Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sacred & Secular Belief (Or, Why I Am Not a Democrat) Part 4

In case you were curious: part 1, 2, and 3.

"Vote your conscience." I'm sure I've heard this plenty of times. When you don't know who to vote for, then you should vote your conscience. It's a wonderful sentiment, except that it's a terrible idea. I'm convinced that voting your conscience leads to a bloated, over-sized government with a god-complex.

Today, we look to the government for that which the ancients looked to their gods. Bad harvest? Look to the government for help. Lost your job? Go to the government. Drought? Call Washington. The Government is our Pantheon. Washington is our Mount Olympus.

The State has stepped where it does not belong. It has dangerously overflowed its banks. There is nothing for which we do not instinctively look to the government first. Elections are won and lost based on inane promises of controlling something as trivial and fickle as the market price of a gallon of gasoline. It is truly absurd.

Voting your conscience makes sense only for those who are unwilling to fulfill the calling of the Church in the world. Voting your conscience is passing the buck. You're hiring someone else to do the work you are called to do.

Teddy Roosevelt's father hired a man to fight in the Civil War on his behalf. His situation was understandably difficult. He was from New York, and his wife was from the South. How could he go to war against his own brothers-in-law. Still, Teddy never did live down the shame of his father's choice.

The same thing is happening in the Church today. We are hiring a political party to go to war on our behalf. We are turning to a presidential candidate who wants to turn the mission of the Church into the will of the State. Of all the ways the Church has prostituted herself, this is perhaps one of the most deceptive. When has it ever worked out well for Jesus when his bride has linked arms with the State? When has the body of Christ ever needed the long arm of the law to fulfill its mission?

Don't vote your conscience, obey it. Then, if you must, go and vote your intellect. Vote for the candidate who is most likely to gather the government back within its proper boundaries. Vote for the candidate who understands that the State can never do the work of the Church, and who will limit the size and scope of the State appropriately.

I've come to understand that my secular belief, my political philosophy, ought not to mirror my sacred belief. Rather, my secular belief ought to create space for the sacred. My philosophy must create room for my theology to be practiced.

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