church and state

The dictionary defines the word “dilemma” as: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. So referring to Election 2016 and the notion of casting a vote for president as a dilemma is more than appropriate, especially for those of us who share a Christian worldview.

A plain reading of scripture leads many Christians to conclude that we are free to participate in the political process of our nation as long as it does not conflict with any prohibitions set forth in the bible. Indeed, the Apostle Paul encourages us in Romans 13:7 to, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” But what should we do when none of the options align with our Christian worldview?

For many Christians (especially those who identify as evangelical) there are a handful of definitive issues at play in any national election. The most prominent among these are abortion and same-sex marriage. While I am not immune to the importance of these issues, there are others that would score higher on my hit parade. But let’s look at each of these and try to pin down where the candidates stand.

The right to an abortion on demand (with some important caveats and restrictions) is the law of the land in the United States. Personally, I am pro-life and believe that abortion is the taking of a human life. I am not, however, in favor of changing the law unless the majority of Americans cause their elected representatives to overturn Roe vs. Wade. We have seen that movie before and it almost always ends in tragedy. I also believe the church has done a terrible job of giving women in the midst of a crisis or unwanted pregnancy viable alternatives to abortion. Rather than expend time, resources, and political influence to change laws, the church should be lovingly serving those facing a life and death choice and helping them to make a better choice. Surely there are examples of churches that do just that, but the Christian church writ large has not tackled this problem with anything close to the fervor that it has attacked abortion rights groups or abortion providers. We can and should do better.

If the church were to take a more active role in this issue, I believe the hearts and minds of Americans would change on this issue and abortion would no longer been seen as a reasonable option. Such a heart change would naturally lead to a change in the law as it has with so many other issues.

Secretary Clinton has been unwavering in her support of the pro-choice movement and favors fewer restrictions on abortion. This is clearly not a Christian perspective and should give Christian voters pause when considering supporting her candidacy, if abortion is high on your list of priorities.

Donald Trump has for all of his public life been a vocal supporter of the pro-choice movement, until his recent ascendency in the GOP. As a presidential candidate he has “evolved” on the issue and is now “very pro-life.” Whether a Christian voter accepts this change of heart is up to them. Personally, I believe he is saying whatever he needs to say to win the support of the GOP electorate. So far, it’s working.

Same-sex marriage has recently become the law of the land as well. This has caused many Christians great angst as they view it as further evidence of the moral decline of the United States.

I believe that marriage, as a Christian ordinance (or sacrament for Catholics), is defined as one man and one woman. But I also do not believe that my religious definition should be applied via law to anyone else, especially if they do not share my Christian beliefs. So I am a strong advocate for same-sex civil marriage. I believe that families (however they are arranged) are good for our country.

Secretary Clinton has evolved her position on this issue over time. She was for many years a supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Clinton said,

On Defense of Marriage [Act], I think what my husband believed — and there was certainly evidence to support it — is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution, and that there had to be some way to stop that… It [DOMA] was a defensive action.”

Today she is considered a fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights by many leading advocacy organizations including the Human Rights Campaign. Go figure.

Donald Trump has at times verbalized support for same-sex unions. But in recent years he has had a relatively stable position in support of “traditional marriage”—his three marriages notwithstanding. Trump’s current position on marriage equality seems to have evolved before his decision to run for president, so it may accurately represent his views on the subject. It will be interesting to hear his thoughts on this and many other issues during the presidential debates this Summer.

As it stands today, I am doubtful that I will be able to support either candidate in this election. It has little to do with abortion or same-sex marriage, and everything to do with the integrity and character of each candidate. Mr. Trump’s continued flourishes of misogyny, megalomania, bigotry, and xenophobia make him unfit in my opinion for the job. Secretary Clinton’s history of political expediency, misrepresentations of the truth, and lack of integrity make her a poor choice for the job, even though she is more than qualified in terms of experience and temperament.

I will continue to listen to both and decide if I can participate in this election. Either way, I will pray for both and rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign.

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