Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Christians and Politics

It has been frequently said that this year’s election is one of the most critical in U.S. history. That may be accurate; I don’t know. Of course, I wasn’t alive during earlier years in our history, so I am not familiar with the political climate or many of the issues facing our young nation. In fact, I had not paid much attention to politics until my college years in the early sixties. I remember Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower as leaders of our nation, but don’t know from personal knowledge the issues that were considered critical during their presidencies. The first president to whom I paid much attention was John F. Kennedy. Since then I have tried to have at least a working knowledge of national and local issues and the people running for office so that I can be an informed voter. During the past fifty years I have basically been conservative in my views and have voted accordingly. I have not always agreed with every stance of the person running for office or the one for whom I voted, but I have evaluated their economic, military, and foreign policy views, as well as other considerations before making a decision. I have tried to cast my vote for the person whom I feel would do the country, state, or local community the most good. I have not confined my voting to one political party, but have placed more emphasis on the person rather than the party. The people for whom I have voted have not always been on the winning ticket, but that is the nature and beauty of our political system in which every legally registered voter has the opportunity of voicing his opinion at the ballot box. Sometimes I have been disappointed in the person elected and at other times have been pleasantly pleased. Over the years, as I have matured both in age and as a Christian, the basis on which I have evaluated political candidates has changed, however. At one time, I paid more attention to their economic, military, and tax policies, etc. than anything else. I don’t mean to diminish these considerations as being unimportant. They are important. I think all of us are interested in the employment rate, economic growth, military supremacy, and entrepreneurship continuing in a positive direction in America. They have a profound impact on world peace, national security, and a general sense of optimism. We live in a nation that has been greatly blessed because these causes have been emphasized by our leaders. For that I am profoundly grateful. The concerns I have just mentioned, however, are not the reasons for our national greatness. America’s greatness is not found in her economic might, her military strength, or her scientific achievements. I have come to realize more convincingly that the foundation for any nation’s greatness is based on her respect for God and the moral standards set forth in the Bible. God’s word declares, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). For that reason I have tried, in the past several years, to pay closer attention to a candidate’s moral convictions and the tenor of his life. What are his views about same sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, and the sanctity of marriage as presented in the Bible? Is he or she an honest person or do they practice deception and self-justification? Do they respect civil law or circumvent it? Do they pay their taxes or do they look for questionable loopholes? Are they able to exercise self-control over their tempers and sexual urges? Are they “legal thieves” as they rob the general public in order to “line their own pockets”? By their example, are they able to lead us as a nation in the direction of righteous conduct? A nation will deteriorate from within and eventually fall, if respect for God and his moral standards are not maintained. The noted historian, Edward Gibbon once stated that 19 of the 22 civilizations that have arisen collapsed when they reached the moral state that America is in now. That is what concerns me. It seems to me that the voting public would be wise to examine the moral principles that guide the various candidates before entering the ballot box during this election year. It was once observed, “America is great because America is good. When she ceases to be good she will cease to be great.” It takes leaders who are good people to establish and maintain goodness in a nation. Give that some serious thought as you enter the voting booth this year.