Why I’m not Voting in 2008
Here I am too early in the morning thinking about politics. I am troubled by something and I cannot seem to shake it out. I’m thinking about the upcoming presidential election and the constant bombardment of advertising that panders to Christians in an attempt to wrangle a vote from them. McCain thinks he owns that vote because of Palin on the ticket; Obama is doing his best to convince Christians that he is just as worthy of that vote. I belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world, thus I do not need to fight for the kingdoms of this world–or their kings.
I’m not voting for either one. I have never missed an election since I first became eligible to vote at 18. It has been instilled in me by politicians, teachers, parents, peers, preachers–everyone seems to think that the Christian has some necessary obligation to vote just because the Christian happens to be an American. I love how they harden us for battle by informing us of all the terrible things that will happen if we vote for this one while failing to remind us of all the terrible things that will happen if we vote for that one. We are wowed and moved by stories of those who ‘gave their lives so that you can live in a free country and vote.’ I think there is not a little midrash involved in those stories (the fella sitting in a fighting hole during the Bulge was not thinking of my voting rights). We are told hero stories, with romantic nostaligia, of the wars fought against tyranny and how voting should be considered a privilege, an honor, and the highest of all civic responsibilities. I am beginning to rethink all that and I have not missed so much as a local election in 20 years–even when I was in college.
This year I am perplexed by the candidates. I have never liked McCain or his ‘maverick’ politics–which were nothing more than his own push for power. I don’t like Obama because his liberal politics will certainly not benefit anyone in this country–except the rich, the very people he claims to despise and detest. And, to be sure, who cares about the VP. Thomas Jefferson, if I recall correctly from a book I read, considered it one of the most worthless positions in Washington. I’m not voting for McCain just because he chose Palin to be his VP running mate; I’m not voting for Obama just because he didn’t choose Hilary.
You see, politicians–as much as they claim the opposite–are interested only in the power. They are not interested in serving or leading. They are interested in followers, disciples, and power. When I vote, I become a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. When I vote, I put them in power and inflate their sense of importance or I help slake their thirst for power. When I vote I feed their hunger and thirst, not for righteousness, but for power. The Jesus way is not one of power, but crucifixion. I don’t think the power of Jesus, his rule or his reign, needs to be amplified by my participation in ‘getting the right man into the White House.’ It seems to me that only Christians who think there ‘is a right man,’ or that they will somehow benefit from ‘the right man,’ or lack the confidence that is afforded by hope in Christ are terribly concerned about who the next president will be.
The White House does not exist to advance the cause of Christ or to pray for his reign to last forever. The White House exists to serve the powers, and rulers, and principalities that govern this present darkness–the very enemy that the Christian is exhorted to take up arms against (Ephesians 6). It doesn’t mean that I hate America. It means that America is not my destiny or my salvation. I’m not free because I live here, because I freely elect leaders, or because I paying taxes on time keeps me out of jail. I am free because I belong to Jesus–regardless of who the elected power happens to be. I don’t think it is enough for a Christian to vote in an election just so that the Christian ensures her own personal liberties are protected by those in power. Power is not the protector or guardian of Christian faith and practice.
Nor do I think the cause of Christ is advanced simply because the right man, supported by the right people in congress, nominates the right person to sit on the bench of some court. Humans do not dispense justice; they hand down judgments. Judgments are not always justice, nor are they always right. And how can humans make those sort of choices anyhow? The ‘right people’ have, in the eyes of all those who elect them and nominate them, always been on the benches of our courts. ‘The right person’ is a terribly subjective idea. My idea of the ‘right person’ is not anything like social liberal’s idea of the ‘right person.’ So who’s to say? My particular choice is not necessarily God’s particular choice and Scripture is rather clear that it is only his choice that matters. (His choice of leadership is always Jesus, btw.)
I’m not saying there is not truth. On the contrary: there is. What I am saying is that The Truth is not man’s truth or man’s idea of truth. Furthermore, Jesus does not need ‘the right people’ in order to accomplish his purposes on this earth. Rome thought Herod was ‘the right man’ for the job back in his day. Jesus’ response to Herod was something like, ‘You go and tell that fox that I will do what I want to do, on my time-table, and he will neither hinder or enhance my work.’ In other words, Jesus has his own agenda that has nothing to do with who is or is not in power. Jesus has only one agenda: His own. We can neither stop it nor start it. I sometimes wonder if we even participate in it.
I think I have more to say on this, but I’ll end with one more thought. You see, I’ve been reading Psalm 61 this morning which is a decidedly political Psalm. He talks about the Lord ‘increasing the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations.’ He talks about the king being ‘enthroned in God’s presence forever.’ But this is not ordinary king, I think, because even this king says, “I long to dwell in your tent forever, and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” He also wrote, “Then I will ever sing in praise of yoru name…” This king, David, knew didn’t he: Flesh cannot reign forever. David knew the true King and prayed that God would increase his reign.
You see, I think I can afford to skip this election because I am not putting my hope in politicians. I am not putting my hope in the supreme court or those who sit on the benches. (Would it be the worst thing in the world if Christians in America all of a sudden started losing rights they now enjoy here in America? Have we proven more faithful to God because we possess those rights? I think not.) My hope is not in the White House. (I think too many theologians with bad theology have the ears of politicians now and it has cost the world a great deal of time, money, and life.) I am not putting my hope in the sort of king who will not be ‘enthroned forever.’ (The same arguments for why I should elect someone every four years are spoken every four years and NOTHING ever changes. NOTHING. Has anyone ever noticed this?) Frankly, I’m not putting my hope in people who have nothing in mind but their own power, their own ambition, their own prestige. I’m not putting my hope or trust in anyone who thinks they can alter human history and desires to do it. Nor am I trusting anyone who thinks he can undo 200 years of human corruption in a matter of four years. Both of those ego-maniacs think they can; I’d have more respect if they admitted that the odds were not in their favor at all.
Our help is not in politicians.
Our refuge is not in politicians.
Our power is not in politicians.
Our worship is not of politicians.
Our dwelling is not with politicians.
Our prayers are not answer by politicians.
Our protection is not from politicians.
Our hope is not because of politicians.
Besides, according to the Scripture, I am an alien and a stranger in this land. Perhaps I don’t even possess voting rights after all. I pray that God’s will be done, I just think this year I am going to let it be done with regard to politicians instead of being so anxious to accomplish it for him. This year, I am going to trust that “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation…” (Daniel 4:34, 6:26, 7:27). And that will be enough.
Semper Deo Gloria!
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