Exactly 40 years ago, the famed evangelical philosopher/thinker/theologian Francis Schaeffer released his most renowned work entitled: How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Had we as evangelicals followed his advice, we may not be asking the question, “How Then Shall We Vote?”
Election Day 1992
It was more picturesque than a million pixels could ever capture. The grandeur of fall was ubiquitous as I traveled the backroads. I remember the clear skies, sunlit brooks, and roadside stands of pumpkins and mums.
But, suddenly, all that beauty was eclipsed by something even more spectacular.
Bright Red. Stark White. Startling Blue. I cannot explain how that one scene can transcend decades in my memory, but every election season it returns. This year, when I can get fixated so quickly on the ugly, I return to the beauty of that majestic public square. Nestled in a little New England town, I recall the hundreds of people gathered in front of a magnificently-steepled and meticulously preserved historic church. They were there to vote. It was a local landmark of religion-turned-community polling site.
The scene moved me so much that I totally forgot about who I might vote for or what platform they were espousing. Instead, I remember wiping away tears of joy. Gladness for the privilege of living in a nation where this remarkable foundation to freedom could thrive. Where every citizen who chose to come out to vote could feel the power of opinion. It was a beautiful scene, a beautiful moment, a beautiful privilege. As I slowly drove onward, I told myself…
I will always choose to vote!
What about today? Has the ugly become so ugly and the beauty so obscured that mere association, let alone participation, makes one feel too dirty and too depraved to engage in the voting process? This year, for the very first time, I entertained the thought of not voting.
Like all of you, by now, the blogosphere alone has infiltrated the atmosphere to such an extent that I seem to be living in a fog. Bewilderment and confusion is winning this election.
None of my friends are talking much about who they are voting for. But they are all talking about who they are voting against. Some are even voting against the process by voting not to vote. Not absentee voting but absentee voter.
Should we boycott the process? What should we talk about when standing in line with our neighbors to vote? Will we battle not to conjure up thoughts of explicit details of sexual sin and greedy corruption? Why defile our souls? Is it time to separate from the process that is fueling mass talking “of the [shameful] things that they do in secret” (Eph. 5:12)?
The answer is an emphatic NO. As citizens in a republic, we have a choice to vote or not to vote. But, as believers, I postulate we have no choice. NOT to vote is not to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our culture.
The question is not IF we should vote but “How Then Shall We Vote?”
How Then Shall We Vote?
Consider the PROCESS — On my absentee ballot, I have 46 different voting options. Even if you did not feel free to cast your vote for a particular office because you view it like an endorsement, consider the other 45 opportunities to exercise your privilege to put people in office that are desiring to serve their community, state, or national government. When you enter the polling booth, STOP and thank God for the privilege that over half the world’s population do not have…to vote in a free election.
If you do not vote, you have no right to express an opinion on the outcome.
If you do not vote, you are abrogating your responsibility.
If you do not vote, you are minimizing what some of our brothers and sisters have given their lives for…including my own brother.
Consider the PLATFORM — Recently, I heard Rev. Tom Harmon say to 300 men at our Life Action Camp men’s retreat, “I could never vote for anyone who is not a friend to Israel.” Whether you agree with his foundational grid or not, he knew what issue he valued most. Do you know what issue you value most?
Pro-Life // Traditional Marriage // Supreme Court
Granted, all issues do not carry the same weight. These are heavy, heavy issues. Have you set aside time on your schedule to discover and then think through where each candidate stands on important issues? Not just Presidential candidates but all of the candidates? Every decision after this election will affect the course of your life and your children and grandchildren.
Consider the PERSON — A baffling question lingers in my mind, “How in four brief years, did we get from debating about whether we could vote for a “moral Mormon” to arguing about whether we would vote for a sexual abuser or vote for an accomplice to a sexual abuser? Vote for one who has a history of injustice in government or injustice in business? Vote for one who is willing to murder unborn children or one that murders by openly displaying anger at his brother (Matthew 5:22- 26)? We must consider the personal life not just the public life. What do you do when neither individual can be trusted? No easy answer but, for one thing, I would look with whom they are walking. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise…” (Proverbs 13:20).
Consider the PROMISES — When you leave the polling booth, do you consider God’s promises? There are so many. But at least recite these three common ones if none other:
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).
By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly (Proverbs 8:15-16).
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1).
Consider writing these references down and read them when you get in your car to return home from voting. And then recite them one more time after you turn the election results off, and go to bed in peace.
The Most Exciting Thing About This Election Is…
Christian believers who have surrendered our lives to promoting the power of the Gospel to change lives (including political leaders), and knowing that genuine revival is the means by which the Holy Spirit unleashes that power, we have incredible reason to be excited about this election!
Why? Because if there is one outcome of this election that is certain, it is this…
“God’s people will have no reason to get off their knees, but every reason to seek Him even more fervently and diligently than ever.”
How Then Shall We Vote?
. . . On our knees.
How Then Shall We Live?
. . . On our knees.