Tuesday, November 5, 2019, was a first for me.
In our statewide general election, I voted against a friend. Yes, you heard me right. I voted against a childhood friend. And it was one of the saddest things I have ever done as an adult.
On Election Day in Mississippi, I awoke overwhelmed by a profound feeling that I was making the only choice I could. In fact, my husband and I discussed the election and our votes one more time on our way to work. We both voiced sadness over the fact that a person we admired and knew to have always been an upright individual would not and could not garner our votes.
The Line in the Sand
"Why not?" you might ask. Well, I cannot as a Christian, a devoted follower of Christ, vote for a candidate who belongs to a political party that does not treasure and uphold the rights of pre-born babies, traditional family values, or America’s alliance with Israel. Those are three core beliefs I cannot overlook or sweep under the rug in order to vote for a friend.
I have heard all the arguments, and I have even voiced a few of my own to the Maker of my soul. But the reality is that I am a Christian, and the Holy Spirit who lives within me teaches me, guides me, and convicts me according to the Word of God. And those three issues represent a line in the sand for me.
Some people will say that religion and politics should never mix, and maybe they are right on some level. For instance, I am always quite shocked when I see politicians step into a church pulpit during a Sunday morning service and campaign for themselves.
Granted, some such politicians may speak on Christ-centered topics. And looking back, some of our greatest American pastors have brought about the most Christ-centered change in our land by addressing the issues of the day.
Think about the Black Robe Regiment, Quaker abolitionists, as well as modern-day ministers such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Those historic Christian figures impacted America for the better through their words and their deeds.
Likewise, compassionate, thoughtful pastors throughout American history crafted scriptural sermons around the societal, cultural issues of their day. But the key to their sermons and the key to the lasting, positive impact their sermons had upon society was Scripture. The Word of God is alive, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). And it has always divided right from wrong, truth from deception – always.
So, I am not shocked by pulpits that address issues of our day from a biblical viewpoint. I am encouraged by such. But I am shocked that some politicians will commandeer a pulpit for self-promotion. I personally think I would be too fearful of God Almighty to attempt such a feat.
The Company We Keep
I am also shocked when Christian friends tell me I should personally separate my religion from my politics. And I imagine my face always portrays my shock. My instantaneous question is, “How? How does a Christian separate any part of his/her life from their walk with Christ?”
Christ IS my life. Seriously. He permeates every part of who I am and what I do. Christianity is not a religion for me; it is a relationship with Christ, my Redeemer.
What I eat, what I read, what I watch, and what I write – all of those things are done with Christ in mind. The places I go, the people I meet, and the things I do (whether at home, at work, or elsewhere) all come back to who I am in Christ. I cannot even imagine going to Walmart and separating who I am as a Christian from who I am as a shopper. I serve and live for Christ, and therefore, my choices and actions belong to Him.
Am I perfect? No! Far, far, far from it.
But if I learn His words and listen to His Spirit, He will constantly and continually guide me, convict me, and correct me of my sins. And when it comes right down to it, I simply live for Him, and I live to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
So, no, I cannot imagine separating religion from politics. And I cannot imagine people who vote for the “person” instead of the “party.”
Again, I have to ask, “How? How do you separate a man or a woman from the party they willingly choose to represent?”
That is like saying we can separate someone from the job they do, or the church they attend, or even the people with whom they associate.
Alliances and Actions
A doctor cannot willingly perform abortions and expect people to believe he or she is a Christian physician; that does not compute. And if a preacher stood in a pulpit and condoned racism, we would denounce him and know he was not, in fact, a true believer. Furthermore, if our children continually associated with individuals who were getting into trouble, wouldn’t we fear our kids were in danger as well?
The same goes for politicians. They are tied to their party’s politics. Now, neither party is filled with perfect people, but one party financially and legislatively supports abortion. So, when a politician (no matter how kind and caring that individual is) aligns with that particular party, they have aligned with murder.
Take, for example, my friend – the one I voted against yesterday. This person might say they have never and would never personally vote for or support abortion. But the fact is, they took political campaign funds from a party that does support abortion. People might say it is an indirect connection, but I see a direct tie to the sin of murder.
And no matter how much I like my friend and his family, that one tie is a tiebreaker for me. Add to that the issues of family values and our nation’s relationship with Israel, and it was a done deal for me.
So, yes, I voted against a friend. It pained me, and it will further pain me every time I see that friend or think about three generations of commonality and friendship that my family has shared with this family.
And I honestly cannot say that my friend’s opponent was a better human. The truth is that every person on our very long ballot was a sinner. Every single one of them. And so am I. As was every voter who stepped into a Mississippi voting booth on Election Day.
For me, my vote went beyond the person, the party, and even beyond my religion. It became a matter of obedience to the One who lives within me. And He is my greatest friend of all.