Disorganized Thoughts on Christians and the 2016 Election

The following are a few ideas that I’ll eventually develop into a full-length post. However, given the from-bad-to-worse trajectory this election season has taken us, especially the churchmen among us, it seems prudent to offer up some things to consider as November 8 rapidly approaches.

  • We are essentially social beings, which means that we are essentially political beings. This doesn’t mean that we are essentially formally-political beings. Voting is not an ethical mandate.
  • The christian’s premier ethical principle isn’t self/community-preservation but is God-glorification. Everything else is subsumed to this.
  • Christians are called to an impossibly higher standard than other people, because our call is to imitate Christ, who suffered persecution and death for our sake.
  • Our concern, more than for ourselves, should be, chiefly, for God and, concomitant with that, for the dispossessed, downtrodden, and demonized. Note Jesus’ restoration of the (a) Samaritan (b) woman (c) accused of adultery and (d) threatened with a stoning. A concern for God without a corresponding concern for the needy is no concern for God.
  • The gospel message upended Jewish and Gentile particularism in the fledgling church. We shouldn’t militate against that with our political rhetoric. “Our churches are multiethnic but not our country.”
  • Some goods and some evils must be ranked, and it’s a matter of conscience (within reason) where any particular individual ranks certain ones or the other.
  • Christians should foster and exemplify love, peace, justice, righteousness, and mercy. Rhetoric that demonizes or demeans is beyond the pale.
  • We need to reclaim the language of shame in the moral sphere. No other word better captures how the church will look back on evangelical capitulation to xenophobic nationalism. It’s better to remember the event in shame than to be wiped from history. Do you remember the German Christians? Few else do either.
  • It’s hard to believe that evangelicals have considered the effect of an evangelical coalition-led backing of Trump on their evangelistic efforts, especially among those who see Trump as an existential threat—minorities, Muslims, immigrants/refugees generally.
  • One can hope that this election marks the end of the old guard, of the Religious Right as an institution–if only so that out of the ashes a phoenix can emerge with a reformed, renewed focus on justice, etc., and an emphasis on fleeing from the ridiculous partisan politicking that has so embarrassed evangelicals this year.

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