All Christians have a duty to vote in their city, state and national elections. If you are an American citizen, you should vote on Tuesday, November 4 (if not before).
When Jesus was asked, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” he answered, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” For disciples of Jesus, sanctifying grace leads us to become more and more the persons whose every thought, word and deed is motivated by love of God and love of neighbor.
So what do the great commandments have to do with politics? Many of us are weary of all the political advertising and controversy. We are ready for this election to be over. Some of us have become cynical, thinking that politicians are all alike and it doesn’t matter who is leading our cities, states and nations. Some have tried to bring change to our political entities and found that change comes very slowly if at all. Too many have dropped out and decided not to get involved in voting.
Such attitudes are a failure of Christian love. As Americans we are blessed to live in a democracy where our leaders are accountable to us. We choose who is in charge of our political units, whether it is governor, state legislator, member of Congress, member of school board, city council, county commission or secretary of state. Winston Churchill once observed, “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
When our frustrations mount and we see the imperfections of the political process, we must not drop out and quit participating. In the same way, when we see the imperfections of our loved ones, we do not quit loving them or disengage. Rather, we ask how we can love them better.
It is our love of neighbor and our desire to do God’s will that motivate us to vote in the election. Our leaders are responsive to us because they want to continue in office. Giving money to candidates, talking with candidates, lobbying officials, and sending our views to them by mail or phone call are all ways of helping to shape our communities, counties and states.
When we vote, we should bring our Christian convictions about God’s will to the polls. This is a multi-faceted, complex judgment. There is no single issue that is God’s will and no one party that is more Christian than others. Indeed, on political issues United Methodists of sincere faith and good conscience can disagree with each other and belong to different political parties or factions. But each voter should weigh the issues in light of Scripture and Christian teachings and vote for the common good as best they understand it.
So be sure to vote November 4.
Bishop Scott J. Jones