Getting Along after Voting

voting-2Throughout this election season I have watched Christians who are far smarter and godlier than I land on every conceivable side of the issue of who to vote for as POTUS. (A sample: Trump, Trump, Clinton, neither.) I say this not to relativize away the whole issue, as though it doesn’t matter or as though there is no right answer. It does matter, and I do think there is a most preferable choice. I myself voted for neither of the two major candidates and have commended that view on a handful of occasions in the past few months via social media. And to be sure, there are certain clear principles that should be insisted upon: e.g., abortion is an egregious evil that must be vigorously opposed, and deceit, hubris, sexual immorality, malice, and obscene talk are not just flawed character traits, but sins on account of which God’s wrath is coming (Col 3:5–10). No Christian who voted for either major candidate should be thrilled about the sort of person they elected. They ought to agree that they did so to a large extent while holding their nose.

Yet I think we must acknowledge that there is a certain level of complexity to the issue. Not everyone voted for Trump for the same reason. Not everyone voted for Hillary for the same reason. Not everyone voted for neither of them for the same reason. There are better and worse reasons for any of these courses of action. In the end, each of us is duty-bound to do what we think pleases God and what we think is right. To go against conscience, even when it misfires, is a sin (Rom 14:23).

This presents us with a challenge: regardless of who wins tonight, we the Church must learn to “bear with one another in love” (Eph 4:2); must clothe ourselves “with compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12); must “live in harmony with one another” (Rom 12:16). It is a high calling, and on the face of it, it seems impossible. I can see it now: Christians who voted for Trump reach the conclusion that the others just don’t care enough about abortion. Christians who voted for Hillary view those who voted for Trump as short-sighted whitewashers of moral evil and of his dangerous unpredictability. Those who supported the losing candidate come to resent Christians who voted third party for irresponsibly “throwing their vote away.” And all the while the Christians who voted for neither candidate smugly view themselves as the pure and unstained ones in the midst of a people with polluted garments.

What partnership has a Christian who voted for Hillary with a Christian who voted for Trump? And what accord has a Christian who voted third-party with either?

Answer: “indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

Unity is something we can pursue because unity is something we already have in Christ. He has made us one (Eph 2:11–22). Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body (1 Cor 10:17), and we all drink of the same spiritual drink (1 Cor 10:4). One Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4:5–6). One King.

During this post-election season, “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that will not be shaken” (Heb 12:28). That kingdom will break in pieces all other kingdoms and bring them to an end, and itself shall stand forever (Dan 2:44). In that gratitude and confident hope, I think we will learn to love one another—even those we disagree with, and even those who voted differently than ourselves.

Image source: Justin Grimes via Flickr

11 thoughts on “Getting Along after Voting”

      1. My initial reaction to Wilson was “eh.” I don’t read his blog, so maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like the default tone over there is “Yeah, that was a good [point/article/talk/etc] but let me tell you what the real issues are here.” And sometimes he has a good point that’s worth considering, but when its always presented like that, I lose my awe at the “super deep wisdom.”

        That’s to say, I still like Moore. You should definitely listen to it. You are a Southern Baptist after all 😉

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        1. I admit Doug’s style of writing is an acquired taste, but I have come around to it. He has something of a Chestertonian accent. But forget about that: I’m wondering if you agree with his “Tectonic Plates” section. I think I do: public policy can and should be explicitly grounded on Scripture. I think this puts me at odds with many Southern Baptists who would argue against it because “we can’t expect non-Christians to behave like Christians,” and I think this would include Moore. I’m definitely going to give Moore a listen, I just want to know what you think on this particular question.

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          1. Thoughs on “Tectonic Plates” forthcoming. To be really precise I’m not sure where he talks about “public policy” in that section. He does mention “a biblically based vision for the entire society,” maybe that’s what you were referring to. But more on that to come. To your point:

            I think I need the question clarified: “public policy should be explicitly grounded on Scripture.”

            By whom? And if the current policy-makers aren’t of a mind to do that, what does this position amount to, telling them that they should? Then what?

            The statement currently contains a massive, fuzzy, passive where a subject should be. What is Doug saying? “We should…”; “They should…”; “God should…”; “I should…” ?

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            1. (1) If I were to distill his argument, I think it is that public policy can and should be based explicitly on Scripture. (2) I think that’s what he means by the church engaging as “the church” and not as another lobbying group asking for religious freedoms and trying to only ever use non-Scriptural arguments against abortion or against homosexual marriage. The church engages as the church when it declares “thus saith the Lord” with regard to public policy: when we tell our lawmakers, judges, and rulers, “You must do this” or “You must not do this *because God says so*.” I think this means Christian lawmakers should engage as Christians—i.e., as those who want to base their public policy explicitly on Scripture and not just on generic ideas that float around out there like “equality” and “liberty.” (3) Doug would agree that “the risen and ascended king told us that he was the one who ultimately authorized that unauthorized version of ‘the rules’ (Rom 13:1)”—see here: https://dougwils.com/books/natural-law-and-the-lordship-of-jesus.html. His point in that section is not that we do not have to be subject to non-Christian governing authorities; his point is that governing authorities ought to recognize that Christ is the one who both grants and limits their authority, and govern accordingly. (4) I think this whole issue could be distilled clearly in the following scenario: congressman X argues that only heterosexual unions should be recognized as marriage. Congressman Y asks, “Why do you think that? What arguments do you bring forth?” Can congressman X only stick to arguments like, “That’s how most nations have done it in the past”; or, “Having both a male and a female is important for a wholistic, healthy rearing of children”; or some other such thing? Or can congressman X validly say, “Because God gets to define what marriage is. It comes from him, and he defines it as a union between a man and a woman. We have no right, as the government appointed by him and as his servant, to say otherwise.” If you think congressman X is allowed to say something like that—leave aside for a moment the question of whether such a response is most prudent or effective in convincing nonbelievers—I think you are in substantial agreement with Doug. (5) I do not think that what Doug is arguing for, in the sense explained in #2 and #4 above, is necessarily bound up with a paedobaptistic view of the church or with a postmillenial eschatology.

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            2. (6) Tying up loose ends: “What is Doug saying? ‘We should…’; ‘They should…’; ‘God should…’; ‘I should…’?” He’s saying: “the government should, and everyone—I, you, we, they— should recognize this because God already does.” (7) “If the current policy-makers aren’t of a mind to do that, what does this position amount to, telling them that they should? Then what?” Then we say it again. And again. And again. And we go on preaching the gospel, and we pray that the Lord would bring them to repentance and a knowledge of the truth. I also think we can and should make use of good natural law arguments, but not at the expense of Scriptural ones. And I don’t think natural law arguments are going to be any less controversial than “Scripture says” in many cases. God reveals his will in both Scripture and nature, and Scripture interprets nature so we know what we ought to be seeing there (e.g., Rom 1).

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          2. “Here are the choices. Given the existence of the church and the existence of a secularized society, the church can refuse to engage, the church can engage as the church, or the church can engage as just one more pressure group.”

            Not sure what kind of ecclesiology is operating here (probly not Baptist). “The church can engage as the church” sounds nice, but is actually too vague to mean anything. It ends up feeling more like a slogan than an argument, which can then be filled up with other rhetoric.

            To your previous point, “declare the truth to society in the name of God, like the prophet Amos” isn’t quite “basing public policy explicitly on Scripture” but seems rather to be “telling them that they should.”

            Also, to his “making it simple” example of polygamy, I’m not sure who he’s arguing against. I’m pretty sure Moore isn’t “insisting that Christian preachers “must not impose” their views on people who disagree with them.” So I’m not sure how this whole section is relevant to his point.

            “Hovering in the background of everything Moore said was his willing accommodation of the idea that the rules for public discourse, behavior, and engagement will be laid down for us by someone who did not rise from the dead on the third day. We all get our secularized copy of Robert’s Rules. Can we look at the spine? Who published this thing? Who owns the copyright? And, fundamentally, why do we have to submit to it?” Well, actually, the risen and ascended king told us that he was the one who ultimately authorized that unauthorized version of “the rules” (Rom 13:1). So, Doug’s shot seems to sail waaay overhead here.

            I’ve just never been compelled by the post-mil, theonomic reasoning, as if it were just obvious that that should be the case. It still isn’t obvious to me and, I’ll be honest, on a first reading, this whole section felt almost incoherent to me. On a second and third reading it felt only slightly less incoherent. Maybe you could distill his argument for me.

            But you should really listen to Moore’s lecture…

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  1. This is my biggest critique of Wilson: he’s heavy on the flamboyant (you’d say “Chestertonian”) rhetoric, and light on substantive arguments. I was frustrated our entire leadership class reading Rules for Reformers for that reason. Every one of my reader responses was critical, some extremely so, because there was no argument, just a bunch of rhetorical bombast. The response was, ” Well, that’s ’cause Wilson is an ‘essayist’ [I translate that as, ‘blogger,’ but maybe that’s uncharitable] and so you needn’t expect an extended argument.” Literally, that book was a republished collection of blogposts, and it showed. I barely enjoyed Wordsmithy. I dunno, not my roast of bean, I guess.

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