Why Christians Cannot Be “Values Voters”


Casting a voteWe have another American election coming soon. If you are a Christian, you are probably well aware of the “this is the most important election in the history of our country” mantra of fear that gets trotted out by various Christian groups every election cycle. We will certainly hear a verse shared most often today in conjunction with politics, 2nd Chronicles 7:14. We will hear about Judeo-Christian values and saving them from whichever evil political party is deemed most diabolical at this time.

“We have to preserve our way of life! If we don’t, what will happen to our nation?”

There’s a problem with that line of thinking though: It’s the same belief and chant that resulted in Jesus’ crucifixion. The Pharisees were the “values voters” of their day.

The problem with voting values is that values exist in a vacuum. Whose values? Which values? In Christian circles, we hear typically that stopping abortion, halting same-sex marriage, and safeguarding religious freedom are the top three. I will not dispute that those are valuable and worthwhile issues to address. However, the Bible speaks far more often and more boldly about economic justice, yet evangelical Christians balk at talking about economic justice because fixing that problem would probably disrupt our personal little kingdoms. Love for the “alien” and “sojourner” is also mentioned repeatedly in the Scriptures, but that’s not a value most of us consider at the voting booth.

Values change too. Remember that ridding our country of “demon alcohol” was once the most important value the American Church held dear.

Here’s the essence of this post…

These are the two most important questions of life:

Who is God?

How can He be known?

As Christians, the Bible is our book, and it exists to answer those two questions. We as Christians are to embody the answers to those two questions. And as the embodiment of those answers, we are to align everything in our lives to presenting those answers always and in everything we think, say, and do. Our lives are intended from the second we are justified by faith in Christ to be the living response to the two most important questions of life.

Think about that. Then think how we are to live as a result.

Politics is a nasty business. In a democratic republic, we Americans are given some say in our government. For those of us Americans who are Christians, our participation in that government must reflect the answers to the two questions. We are not allowed to answer falsely or to hedge our bets. The answers to the questions cannot be compromised because what is at stake is the truth about the character of God and His revelation.

Nothing the Christian does should question the character of God because no “value” matters more. All answers in life proceed from who God is. Our response to any predicament or issue always must come from who God is is and how He can be known.

This is how we live. And this should be how we vote.

I wrote that the Pharisees were “values voters.” Recall how they were unable to properly answer the question of who God is and how He can be known. This is the failure of values voting. It can’t work back from the “answers” depicted by the “values vote” and determine the truth of who God is and how He can be known. For this reason, Christians can’t vote based on values.

But people try. And this is how we end up with the political mess we find ourselves in.

Yet if we are to move beyond ever-changing values voting then we must always vote with the answers to the two essential questions in mind. They must inform everything we think, say, and do.

How then can we support any politician who distorts who God is and how He can be known?

How then can we support any politician who answers the two questions with lies in both word and practice?

Our task as believers is to reflect the answers of who God is and how He can be known in every aspect of life, including voting.  If we don’t do this, then we send a confused, broken, and destructive set of answers to a world dying for truth.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, has He? And yet we vote out of fear, not out of answering the two questions. We are fearful over the loss of values, but never over the loss of proper answers to the two questions. This is grossly wrong.

As Christians, we are to vote for those people who can answer the two questions properly in both word and practice. Anything else is not of faith and not of truth. God puts few burdens on us, but properly dealing with the two questions is one of those “burdens.”

But here’s the thing: God is in control of the outcome. He asks us to boldly uphold the answers to the two question and then trust Him to handle whatever the outcome of doing so will be. We should never fear to answer those two question boldly and without regrets.

What if this means that in answering the two questions of life boldly and without regrets we vote for a political candidate who answers the two questions correctly but who will certainly lose the election? Well, that may be what is asked of us by God, because answering the two questions properly is what we are about—always.

Do we truly trust God for election outcomes? Does He not say that He is the one who raises up and tears down a nation’s leaders? Do we believe that He knows what is best? If we do the right thing and vote for upholders of the proper answers to the two questions, and those candidates lose, have we not done what God has asked of us? If the “wrong” candidate makes it into office, are we to judge God because He asked of us one crucial thing and now we have regrets over His sovereignty? Are we that faithless?

We Christians say we want things to change in our country. Voting values, for all intents and purposes, has been a miserable failure at changing anything. It was always doomed though. Unless we vote according to the answers to “Who is God?” and “How can He be known?”we will never change anything.

The Mystery of Why American Politics and American Churches Resist Change


Nothing baffles me more than the intersection of politics and conservative American Christianity.

The election of 2012 promises to pit more of the same old, same old against itself, as Republicrats and Democans battle to see who will preserve the status quo for the ruling powers that be. Into this fray comes the handwringing, conservative, evangelical Christians who will go on and on about “the soul of our nation” and “if my people will humble themselves and pray….”

I’m about as truly conservative as it gets, both in politics and theology, but anymore, I can’t identify with any of my supposed Christian brethren when it comes to governing the nation or running a church.

I don’t understand how supporting a pro-life GOP candidate makes one iota of difference in overturning the demonic Roe v. Wade. Pro-life politicians have had decades to work, even having insurmountable majorities at times, yet nothing has budged Roe even the slightest.

In addition, we keep electing politicians who campaign on platforms of reducing government, only to show their true big government colors once in office. They get in power, put out the nepotism shingle, and the next thing you know, a pack of Ivy League School frat brothers are running the country (club) again. Democrat or Republican? Who cares? It’s just a different set of frat rowdies subjecting the country to the same hazing.

Worse, we Christians are running our churches the same way. The same failed programs get repackaged year after year and voted on by church councils as the “new direction for our ministry”—only to wind up abandoned on the dustheap a year later, their ashes choking us, even as we ignore the coughing.

Something in the conservative Christian mindset has congealed around a set of unchanging parameters that has us locked into being neither all that conservative nor Christian. We’ve become unable to challenge the status quo and ask hard questions about why we keep failing to meet the goals we set for our nation or for our churches.

Honestly, I can’t think of a battle we are winning on a macro level, either for America or for Jesus. And if we want to be truly depressed, try finding a winning battle that is both for America and Jesus at the same time.

The problem as I see it is an inability to take every assumption we make as Americans and as Christians and put holy fire to it. When even our brightest minds are unable to ever ask the question “Why are we doing things this way?” then how is it that we can ever expect a different outcome? Unless we start challenging every practice we have forged within American politics and the American Church, we will be lost. The amount of bovine methane production from the sheer number of our sacred cows will keep reducing the amount of oxygen to our brains, and then what hope will we have?

Anyone familiar with computer software understands the concept of “skins.” The menu bar in your Web browser may look different from your neighbor’s, but it’s still Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox underneath. You just chose different art to “skin” your personal copy.

I look at Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama and I see the same underlying person, albeit with a different skin over the top. The same goes for our churches.

The problem is what lies underneath the skin. And we are failing to address those problems, instead swapping in different skins with the hope that our experience will be different.

But as the old Southerner opined, “Ain’t no sense putting lipstick on a pig.”

I can’t sit idly by and not question what’s underneath the skin. I won’t put lipstick on a pig and tell myself she’s a beauty.

We Christians have got to stop supporting systems that are based on a foundation of repeated failure. We must question not only the silliness in modern politics but also the identical silliness in our church praxis.

This is not about assaulting the core truths of the Gospel or of our Constitution, but it’s a hope that we will get back to what is truly important, while questioning everything else.

Why do we do what we do in our church meetings on Sunday? Why are we supporting Church systems that perpetually fail to produce disciples? Why do we run our churches like businesses, with hierarchies that are not only not biblical but actually rob average people of their God-given birthright to serve the brethren and not be just a passive lump deigned to absorb another Sunday message that won’t stick beyond Sunday lunch?

Why do we continue to elect cold, calculating political animals who are only in it for themselves and their Ivy League frat brothers? Why do we prattle on about change while electing the same old type of yahoo?


Snake baring fangsIs ANYONE asking that question?

Folks, it’s time for the sheep to wake up and heed these words of Jesus:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
—Matthew 10:16

We’ve been solely innocent doves for too long, and it has not served well either our nation or our churches.

Evangelicals, Elections, and Blindness to Sin


Casting a voteMy church keeps a watchful eye on the political scene. Maybe yours does too. If your church considers itself Evangelical, then there’s a good chance it believes the Republicans to be the party of righteousness.

It’s a culture wars thing mostly. Abortion and same-sex marriage stick in Evangelicals’ craws more than anything else. And since the GOP is generally against those two hot button issues, a lot of churches rush to the brink of illegality, dancing at the edge of the “you cannot endorse candidates” precipice in order to fawn over GOP candidates who promise to stem the tide of unrighteousness in America.

Enough of that and you start to believe that only Democrats sin. Ha, ha, right?

I gave up on the Republican Party years ago. I stopped believing the hype. The fact is that Republicans held majority power several times since Roe v. Wade and yet did nothing to overturn abortion.

But beyond that, the reason the political rhetoric I hear from Evangelicals doesn’t move me anymore is our selectivity on sin.

Bible verses fly when abortion and same-sex marriage come up in Evangelical discussions, but you almost never hear any verses bandied about in support of the poor, the alien, the widow, and the environment. Yet the Bible has much more to say collectively about sins related to those issues than it does abortion or same-sex marriage.

Now I don’t want anyone to think I’m soft on abortion or same-sex marriage. I believe strongly that advocates of abortion and same-sex marriage are under a powerful spiritual delusion. (That’s all I need to say. You’ve read my posts on these topics before.)

While many Evangelicals may nod their heads in assent, few will think beyond those two powderkeg issues.

But what of the politician who supports the big company lobbying to invoke eminent domain against a neighborhood filled mostly with the elderly? Doesn’t God hate the powerful ursurping the property of the weak? Doesn’t He detest those who break the backs of the poor? Do I need to quote a couple hundred verses on those issues?

Why is it that when I read about eminent domain, a GOP politician is usually involved? How is it that Republicans fight tooth and nail against living wage legislation for the poor? God’s first command in the Garden is for Man to steward the earth, yet how is it that Republicans seem so eager to despoil that earth instead? Why is it that when the little guy is fighting for his life against some monolithic oppressor with a warchest filled with millions of dollars, the GOP is often on the side of the oppressor?

The list of practices and beliefs that God hates is long. Sooner or later, our political candidates will run afoul of that list. Some much more than others.

Which is why advocating certain political parties will only lead Christians into a deep abyss. What we should be advocating when we talk of the greatness of America is a commitment to avoiding EVERYTHING on that list of what God hates, not just those select sins that plague the “other” party.

Sadly, once we start looking at reality that way, many candidates fail—even the ones Evangelicals endorse.

While I understand that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, I simply cannot cast my vote for candidates who ally themselves with unjust or wicked causes. I’m sticking with God’s list of dont’s and not Evangelicalism’s “hammer some sins and ignore others” list.

Beyond that, even if a candidate holds to certain beliefs that resonate with a righteous position, what if that candidate is simply a terrible politician? In the case of employment, it doesn’t matter what a résumé may say, if a candidate for the job ends up proving unable to do the job well, is continued employment deserved? Beliefs don’t always translate into competence. Should we Evangelicals elect candidates who say all the right things but who ultimately can’t do their job well?

If all this means that I reject all the candidates in a race, then I will. If it means I vote for a third-party candidate, I will—even if Evangelicalism’s “anointed” candidate will lose because I did not hold my nose and cast my vote his or her way. I’m not going to be forced to endorse someone who hates abortion but who also hates the poor.

Frankly, I think we should throw all the bums out. Clean house. Both parties are filled with compromisers and gladhanders. And I’m just not going to compromise my vote anymore. I guess you could say I’m asking, How would Jesus vote?