Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vote Like You Pray

(By William Cook)

After this manner therefore pray ye: ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:9-10)

How many Christians who pray this prayer will vote in November for a president who is pro-abortion, favors same-sex "civil unions,” same-sex marriage, or the erasure of any reference to God from public life? How can we pray “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and then vote in a way that sabotages the answer to that prayer? If unfaithfulness in little things says big things about us, then who we vote for is not a trivial matter.

In his recently published book, “How Would God Vote? Why the Bible Commands You to Be A Conservative,” journalist David Klinghoffer presents a lucid theological apologetic suggesting that Christians and Jews should vote for those candidates most closely aligned with Conservative values. An orthodox Jew has it more right than many Bible-believing Christians.

What I’ve just written will trigger an intense knee-jerk reaction in some by offending the widely-held notion that political debate is too “controversial” or alienates seekers. Moreover, some Church leaders tend to behave as if preaching about relevant “political” issues is unethical. What has caused the Church in America to abandon this crucial dimension of our culture, a culture she is called to speak into?

Churches avoid corporate taxation as long as they remain compliant with 401(c)(3) restrictions on political activity. Since charitable giving tax-deductibility hinges on 401(c)(3) compliance, pastors and leaders are disinclined to say or do anything that might impact the bottom line. Conformity to 401(c)(3) prohibitions coupled with the human tendency to treat what is prohibited as unethical, gradually infuses the idea that political speech is out of bounds, especially if it is partial to candidates who favor Kingdom values or are less antagonistic toward the Church’s mission.

The problem is a purely economical one, however; there shouldn’t be any culturally-relevant issue that can’t be dealt with sensitively, cogently, and in accordance with Scripture, including who might be the better candidate. As salt and light, “a city set on a hill,” the “good works” Jesus said the Church should display must include voting for the best candidate. (Matthew 5:13-16) How can we push such a critical responsibility to the periphery by ignoring it? We minimize our impact on society by voting for candidates who espouse injustice or whose policies diminish the Church. Tax implications should not be permitted to hijack the Church’s role or message in society. If a tax deduction requires us to “sell out,” then we’d better give up the benefit. Who do we trust more, God or government?

Ignorance is no excuse. Klinghoffer has a far better grasp of the Bible than many Christians. He applies solid exegetical skills blended with a thorough knowledge of Scripture and Hebrew history, to make his case. Given the embarrassing number of trendy theological fads that I’ve seen come and go during my 34 years as a Christian, why shouldn’t I examine a Jewish guy’s Theo-political perspective? At least he uses Scripture to support his position.

In Chapter 6, “Abortion: A Litmus Test,” Klinghoffer writes, “More than perhaps any other issue, abortion ought to serve as a litmus test in American Public Life, allowing us to gauge the degree to which a candidate feels comfortable with the politics of God.” Right on! Rarely will you hear this concept taught from American church pulpits.

A significant number of Church pastors and leaders only give abortion token attention on Sanctity of Life Sunday. In the 1940s, there were “unchurched” Germans who believed euthanizing Jews was okay. If the gas chamber happened to be across the street from the meeting, however, concern that preaching against the Jewish liquidation might scare a visiting euthanist away seems vapid indeed. The same goes for Abortion. Babies are being slaughtered every day in our neighborhoods and hospitals and the Church behaves as if nothing significant is going on.

Some argue that God sees all sin the same, so abortion isn’t any worse than lying, stealing, or committing adultery? The issue isn’t whether one sin is worse than another; the wages of all sin is death. The issue is the depth of societal depravity indicated by each.

If the fetus is a human being, then abortion is murder, plain and simple. And if abortion is murder, the Church must not trivialize it by supporting candidates who sanction it. Otherwise, the Church is no better than WWII Germany’s citizens who opposed the holocaust, but remained silent as Hitler’s Waffen-SS liquidated six-million Jews. If an entire group of defenseless people are being systematically murdered in our society, then poverty, education, taxes, or any other issue for that matter, becomes absurd as a primary basis for voting one way or the other.

Here’s the bottom line: Unless both candidates happen to be pro-abortion, in which case you could flip a coin, people who vote for pro-abortion candidates are complicit in the slaughter and will someday have to explain to God why they voted to perpetuate such diabolical behavior resulting in judgment on America. How significant will poverty, welfare, the economy or taxes seem when weighed in the balance against the slaughter?

If all of this sounds too complicated, allow me to offer my two simple rules for choosing a candidate:

RULE 1: If they can’t get it right on human life, they can’t be trusted to get it right on anything less important.

RULE 2: Everything else is less important.

Anyone incapable of grasping this principle is dangerously insensitive toward God’s heart, truth, and the “Thy Kingdom come” prayer.

© 2008 Seeds for Good Soil. (Revised 09 September 2008)