Monday, September 1, 2008

Disorganized Thoughts on on American/Christian Dual Citizenship

In a representative democracy, it is the duty of the citizen to cast a single vote for the ruler or law which best aligns with his ideal so that the citizen's interests may be represented accurately.

A Christian is to have no interests but those of Christ.

Christs interests are based on integrity; not utility.

We must not, therefore, vote strategically or in a reactionary spirit.

We must therefore vote with integrity for people of integrity.

It seems to me that partisan voting is rarely if ever integral to our ideals. It's always either settling for the lesser of two evils or trying to keep the other guy out of office. Both are utilitarian. I am suggesting write-in voting. I realize that this will likely lead to the "axis of evil" winning if the Christians stop uniting under the "lesser evil," but Christianity is about rightousness, not power. We can't control the government by force and say we're following Christ. We must woo them by our love. When the church behaves with integrity, there will be revival in our land.

Righteousness is always ultimately pragmatic, however, pragmatism as an end is never righteous. God is sovereign, and He has soveregnly declared the way we should behave. His grace in and to this country is no excuse to sin all the more (Romans 6). It's almost never a matter of "controlling the country," but more often a case of "I couldn't bear to think that I could have helped to stop this man from getting into office with my vote." Mostly our struggle with power is more about trying to keep from feeling helpless than it is about trying to take over. We're just afraid of getting squished.

I would recommend writing in Jesus at this point. Since I don't have a firm commitment to these ideas as self-evident truths, I feel free to be flippant about them. I'll probably end up voting for the lesser evil too. But I'm not sure I'm committed to that. Still processing.

John Wooden said it this way: getting into politics is like getting into football strategy: You have to be smart enough to understand it and dumb enough to think it matters.

US Politics is an intricate system, and in order to engage it, you must buy into three presuppositions: 1.) That your vote counts, 2.) That voting is a good, 3.) That the outcome of the election has any bearing on real (read: one's private experience of) life.

1.) I don't know whether our votes matter or not. You could try to prove it to me, but it will be like the time my dad tried to explain the way a TV works. I'm too dumb to get it and I'd prefer to think of it as magic anyway.

2.) I think voting is a good. I think it's important to align oneself officially with ones opinion. I think there's integrity in putting your money on your face, because that's where your mouth is.

Because of the logical combination of the first two, it's easy to see that for me, voting on a philosophical level is more about doing the right thing than participating in effecting a cause. If something changes due to my vote, that's fine, but it's not why I do it. I'm called upon by my country to vote, and this patriotic duty is not in opposition to my spiritual duty, so I am compelled to comply.

3.) Here's where it gets tricky. Up until this point, I'd probably either not vote, or write in Jesus. These options seem absurd to you and me both for this reason: fear. It seems unreasonable to us to give up what little control we are supposed to have in this crazy powerful system. "We can stop the fatal bullet!" cries Jon Vowell, "Forget about the non-mortal wounds!" And we all rally beneath that. It's noble. However, it requires our belief that our pesonal experience will be affected.

"I couldn't bear to see that guy die, so I'll save him." It comes back to self interest.

Follow me here:

I will vote for John McCain, not because I believe in him or because I think Obama is the devil, but simply because (I'm with Jon here) he's the lesser of the two.

But I'm only there because I don't have the faith to do what I actually think is right. I won't feel noble when I'm casting my vote. I'll feel afraid not to vote. It's the thought that something COULD be different, but I don't want to be the guy who stood up for it, because I really don't believe I have any power that my government hasn't given me. If I did, I would try to use the system to beat the system.

Modern America is so fundamentally flawed, that you can't actually feel good about your vote. This is more like spending the night at your crazy Uncle Sam's house and having to choose between cold spam and soy burgers for dinner. Forget how it could be, folks. Dad's not coming to pick you up til tomorrow. Tonight, we dine in Hell.

What we need to do is vote for the lesser evil that actually has a chance at winning, all the while preparing the way for the real messiah. Obey Uncle Sam. He's not a good parent, but he's not supposed to be. He's a reminder to be in the world and not of it. To cast your vote on election days and to be crucified with Christ on every day, preparing the world for His redemption with His love. We have a Father who's coming back to get us. Let's fix our eyes on Him. Let's campaign for Him. Let's widen our focus to the big picture.

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