This is in response to the post at Caffeinated Thoughts by Pastor Don Green entitled, “The Gospel Alternative for This Election“. Green is advocating sitting out this election and not voting, essentially because Mormonism is a cult and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.
Here are his points, and my reply:
- If we vote for a Mormon, we compromise the truth for political expedience: “It is showing that it will even gloss over Mormonism to achieve political ambitions. How far we have fallen.”
Reply: This position implies that the support for someone is an endorsement of everything the person stands for. However, this is simply not true. We are supposed to be salt and light to this world, and we can only do this by speaking out for what we know to be good and right (Matthew 5: 13-16). If we make perfect the enemy of the good by insisting that we can only support something that we agree with 100%, how can we say that we are either perfect or good? Effectively, by choosing not to support the good, we have become evil. The refusal to support the good because it is not perfect was the same fallacy that pacifists fell into during World War 2, and many of those people claimed to be Christians. However, as George Orwell pointed out at the time, given Hitler’s manifest evil, to be a pacifist or to be neutral was to effectively give support for Hitler. By not choosing, Green is making a choice, but the choice is not for any good that can be identified.
- If we vote at all, we show a lack of trust in God, because God appoints leaders: “Christians should look to the future with confidence because they know God appoints world leaders (Daniel 2:21) and always works everything together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”
Reply: Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6: 26). Using the same logic that Green used to make his point, it would be a sin to sow or reap or store away in barns. We should simply sit on the sofa and watch TV, as it is all in God’s hands and he will take care of us. After all, everything works together for the good. Yet, we know that this is a wrong application of Scripture. Did God appoint Hitler and Stalin? If so, was it a sin to speak out against them? And, did everything work out together for the good for those Christians who suffered under their rules? I am not at all negating what these Scriptures say–I am only pointing out that the way Green is applying them is glib and illogical. There is a lot more to these Scriptures and to the discussion of religion and politics than Green allows, and the overwhelming weight of Scripture is towards engagement with politics and society, and not disengagement as Green implies.
- We don’t belong to this world anyways, so the political realm is none of our business: “Christians agitated about politics have lost sight of their calling. We are strangers and exiles on this earth (Hebrews 11:13), and what happens to us in this life is secondary. Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth (Philippians 3:20). Our joy is not tied to political results in this world.”
Reply: By this same logic, the Old Testament prophets were in error and preaching the wrong messages, as they all spoke to the social and political situations of the time. Instead of doing so, they should have followed Green’s “wise” counsel and only talked about eternity. Of course, Green neglects the basic Christian truth that what we and others do on this Earth has eternal consequences. If God cares about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, then doesn’t he care about the totality of our lives, and not just the eternal? In truth, God very much cares about politics and society, as it is part of the human existence. Indeed, most of the Bible is dedicated to exactly these two topics. And if God cares about society and politics this much, shouldn’t we show the same concern?
- “By withholding my vote, I am saying to non-Christians, “There is something more urgent to you than politics. Think on the eternal destiny of your soul. You are still in your sins and will soon give an account to a holy God. Repent, come to Christ, and be saved from hell and this wicked generation” (cf. Acts 2:40).”
Reply: By withholding our votes, we are saying that we do not care anything about our neighbors, except for their souls. Nearly everything that affects the human condition is governed by or affected by the political realm. Joblessness. Household finance. Rule of law. Personal freedom. Religious freedom. We can go on and on. These are important concerns to people, yet Green is saying that we should not care about their worldly concerns, and that we should instead try to lift other people’s eyes to the eternal. This position is both ridiculous, and ineffectual. Consider James 2: 15-16: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” Indeed, what good is it? How can a person who is without clothes and hungry lift his or her eyes to the eternal? Sometimes, we need to feed the body before we can have any hope of feeding the soul. Further, most people will not even let us feed their souls until we have spoken for and shown concern for their physical needs. By sitting out the election, we are saying that we do not care about our neighbors’ needs and the issues that are most pressing to them. This is not a good witness. It is also not in keeping with true faith.
- “The Bible teaches that God will hold us accountable for everything we do (Ecclesiastes 12:14). I will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be recompensed for what I do in this life (2 Corinthians 5:10). I take that seriously. In fact, it provokes reverential fear that forbids me from taking this world lightly (2 Corinthians 5:11).
In God’s providence, I have one vote in the 2012 American presidential election. In effect, it is one of the “minas” that He has given to me to use for His glory (cf. Luke 19:11-27). He will hold me accountable for how I use it.”
Reply: So, Green intends to hide his mina away rather than use it (Luke 19: 20). True, a vote for Romney might not result in a manifold return for Christians or God’s Kingdom if Romney is elected. However, it will have some return compared to the specter of an Obama re-election. What was the lord’s reply to the man who hid his mina away? “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant!” Then the lord had that mina taken from the man. American Christians are closer than they may realize to having that mina taken away–to losing the right to vote. The reason? They have not been exercising that right. They have hidden their mina away.
We have a right and a duty to be involved in the political process. By the same rationale that Green is using, a Christian should never vote in any election unless Christ himself were on the ballot, and even then he might want to sit out, as after all “God is in charge”. This effectively cedes the whole political realm to the pagans. While many Christians believe that not being involved in politics will somehow keep themselves from being sullied and keep the Church pure, if good people refuse to participate in the political process, then bad people will, and Christians will suffer the consequences.
Green’s post is therefore both absurd and irresponsible. As Christians, it is our calling to be engaged with the social and political realms. We can only ignore them at our own peril.