My Dilemma with the Election of 2016

Note: This article is a reflection of my own personal beliefs–not of any group or organization I am affiliated with. I do not speak for any organization or church.  I am speaking only for myself.
I still believe what I wrote in an earlier post: “Let’s not make this into some sort of litmus test. The last time I looked ‘love your neighbor’ is still the summation of the law and the prophets (Romans 13:8-10). Voting Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian is not. I just looked it up…trust me; the command to love as central to God’s rule hasn’t changed during this election cycle.”
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I am having a difficult time.

Since I turned 18 in 1975, I have always voted Republican. In the past I have even chastised those who voted third party (or who refused to vote) as voting for the opposite party.

No more.

This year I have come to understand why so many have refused to vote or have voted third party. At some point in time someone has to say “enough is enough.” I will no longer hold my nose and pull a lever.

Donald Trump has demonstrated a crassness that goes beyond political rhetoric. His cruelty toward those who question him is well documented. From attacking women based on their looks to ridiculing reporters with handicaps, Trump has showed himself not as a truthful person, but as a cruel person. He shows no respect for anyone who disagrees with him.

His insult of a war hero (McCain) was beyond the pale (“I like people who weren’t captured”).  He suggests we employ torture and even target the families (which include children) of terrorists. These actions are not only unethical but are recognized by the world as war crimes.

“And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families. They, they care about their lives. Don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.” -Donald Trump, Fox & Friends

In short, he is a bully. This is not the kind of person I want in a president.

Trump proposes a total ban on Muslim immigration and wouldn’t rule out the idea of registering Muslims in America. Need I remind us that when one curtails the religious liberty of one group it can have unintended and disastrous consequences for other groups later on?

This is not a matter of some policy differences (“Is he really conservative?”).

It is a matter of character and freedom.

One can point to pragmatics, one can say “He’s better than ______.” But that just doesn’t resonate with me anymore.

I have consistently said one must vote his or her conscience. I will not disparage anyone who seriously considers all of the alternatives and votes according to their heart-felt beliefs. But I do ask everyone to seriously look at the rhetoric of Donald Trump. Is this the person you want leading our country?

Even the choosing of Supreme Court Justices won’t sway me. After all, every election cycle I hear the same argument: “We’ll probably have justices stepping down, look at their ages! We don’t want ‘X’ appointing a justice, do we?” Well, that’s always been a mixed bag. Some justices have turned out the way we expected and some have not.

It isn’t enough for me anymore.

Some have compared Trump to King David. After all, they say, David had his faults and some of them were very serious. This is true. But David didn’t start off with those faults. They came about over the years and as a result of the corrupting influence of power.

What if you are already corrupt?

I can’t help but think of another king: Ahab.

He used his own form of eminent domain to obtain the land of one man named Naboth.

No, I won’t elect someone in the hope they will become better than they already are.

So I will go against both major parties. I will vote for third party.

Yes, Hillary Clinton may win.

But a third party might garner enough votes to eventually break the two party system that has been running our country for far too long.

Lincoln and the Republicans broke the two party system of the Whigs and Democrats. It won’t happen all at once, but it can begin to happen. It certainly won’t happen if we keep believing the rhetoric of the two parties in power.

I will not accept the accusation that I elected Hillary Clinton, because I will vote for someone other than Trump. That is a logical fallacy called moral equivalency.  To buy into that line of reasoning and vote for Trump means, then, I will have to take responsibility for  everything done under his administration.

That is something I will not do.

I am often guilty of rebutting immediately–and sometimes without careful reflection. This usually leads to a lot of editing after the fact–or a total deletion of my comments. So, I would ask you to be better than me in this regard (I’m working on it, really).

Before your respond. Wait. Think through what I’ve written. Try to approach it from the outside, as someone who doesn’t have “skin in the game” so to speak. Perhaps you will still disagree with me, and that’s OK if you do.

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Note: I realize many good Christian folks will vote for Donald Trump in this election cycle. Many good Christian folks will vote for Hillary Clinton, too. They will have a variety of reasons behind their votes.
I first ask that people do not question the Christianity of those who vote differently. My only request is that you seriously think through all of the ramifications and vote according to what you believe is best for God’s kingdom–not necessarily what is “best for the country”.  If you feel compelled to vote for Trump, then do so. If you feel compelled to vote for Hillary, vote for her. If you choose Johnson or Stein then vote without remorse! But please vote after thinking it through. Do not vote along party lines or out of fear. Vote for who you think best demonstrates God’s will for the world.
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Week thirty: Freedom in Christ

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

 Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 30
    • Noon: Psalm 82
    • Vespers: Psalm 119:73-80
    • Night: Psalm 144
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: Galatians 4:8-20
    • Tuesday: Galatians 4:21-31
    • Wednesday: Galatians 5:1-26
    • Thursday: Galatians 6:1-18
    • Friday: The book of Galatians in one sitting
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Create your own practice this week…

 

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A choice of conscience: this Christian’s choices…

To my Christian friends: I don’t know for whom you plan on voting. I am not going to tell you how to vote nor will I condemn you for your vote (or if you choose not to vote). You must live according to your conscience. (I don’t have a problem in telling people who I will not vote for, but that’s my decision to make, right?)

But here is one thing I ask that you consider: please do not make this about fear.

America will one day fall–as do ALL kingdoms and governments.

We can’t prevent that inevitability.

No candidate is the messiah and no candidate is really the anti-christ (I’m not a dispensationalist so I don’t go for those categories). I would add no Supreme Court justice nomination is the messiah or anti-christ either.

Yes, it is possible one candidate may cause more damage than another (relatively speaking). But as followers of Christ, should we put so much trust in political parties or candidates? Should we allow ourselves to listen to fear?

Let’s not put too much faith in candidates or parties and let’s not give too much credibility to fear. Let’s not attack those who disagree with our choices of candidates. (Doesn’t mean you can’t explain why you are for or against a particular candidate).

You are still my brother/sister whether you agree or disagree with me or disagree with my vote (or lack of it). Vote your conscience (or if you cannot vote according to your conscience, do not vote). That is sufficient and you should not be denounced, ridiculed, or chastised by a choice determined by your conscience.

Let’s not make this into some sort of litmus test. The last time I looked “love your neighbor” is still the summation of the “law and the prophets” (Romans 13:8-10). Voting Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian is not. I just looked it up…trust me; the command to love as central to God’s rule hasn’t changed during this election cycle.

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Week Twenty-nine: The only Gospel

 Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

 Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 29
    • Noon: Psalm 81
    • Vespers: Psalm 119:65-72
    • Night: Psalm 143
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: Galatians 1:1-10
    • Tuesday: Galatians 1:11-2:10
    • Wednesday: Galatians 2:11-21
    • Thursday: Galatians 3:1-25
    • Friday: Galatians 3:26-4:7
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

 Practice

Take a moment this week to reflect on your entire reading of Galatians thus far. What are the (tentative) practical implications of this letter from Paul thus far?

 Paul is addressing a particular problem and he isn’t just providing some intellectual discussion or trying to engage people in esoteric knowledge. What does the point seem to be thus far?

 What similar problems do we face in North America (or wherever you live) today?

What will your practice be this week after reading these passages?

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Week Twenty-eight: In the Spirit

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

 Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 28
    • Noon: Psalm 80
    • Vespers: Psalm 119:57-64
    • Night: Psalm 142
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: Romans 7:7-25
    • Tuesday: Romans 8:1-17
    • Wednesday: Romans 8:18-39
    • Thursday: Romans 12:1-13:14
    • Friday: Romans 14:1-15:13
  • Moment of silence

 Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”
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Week Twenty-seven: Covenant justice through the faithfulness of Jesus

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 27
    • Noon: Psalm 79
    • Vespers: Psalm 119:49-56
    • Night: Psalm 141
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: Romans 3:21-31
    • Tuesday: Romans 4:1-21
    • Wednesday: Romans 5:1-11
    • Thursday: Romans 5:12-21
    • Friday: Romans 6:1-23
  • Moment of silence

Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

Practice

Consider the simple differences in translation. Many modern languages translate Romans 3:22 as “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (New International Version). However, N. T. Wright translates it thus, “God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith” (The Kingdom New Testament).

Another way to say this, “Those who trust in the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah experience God’s covenant justice.”

How are these two ideas different from each other? Does the translation make a difference? How do they inform your daily life?

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Week Twenty six: God’s Power for Salvation

Preparation

  • Recite or sing/chant Psalms 130 and 131 (I suggest you memorize these two Psalms)
  • Moment of Silence

Presence (through the Scripture)

  • Psalm reading (select from below):
    • Morning: Psalm 26
    • Noon: Psalm 78
    • Vespers: Psalm 119:41-48
    • Night: Psalm 140
  • Moment of silence
  • Scripture readings:
    • Monday: Romans 1:1-17
    • Tuesday: Romans 1:18-32
    • Wednesday: Romans 2:1-16
    • Thursday: Romans 2:17-29
    • Friday: Romans 3:1-20
  • Moment of silence

Prayers

  • Prayers of thanksgiving and petition
  • Journaling and silent reflection
  • Close with the “Lord’s Prayer”

Practice

At the end of your week, write down your own thoughts as to how these passages should be reflected in your life. What is Paul saying here? What do you believe a church divided racially (Jewish believers and Gentile believers—with the Gentiles having the “upper hand” in the situation) would think of these words by Paul? How would they seek to practice them? (For an idea turn to the end of the book—15:1-13 to see if there are any connections).

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