The Pope, the Prophet, the Pagan, the Pluralist, or the Paul?
The 2012 election season offers a variety of choices and challenges for the Christian as s/he considers who to cast a vote toward…
The Pope –
Rick Santorum is a Catholic. A generation ago evangelicals would have looked in another direction. Catholics believe in the authority of a Pope, infant baptism, confessionals, the veneration of Mary, Purgatory, and a whole host of other theological distinctives at odds with evangelicalism. But when Santorum talks he sounds like an evangelical and one can hardly doubt his devotion to God.
The Prophet –
Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Our nation has never elected a Mormon to its highest office and the whole Mormon belief system raises question and concerns and creates angst among the electorate. Mormons believe in a modern day Prophet of the church who speaks on behalf of God. If that is not enough to raise a few eyebrows, Mormons divert sharply from orthodox Christianity in their belief that God has a physical body, that one can attain godhood themselves, that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, to name just a few distinctives. But Mormons share the moral and social values of the staunchest evangelical Christian. Every Mormon I have ever met is has been a wonderful and decent person. I can honestly say that as a group, Mormons are some of the finest people you could ever associate with.
The Pagan –
Newt Gingrich has been dubbed that smartest person in the race. And he is an adulterer. Twice. Our culture does not have much stomach for this kind of business no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. But Newt professes the discovery of faith and forgiveness. These are themes that resonate with evangelical Christians. We are all for forgiveness. Seeking it and granting it. So when Newt says he has sought the forgiveness of God it is hard to do anything other than take that claim at face value. But still, one wonders….
The Pluralist –
Barack Obama seems to be a man of all faiths. He has a Muslim name and heritage (and is thus considered a Muslim by some of that belief system). He says he is a Christian but exhibits no evidence of actually being a follower of Jesus. He has been sharply influenced by liberation theology, stands opposed to the Christian ethic on life and matters of homosexuality, and has launched an assault on religious liberty under the guise of women’s health. Obama is no friend of Israel (other than lip service) and takes Scripture out of context, trying to use it to bolster a rationale for his political agenda. Israel and the Bible are two areas that evangelicals will not compromise on. But Obama is a nice guy and a strong family man. He has a solid, supportive wife and two beautiful daughters. It is hard not to appreciate him and be influenced by his example in this area.
The Paul –
Ron Paul is…well, he’s Ron Paul. He may be singularly a man in a category all his own. He is strong and heady on fiscal policy but then extremely nationalistic when it comes to any foreign aide, including Israel. As the oldest candidate in the field, he resonates with the youngest of those who will vote. Ron Paul makes so much sense and then makes no sense all at the same time. He is truly unique.
So what is a Christian to do? In the absence of a candidate that represents one’s religious belief system (and it should be noted that this does not make one a qualified presidential candidate in and of itself), in which direction should one’s vote go? I was once given excellent advice by a former pastor and now mentor. Advice that I plan on exercising this election year for sure. When stepping into the voting booth…vote Jesus. Evaluate all that you are as a new creation because of Jesus in and through you… and then cast your ballot for the candidate that best represents all that Jesus is. Oh, some will be closer than others and it will be splitting hairs between other candidates. In the end, it is a vote based on conscience…but isn’t that what it should always be?