Don’t Tell Me Who to Vote For! Pastors, That Goes Double!
The question of who to vote for is not a question I want answered by a pastor.
When I visit a doctor, I want one of two things: either a solution (or a plan to solve) a medical issue or a general picture of my current health.
When I take my car to a mechanic, I’m likewise looking for one of two things: either a repair for a specific issue or general maintenance.
At the risk of sounding dull, I’m honestly not that complicated a person when it comes to certain things. In fact, I think that in general, we try too often to overcomplicate things.
When I walk into a church, I’m likewise looking for one of two things. I’d either like to hear the pastor speak to a specific issue I’m experiencing — or, short of that, find someone with whom I can discuss it — or see how a Biblical teaching either does or does not apply to my life today.
I never want a pastor to tell me what to believe. Ever.
I want the pastor to tell me what Christ taught, so I can make those mental connections for myself. Otherwise, I’m just a mindless little sheep who blindly follows and, therefore, can’t hold much personal value to anything I believe because it wasn’t mine to begin with, but rather something I was just fed.
Likewise, I never want a pastor to tell me who to vote for. I’d just as soon not know who the pastor is voting for, for that matter.
Just as I’m quite capable of reading the Bible and seeking out Christ’s words on a particular topic when something I hear in church or something I hear a Christian say seems a bit “off,” I’m perfectly capable of reading up on issues facing our country and judging for myself which candidates are closest to the topics that might be of the most importance to me.
Going to church to hear a political message would be like going to your doctor to talk about football: you might be a huge football fan, but that’s not what a doctor is for. That’s not why a doctor’s in practice. That’s not what you’re paying for.
Some pastors make it quite clear who they think you should vote for. Unfortunately, many of them seem to stay within a narrow box of one particular party and conveniently ignore things anyone in that party might say that can be quite unchristian in nature.
The party, to this type of pastor, means more than the candidate.
When I first moved to Charleston, I looked at a few church websites as I tried to decide which churches I’d visit in person. I stumbled across a church that had a podcast available and I listened to it. The pastor was talking about how he loved women, but didn’t know what “God would do to America” if we elected that woman — Hillary Clinton. This was in late 2006, long before she became a serious contender in the 2008 race.
I’m no fan of Hillary, but as soon as I heard that, I stopped the podcast and scratched that church off the list. I’ve never set foot in that church to this day.
I would think pastors, more than anyone else, would realize we’re called to be fishers of men: that means stepping outside of the zone of people who believe like we do to reach those who don’t.
Yet that kind of pastor won’t even consider stepping outside a specific party — and I think you know which one I refer to — to even consider whether any other candidate might just be putting forth ideas that better fit the example of, for instance, the early church described in Acts, such as selling one’s excesses to help others in need.
A strong Christian does not automatically equal a great president. The conservative right is quick to point out that Jimmy Carter was what they call a “lousy” president. deny Carter was one of the most deeply religious men ever to serve in that office. And his life’s work after leaving office remains an example of Christian compassion that few, if any, presidents before or since have displayed.
A pastor’s job is to help church members build their own personal relationship with Jesus. It’s not the pastor’s job to tell people what they should or shouldn’t believe. It’s not a pastor’s job to tell people which political party they should belong to. And it’s not a pastor’s job to tell people who they should vote for.
Pastors who want to get into the State’s business rather than focusing on God’s Word should have no problem with the State getting involved in how they conduct Church. I doubt many would go for that.