Monday, November 3, 2008

Two Differing Opinions

Giving the recent lively exchange between myself and my good friend Ron (I do not mean that ironically – he is a good friend. If he was not, I would not have been willing to utilize quite the level of rhetoric that I did) I thought it might be useful to publish a few comments I ran across at Imonk.com. The post is titled Election Day 2008: Wine and Sheesh Party. In it, Imonk explains his discontent with McCain and his aversion to Obama. Way down the comments, I came across a very well reasoned explanation by a commentor named Kirk on why he thinks not voting is a manly-- and more importantly, a christian -- option.

I’d like to suggest that not voting is very much an option. And not just because there isn’t a candidate you are happy about. The Bible never addressed appropriate Christian responsibilities in a republic, but Jesus did say not to lord it over other people like the Gentiles do. He was offered the kingdoms of the world and he turned them down. He subverted political systems with something better and more powerful–the inbreaking of the kingdom of God.

Since God is our king, perhaps it would make sense to confine our methodology for effecting change to reliance on his power and his Spirit. I don’t trust princes or horses or chariots anyway. Shouldn’t we believe that God in his church can do more than any human being to bless this world, bring peace and care for the poor?

I’m nearer every day to deciding that I don’t want to be invested in this system at all. I don’t want worldly power, even the fairly minimal power of casting a ballot. I don’t want to be deluded into thinking that I’ve made a difference by checking a box besides someone’s name. I don’t want to be tempted to start believing that if we get just the right person into office, that suddenly it will make a difference.

A humble book recommendation: I would love to see your response to “Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting,” edited by Ted Lewis. You might find it persuasive.

Rich Mullins once said something like “Democracy is the belief that a million people are less corrupt than one. That’s not bad theology; it’s bad math.”

In this case, he is not  talking about not voting in THIS election, but about not voting ever...on principle. Of course, this puts him in very good company with millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who practice an assiduous neutrality regarding this “world system.” I can respect this approach, but I do not agree with it. It at least has a consistency that is lacking for someone who is simply fed up with this election, or who doesn't care for the current names on the ballot.

On the other hand, Michael Spencer, the Imonk himself, followed up with this comment.

I believe that not voting is a violation of the stewardship we have received as citizens of this country. It is in effect saying we don’t believe God has a common grace will or that there are any moral issues at stake. Render unto Caesar, and my fellow Americans have purchased my participation in this process with their blood. I am not a non-citizen. I am a citizen of two Kingdoms.

This is closer to my sentiment. I'm not sure that voting has the same weight as paying taxes, but at a moral level, I'm not sure it doesn't. If Jesus hadn't done his little trick with the coin in the fish's mouth, and then said his thing about rendering unto Caesar, would JW's abstain from paying taxes as a matter of neutrality? It's merely hypothetical of course -- Jesus said nary a word about voting.  

Personally, I’m still going to vote, but I will almost certainly walk out of the polling place praying, “God have mercy on us all.”

 

 

 

 

1 comment:

Wyman said...

I went to a Derek Webb concert the other day and he gave a similar opinion from the stage. He said that if you feel like voting for one of the candidates, fine, great, do that, but if you come to a place where you find you can't vote for either of them, that's fine too. Nowhere in the Bible does it mandate our participation in government, though it's not a bad thing, but if we've reached a point where we're merely trying to separate the lesser of two evils, then "it is never wise to do anything that violates your character." I thought that was an interesting perspective, especially since musicians have been so single-minded this election.