I’ve never really loved the political process. In tenth grade, my social studies class took a self-assesment test on party allegiance. Our teacher even drew a grid on the whiteboard so that we could mark our standing in front of the class. Most of my friends came out fairly Republican… and to my surprise, I scored on the Democratic side. “I’m sorry,” one friend told me as she patted me on the shoulder. “I know,” I said.
I then started asking God to help me come back to His way of seeing things. Literally.
See, this is in my hometown, which, being in Texas but not being named “Austin”, is fairly conservative. And why not? Being rural, we value a good work ethic. No one in town really deserves a handout, and I am being serious. I have yet to meet someone impoverished or disadvantaged enough.
Also, we are fairly old-school Christian. That means most everyone with some social standing is associated with a church, and up until recently, this county was half-dry.
In short, we value an old-school, simple way of life, and we value Jesus.
That made it easy for me to confuse conservatism for Christianity.
Shift to my university experience, where I start getting bombarded with names like Brian McClaren, Donald Miller, Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne. One of my freshman small group leaders winds up being a Democrat. Homeless people hang out near the resturants across from campus and– AND– someone has the audacity to invite them to a church service at an overpass… right by the boys’ dorms.
All of a sudden, Jesus starts looking like he cares about social justice and being non-offensive with the Gospel. Like maybe, not talking about it even. And y’know, he did ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.
Which brings me to now. At this stage, I think I’m now merging the best of my teetotalling and emergent eras. My desires to both spread the Gospel (share it, disciple others) and demonstrate it (give to the needy, serve the outcast) are finally about matched. And with that comes a value system that I now think is pretty moderate. My shifting paradigm isn’t an exception to what the American church is experiencing, I’m pretty sure. Mark Driscoll became one voice of influence this past year (along with Rob Bell, ha) and he would call it being “theologically conservative and socially liberal.”
With that, I realize that politics will be politics, parties will be parties, and at the end of the day, the men who make policy will, like me, have to face the obstacle of sin. And they will be imperfect as they do so. The laws we make will be flawed.
I have family that believe we must vote hard against Barack Obama and his liberal agenda, because he will stop at nothing less than wholesale socialism and the abolition of moral values. I have friends and loved ones who dismiss the Republican party as full of old fogeys and old values who only want to help the rich and suck the marrow out of the environment.
But I will take a page from Rick Warren. Sort of. Knowing that national interests are often in the hands of folks without the Spirit, I’ve resigned myself to not vote according to values. I will vote according to leadership capability and inherent wisdom, something both of our current presidential candidates seem to possess in spades. Maybe I’m just buying into rhetoric. I don’t know.
And instead, I will invest my values and my concerns in the church. If they truly spring from Christ, and not some distorted wiring or worldview, then I need to seek Him in return to enact the changes He cares about. The poor can recieve Welfare, or they can be discipled into a change of heart. The rich can get hit with fatty taxes, or they can be moved by the Spirit to go ahead and invest in the Kingdom like crazy. I dunno. But I won’t vote values.
I will live Christ.
Well, except maybe if it comes to gun control.
God made me Texan, and I like the feeling of packing heat.