Do you realize that Tuesday, March 1, is an important voting day? Not only will Texas vote in the Presidential Primary, but there are also local measures and people on the ballot. So we'd love to share some reasons why it's worth weighing in, even now.
During a contentious political season, it is easy as Christians to make a couple of key mistakes.
The first is to put too much hope in a particular candidate or party.
But another extreme is removing ourselves from the process entirely (the "ostrich effect”). Sure, we can couch our inaction in spiritual language and talk about God’s sovereignty. But while God is indeed sovereign, He has provided a means to engage in our country's political process and to demonstrate our biblical values in that process. We know that we are called to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), work for the peace and prosperity of our city (Jeremiah 29:7), and to be subject to our leaders (Romans 13:1-6).
Even though we've heard plenty that we should vote, it's natural to wonder, “Does my one vote actually matter?”
If I am honest, sometimes taking part in the political process just feels like swimming upstream against a culture that doesn’t agree with me. I am reminded of a quote from Jon Stewart: "You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: It wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena."
But Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President of Southern Baptist Convention, provides a helpful exhortation (emphasis mine):
“The thing is, for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, avoiding politics can’t be an option. I submit to you that while it’s okay to be fed up, it’s not okay to sit out. And, in fact, participating in the electoral process is exactly the sort of cultural engagement we’re called to by our faith. This is part of what Jesus meant when he told us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
...“The Christian worldview gives us a valuable perspective on important questions related to helping the poor, maximizing individual freedoms, dignifying life, strengthening families, protecting the unborn, and guarding religious freedom. Without our votes, that voice is absent.”
We also need to realize that the general presidential election isn't the only ballot that matters. For instance, it's clear this year that the Texas Republican and Democratic primaries could play huge roles in determining the eventual U.S. President.
I would argue that you can actually have more influence during the primaries and with local elections. At the city level, your mayor and city council play a tremendous role in your everyday life. For instance, right now the Dallas City Council is considering and ruling on issues that will affect crime, blight, poverty, education, sexual orientation ordinances, growth, and economic development - right here at home. For those in other communities, the impact of your city officials is similar.
Does your vote matter locally? Of course it does! I recently had lunch with a friend who serves in local office. He talked at length about the importance of courage and leadership, and the tension of connecting his faith with his role as an elected official among other leaders and a constituency who don’t always share his values. I walked away really encouraged by our conversation, and curious to know how many votes it takes to get elected to different offices.
It ends up that he won his race by 36 votes! The point is… your vote matters.
Phillip Haigh, Director of Public Policy at The Dallas Regional Chamber, argues something similar in his article, Primary Voting - Why Your Vote Now Matters in November. Haigh points out that many eventuall state representatives will probably be determined next week - not in November! (Surprised? Read his quick article to see why that's true.)
So with these things in mind, I decided to do some research on my local state representative. I have met him a couple of times, and he was a nice enough guy. He said he loves Jesus and was excited about some of the work Watermark does in the neighborhood where he grew up.
Then I looked into a couple of the issues that I personally care about (Life and Fiscal Responsibility). I found out he didn’t score so well, in my opinion, with a 0 on the Texas Right to Life Scorecard and 32 on a Fiscal Scorecard I used.
Well, I guess I need to check out the other guy.
The point is, your vote - even your vote next week - matters. So making that decision wisely and well matters, too.
These candidates are real men and women - with families, emotions, strengths and weaknesses, areas of passion, and differing perspectives. Yes, a few politicians probably care only about polls, power, and re-election. But for the most part, I believe candidates truly see their job as servant-leaders, to make decisions for the common good of our city, state, and country.
Our job is to vote for the men and women who best reflect the values we hold as believers in Christ, pray diligently, and not shrink back from stewarding the awesome privilege we have.
Find the External Focus blog at watermark.org/blog/external-focus - with a new entry every Tuesday!