by Ted Kyle
Elections are important to the Christian community. And that may be doubly true in this year of our Lord, 2008. Great issues are on the table, and if believers want to stand in the gap and resist the surge toward "social liberalism"-much of which is in rebellion against God and His Word-now is the time to stand up and be counted.
But there is a problem: We rarely get to vote for or against "issues." Instead we are invited to vote for or against people-candidates for office. And this is where the choices become less black-and-white and more grey.
How can we know what is in any candidate's heart? How can we tell which way he or she will vote or decide on key issues? How can we foretell whether one or another will cave in to political pressures brought to bear? Or how can we discern whether pride of office will subtly guide an elected official into compromise instead of standing firm for the truth of God's way?
Unfortunately, the Christian community at large is no better-and may be worse-at judging in advance how politics will play out when the time comes. We are not very good prophets. Perhaps we are too trusting at times.
But we are more apt to opt out of the process entirely. And that is the wrong attitude and answer. We are citizens and we can make a difference, and we have a responsibility to stand for what we believe.
Did I say Christian influence can make a difference? Indeed. Here is one instance of Christian influence doing just that, on a world-wide scale: Chuck Colson recently included in a Break Point column this quote from Mike Gershon, a former senior policy adviser to President Bush: "Because politics can protect the weak in the cause of justice," Gerson wrote, it can be a noble profession. And because the oppression of the weak is an offense against the image of God, politics is an urgent calling.' (from his book, Heroic Conservatism-Harper Collins, 2007).
Gerson's book, for example, credits Christian influence with the government implementing a huge U.S. investment in AIDS containment in Africa in 2002. He describes a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss a $15 billion program-which would reach two million people with lifesaving drugs, prevent seven million new infections, and provide care to 10 million victims and their orphans: "the largest health initiative to combat a single disease in history."
"The president asked the hard questions. It is a worthy goal, he said-but will it work?" Policy experts weighed in, describing an innovative model of drug delivery and the Uganda plan, which is based on Christian principles. But the keepers of the budget were strongly opposed. When Gerson's turn to speak came, he said, "If we can do this, and we don't, it will be a source of shame. Six weeks later, I sat in the Roosevelt Room with other Christian leaders while President Bush announced his decision to go ahead."
Three years ago, Gerson visited a Sisters of Charity orphanage in Addis Ababa, where about 400 HIV-positive orphans were being cared for. "Until a few years ago, every single child at that orphanage died before the age of...nine," Gerson wrote. "Now, because of AIDS drugs, nearly every child lives, and the sisters have begun planning for job training when the orphans grow up."
This, he added, is "an honest-to-God miracle of science, repeated in hundreds of thousands of cases across Africa-and Americans should be proud of the part they have taken in it."
Another key issue facing the country this year is the effort to undo the horrific damage of Roe v. Wade. "Can there be a higher priority or a more compelling moral issue than 3,600 babies dying every day?" asks Richard Land, in his book, The Divided States of America? What Liberals AND Conservatives Are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match! (Thomas Nelson, 2007).
Land notes that "we lose more babies through abortion every year than the total fatalities in all of the wars in which we have ever participated."
Still another vital issue is turning back the attack on the American family.
Voting is terribly important.
But before you vote, pray for wisdom and do your homework. Do your level best to know how the candidates will vote on the issues. Pay more attention to their past actions than to their campaign promises. Don't look for a perfect man or woman: there is none. But check them out on the issues that matter to you. Personally, for instance, I will never vote for an accomplice in the murder of innocent babies.
Then, when you've done your homework, keep praying for our country!
Ted Kyle is managing editor of Pulpit Helps magazine.