Voting Complications

Vantage Point

In “Beyond Election Madness” (August 2008), Mike Hogeterp attempts a political commentary on justice that can speak to the entire Christian Reformed Church without alienating any particular group or ignoring God’s will for our lives.

Unfortunately, he ends up being too vague on his main point while softly accusing only conservatives of being one-issue voters.

That’s not what we really need.

As Christians, we need to separate moral issues from our visions for what government should be. I think there is a better message to Christians on seeing God’s will through the campaign haze.

Hogeterp wants us to look beyond the issue of abortion when voting. True, many Christians will not vote for liberal candidates simply because liberals often support abortion freedoms. Nonetheless, in voting for a liberal party primarily on the basis of its support for causes of justice, one becomes another sort of one-issue voter. The reality is that voting is always a trade-off.

For most political issues there is not clear moral guidance and very little way of knowing how Jesus would stand. For example, does Jesus prefer a flat tax or a bracketed system? Would he think the U.S.’s Federal Communications Commission should regulate television content or telephone billing rates? While we may all have strong feelings on these issues, it seems silly, and potentially heretical, to pretend we know God’s position.

Still, on some issues there is no debate. God hates abortion. God hates governments that keep people in an endless cycle of poverty and disease. God hates genocide.

The crux is this: private enterprise alone cannot stop abortion or corrupt governments. Thus the issues of abortion and world poverty are not in essence political. That is, they are not directly tied to the nature of government. Therefore, when you vote, do not worry most about the causes that go beyond politics. Yet know that “the tasks of citizenship” go far beyond the voting booth.

So outside the voting booth, be strong, vocal, and active. In the U.S., vote for the Republican Party, then tell them our government needs to act decisively against poverty and genocide (not just send monetary aid). Or vote for the (New) Democratic Party, then tell them our government needs to end abortion now (not just hope people don’t use it).

God has blessed us richly with the freedom to shape our governments through voting, but we will never be relieved of the burden of carrying God’s love to the world. Let’s pray that our passion for this charge always burns brightly. 

About the Author

Christy J. Olsen was an Air Force officer for six years and currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he and his family are members of Cragmor Christian Reformed Church.
X