Tuesday, November 2, 2010

vote. don't vote. whatever.

I posted my facebook status today thusly:

vote. don't vote. whatever.

A scandalous sentiment. I was indeed scolded by one of my FB friends, an acquaintance from elementary school who reminded me that our mothers pounded it into us to VOTE. My mother didn't pound much of anything, but I would say that she would certainly look a bit more than askance at anyone suggesting that it is OK not to vote.

I believe in engagement. I am not by any means a separatist (and the LORD said 'come on out from among them and be ye separate...) of any kind. Voting is certainly one way to engage in the life of the world we live in. It is a unique form of engagement, and a custom highly developed here in the United States.

I balk, however, when voting is considered a "sacred" duty. Although that term may not be actually used, it is the default setting for most who prize the blessing of democracy. The term may not always be used per se, but it is thought of in just this manner -- a duty that is sacred. To refuse a sacred duty is blasphemous, an outrage against God. I reckon it all depends who your god is.

This is ironic, especially when coming from some who, believing in no god, or claiming to be unsure about the nature of a god that may or may not be, yet still think that the very idea of anything being 'sacred' could have any meaning for them. Even more ironic, however, that those who, clinging firmly to a faith in a Very Particular God, would not stop to think HOW exactly would voting be sacred. If it is, it is likely not for the reasons they are thinking.

For instance, I don't believe you will find anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus encourages us to go to the polls. Nor to stay away. Democracy was simply not a category in which Jews in 1st century Palestine dealt, and Jesus was no different.

Perhaps the closest he comes is when he says to give Caesar that which belongs to Caesar -- but that's taxes. What happens when we ARE Caesar -- or our job is to vote on Caesar?

So how should we think of voting? I refer you to Jared Wilson's blog post on Voting like you are not voting.

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