Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why I Won’t Tell You Who To Vote For From The Pulpit

I’d be happy to tell you who I am voting for actually.  But it will cost you some time and a cup of coffee.  If you want to hear about the issues and convictions that bring me to those votes, it will cost you even more: the price of a lunch!  But you won’t hear about my voting plans from the pulpit.  In that position, I deal with things that matter for eternity, not just this election cycle.

There is a good deal more to say about this than I will take room for here.  Instead, I will simply focus on four reasons that I won’t be telling people at Christ Covenant how to vote.

It confuses my role in the life of our people.  By the grace of God, I have been called to “shepherd the flock” of God (Acts 20:28).  That gives me a particular place in the life of each person and family to serve, teach, encourage, correct and pray for.  (See 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 2:1, 2:15).  Indeed, I will give an account before God for each of the people.  (Hebrews 13:17)  When I use that legitimate place of ministry for political ends, I believe that I have veered away from my calling.

It reduces our congregation to a “voting bloc” to be pandered to, manipulated, compromised and counted.  By my mind, this is what happened to the Focus on the Family audience in the ‘80’s.

It too easily confuses a person’s vote with their standing with God.  In performance-based churches, voting is just one more activity on the checklist of “working out our salvation.”  

It cultivates a false and idolatrous hope in the political process.  We vote as stewards of our citizenship and to be good neighbors in our community, but we cannot think that our vote is the hope for our future.  Frankly, when I look at this election in light of what I know of the Gospel, I have more cause for alarm than hope.  Our hope is in God alone.  The United States has a need larger than any candidate will ever be able to meet, and that is where I am called to keep our focus.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, my convictions – including my voting and political convictions – are deeply shaped by my faith.  That is true for everyone.  The idea that a person could hold one conviction in private and another in public is both uncalled for and unhealthy.  As a citizen, I am free to speak and participate in the process just as any other citizen is free to do.

But using my position as a pastor in that process is where the red flag goes up for me.  In the Old Testament the role and responsibility of the king, the priest and the prophet were all separated from one another.  There are many stories where that line is crossed with dire consequences.  For example, King Uzziah was struck with leprosy when he took upon himself the role of priest in II Chronicles 26:16-21.  The Founders picked up this distinction – I believe through John Calvin.  Click Here to read more. – and it became enshrined in our constitution as the First Amendment.  We refer to the principle of the Separation of Church and State, but as I said, the idea is rooted in the Old Testament.

Politics, government and public policy are all important and honorable human endeavors.  As Americans, we are afforded the rare and wonderful opportunity to be involved with them through the vote.  We should all be good stewards of that privilege by being thoughtful, prayerful, informed and active voters.  It’s a matter of being a good steward of the blessings we have, and a good neighbor to our fellow citizens.  While I’m all for being fully engaged in the discussions that we need as citizens, I will not be doing it as a pastor.  Click Here and email me if you’d like to have that coffee.

'The Best Sermon on Christianity and Politics' - Not only a good sermon, but good analysis of the sermon.  This is worth the time.

What Am I Doing When I Vote? - This is a great blog post by Kevin DeYoung that sheds light on this same matter. 

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