How You Should Vote in 2016

Ribbon with the word 'Vote' on it

Don’t Worry IRS

When this sermon’s notes go up on the web, if the IRS has a bots that searching for “misbehaving” ministers, then this should set off its alarms since it is titled, “How You Should Vote in 2016.”

However, they…and you…don’t have to worry. I am not going to put our tax deductible status at risk by endorsing either candidate.

Now, if I thought God wanted me to…I would regardless of the implications…but I don’t think He does. I can tell you that the two main ones are both horribly flawed from a Christian perspective…and I suspect if I spent time checking out their competition…they also wouldn’t fair well from a biblical perspective.

It’s About You

Instead, this isn’t about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, it’s about you.

How you should vote, not who you should vote for.

How how you vote…and how how you participate beforehand…reflects on you.

And, I’ll be honest, this election season is sucking the life out of me…so I’m going to keep this short.

I could just skip preaching about it, but just as Paul “did not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), I will not avoid painful subjects.

Principles

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Christian Voter’s Guide Bible Study

Two studying about voting in the BibleFor church this morning I threw together a quick Bible study about voting (or not voting). Below is the result with a couple modifications based on member input (or you can download it as a PDF file). The Bible never speaks to voting, but there are plenty of principles in Scripture that can be applied to it. (Please also see “A Christian Voter’s Guide” and “A Christian Voter’s Guide (2012).”)

Do you have any suggestions for additions, improvements, or corrections? Please either comment below or contact us…I really appreciate any input you have.

Finally, you’ll notice I don’t actually tell you what each Scripture says when it comes to voting. Personally I think they are all applicable (otherwise I wouldn’t have included them), but I don’t want to tell you what to believe. Additionally, having the verses actually included in the Bible study sheet is for convenience—I encourage you to open up your Bible and read each in context. Again, I believe they are all applicable, but don’t trust me any more than you would a politician. Trust the Bible and the Holy Spirit leading your own brain instead. 🙂 [Read more…]

A Christian Voter’s Guide (2012)

Ribbon with the word 'Vote' on itBack in my original "A Christian Voter's Guide," I suggested some basic principles in deciding how to vote:

  • Vote based on your worldview
  • Some issue are so significant they almost dwarf all others
  • You should be fully convinced in your own mind
  • There is a lot at stake when it comes to the direction our country takes

I still stand by all of those (although I recommend you read the original article to better understand their individual applications).

This year, at least in my universe of Christians discussing politics, the most contentious issue is whether a Christian should vote at all. For instance, having both candidates claim to be Christians, but neither likely to actually be, for some, means we should vote "absent" on November 6, 2012. (This is not the only reason given for not voting.) [Read more…]

“We are not electing a pastor-in-chief” Comes Home to Roost

Man and ballot (and a pin on his nose)I highly recommend people take the time to read Geoffrey Botkin’s article, "Are We Electing a Pastor-in-Chief?" Like me, you may not agree with it all, but hopefully, like me, it'll be thought-provoking for you. For instance:

I believe that historians will discover that many Evangelicals who voted for Bill Clinton wanted him to lead a secular celebration and a secular revolution. They wanted a flamboyant moralist to give national legitimacy to their own moral experimentalism. They liked him because he was just Christian enough in image, but not reverently so. And so a legitimate phrase ["We're not electing a pastor-in-chief; we’re electing a commander-in-chief."] began taking on an irreverent flair.

Atheist Elementary School

One of the RSS feeds I follow is for a web site called Religion Dispatches. I will admit that I generally just read the short blurbs in the feed instead of going to the site—as a whole their pieces are on the liberal end of the spectrum and my traditional Christian hairline doesn't have much to spare. 🙂

And it did seem like the article, "Richard Dawkins' Atheist Academy of Unguided Truth" was going to be standard fare for Religion Dispatches. The title was enticing enough that I clicked through, and although I didn't want to try to read the whole thing on my iPhone I did run into this: [Read more…]

No, We Aren’t the Center of the Universe…

One of the advantages to working for Dartmouth College for a couple years was that I could attend one course free per quarter. I did not avail myself enough of that benefit, but I did take one class that reviewed motion picture portrayals of Native Americans. As you can probably imagine, much of the curriculum's focus was on negative depictions of America's indigenous population including "white savior" plot lines. If you are unfamiliar with the term "white savior," have you seen "Dances With Wolves"? Kevin Costner (as John Dunbar) is a white savior. How about "Avatar"? Sure, that movie isn't a western and the Na'vi aren't Native Americans, but Sam Worthington (as Jake Sully) is a white savior. Regardless of whether some of these films are positive in that they represent indigenous people as having more wisdom (or greater spirituality or better character) than the evil racist white man ("Dances With Wolves") or the nefarious greedy corporation ("Avatar"), a pale-skinned male of European descent ends up saving the day.

The reason this comes to mind is because today my son Mikey, his friend Chris, and I attended "The Green Lantern." If you aren't familiar with that comic book hero, one important tidbit is that the Lantern's ring chooses the wearer, not visa versa. After some initial "introduction to key characters" scenes, the three of us saw how the imminent death of another alien Green Lantern led to Ryan Reynolds (as ace pilot Hal Jordan) being selected for the honor…and responsibility…of bearing the ring. The soul-seeing piece of jewelry detected something in Jordan that even Jordan didn't know he had.
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Even Doofuses Need Jesus

After an article has formed in my mind, I try to think of a catchy title—something that will make the average person at least wonder what the piece is about (while at the same not being a bait-and-switch). As this one continues you will probably be able to guess what I intended to have in the place of "Doofuses" in the title, but it just wasn't meant to be. Although as an elementary school child I used the now-personally-banished term as a form of "jerk" (and a mild one at that), a little research on the web confirmed my fears about its origin. It was actually a bit more worrisome to find that another replacement I might have chosen also originally referred to the same body part. I'm not sure what is worse, the fact that people don't hesitate anymore to use curse words or that (even in the more "innocent" decade of the 70's) a goody-two-shoes grade schooler was unwittingly a potty-mouth.

Either way, one would have to be pretty insulated from all forms of media to not have heard of the Twitter behavior of a soon-to-be-former U.S. Representative, Anthony Weiner. What I did not expect to see in the aftermath of his reprehensible actions (both in the tweets and in the lies that followed) was someone as respectable as Dr. Albert Mohler being dragged into the conversation. Strangely enough, it too was a tweet that got some people a bit cranky with him. [Read more…]

Reacting to a Shooting

Pistol with bloodThis past Saturday a lone gunman allowed the demons in his mind to escape in the form of a deluge of bullets, starting with one into the brain of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. By the time bystanders were able to wrestle him to the ground six people had been killed (including a nine year-old girl) and fourteen more had been injured. As of writing this article, Congresswoman Giffords is holding on in intensive care, but she is not out of the woods yet. This morning President Obama and his wife held a national moment of silence for our country to corporately remember the dead, the injured, and their family and friends (who are also victims of the demented assailant).

When a tragedy happens (especially of this magnitude), people naturally want to understand how it could occur—and to have swift judgment and punishment of the perpetrator(s). Every initial indication is that Jared Lee Loughner acted alone (and that he was a psychopath with a strange brew of political beliefs), but anyone watching, reading, or hearing the news know that our predilection for blaming was instantaneously in full force. We were informed that the rhetoric of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and conservatism in general drove the shooter to target the congresswoman and spray her supporters with deathly lead. Myriad liberal talking heads, and the majority of the media, were quick to incriminate the aforementioned list—although the media often did it by (for example) "innocently" juxtaposing mentions of Sarah Palin’s map that had a gunsight over Congresswoman Giffords’ district during last November’s election with discussions of the gunman’s motivation. (When they wanted to really establish the connection they quoted Giffords herself stating that Palin’s "targeted list" could lead to violence—"When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action"1).

And depending on your political bend, you were likely either joining the condemnatory chorus or decrying how hypocritical it was that those who said not to jump to conclusions about motives when Major Nidal Malik Hasan gunned-down thirteen at Fort Hood last year now couldn’t wait for the smoke from the bullets to clear before damning various people and groups.

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A Christian Voter’s Guide

VoteThere are a good number of individuals who will find great discomfort in the title of this article. If you are a non-Christian…it may elicit fears of fundamentalists trying to elect their confederates so as to…in a nefarious conspiracy…change America into a Taliban-style Christian theocracy! Even if you are a believer, the title may be unsettling because throughout the ages the gospel has suffered at the hands of unholy amalgamations of religious and secular authority. A strong argument could be made that followers of The Way should be apolitical so as to avoid the leaven that ruins the whole loaf.

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