Martin W. Bender
I was reading an article by a Mennonite about participation in government (insert nerd joke here). The article explained voting as a means of conflict resolution. If you are at all familiar with the Mennonites, you likely know the article concluded that voting is inappropriate for Christians as the government inevitably uses violence as its primary tool. Pretty much extreme pacifism.
I am by no means a pacifist, but I did like how the article brought to mind how Christians should interact with the state. The challenge American Christians face is the morality of voting for individuals who hold views counter to Christian teaching. As Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders vie for the presidency, the thoughtful Christian must ask, “Which of these candidates best reflects Christ’s thought, action, and character?”
Perhaps I’m being a bit too idealistic, or maybe I’m a little irritated that after having switched favorites twice in the primaries I now have even fewer options, but there simply doesn’t seem to be a candidate even remotely tolerable in terms of applying biblical morality to the most powerful office on earth. I don’t suppose I have much cause for complaining though, as elected officials generally try to reflect the positions of the people in order to maintain power. I find myself leaning closer to the position of the Mennonites and early Baptists regarding the separation of church and state as a result.
The question I am left with is whether voting remains a valid form of conflict resolution for me in terms of national politics. The article listed negotiation, voting, and violence as the typical means of conflict resolution, but at the end suggests all of these result in the compromising of Christian thought and that the best means of changing society is not through political action, but through the proclamation of the Gospel.
The church would be better served by focusing its attention on the Gospel rather than attempting to change the world through worldly means. At the same time, Christians bear a civic responsibility to use the power they have to promote the Christian message. This means there needs to be an element of Christian participation in government, but that participation ought not replace the continual declaration of Jesus Christ and his work.
I've not yet decided how I'm going to participate in this year's presidential election. I do have a sense of peace, however, knowing God is sovereign over all that happens and it is through him any come to political power.