It’s only August now, but much of my Facebook feed as well as the traditional media is consumed with the upcoming presidential election here in the USA. But every election has important items on the ballot, both other appointed races or propositions and measures. In California (where I live), there are 17 other initiatives on the ballot, from recreational marijuana use to the abolition of the death penalty. We might concentrate on the big ticket items, but the smaller ones (especially local measures) often have more immediate effects.
Many of my friends and people I follow have made it very clear (through their own posts and the items they share on their feeds) what their political stance is. For the most part, I’ve kept my virtual mouth shut, as I try not to make waves via social media. To give this topic the honor it deserves, I can use this medium to be more verbose and deliberate.
Let me start by making two points:
- My perspective is primarily influenced by a belief in the Christian God, and
- The United States of America is already a great place to live and work.
- This claim comes from a man who’s family emigrated from a nation that may declare martial law any day now, and has traveled to and worked in 4 different continents (North America, Asia, Europe & Africa).
- This claim also does not presuppose that this nation cannot get better. This country is a great place, but it can become even stronger.
As I think about politics and this election, I can’t help but be honest with myself. As of today, I really don’t know which candidate I will vote for in the presidential race . The 2 main candidates appear to be very flawed, but not much attention is being paid in the traditional media to the “third-party” candidates. In addition, I find discussing this topic extremely difficult to embark in conversation. Either I am talking with someone who generally agrees with me (“preaching to the choir”), or risk getting into an emotionally-charged shouting match with someone who opposes my views (which doesn’t seem helpful for anyone). Even though the topic is difficult, I would like to engage in a respectful debate with people who have differing opinions without the risk of losing friendships. I want to know why people believe and think the way they do, but unfortunately, the mainstream media no longer provides a role model for reverent exchanges.
In its essence, I cannot separate my Christian beliefs with my political leanings. But as I have discovered over the years, my faith greatly differs than the conventional Christian Church (which is a huge reason I have refused to participate in Christian community over the last decade). I can reduce my faith to the following points:
- All of humanity is flawed and sinful.
- God sacrificed his one and only Son to die for our sins; putting faith in Jesus is the way to salvation.
- God gave us the choice to belief in Jesus.
I am very certain that people who consider themselves Christians will agree with me on the first two points. But most of my brethren seem to forget the third point. I’ve read the Bible through several times, and I don’t recall seeing anything like “You must believe in Jesus, or die right now” or “Make disciples of all the nations, but if they don’t convert, treat them like inferiors.” Instead, the Bible instructs believers to treat others with love and kindness, regardless of material or moral differences.
Years ago while in college, one of my roommates stated “As a Christian, I believe life begins at conception. But I cannot justify ever telling a woman what to do with her body.” This statement has stuck with me for 20 years; now, this roommate works outside the USA as a Christian worker. Back then and now, I greatly value his thoughts and opinions, as his life is dedicated to the Bible and it’s teachings.
So, if God gave us the ability to determine our lifestyle (through intellect and emotion), how can we restrict the options of others? If someone else’s decision does not impede my ability to live freely, how can I justly prevent them from making those choices, even if I would not select that for myself? If the United States of America is to be a great nation, we should allow for freedom of choice, just as God has allowed for us.
We must also remember that all political candidates are flawed humans, above all things. You may hate Hilary Clinton. You may hate Donald Trump. That’s fine… they are sinful people, just like the rest of us Just a reminder, there are other choices for president, too. And if you think that voting for a third party candidate is a wasted vote, I recommend that you read this piece, which discusses that argument very thoroughly.
In the end, I hope that people will make informed decisions come election time. I also hope that people will not vote selfishly and just for their own self-interest. The USA is a very large nation, with so many people with different beliefs and lifestyles. I pray that we can be compassionate and honorable to our fellow human beings, regardless of our differences.