Yesterday I posted about the fact that the church has a responsibility to point people to eternal issues rather than temporal issues. If we do anything as an institution or as individuals that distracts others from the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, I believe we are in sin. Unfortunately, I don't believe the Church as an institution has done this well. We've made people believe that they have to be against gay marriage to go to heaven, which I believe is a sin more heinous than homosexuality itself since it distorts and confuses the Gospel.
When the Church as an institution affiliates with a party, platform, or candidate, it sends the wrong message to a watching world. The Church needs to demonstrate that our focus is not in the reformation of society, but in the reconcilliation of a world to Jesus Christ. From the pulpit on Sunday, politics are a distraction from what's really important.
However, I don't want to take that too far. Mark Batterson, who is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC has an interview worth reading here. I think he thinks through the issue really well. Here's part of what he says: "Part of my driving desire as a pastor is to remove every obstacle except the cross that would keep people from coming to faith in Christ. That means we don't want to affiliate with a party. We don't want to affiliate with a candidate. But we also don't want to avoid important spiritual issues simply because some people consider them political."
I believe to my core that freedom is a stewardship. Our ability to participate in government is a gift from God, and we as Christians should absolutely be involved in that process. And our faith should absolutely inform the way we as individuals vote.
We as believers have a stewardship to take what we know and believe as ambassadors of Jesus Christ into the world, and into the voting booth. But not just on one or two issues - on the entire spectrum of issues that are all spiritual. And it's not always so cut and dried.
Issues like assisting the impoverished, abortion, homosexuality, war, personal character, capital punishment, and freedom are all spiritual issues, not political issues, that the Christian must consider when going into the voting booth. But as a matter of stewardship, we have to balance them all.
Take this, for example: I am unashamedly pro-life. I don't believe I could ever vote for a candidate who would have a direct affect in legislation that would affect the lives of unborn babies. That comes from my understanding and application of Scripture, and I'm passionate about it. But I think being a one-item voter is bad stewardship. Not long ago I voted for a candidate for state senate who was pro-choice, because the pro-life candidate he was running against was a snake, who fell short on a number of other spiritual issues that I couldn't support. As a good steward, I couldn't in good conscience vote for the pro-life candidate because in almost every other way he stood antithetical to what I believe. I don't believe it would have been good stewardship to vote him into office.
The Church as an institution needs to be faithful to teach its members what God has said apart from the political spectrum. The church of individuals has a personal stewardship to examine and apply those Truths in every aspect of their lives - including the voting booth.