HOW SHOULD A CHRISTIAN VOTE? — PART 1

“Christ as King of Kings”. A Russian icon from Murom (1690) (from here)

Introducing The Topic

What is this post about? Well, Doug had a suggestion.

Hey.. I have a suggestion. You mention quite often about leaving the man alone (author’s note: that is, President Trump) and come to grips with the issues instead. I do not in the least believe the two can morally or ethically be separated.. but consider a post of the issues alone for discussion. I’m not suggesting any sort of grand debate.. but I would be willing to share opinion on issues alone. (from here)

Why Do Christians Have To Be Involved In Politics?

Why do I think we should strive to focus on the issues instead of a person? Well, we will eventually get to that subject, but first let’s talk about why Christians have to be involved in politics. Politics is a rather gruesome subject.

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made. — John Godfrey Saxe (from here)

What is the problem with lawmaking? To make laws, we have to negotiate and make compromises with each other. Because we are sinful, some of the compromises don’t garner much respect. The United States Constitution contained a notorious example. That document implicitly recognized that State governments could maintain the institution of slavery. Until it was amended after the Civil War, the Constitution indirectly mentioned slavery twice.

  • Article 1, Section 2 does not use the word slave, but it effectively required that when Representatives and direct Taxes were apportioned, slaves would be counted a three fifths of a person.
  • Article 1, Section 9 allowed the States now existing to admit any persons they thought proper to admit until 1808. That included slaves, of course

Why? Constitutional Topic: Slavery provides a good explanation of how early Americans regarded slavery. Consider this excerpt.

By the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, slavery in the United States was a grim reality. In the census of 1790, there were slaves counted in nearly every state, with only Massachusetts and the “districts” of Vermont and Maine, being the only exceptions. In the entire country 3.8 million people were counted, 700,000 of them, or 18 percent, were slaves. In South Carolina, 43 percent of the population was slave. In Maryland 32 percent, and in North Carolina 26 percent. Virginia, with the largest slave population of almost 300,000, had 39 percent of its population made up of slaves. (from here)

When that many people are enslaved, there is no easy solution. Suddenly freeing a bunch of people who have never been taught how to be responsible for themselves could easily lead to economic and social chaos and misery (Look up what happened during Reconstruction after the Civil War.). Moreover, the prevailing opinion among most whites was that blacks were innately inferior. So lots of people were honestly afraid blacks could not  properly be taught how to be responsible for themselves. So even the whites who detested slavery understood it did little good to castigate slave owners. Instead, they worked to devise compromises that facilitated a long term strategy to free the slaves.

Realizing that slavery made little economic sense, instead of trying to prohibit slavery, which would have made the ratification of the Constitution impossible, they included a provision in the Constitution to prohibit the importation of further slaves. That is, instead of focusing on the problem, they focused on the solution (see ARE YOU FOCUSING ON THE PROBLEM OR THE SOLUTION?). They strove to make the Constitution better than it might otherwise had been.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we prove our love for Him by obeying His commands. When our government does not demand that we do something contrary to God’s commands, that includes obeying our government (see Romans 13:1-7). When we can make our government better, does it make any sense to believe that Jesus would want us to leave the operation of government to non-Christians? No. Of course not.

Still have doubts that Christians need to be involved? In God and Government, Pastor Tim Crater wrote the following.

God and Government
Tim Crater, Feb. 2000

During my years in Washington I’ve encountered a peculiar notion among evangelicals about government and the work of government, called “politics”: Government is a nuisance, and politics is dirty, beneath the concern of the children of God. To be involved with it is to devote precious time and energy to re-arranging chairs on the Titanic. Now, aside from any particular political agenda or issue, the Bible is clear–Government is of God. It is as much a God-ordained institution as marriage and the family, both of which, at times, can lapse into unpleasant and dreadful conditions and yet we don’t forsake and dismiss them with the cavalier attitude we do with government. We try to restore them. (continued here)

What’s next? Not sure. I am still thinking about this one.

The oldest surviving panel icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century, showing the appearance of Jesus that is still immediately recognized today. (from here)

17 thoughts on “HOW SHOULD A CHRISTIAN VOTE? — PART 1

  1. Archbishop Chaput’s two books: Render Unto Caesar and Strangers in a Strange land touch on Catholic involvement in politics. The major problem with American politics is that both sides placate to Christian beliefs while attempting to slide under other issues that do not hold Christian values. A Christian has to look at the issues and candidates and do the best that they can, the problem is that in politics there’s usually no clear Christian candidate, but that doesn’t mean that, we, as Christians, shouldn’t go into the political realm and lose our identity as followers of Christ.

    Like

    1. Agreed.

      How did we get into the situation where there is not Christian candidate.
      1. We have allowed the government grow beyond all bounds. If we had a limited government, there would not be so many issues that we have to consider when we vote. That would make it much easier to distinguish which candidate is compatible with Christian values.
      2. Many Christians are decidedly unserious about Christianity. We have plenty of otherwise literate people who have never read, much less studied, the Bible. Hence, many Christians have done what you fear. When they go into the political realm, they sacrifice their identity as followers of Christ. They behave as Christians in name only.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent words Tom and I don’t see your writing well running dry any time soon!!!
    And just a quick aside to your last image—that is probably my most favorite icon image of Christ—I’ve written about it twice as this art teacher did use to write about such before ramping it up to write predominantly on a Christian’s view to today’s shenanigans—
    The image is located in St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, I’ve written about that amazing place as well, as it is an image of both Judgement and Grace. The face is divided into two vey distinct images of emotion—compassion and grace as well as fury and judgement—the dichotomy of our Savior—and it is the fury / judgement part Christians, as well as non Christians, simply do not like to consider nor come to terms with as their image of Jesus should be only loving, accepting and benevolent…hence much of our troubles today…..

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Sorry? Why? I included the picture.

          Art is powerful because it reaches at a gut level and gets our attention. Your explanation just helps people to look at that picture more closely and understand what they are seeing.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The necessary parsing of politics is part of the responsibility of dutiful citizens. Even if you’re not directly involved by being in office, it’s just as important to be educated on issues, pay attention to what’s going on at all levels of government and to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. I believe that is what God intended.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is rationally impossible to separate the man from the issues.

    The Founding Fathers make that clear and so does the Bible.

    We are led best by upright, responsible people who are guided by their moral compass.

    And since Christians are ordinary human beings, asking “How should Christians vote?” is a pretty stupid, insulting question.

    Good and evil affect everyone.

    Like

  5. I vote for leaders who support policies that are most likely to implement the direction I want our nation to go.
    That’s not necessarily the most Christian person.
    For example, I believe Carter was a very sincere, well intentioned, Christian person.
    He was probably a better Christian in the purest sense, than Reagan.
    But Reagan was a much better leader.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reagan was definitely the better leader. Kind of odd, considering Carter was portrayed as a military officer and Reagan as an actor.

      Character matters, but that does not mean the man we think the best man is always the right man for the job. Since we are not especially adept at selecting the best man anyway, there is a point when it is not especially relevant. We can only evaluate words and deeds, not hearts.

      Like

  6. If I had to try to try to explain the history slavery in the USA to a bunch of kindergarten kids in one sentence, it would be this explanation.

    It is harder to clean up a mess than making a mess.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

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