The Weekly Update page is extracted from a weekly e-mail sent out by
Assistant Pastor Donna Pollock
I have a painful dilemma. The election is close—November 3 and I don’t know how to vote. Perhaps some of us have already voted with absentee ballots while others are waiting to head to the polls. Not every person has made up his or her mind about key races, such as president. I keep waiting for some significant sign or event–some fatal faux pas or extraordinarily magnanimous gesture–that would sway me toward one candidate or the other. Humility, perhaps? One party has a more appealing platform that aligns more closely with notable biblical values (such as prolife), but the other offers a candidate who seems more gracious and conciliatory. How should a person of faith vote and what sort of guidance should a pastor offer his flock? Politics is a murky business, but I keep wondering if there is another option or a better candidate waiting to step forward that would rescue me from my enigmatic dilemma. In general having the privilege of voting is good for us, but just like composting, it may have an unpleasant odor. Who can forget what happened to Jesus when Pilate submitted the fate of Jesus to the will of the people? They voted to release Barabbas and to crucify Jesus.
It disturbs me that brothers and sisters in Christ have become as politicized and polarized as the rest of our nation. Since when does membership or identification with one political party define who is “faithful?” Is one party actually God’s party!? Didn’t Jesus tell us that the goats and sheep would be sorted out later on in the kingdom of God, and not by us? People of good faith used to be less gullible and less assured of seeking political power in the kingdoms of this world. As this election approaches I ask anyone who will listen this question: When did character stop being important for those running for office, especially for the highest office in the land? Does the Bible offer us any wisdom or advice? Consider Proverbs 29:2 which proclaims that, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice but when the wicked rule the people mourn.”
The Rev. Dr. Bishop Joseph Mattera, NYC, points out that this scripture yields two assumptions related to the influence of political leadership. The first assumption is that the nation’s leader influences an entire country’s morale and culture. The second is that there is such a thing as wickedness and righteousness regarding both policy and people, which means that there are often clear ways to distinguish between people and political parties based upon biblical values. In our two-party system, he says, it is “virtually impossible to vote for a candidate or align with a party that exactly represents the word of God, [therefore] we have to vote based upon Kingdom principles rather than political affiliation.” What does Mattera recommend? “The Church must understand the various perspectives related to political engagement to vote in a manner that reflects the biblical position more concisely…towards candidates that best reflect righteous laws and policies.” (Joseph Mattera, Seven Perspectives on Political Engagement, October 20, 2020)
Maybe. But for me, Mattera’s approach sounds too pragmatic and compromising. I don’t want to hold my nose when I vote. It’s possible that I won’t vote for either major candidate in this presidential election, but however I cast my ballot, it will be an act of conscience. No matter how others may judge, the last time I checked The Letter to the Romans (cf. Roms. 14), such an approach is soundly biblical and biblically sound.