It’s late October in an election year. The leaves in the nation’s capital are turning, and everyone who thought they loved politics realizes just how much they truly hate politics. The last few days I’ve despaired that maybe there is no November 7th. The election may never end. I’ve joined the chorus of people begging, “Can’t we just vote already?!” After all, the vote of everyone who knows anything about politics has already been won. We have had a year and a half to learn the differences between the candidates—actually, we have had more than five years, since both of them were candidates the last time around. For clear-minded voters, the differences could not be clearer! My personal view is that it might be wise for those who are not prepared to vote today to reconsider voting at all—since they obviously have abdicated their responsibly as an educated voter. I’m with Jonah Goldberg in thinking undecided voters in late October are an embarrassment to the democratic process, not to be lauded on all major national news networks as they currently are. Of course, the Constitution assures the right to vote for all Americans—decided in late October or not. Why do undecided voters irritate me so? The short answer is that it’s the height of irresponsibility to be so uneducated about the most important decision we make collectively as a nation. But there is a deeper principle to which I have only recently been able to put words. I do so with the help of Values & Capitalism friend, Matthew Lee Anderson of Mere Orthodoxy, who wrote in his book “Earthen Vessels:”
The goodness of the physical body is inextricable from the goodness of the world in which our bodies dwell. The creation is, in John Calvin’s phrase, the ‘theater of God’s glory.’ And when the final curtain closes on the play, we shall look back upon it and say with the one who formed the world that it is indeed ‘very good.’Similarly, our friends over at the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics remind us that:
Christians cannot simply rest satisfied with individual conversions or separated enclaves when they discern the central plot-line of the Bible… In short, the purpose of redemption is not to help individuals escape the world. It is about the coming of God’s kingdom to renew it.Some of you may be saying, “Where did this Gnosticism debate come from?” Let me explain. I truly believe that part of our Christian obligation to reweave shalom in our world is to be involved in our political process, working through and struggling with these weighty issues alongside our fellow citizens. After all, none of our vocations are untouched by the political consequences. A college friend of mine always argued with me that since she was called to be a long-term missionary in a Third World country, politics in the United States didn’t matter to her. I pleaded with her that her calling made politics more important, not less. The relationship between our countries would affect her ability to travel; the strength of the dollar would affect her ministry in that country; and the economy here in the United States would affect the ability of those contributing to her ministry to support her. None of us in our vocations, even in a Third World country, are exempt from the political consequences of our elections. Therefore all of us, as a part of our calling, should be involved in the political process of our elections. My argument should not be presumed to say that the political process is a means of salvation. We will not heal all of what ails our society through politics. But as Christians, we should understand the political process as a key element of our ministries and our vocations. Christians should be among the most educated voters; we should not be undecided focus group members in late October.