As we come down to the end of what has been a very divisive election season, my concerns are focused primarily on the witness we as the Church are impressing upon the country and world around us.
As the field of candidates has gradually narrowed over the past year, many Christian believers have come to a “rock and a hard place” where it is supposed that desperate times call for desperate measures. These desperate measures usually amount to what is resignedly referred to as “opting for the lesser of two evils”.
I understand the impulse within the rationale: “Do what you have to do”. “The ends will justify the means”. “It’s all for the greater good”. Yet, after the impulse has passed, it still remains that we have aligned ourselves with a way that is contrary to the nature of the one to which we’ve been called. The utilizing of this “lesser evil” logic makes little sense for a God-people who have been called to “be holy in all your behavior; because it is written ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1Pt1:15-16).
I understand that, in the minds of those who use such rationale, the assumed short-term consequences of the “lesser evil” pale in comparison to the assumed long term consequences of electing one who might be considered the “greater evil”. Be that as it may, the logic seems quite comparable to that of the historical apostasy rationale to “convert now, repent later”. The logic may seem practical, but it’s just not Christian.
My concern here is the long term impact of the corporate Church willfully falling short of God’s glory. When that willful shortcoming is committed corporately on a national scale, that impact will be significant.
One period many Christians frequently forecast is the end times. It’s an unavoidable, futuristic period during which, among other events, great persecution will break out against the Church. It will be a time when the gospel is no longer tolerated and those who proclaim it will be met with retribution in the form of societal marginalization, imprisonments, and executions. Most of the time these forecasts conclude with a rallying cry for Christians to not compromise the faith.
The problem is that choosing the lesser of two evils is just such a compromise. Granted, it may seem a fairly small compromise; but isn’t that the nature of the “slippery slope” we have historically been so wary to avoid? The great momentous compromise never just occurs; it is gradually predetermined by the compromising choices we make on the way to that moment.
It inevitably raises the question: Amidst these politically turbulent times, precisely what are we the Church pursuing? Is it the holiness to which we are called to live out in witness to God’s Kingdom? Or is it simply the favorable conditions that allow us to go on living comfortably while tending to our religious practices?
My concern is that if in order to retain such comfortable conditions we must compromise our holy character, even in the privacy of the voting booth, what exactly is so special about what we Christians proclaim in our witness? How can we be seen as anything more than just another people-group with compromised morals? How can the world hear the good news if we might have had a hand in creating evil news? Why should they?
This is not a demand or insistence that Christians should not vote or be concerned with elections or civics, but a reminder that as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1Pt2:9), our devotion to Christ is not dictated by what the system and culture shaping elections and civics is demanding. We need to be asking ourselves what the sum of our choices are saying about what it is and who it is we the Church are pursuing. If the answer is anything or anyone that doesn’t look like Christ, we have positioned ourselves on that long slippery slope.
It’s a complex conundrum. I do not expect or require that Christians can extricate themselves from this quandary cleanly. I do, however, believe that choosing to “seek first the kingdom of heaven” in how we make our choices is a step in the direction that allows what is unique about Jesus and his Kingdom to marvelously emerge from among the mayhem.