The 2016 election for the President of the United States is over. Two major candidates. One won, and the other lost. Many Americans are relieved that the election itself is over. There were strong opinions on each side and I had the sense that whichever side a person was on there was the feeling that if their candidate won all would be well and if they lost it would about the worst disaster that ever befell these United States.
After the election I got involved in a discussion where I expressed the viewpoint that in my opinion each of the major party candidates was disqualified from serving as President on the basis of significant problems with their character. I felt their character faults were such that I could not vote for either one.
That opinion received a bit of "push back." How could I dare equate the character of these two candidates?
My response was to offer one example for one candidate and one example for the other. I said that it may be an "apples to oranges" comparison, but the result was the same, that their character faults were so severe that I could not vote for either one.
I know that there were a lot of people voting who held reservations about the person they were voting for. Their plan was to basically pinch their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. I had considered that option earlier this summer but here is the thing: A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. And when I considered my vote that way I knew the "lesser of two evils" wouldn’t be an option for me.
And this is where I am actually thankful for the post-election conversation push-back, because it helped me to understand my position from a point-of-view shaped by the Bible.
The "lesser-of-two evils" argument makes a certain kind of practical sense. We use it when faced with two poor choices and there doesn’t appear to be any other way to go. And I will grant that the character faults I found in the two major party candidates may not have been any kind of big deal to many other voters. Over 60 million people voted for each one. Nonetheless, I knew that I, in good conscience, could not vote for either one.
As children of God we are not called to make choices solely based on their practicality. Instead, God calls His children to live with a completely different point-of-view, one grounded in who He is. In Leviticus 19:2 God says,
"You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy."
God doesn't suggest that we consider being holy. He commands that we who follow Him "be holy," and He commands it based on His own holiness. And that command shapes our choices and way of living beyond the practical thoughts of the here-and-now.
While it is a command of God, living on this side of heaven it is a command we can pursue but never fully achieve. Our world is fallen and saturated in sin. Every Christian will struggle with sin for as long as they draw breath. But the Good News is that in Jesus we can know the forgiveness of our sins, those times when we fail to make holy choices and live holy lives.
So let us be people who live with open eyes to the world around us and the choices that lie before us. Let us be people who seek to live in ways that reflect who God is and to shine His light into the world. And when we falter, let us seek the mercy and grace that only come at the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Addendum: In a bit of irony I didn’t cast a vote for President last week. I had intended to write-in my vote, only to arrive at my polling place and learn that write-in votes are not allowed in New Mexico. There were eight candidates on the ballot. Besides the two major party candidates I was only familiar with three of the minor party candidates and since I wasn't going to vote for them either I left the presidential choice on my ballot empty.