It never fails. It seems I can’t go anywhere, Internet or otherwise, without hearing some sort of political remark–despite being almost two years removed from an election season. And 95% of the time, an argument ensues between two people about whom Jesus would vote for. The liberal person states that Jesus would certainly vote Democrat, the party that promotes social justice and seeks to aid the poor. The conservative, of course, says that Jesus would vote Republican, the party that touts family values, protects the unborn and encourages personal responsibility.
Countless blog posts (and their comment sections) have been dedicated to this topic. Writers going ’round and ’round about which political party, candidate and policy is most Christian. Pastors both fundamental and progressive taking to their pulpits to make their case for Jesus supporting their favorite legislation. It’s all so very…pointless.
Everyone engaged in these discussions has apparently forgotten one critical fact: Kings don’t vote.
Honestly. If we really believe Jesus is the King of kings, the Lord of all creation, the ultimate Judge of the living and the dead, and the rightful Ruler of mankind, why would he vote to put anyone else in power over his people?
Answer: He wouldn’t. The very nature of monarchy is that it’s absolute. Kings appoint; they don’t elect.
Here’s another random factoid: Nothing in the Bible states how, or for whom, or even whether Christians should vote. Zilch. Nada. Voting didn’t exist for most (if any) of the people who lived in Biblical times. Sure, the Apostle Paul said believers should pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and that “the authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). But there’s no instruction or even an expectation for Christians to select their civic leaders.
In fact, Paul is pretty emphatic on the point that God Himself establishes all governing authorities. If that’s indeed true, then votes don’t count. And if that’s true, then Obama is in the White House not because any American elected him, but because God wants him there–for better or worse. And before anyone starts foaming at the mouth, let me remind him or her that Paul wrote during the time of Nero. You know, that guy who illuminated the streets of Rome with the burning corpses of Christians. That was his governing authority.
Scandalous, I know.
But what really matters in my book is what Jesus had to say about governing authorities:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28).
“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Sounds to me like Caesar and God are into different stuff. And, surprisingly, Jesus doesn’t seem terribly concerned in this passage–or any other–about who is sitting as Head of State. The only kingdom he is concerned about is the Kingdom of God.
The Bible makes it plain that God originally intended for His followers to have only one ruler: Him. In 1 Samuel 8, we see the Israelites asking for a human king to lead them. God says to Samuel,
“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.”
Most of us know how this story ends. Saul ends up disobeying God. David comes along and gives the crown a fair shake, except that his hands end up so bloody from decades of war that God forbids him to build His temple. Solomon, David’s son and successor, builds the temple, but he and, by extension, much of Israel are lead astray by false religions. The kingly record from there only deteriorates. Sure, Israel had a couple of other godly monarchs after that, but they are far outweighed by the bad apples. (Ahab, anyone?) The Israelites eventually find themselves in exile–and by the time Jesus comes along, under occupation by the Romans.
I believe the only reason God allows us to have human governing authorities is to show us how horribly incompetent we are at ruling ourselves. And, one day, Jesus is going to return to earth, put an end to all the madness, and set up his throne.
Yet I hear countless Christian leaders insist that Jesus would have us elect one candidate over another in order to “turn this ship of state around.” But seeing how our leaders, from either party, keep sliding further and further into corruption, I find the whole notion laughably absurd. Sure, we could possibly elect someone who is a true follower of Christ–if we ignore Christ’s whole ‘do not seek earthly authority’ sentiment. But no single person in the White House, Democrat or Republican, is going to write any policy that will return our nation to “godly values.” It’s impossible. Godly values don’t come from policy. They come from the transformation of hearts, which can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit.
Want to see America turn back to Christ? Get on your knees and pray. Pray first for God to change your own heart, because that’s how revival really starts. Then pray for the Holy Spirit to help you live up to Christ’s commands to love others and preach the gospel. Pray that hearts will become receptive to the message. Then get up and live it out. Live as a person of humility and integrity. Reach out to the loveless and unlovable. Live at peace with all men. Seek to build the Kingdom of God in your community through the Spirit. If you want to vote, please vote. It’s a good civic practice. But understand that the most you can hope to achieve on that front is improved foreign relations and (maybe) a decent piece of legislation.
Just, for heaven’s sake, stop assigning Jesus a voting record. Kings don’t vote.
Well m’dear, I think you’ve just hit this one clean out of the park! I can’t wait to try it on the next one of mine that starts perpetuating that little meme: should be fun!
Thanks! Good to see you’re still around, JC. 🙂
Always read your posts; don’t always have anything to say 🙂
You are, of course, correct in your essay.
The thing that bothers me most is the fact that Paul Weyrich (now deceased) in the late 1970s inspired the Republican Party to use the Bible and the Christian faith as a cynical political tool. As the old teenage girl lament goes: “I was used!!!” The church has been bedded down and used. The problem is that the entire Republican Party jumped on that “use the church” bandwagon, spread it to every corner of the nation, and persists powerfully in doing so now, even having taken over the largest protestant denomination in the United States.
Once upon a time, I just prayed, read my Bible, went to church, and cared about helping the “least of these.” Nowadays, because of my beliefs, I live in a Tennessee world where most people formally define me as an “enemy of God.” People write letters to the editorial page of my local newspaper to inform everyone that they are buying more guns and ammunition so they will be properly stocked (when the time comes) to shoot liberals, progressives, unbelievers, and other enemies of God. The Tennessee General Assembly is filled nearly to the brim with legislators who have this mindset, and one scary bill after another passes through the legislative process—and some actually get passed.
So, yes. Most likely, the Holy Trinity is neither Republican nor Democrat and has no need to be because they are in charge. They are not the problem. The problem consists of the millions upon millions upon millions, upon millions, upon millions of Americans who, convinced by the Republican Party, regard their fellow Americans as “enemies of God. We know about that from world history, and we should not be naive enough to think that human nature would be any different here: “The enemies of God must be destroyed.” It is really a very short step in the human mind from here to there: