I will begin this missive by explaining that I consider myself to be an evangelical voter. Issues of religious freedom, gay marriage, and abortion weigh heavily in my decisions about which candidates I will support. I’m also strongly moved by the character of the candidates, or at least, what I can perceive from my admittedly limited view, through interviews, town halls, debates, and the occasional personal account of those who’ve encountered them at some point. I do study the records, placing a premium on the fiscally conservative and those with a strong foreign policy, but ultimately, my Christian worldview and just raw, gut instincts about a person will guide me.
With that out of the way, let me address other evangelicals, because it’s time for a wakeup call, and I pray they take it in the spirit with which it is being offered: WE DON’T NEED A NEW SAVIOR. The old one is fine.
I’ve been noticing a bastardized mix of politics and zealotry that borders on the cultic. I’m not saying that we leave our religious idealism out of the voting booth. In fact, I feel any believer who does such is in violation of their faith and their duty as a citizen to be properly represented. However, when movements are being built around a single candidate, where his campaign seems more like a canonization, it sets off some warning bells. There are no sacrosanct candidates. They are all flawed, in one way or another. The truly savvy voter knows how to separate the good from the bad and decide if the split is one they can live with.
As a Christian, I know that there is no manmade system of government that is going to save this world. We’ve had plenty of time to get it right, were it possible to do so, and many leaders have come and gone. The shortcomings of man always manifest in our leadership, and the people are left to reap the damages. Does that mean we don’t seek out godly leadership? Not at all! What it does mean, however, is that we should discern the nature of those who seek to be our leaders.
A good for instance would be, if a candidate’s following resembles the aforementioned cult-like gathering, then there’s a problem. If that candidate is crawling up on his cross with every speech (metaphorically speaking) and playing the martyr, there’s a problem. If you ever hear a supporter say, “Only Candidate X can save this nation,” there’s a problem, and an intervention of cult deprogramming may be in order.
Honestly, if you’re like me and you’re looking for a godly candidate, look at the things that he does to take attention off of himself and to put it back on his God. If I can hear a candidate speak about his faith and not get the impression that he’ll be offering me my own hut in Guyana and a big cup of Kool-Aid, at some point, I’m happy. If I can hear a candidate speak about his faith and I can believe him, I’ll be hooked. Our faith should be something that draws us to God, not to man, while giving us union with others who share that faith. There is no revolution of piety that any one man will be in charge of, so be very wary in this election season of man-focused religious movements in the political realm. They are usually just for show, with little substance, in regards to true godliness, and the façade quickly fades, once they’re in office.
Evangelicals are searching for that brother (or sister) -in-Christ that we can truly support and believe in to turn this nation around, through prayerful leadership, but in that search, we must employ the proper mix of God-given discernment and political acumen. When you’re truly godly, you don’t have to keep reminding people.