The deadline for voter registration in the state of Pennsylvania just passed, and as a resident of Philadelphia, I barely mustered up the emotional energy to click on the registration link. Registration day served as another glaring reminder that I, an otherwise upstanding citizen of this great yet conflicted nation, continue to wrestle with the looming reality of voting. Like for many Christians heading to the polls this November, the decision on who to vote for hasn’t been so black or white.
To be brief, I am a woman of color, millennial, an immigrant, and evangelical Christian. Take a moment to let that sink in. I’ve spent most of the current presidency in an identity crisis, fragmented between the portrayal of evangelical Christianity in the mainstream media and what I know to be true about the Christian faith. I used to ignore politics in favor of going about my Father’s business in peace. Those were simpler times. John Piper once said that “the spiritual condition of a person’s soul is infinitely more important than any political transaction on the face of the earth.” While I still believe that, the line between politics and religion is growing progressively blurrier.
Now a days, I feel torn between the positions of two parties that speak to different aspects of my identity. I was moved to tears by Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony even though 48% of evangelicals pledged their undying support for Brett Kavanaugh, guilty or not. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I fought back nausea when President Trump mocked Dr. Ford publicly while the audience laughed in response. But I also wept when millions of women marched for their right to terminate their pregnancies. I couldn’t reconcile how the same march protesting inhumane practices such as racism and sexual abuse was promoting a mother’s right to end her child’s life. I watched in disbelief as Christian businesses around the country were attacked for refusing to perform services that directly conflicted with their values. I did the same when innocent children were taken from their parents and placed in detention centers. Christians label me a liberal and non-christians label me a conservative, and I’m just over here wondering “what would Jesus do”? And at times, I’m not quite sure.
This internal struggle got the best of me at the 2016 elections, rendering me useless at the polls. Given that 46.9% of eligible voters did not vote in that election, I’m wasn’t the only one who felt that way. While the loudest voices on social media and news platforms tend to be those who’ve dug their heels on extreme ends of the spectrum, most of us linger somewhere in the middle. The more politically savvy readers may assert that believers should educate themselves about these issues on a deeper level. They have a valid point. I’m guilty of not comprehending the in’s and out’s of foreign policy, debt ceilings, health care reform, and which country we should trade with. But I think John Piper’s response to that said it best.
“The time and focus it would take for me to do the research would take me into a wholly different life than the one I am presently called to live. I am called to the enormous task of understanding the Scriptures, and preaching what they mean in their original context, and then, so far as I’m able, to apply to people’s real lives. In other words, I deal with the Bible pretty far upstream from the flow down into the nitty-gritties of political realization.”
While I’m not liking myself to one of the most prolific Bible teachers of our time, I am using his statement to shed light on our current reality. Most of us will never know enough facts about these hot button issues to make a completely informed decision. Most of us will vote based on our deeply rooted convictions, not our intellectual prowess. For most of us, viewing these issues in the light of scripture is our best option. That being said, here’s what we do know. We strongly believe in defending the sanctity of marriage, the humanity of an unborn fetus, and the necessity of constitutionally mandated religious freedom. We just as strongly believe in championing the poor, helping the refugee, and fighting against racism and sexism. Sadly, we’re aware that the solutions to these issues lie at opposing ends of the political landscape and many of us are caught in the middle.
This is not meant to be a long winded excuse for why Christians shouldn’t feel compelled to vote. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I’m still conflicted on who to vote for in the upcoming Midterms, but I do know that choosing to do nothing is the coward’s way out. Luke 12:48 states that for whomsoever much is given, much is required. We are a people who have been given much. American’s are blessed to be afforded the unalienable right to have a say in who gets to lead our country. While Christians in other nations are literally dying for the right to own a bible, we hold the power to choose the candidate who most reflects Christ. Given this autonomy, the lack of decisive action on our part is poor stewardship and likely more sinful than we think. If you’re one of the 46.9%, who chose to not vote in the last election, the chance for redemption is coming. Come November, those of us who are perpetually undecided must take a stance. We must choose the lesser evil or the greater good, depending on how you look at it. While I can’t tell you who to vote for, I know that the best place to start is “what would Jesus do?”.