04 Sept. 16
“Vote Your Christian Values”
Vote your Christian values. I hope that’s a non-controversial, non-partisan, and obvious thing to say. Vote your Christian values.
Lutheran pastors don’t often get overtly political in their preaching, and I’m not going to do that today. There are some pastors in other traditions who are not shy about telling their congregants for whom to vote. The socially conservative wing of the Christian Church used to stand aloof from American society, lest they be corrupted by others. But since the 1960s these groups have become more and more politically active and now play a major role in one wing of Republican politics. Among them, quite a number have said that if you’re a Christian you have to vote for this candidate.
And African-American churches have a long history of being politically active in local affairs. If you want to run for mayor in my home town, you’ve got to appear before one or two African-American congregations on Sunday morning. The pastors of those congregations will often publicly endorse one candidate or another.
I’m not going to do that. For one thing, I’m not the Pope and therefore not infallible. For another I’d be wasting my time. Lutherans are less like sheep and more like cats; it’s pretty hard to herd them. We are not united by our political beliefs but by our belonging to Christ Jesus. Which is a good thing, because in every congregation I have served, whether in a red state or blue state, there have been both liberal lefties and right wing conservatives. Mostly, they’ve gotten along.
They’ve gotten along because they know that it is possible to listen to Scripture and try to live out your Christian faith in everything you do and be a social conservative. And it is also possible to listen to Scripture and try to live out your Christian faith in everything you do and be a social liberal. God is not a Republican; Jesus is not a Democrat.
But I will tell you this: Vote your Christian values. In this election. In every election. To do that, you have to know what your Christian values are. For that, look to the life and teachings of Christ Jesus. How did he deal with the rich, the poor, the sick, the well, those with position, those counted worthless. And what did he teach? The two things Jesus talked about most in his ministry were money and the Kingdom of God.
So I once asked a church council to read through the Gospel of Matthew and come up with what they found to be the values of the Kingdom of God as Jesus proclaimed it. They found these Kingdom of God values: being repentant and bearing fruit; choosing Kingdom of God values over other, competing values; not worrying because we trust that God will take care of us; avoiding self-deception and self-righteousness; living with wonder and innocence; mercy begets mercy; mercy is so important it trumps even justice; and forgiveness is required.
Let your vote reflect these Kingdom of God values.
Another way to vote your values would be to let your vote be guided by the fruits of the Spirit. Those fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are our Biblical Christian values. Translating those values into policy is tricky at best. God is not a Republican; Jesus is not a Democrat. That’s why Lutheran congregations are not united in political beliefs. It’s often hard to know which policy will really work out best.
Still, in every race from President to dog catcher, ask yourself which candidate better embodies those Biblical, Christian values in person and positions. OK, sometimes, there’s really not much of a choice, and it doesn’t look like any candidate embodies those values. But ask the question. Put your faith to practice in the real world. Because in the United States of America you have the privilege of voting your Christian values.