count on the honor and truthfulness and motivations of all parties. Since our country is not always honorable and truthful, how then can we rely on anyone else to be so?

    Good will? Read any European author from 100 years ago. What did they think of the US then? That we were arrogane, too wealthy, immature, uncultured. Nothing has changed. Even Chesterton had a similar bias against the US. Muslims have been at war with the West for centuries. Do we really think that by giving them more money, that they will despise us less?

    Unfortunately, these are the main alternatives out there right now. Any candidate will go the these three things as his or her method of “change”. They will lead to no change.

    Real radical change, in my opinion, happens through the benevloent and responsible actions of the private sector. Churches being planted. Relief agencies and mission orgs going where the need is. The Gospel being introduced in the leadership stream so that self-determination and ethical decision-making becomes possible. On an economic level…major tax breaks for corporations that offer microloans to develop indigenous industries in poor countries. Business leaders that encourage education and accesibility, knowing the developing new markerts leads to a greater economy and more wealth for everyone, not just profit for a few. Etc. I am sure there is more to be said.

    So Matt, now that you are a socialist, what do you recommend?

  9. “benevloent and responsible actions of the private sector”

    Perhaps more of an idealistic statement than your previous idealistic statement, “government is amoral”.

    I do not have a recommendation. The purpose of this post was to discuss the dilemma of voting according to scripture.

    For clarification, I am a socialist, realist, calvinist. Therefore my ideals go through that filter. Socialism representing the greatest ideal, then realism representing how that ideal is played out within capitalism, calvinism as a reminder that all governing must be done with respect to the nature of man. Therefore I have a hard time finding common ground on more issue.

    The best way to describe me politically is to look at the Emergent Church. I am more defined by what I don’t like than what I think/know is good government.

  10. So much to say, but simply…

    Why can’t the private sector be responsible? It is the only place in the whole world that can be responsible. The government takes other people’s money…the private sector deals with what is its own…and includes the church, family, and business…all very GOOD things.

    You take a few corporate scandals as your starting point and ignore the vast majority of hard working and well meaning people in the private sector, all the while ignoring vast waste and inefficiency and corruption by governing bodies and beauracracies.

    Good times.

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