(Please accept my apologies for interrupting the tranquility of my current blog series for such an unpleasant, but needful, discussion.)

“So, Tim, what do you think about the election?”

To be perfectly honest, not a single person has asked me that question, so my intention has been to keep my thoughts to myself.  What changed my mind was a phone call that I received on Monday from a sweet, kindhearted, generous, elderly Christian woman.  She spoke to me through tears as she described how a fellow believer had told her that she could not be a Christian or have any hope of going to heaven if she voted for a Democrat.   My dear sister was concerned that I was going to be preaching this from the pulpit and feared that a political test of faith would bar her from fellowship and participation in the life of Christ’s body here.  I hope that I sufficiently allayed her fears.  May God be merciful to the souls of those who would cause this kind of offense to His precious children and promote such divisiveness.

Yesterday, I had absolutely no idea who would win the Presidential election.  I didn’t know if I would be praying today for President Obama as he prepared to serve a second term or for Governor Romney as he prepared to be sworn in next January 20 as the 45th President of the United States.  Regardless of the election’s outcome, I was committed to offering prayers on the winner’s behalf (I Tim. 2:1-2), extending the honor and respect that is due to one who holds such an office (I Pet. 2:17), and being as submissive as my faith allows as a citizen of the United States to our government and its leadership (Rom. 13:1-7; I Pet. 2:13-17).

Before I proceed to offend many of my fellow believers, let me affirm that I am a conservative Christian who believes in the inspiration of Scripture, the triune nature of God, salvation in Jesus alone, and what are commonly called Judeo-Christian values and ethics, including the right to life of the unborn and the biblical definition of marriage between one man and one woman (for life, by the way, and not just until the next one).

Over the course of the last four years, I have been saddened, disturbed, and sometimes embarrassed by the politicization of Christian faith and the bitterness, vitriol, spitefulness, ill will, rumormongering, name-calling, “doomsdaying,” and unkind speech from many who profess faith in Jesus Christ and claim to represent Him as disciples.  If you haven’t done this, then I’m not talking to you.  Feel free to skip out on the rest of the discussion, or keep reading if you wish.

Here are a few of my “major maladjustments.”

Far too many Christians have been seduced by the allure of political power, intoxicated by its vain promises, and convinced that any hope for a Christian America lies in the hands of a secular government and a single political party.  Jesus had the opportunity to establish a Christian nation from the get-go.  He passed on that and chose instead to manifest His reign through a borderless spiritual kingdom made up of people from all nations, tribes, and tongues.  The authority, power structures, and military might of the “rulers of the nations” do not figure into the economy of His kingdom.

Much of the conservative, Christian community in the U.S. has been shamefully silent this year on the heterodoxy of Mormonism.  Prominent evangelical leaders “observed the Passover” on the subject and some even backed off of their long-held classification of Mormonism as a cult, not because of new-found, theological common ground with the Latter Day Saints, but for purely political reasons.

I recently saw an admonition for Christians to “choose wise, understanding, and experienced men” (Deut. 1:13) in a religious publication that served as a thinly veiled endorsement for Governor Romney.  Question:  Is a man wise and understanding (or credulous, naive, and foolish?) to base his entire worldview and belief system on myths, legends, fabrications, forgeries, and latter-day “revelations” that are accepted as Holy Scripture?  The editors of the journal apparently believed that “winning” was worth the emboldening, empowering, and further mainstreaming of a faith that is radically foreign to Biblical Christianity.  So did a lot of other people.

Fear, guilt, and manipulation have been used to convince Christians that there was only one vote in this election that would keep them in good standing with their Lord and Savior.  A recent video from Mike Huckabee warned Christians that their votes would be “recorded in eternity.”  Does it not strike anyone else as inexplicably odd that evangelicals, who stress the grace of God to a fault and vehemently reject any hint of “a righteousness of works,” could simultaneously suggest that the way you marked your ballot might “make or break” heaven for you?  Lest you think that I’m somehow biased against Governor Huckabee, you should know that I voted for him four years ago in the Republican primary in Texas.  This is just a prime example of what happens when faith sells out to politics.

While I’m on the subject of irony, have you noticed the following?  When we talk about money and stewardship in our worship assemblies on Sunday, “everything we have belongs to God.”  On Monday, when we start talking politics and taxes, “it’s our money and they can’t take it!”

In the name of faith and patriotism, many American Christians are sowing seeds of destruction.  It was Jesus, and not just Lincoln, who said, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand,” (Matthew 12:25).  While Christians are not to be blamed for creating the gulf in our nation, far too few are working as peacemakers to narrow the gap.  Rather than serving as voices of civility, reason, grace, and purposeful persuasion, many believers are deepening the divide through the thoughtless parroting of inflammatory rhetoric.  The current administration is referred to as a “regime” and “tyrannical” as if it were some Third World dictatorship.  There is widespread talk of “Taking America Back” as though control of the country had been wrested away by a military coup rather than through the democratic processes on which our nation was founded.  Do we despise democracy when it results in the election of officials that we do not support?

Several months ago, I encouraged a brother in Christ, despite his intense dissatisfaction and personal dislike, to still pray for the nation’s Chief Executive.  He sharply responded, “He’s not my President!”  That’s patriotic?  That’s American?  That’s Christian?

As for the persecution and suppression of Christianity in America, I can only speak from personal experience, but neither the exercise of my faith nor the ministry and mission work of the congregation where I serve have been impinged upon or impeded by government interference in the last four years.  I don’t expect that to change in the next four years, regardless of who was elected yesterday.  For the record, I don’t count restrictions on the distribution of candy canes and the prohibition of high school sports banners with out-of-context Scriptures as persecution.  Unfair and wrong, yes!  Persecution, no!

Had Governor Romney been elected yesterday as our next President, I anticipate that, unlike President Obama, he would have been regularly and publicly prayed for by name in numerous Christian assemblies over the next four years.  Many of the Christians that I have just described would be issuing rousing calls for national unity and making impassioned pleas for all Americans to work together despite our differences.  Hypocrisy would be running high.

If the sitting President were more frequently prayed for than pilloried by Christians, then perhaps his positions and performance would more closely conform to our preferences.  If we were as passionate in proclaiming Christ as we are in promoting our politics, maybe we would be closer to the nation of Christians that we seek to be.  The more that Christians are distracted by politics, the more we should seek to identify “the ball” from which Satan has succeeded in diverting our eyes and attention.

First and foremost, I am a child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit.  No power on earth can change that.   I am also an American, and one who loves his country very much.  I love it so much, in fact, that I cannot remain silent when I see fellow believers further contributing to its demise and weakening their witness as Christians.

These thoughts and viewpoints are entirely my own and are in no way offered as being representative of those of my family, my congregation, or my friends (real, imaginary, or Facebook).