Monday, November 5, 2012

A Biblical Political Philosophy

So, I have officially read every article on the Internet about the election. Most of them are saved on my jump drive. I am told they are finished writing them now, so I have adequately caught up. Someone informed me today, though, that I should not believe everything I read online, because some people are either crazy or stupid, or both. I was glad to be informed of that, otherwise this post could have been a lot different. Crisis averted.

I assure you I am neither crazy nor stupid. However, it is hard to imagine that any contribution of mine would have any affect at this juncture. Yet, I proceed nonetheless. Someone out there has to care? Otherwise why would all these people be writing and talking about it all so much?

Let me start by making a few things clear. I do not believe Barack Obama is a Muslim or born in another country. I do not believe Mitt Romney is a rich snob who doesn’t care about the poor. I do not believe Barack Obama desires to ruin the moral foundations of our country. I do not believe that Mitt Romney is going to impose a Mormon worldview on the country. I do not believe Barack Obama desires to appease our enemies and leave us in great danger. I do not believe Mitt Romney is a liar or a fool. I do not believe Barack Obama is a Socialist. I do not believe that Mitt Romney is a man of questionable or inconsistent character. I do not believe Barack Obama is corrupt. I do not believe Mitt Romney hates women or is indifferent to their rights.

Imagine how much time and silliness could have been saved if more people just agreed with my previous paragraph and continued on with serious and intelligent discourse? My goodness. Instead, irrelevant and unintelligent conversation has dominated the “stump”. Oh, what could have been.

But with that as introduction, hopefully people of all political affiliations can now hear me out. Especially Christians, as ultimately, this post is a plea to Evangelical Christians. They are, in the end, the only segment of the electorate to which I would claim even partial influence. Why? Because I is one. What follows is how I have approached this election, and God willing, will approach every election going forward. I hope it can be challenge and encouragement.

First, I establish prerequisites for the candidates. By this I mean, of course, that in order for me to consider a candidate at all, a few criteria have to be met. Let me warn you that it is impossible to hide my ultimate thoughts until the end, and even at this juncture, my “vote” will be revealed. I truly expect to lose many with my choice of criteria to use as “prerequisites”. Please don’t let me lose you! Even if you disagree, I am extremely serious about these, and as long as I have breath I will contend that they are not only relevant, but logical and non-negotiable to the Evangelical Christian.

First, the candidate must defend the sanctity of human life. What does that mean? Well, I have formed my definition here in large part through the influence of Ronald Sider and his book, The Scandal of Evangelical Politics. It means several things. It means that he or she defends the unborn (in addition to the mother) and supports efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion. It also means that he or she is opposed to the unnatural taking of elderly life because of someone’s definition of whether it is their time. It also means that he or she is opposed to efforts to trifle with human life in the form of genetic engineering, human cloning, or embryonic stem-cell research. It also means that he or she is proactive and vocal in reducing preventable starvation within our country and around the world. On these things, neither candidate for President is a shining star. But it is clear that Mitt Romney meets the prerequisite criteria and Barack Obama does not.

Consider the ever-sensitive abortion issue: Richard Mourdock from Indiana was the subject of much news because of his out spoken defense of unborn life, without exception, which I wrote on in my last post and explained as the coherent, biblical, pro-life worldview. He went as far as to say that even in the unfortunate case of rape, that abortion should not be allowed. And all hell broke loose, and very few who disagreed were willing to hear this simple and coherent argument explained. It is a fair question, and those of us who hold to pro-life without exceptions should be prepared to explain it. So to, though, should those who hold to pro-choice without exceptions be prepared to explain how they could justify killing a baby who is 7 months in the womb, who is perfectly healthy, in a mother who is perfectly healthy, with the husband and father around, and two other children at home. Mitt Romney has explained his stance on the tough and rare issue of abortion in the case of rape. Though I disagree with the exception, he meets my prerequisite criteria because he would support efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion. Barack Obama has never explained and justified his stance on the abortion of a perfectly healthy baby and mother with husband and father, brother and sister at home. This is quite appalling actually.

So it goes. I am NOT a one-issue voter. But applying a simple prerequisite system, using issues that, as a Christian, simply are non-negotiate by any faithful reading of Scripture and awareness of church history, I can’t even get passed the first sub-point of my first prerequisite criteria. The good news is that this means I don’t have to spend a lot of time discussing my second prerequisite criteria, namely, marriage and family. I’ll simply quote Sider: “Through federal and state legislation and constitutional amendments, we should insist on the historical definition of marriage. Vastly more important, however, is the long, tough struggle to persuade heterosexual couples to keep their marriage vows and promises to their children. The right kind of legislation can help some. More vigorous, biblically famous teaching and discipling in our churches can do much more. Somehow, if our grandchildren are to live in good, just, healthy societies, we must find ways to restore wholesome, joyous, faithful marriages and families.” It is fairly obvious that one candidate meets this prerequisite while another does not.

If, someday, neither of the candidates meet these prerequisites, that will be an interesting discussion about whether voting or not voting is the best course of action. Clearly, this time around, voting is the right and necessary thing to do.

If, someday, both of the candidates meet these prerequisites, that will be an interesting and necessary discussion about numerous important issues that I have many thoughts on, such as, foreign policy, the economy, health care, debt, size of government, climate change, immigration, etc. In fact, in my extensive reading I have considered the candidates almost exclusively on these issues before I even finalized my prerequisite system. It is true I knew I was not going to vote for a candidate who did not defend the sanctity life and traditional marriage, for example, as these are issues that go beyond the realm of politics and into the theological realm. But I wanted to be informed and aware of the differences and the nuances of these issues. I think I have done that, but unfortunately, I don’t have the time to break all that down for you. Suffice to say, Governor Mitt Romney comes out as the candidate who fits within my biblical political framework, without a shadow of a doubt.

This is without question one of the quicker blog posts I have ever written. I regret that, as I have so much to say, and there is no way I communicated effectively here. Hopefully I at least communicated a biblical political philosophy, or encouraged you to develop one. Probably just reading Sider’s Scandal of Evangelical Politics would be the more complete way to gather everything I am saying. If you’re like me, you won’t agree on every page. But you will be excited and convicted to immerse yourself in Scripture to find out how to glorify God in your political participation.

No matter the ultimate “winner”, I hope to post a very heartfelt prayer for either Obama or Romney the next morning, for their families, their protection, and wisdom in leading this great country, all the while expressing my trust and dependence on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose kingdom will have no end.

Happy voting!

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