Purists and Politics

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of The Christian Post or its editors.

Yesterday you heard Chuck Colson talking about the need for Christians to vote. Today, I want to talk about an aspect of voting that deeply troubles some Christians every time we have an election.

I’m talking about the fact that nobody’s perfect.

Wait a minute, you say, everybody knows that. That’s elementary-school stuff. Maybe so, but the truth remains that every election year, many Christians discover this simple fact all over again, and it throws them into a tizzy. They go into the political process as if they were picking a pastor instead of an elected official. They look for someone who is right in every category that matters to them, instead of looking for someone who will advance the common good and agrees with them as much as possible. When they don’t find the perfect person, they become disillusioned.

Politics is a rough business, but so is all of life. There’s always something that triggers this trend. This year, some of those triggers include the Foley scandal and David Kuo’s book Tempting Faith, which attempted to persuade evangelicals that they were being used by those in power, even those who claimed to be on their side. And for some, it worked.

Thus, for example, Rod Dreher writes at his blog on Beliefnet.com, “I’m not prepared to be used . . . again. . . . I can’t bring myself to vote Democratic, because I have no faith in the Democrats. . . . [But] I doubt very much I’m going to vote for [the Republicans] at the national level, because they have not earned my vote.” I guess we’re left with the conclusion that no one is good enough to vote for.

Rod is a good man, a good journalist, and a faithful Christian. He’s a brother. But I think he’s dead wrong. If you read more of his blog, it appears that he, and others with the same mindset, are insisting that politicians not only make the right decisions, but that they make them for the right reasons and that they make them all the time. Take it from someone who’s been in politics—that’s just not going to happen.

Are we right to want our leaders to share our values? Of course. But will we always have the choice? What should our response then be? To choose as wisely as we can—or not to choose at all?

The great conservative writer Russell Kirk called for us to be guided by “the principle of prudence,” or of sound judgment and consideration for long-term consequences. It might feel good if you feel disillusioned to refuse to vote, sitting on your hands at home, registering your protest. It might make you feel like you’ve taught the politicians a lesson. But if that’s the case, we’ve only failed to stand up and tell the politicians what we believe in. How can we expect our government to take an interest in what we believe if we won’t take the simplest action of voting to defend it?

The fact is, we always have a choice, whether we realize it or not. We have a choice between candidates. We have a choice to influence our government, or to stay silent. This year, I hope that all of you all around the country will make the right choice.

Go to the polls next Tuesday. Pray for wisdom and prudence. Then vote.


From BreakPoint®, November 2, 2006, Copyright 2006, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “BreakPoint®” and “Prison Fellowship Ministries®” are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.