How I’m Voting Tomorrow

Jason Micheli —  November 3, 2014 — 6 Comments

Yeah, sorry for the tease, but I don’t think so.

With the polls closing tomorrow here’s some pastoral, Kingdom-focused wisdom from yours truly….

Every now and then I flirt with the belief that Christians should opt out of campaigns and elections, let the chads and voting booths, the empty soundbites and inane talking points lie fallow for a season.

It’s not that I don’t think certain issues are important. It’s not that I don’t think Christians should be engaged in the concerns of their given context.

It’s that I suspect a mass Christian opt-out on Election Day might be a helpful and cleansing reminder to our politicians that:

A) the means by which they engage political conversation couldn’t be more divergent from our faith convictions and

B) the notion that the teachings of Jesus fit perfectly into either party is what the Church has usually referred to as heresy. Or, even, idolatry.

After all, issues and elections may be important, but only Jesus brings the Kingdom.

jesus-our-president

And Jesus’ plan to heal the world is neither the Democratic or Republican platform                but the Church.

The extent to which that notion scares you or strikes you as naive exposes both                Jesus’ unreasonableness and your own lack of faith.

Every election year when well-meaning Christians either ask me voting advice or just post their silliness about ‘voting the bible’ on Facebook, I’m reminded of Martin Luther’s maxim that he’d rather have an effective pagan leader than an incompetent Christian at the reins of government. Since I’ve recently gotten cable once again, I’m painfully aware that the nation has its full of idiot Christians.

When it comes to me, I’ve got conservative Tea Party types in my congregation convinced that I go to sleep at night beneath a portrait of Che, Mao and Jesus arm-in-arm. And I’ve got liberal Democrats who think I’m raging right-to-lifer. There are military folks who think I’m a Mennonite in every way but name, and left-leaning activists who think my reluctance to believe in ‘rights’ language is proof I’m a backwards fascist.

Without trying to sound self-congratulatory, such ambiguity makes me, I think, a Christian.

Or at the very least, a pastor.

jesus-red-blue

As examples like Pope Benedict and Archbishop Rowan Williams point out, Christian convictions do not easily lend themselves to party affiliation despite those parties’ drooling eagerness to adopt ‘God language’ into their platforms.

Which is to say, as a follower of Jesus, you shouldn’t really care for whom I vote just as I, frankly, do not care for whom you do.

As Jesus might say, ‘render unto Caesar …’ or maybe he would say…’the law and the prophets do not hang on…’ or maybe he would say…’put away the sword…’ or how about ‘the Kingdom of God is like a tiny-not-as-significant-as-your-paid-advertising-mustard seed…or might he warn ‘you cannot serve God and Mammon…’?

Despite what all the campaign crap in the mail and the hyperbolic rhetoric on Fox News and MSNBC would suggest, the best posture for Christians on election day just might be ambivalence.

Because for Christians the word ‘election’ refers to being chosen by God to serve as a witness to others that Jesus is Lord.

For Christians, the word ‘election’ should be a reminder that we’re called to be a People within a people who embody not the Bill of Rights but the more strenuous and life-giving Sermon on the Mount.

 And the more Christians double-down on ‘election day’ and act as though life as we know it will cease to exist if ___________ [doesn’t] gets elected is but proof their faith is in the empire and not the Lordship of Christ. Jesus will continue to reign as Lord over the Earth no matter who wins our elections. Seriously, he will. Just as his Kingdom- not our empires- will continue to be the only hope for the world.

 

 

Jason Micheli

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6 responses to How I’m Voting Tomorrow

  1. Jenson argues that American politics are not really politics. Saying that if anything it’s a rule by the federal judges.

  2. An “oligarchy” of federal judges and a depoliticized collectivity and state where professional managers of affairs manipulate the masses.

  3. I really never understand this conversation. Is the point that Christians know that politics won’t bring in the kingdom of God. Well, so do most everybody who votes. Do we know our candidates and our political parties are not unambiguously good? Of course we know this, as do other thinking people. We know this about our churches as well.

    But we also know that legislation which leaves the poor in filthy, understaffed schools is horrific, and we’re honest enough with ourselves to know that even if “Christians” took over the entire school system, we too would quickly find ourselves leading very imperfect institutions. (See: history of church-run Native schools, US and Canada.) So why can’t we just say what everyone else says, that politics are not about the art of perfection, they are about eliminating the worst possibilities, as best we can, Because it would really, really matter (and did) when a Hitler is elected.

    It sounds so Haeuerwas-y, to note that politics is not Jesusy, and then to rail about how neither is the church. But it always sounds as if we’re just waiting until we come into perfection so we can do it all right. (Which I don’t see happening either.) And in the meantime some 3rd grader is wondering if anyone will fix the leaky roof above her desk. And some child standing in Indonesia is wondering if we’ll keep burning fossil fuels until her home is completely under water. That makes my decision to remain somehow above it all — or my glee in saying “a pox on both your houses” feel like not very much.

    “I don’t care how you vote” sounds like, “it doesn’t really matter.” That seems demonstrably false. I think it was Rorty who said, “Politics is what we can and need to do together.” That seems about right to me.

  4. I don’t remember the part where Hauerwas said that Jesus had no politics; or that Jesus is apolitical. In fact, he said quite the opposite.

    His point, rather, is that the subject of our politics as American Christians is continually America and not the church of Jesus Christ. That* is his point. You can’t read your theology and assume democratic presuppositions of government the way we all do from left to right; in fact, his problem is that the American form of democracy is more apolitical in our libertarian world than we are really aware of.

    • Sorry, I missed your comment Tracy. I was away for the long weekend. I don’t think politics is unimportant or without real differences made. I do think, however, its pretty obvious that Christians on both sides have invested way too much emphasis on politics as the bringer of ‘real’ change and deemphasized that the Church is its own politics. Scot McKnight nails it, I think, in his new book on the Kingdom.

  5. I really like this post. It says pretty clearly what I think is at the heart of the issue of demo vs repub. I do believe that both of the d-r groups believe they have the answer that will bring us closer to a world in which want and need of sustenance are lessened and where justice is gained for all. But we do seem to be in a world where want and need are increasing for most people. Thus, neither has achieved the end that makes this a more just world for all. I believe that the point here is that when we focus on one political party or the other in an attempt to arrive at a more just end for all through better public policy prescriptions, failure is assured. Public policy always – always – reflects one group or another getting their way in what government does in the name of people. And, the truth is that as long as we attempt to do so with parties that have such disparate views of what maximizes public good, we will fail.

    The preeminent normative systems that are very much involved in deciding on how we as individuals determine proper behavior in our daily actions (free market capitalism, nationalism and Christianity) only one system arrives at what is just in the eyes of God. I will leave it to any who care to read this note to decide which of those normative systems achieve that kind of justice. And for that matter, the one true way provides the only normative system that can replace political parties self centered ways of influencing human behavior and achieve justice.

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