On Tuesday Derek and I drove to a small church in a nearby neighborhood to cast our votes, along with millions of other Americans across the country. This was only my third time voting and my first time ever voting for president. On Saturday I spent most of the afternoon and evening and even late into the night researching issues and candidates, wanting to be an informed voter when I put my pen to the ballot. I felt a responsibility to vote this year but agonized over nearly every choice, feeling like neither side really stood for my values.
In the end, when I left the polls with my “I Voted” sticker in hand, I still felt more dissatisfied than anything else. I felt dissatisfied with my political choices. More than that, though, I felt dissatisfied with my own understanding of the issues and of how to mingle my faith with politics.
I hunger for a justice that our political system (and our world) sorely lacks in so many areas. And with justice, there are several things I am sure of:
• That God cares deeply for the poor and expects us to care for them as well (He has some strong words for those who oppress the poor or stand by while they are oppressed).
• That God desired to free all those who are oppressed and invites us to join Him in this
• That God calls us to shelter the alien (read: immigrant) among us and gives pretty explicit commands to do so (seriously, you might be surprised at how much he has to say about this issue…).
• That God is the protector of the vulnerable (of all ages) and calls us to be protectors of the vulnerable as well.
• That we are called to do what is in our power to live at peace with those around us.
These are beliefs that inevitably intertwine with my political position. They have to. But they also bring up complex issues without easy answers. Honestly, I am not sure how to stand for these in our current political system, or even outside of politics oftentimes. No political candidate champions all (or even most) of these ideals. Even if one did, I doubt that our current political system, driven largely by money and a hunger for power, would support such a politician. Voting, then, (no matter who we vote for) cannot absolve us from the need to wrestle through these issues, to seek God’s perspective and plans for justice, life, poverty, freedom, and the world around us. Our responsibility to justice did not end when the polls closed on November 6th.
Wednesday morning, as the country either rejoiced or lamented the newly elected president, I felt surer than ever of one thing: I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how to fight for justice in politics. But I want to find out. In fact, I intend to find out.
(Do you have books or resources that have helped you answer some of these questions and clarify your own political position as a Christian? If so, feel free to share them.)