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Thursday, February 04, 2016

How Did That Happen?

So, it appears that there is evidence that a large portion of our country (the Democrats) are headed openly toward what we long suspected -- socialism. In the Iowa caucus, the Democrats were about even choosing between the socialist and the criminal. That a self-identified "I want to take the money from the rich -- everyone, actually -- and redistribute it, outspend all other presidents with money we don't have, and call it good" socialist democrat could show so well in a vote in America's heartland speaks volumes about America's heart.

But what happened with the Republicans? Trump, to my great consternation, was leading all along, yet, when it came down to a vote, Cruz was ahead of Trump and Rubio was close behind. Is it possible that Republicans are not entirely brain-dead despite the claims of the Democrats to the contrary? How did that happen?

It's okay. Some trust in democracies and some trust in government and some even trust in the will of the people. I won't put my trust in "Egypt for chariots and for horsemen" (Isa 36:9). Trusting in the world systems to make this a better place isn't very wise in my mind. "But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are My God.'" (Psa 31:14)


David said...

And yet another reason for me to not care about voting.

Stan said...

I never thought you did not care about voting ... for a reason. I thought you just didn't care about voting. Too much trouble. Not interested. Not invested. Who cares? That kind of thing. You mean you actually don't care about voting based on principle?

David said...

Yep. It used to just be lethargy, but as more people insisted I need to vote, I tried. The more involved in the process I became, the more fruitless it appeared. I am in a political minority. I live in places that make that minority even more apparent. The options available to me don't even come close to what I believe. So what does it matter? In the grand political scheme, my vote is worthless. In the grand scheme of life, my vote won't make the country a better place or influence it in any way. And finally, I would be wholly disheartened if I had to put my faith in the American Democratic process. All I can do is strive to live my life as God would want me, and let the secular system take care of the secular world. Nothing I do politically will change the flow of hatred toward Christianity, or make any significance in my daily life. So, let the world demolish itself, I have the Lord to depend on.

Stan said...

Or, in the grand scheme of things, God might use your vote to accomplish something in this country. Or not.

David said...

Really doubt one meager vote would change the course of this country, especially in regard to the president since my state will vote liberal. If God wants to accomplish change in America, it will be through some other means than my sole vote.

Bob said...

Even secular kings were used By God. i understand the frustration of having to make a choice between the lessor of two evils. but we must beware of the super philosophy, "what does it matter, God will sort it out" way of thinking. just because we cannot see the influence cause by our vote does not mean that our voted does not count. that is just the kind of thinking that surrenders our valuable rights. be encouraged God is in control, but despite the apparent frustration of the process, we still have a responsibility to exercise our freedom to vote.
David let your heart be still in this matter because if Hillary or Trump get elected, its probably something you did.. Or not.

David said...

Then being used by God is exactly another reason my vote doesn't matter. No matter who becomes president, God put them there and will use them to His end. Leaving it up to God is one less thing for me to worry about. He will accomplish His Will.

Josh said...

I also don't vote, but not because of it's futility. I don't vote for the same reason I have a hard time saying the pledge of allegiance. It forces me into a "dual citizenship" mindset. I feel like politics in general, especially for me, is a tempting idol. I imagine that with the perfect policies we could create the perfect society. In reality there is nothing "Christian" about the US government, or any government for that matter. That is why there is no perfect policies, no perfect political candidate, no perfect economic solution, and the list goes on. As we try to elect "Christian" leaders we are like Israel begging God for a king, when God has already told us he is our King. With white knuckles we try and cling to the power afforded by political positions, when in reality we should just be working at building the Kingdom of God wherever we are. I disagree that we have a responsibility to vote, we have a responsibility to obey God and allow His Spirit to work through us to build his Kingdom.

Stan said...

And ... now we've arrived at fatalism. "It doesn't matter what I do or don't do because God will do whatever He wants." Except that it's not biblical. We are commanded to obey government, pray, serve, disciple, share the gospel ... on and on and on. If "God will do whatever He wants so it doesn't matter what I do" is true, then none of that matters. Contrast this with the astounding story in Acts 27 when God told Paul that all would survive the storm, then Paul warned that if any of the sailors left, everyone would die. What we have here is a certainty cloaked in a potentiality. So we pray and obey and evangelize and be good citizens to be used by God rather than not do anything because God will do what He wants.

Stan said...

Josh, we are commanded to obey civil authorities (Rom 13:1-2) and to give "entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings ... for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim 2:1-2). Isn't that a "dual citizenship mindset"?

I don't put my trust in the political powers here, but I do believe that God works through them and I believe I am obligated to invest prayer and whatever else is required of good citizenship where I live.

Josh said...

Usually voting or picking a political position counters our willingness to do these things. Take for example the "Pray for Obama Psalms 109:8" bumper sticker or billboard. They also use 1 Kings 20:24. Their mindset is Obama isn't doing what a "Christian" ought to do, so they are not willing to pray for him and in fact they mock the bible with their contempt.

Another issue I find is our unwillingness to see beyond our political agenda. I will take an issue like immigration. If my identity is caught up in being American Republican (or Democrat), it is easy to have anti-Christian views towards immigrants. If my identity isn't in my national status, I can see immigrants (legal or illegal) as brothers and seek to serve and love them.

I can easily do all the things you mention and not vote. In fact if Christian's would stop trying to cling to political power and exercise the power God gives the church through the Holy Spirit, we would see the church do miraculous things. Instead we continue to be a "powerful" demographic candidates try to trick into voting for them. We continue the status quo of "Evangelical Conservatives". We delegate Jesus to the secretary of afterlife affairs, and pray that the USA will turn out to be the last great hope for the world...what a joke.

Stan said...

I know that that's a problem and I agree. Too many Christians are too involved as "Republicans" or "conservatives" or "Tea Party" or whatever. I don't actually find a political party that embraces my views, as I take my views from what I see in Scripture, not what I see in party platforms.

I think (I wasn't entirely clear on your comment) that you are making the same mistake you are complaining about when you say, "If Christian's would stop trying to cling to political power and exercise the power God gives the church through the Holy Spirit, we would see the church do miraculous things." From all appearances in Scripture, Christ and His disciples were not too interested in political matters at all. None of them campaigned to have the Caesar removed or even to eliminate the Sanhedrin or King Herod (or the like). The "miraculous things" (using the term loosely) that the church could do if it quit leaning on political power and leaned on the Spirit would not likely be political in nature at all. Of course, on the other hand, I don't think God is wringing His hands thinking, "Oh, if only My people would do what I want them to do, what amazing things I could accomplish."

Josh said...

I mostly agree with your last paragraph. Most of the things would not be political in nature (more coming to faith, intimate Christian community, discipleship...), although some might. Churches could run employment training to help people find employment, financial assistance for those in need, house the homeless, childcare for single parents or those in need, create great education institutions...etc. Our Christian life is meant to be political, it just isn't political in the ways of the world.

Stan said...

There is not doubt if Christians were busy living Christ and doing His work that there would be changed hearts and changed lives ... which would reflect a changed world. But the changed world would not be the aim. The changed hearts and lives would.

David said...

I'm only fatalistic in my political view, not in life. I do what I must and try to do what I should. I try to do what He wants and I've yet to read anywhere that He wants me to choose my secular leadership, or even the laws that leadership puts forth. I see no reason to involve myself in that process since my local vote is meaningless (example "Prop 8" in California) and the electoral college makes my presidential vote meaningless. The Lord will use those involved in the process to accomplish His Will. I just see no reason to stress myself over something I have no control.

Anonymous said...

"Equal pay for equal work!" is something Ms. Clinton will yell out to get her audience worked up on the issue of feminism. I am confused by that. Hasn't it been the case for decades that any company in the US which consistently pays females fewer dollars per hour than males doing the same work is subject to lawsuit? What exactly would she change?

Stan said...

I am not aware of the law on the matter, but, as it turns out, when all factors are taken into account, women are making about 98 cents for every dollar that men make. The touted 74 cents is, frankly, a lie. So when they decide to force companies to eliminate that "26 cent differential", it will be at the cost of companies ... and males. I don't believe that males or companies are of any great concern to Ms Clinton or Bernie Sanders or ...

Marshall Art said...

I'm seeing a lot of cheap rationalizations here. The notion that we cannot serve God if we are "too political" means we weren't serving God anyway. Everything I do must be for the glory of God, but doing nothing when something can be done cannot accomplish that goal. The "one vote won't matter" rationalization is faulty be virtue of the fact that one MORE vote can matter, it might matter, and this time might be THEM time it does matter. We simply can't know with anything akin to certainty. So do your part regardless of how futile it might seem.

Stan said, "I don't actually find a political party that embraces my views...", but I don't think any party can be "Stan specific" without failing to appeal to others. No. We don't have to even think of such things, but instead support that which comes closest to aligning with our views. Otherwise we're demanding what we have no authority, right or legitimate expectation to demand...that any party should be perfect. When we become perfect, we can demand perfection...not before.

We can whine about "lessers of evils" or we can focus on what gets us closer to what we'd like to see. Again, we can't expect perfection, but we can expect movement toward perfection, and that is a legitimate expectation.

That we might not get what we want and hope for, and the Prop 8 example is a good and tragic example of apparent futility, it only means we must step up our efforts to whatever extent our lives allow us to do so. How many of us actually write letters anymore, and do so to our elected representatives, regardless of whether we actually voted for them or not? How many of us pick up the phone and call their offices to more directly voice our concerns? Voting is the least effort one can put out to influence the culture in which we live. We don't even have to know anything in order to do it (as evidenced by how little too many voters actually know).

There's no justification for not being involved in the process. No appeal to "trust in God" holds water, as it is just another cheap rationalization and in my mind, the most sinful. God works through us, but we must actually do something. Those who do not involve themselves welcome the worst that befalls us. They invite tragedy and oppression.

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." -Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." -John Stewart Mill

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -most often attributed to Edmund Burke

Stan said...

"Cheap rationalizations". Nice way to engage in a dialog.

"Doing nothing when something can be done cannot accomplish that goal." The assumption, then, is that bringing glory to God (the goal in question) is accomplished by voting ... for someone, anyone, but not no one and certainly not a godly man (since no such option seems to exist). I question that assertion.

Of course a "Stan specific" political party would be ridiculous, but to find one that has more than one point of contact would be nice. I may be engaging in hyperbole to say "one point of contact", but not by far. The values of the parties offered are drifting farther and farther from the values I hold. Perfection? It has never been my expectation or even hope.

"We can whine about 'lessers of evils' or we can focus on what gets us closer to what we'd like to see." Okay. What I'd like to see is people repenting, is Christ glorified, is the Gospel preached, is hearts won. Now, exactly who do I vote for to get anything at all closer to that?

Do not mistake it for indifference, and do not think that not voting is "doing nothing". It is not voting, which in itself is something.

As for me, I have voted in every election, but it is getting harder and harder to see how the process is doing anything that makes this country better or furthers the gospel and glory of Christ. Conversely, the hardline stance like you take seems to demand that we put our trust in politics via the voting process (and writing letters and calling and the kinds of things you listed) when nothing in Scripture indicates that anyone in Scripture who sought to serve the Lord put much effort into civil authority. Again, I've voted every time, so you must not take this as an argument not to vote. I'm just saying that it's not as clear as you seem to believe.

David said...

I'm curious how my reasons are cheap.

My entire voting life, I have lived in blue states. So, my solitary vote literally counts for nothing.

If the options are only the lesser of two evils, how can either of them get us closer to where we want to be? (As an example) The democrats are on the liberal end of the spectrum. Sure, some slide closer to conservative than others, but they're all on the liberal end. Republicans are more middle of the scale. Sure, some slide closer to conservative, but most would probably fall closer to the liberal side than the conservative, and none of them are sliding any further to the conservative side. Everything is sliding toward the liberal side. So, who could I vote for that would try to bring us back to the conservative side, and be a candidate that could win (since he'd be going against both parties at that point)?

Finally, I don't encourage anyone else to not vote. If you feel drawn to do that, go right on ahead. Like I said before, God will use those that are in the process to accomplish His Will. I feel no such calling. I can see no Biblical command to vote, or be political. So, its not for me. I fully expect this country to lead itself to destruction, and my insignificant vote won't slow that process. The fact that Christians have had it so good so far has been an amazing blessing...and a horrible curse.

Marshall Art said...

"Nice way to engage in a dialog."

Thanks. It's good to get right to the point. I did not choose these words for effect. They accurately describe what is going on in some of the "reasons" for not voting. They're old, tired and overly used excuses. What they are not are reasonable. Pardon me for saying what I think, and sorry again for not anticipating sensitivities. Jeez! Is there no one left who won't get all wobbly and defensive these days at the drop of a hat?

"The assumption, then, is that bringing glory to God (the goal in question) is accomplished by voting..."

Of course not by voting alone, if that's what you're suggesting. But to suggest that voting cannot be a way of bringing glory to God is troubling as well. When there are issues that must be resolved in order to alleviate any manner of suffering and trouble, voting is one way to do that. It is seeing problems and doing something to help deal with those problems, and it's a relatively simple, painless and effortless way to do it. Yet, along with others of like mind, it can be the most effective in the long run. We can't sit back and choose not to under the lame excuse that it hasn't achieved one's desired purpose so far or every time. It is simply another of the ongoing duties of citizenship, and I might add, the duty of those devoted to doing God's will.

I don't concern myself with just how perfectly "godly" a candidate might be. Unless I'm personally acquainted with the candidate, I simply don't know how I can possibly assume the authority to judge someone in that way. All I need to do is consider the problems and make the best choice available toward addressing those problems in the most godly manner I can. But at the end of the day, it constitutes just ONE thing I can do, as well as one of those things I should do that MIGHT make a difference in some way. We can worry about whether or not it DID after it is all said and done.

"The values of the parties offered are drifting farther and farther from the values I hold."

And you help restrain that drift in what way exactly? Don't take too much offense. I don't mean to suggest that I'm holding on that bow line all by myself all the time. But that drift is the result of those like you and me not making more noise about the drift. We may as well be powering that ship away from the values we hold!

---more coming---

Stan said...

"What they are not are reasonable." Wow, do you know how much you sound like our friendly neighborhood progressive liveral troll right now? Do you know the meaning of the word "reasonable"? You may not agree with the reason or you may not find the reasoning compelling, but if "reasonable" means "in accord with reason", then they were reasonable. Oh, and insulting someone because you don't agree with their reasons is not a good way to engage in a dialog. I was using sarcasm.

"not by voting alone." I did not suggest that voting cannot be a way of bringing glory to God. I wondered if it was a de facto way, that voting, on its own, glorifies God. Or, to ask from the other direction, since it is a sin for believers not to glorify God, is it a sin not to vote? And if so, is it a sin not to vote a particular way, or just not to vote at all?

"you help restrain that drift in what way exactly?" Am I preventing the drift? No. Can I prevent the drift? No. Am I supposed to prevent the drift? Well, now, that is the original question, wasn't it? Is it a Christian obligation to make bad people into good people or to make a bad political party into a good political party or to make a bad nation into a good nation? That really is the question. Is that really what we are here to do?

At the core, that is my question. Is that what we're here to do? Did Christ call His followers to make a better world, or did He call them to make disciples, to preach the gospel, to teach, to pray, to stand firm? I can think of a lot of things we are called to do. I'm just not clear that "vote in the next election" is one of them.

Marshall Art said...

"Now, exactly who do I vote for to get anything at all closer to that?"

I don't know where you get the idea that voting is intended as the means to do that. I'm saying that one goal does not exclude the other from our duties as BOTH Christians AND citizens of this country, that was founded on the notion of self-government. Living here obliges us to take part in that self-government.

And you can look at it with a more positive bent: Not the "lesser of two evils", but which of the two is the better choice? To me, the better choice gets us closer to the goal of which your question above addresses. Perhaps not by much, but I'll take every little step in the direction of influencing the culture toward a more God-centered nation. The better the quality of the candidate, the easier it is to get an even more godly candidate running the next time, as well as influencing more people to support such a candidate. It's the peer pressure idea for the good as opposed to toward the wicked. It does indeed work both ways. At least I believe it does, and I believe I owe it to Him to give it my best effort. That effort includes selecting amongst the available candidates, parties or groups that will move us toward our shared goal of a nation of people whose hearts are won over for Christ.

"It is not voting, which in itself is something."

Keep telling yourself that and you might one day be convinced. But it still won't be true. Not voting has no impact on anything other than to allow the worst to rise to the top. Not voting makes you responsible for all that goes wrong, because you made no effort to prevent the worst possible outcome. In that sense, yes, not voting is doing something. It's just not doing anything of benefit, and certainly not glorifying God.

I totally understand your frustration with the process. I share that frustration. But it is borne out of a false belief that voting is all we need to do as citizens of a self-governing nation. That's why it fails.

I also reject the argument that I'm putting my truth in politics over God. Not at all. But furthering His Will in all I do is what I poorly attempt to do every day. I cannot do that and do nothing about what is happening in my country. It isn't about politics. It is about serving Him. If I'm putting my trust anywhere, it's in Him and that He'll use me to do good in this world while I am still in it. The political process is merely a means to trying to get that done. It is not a god I worship, but a tool I use to do good to the best of my ability, just as any other tool for any other purpose. We don't need an example from Scripture to determine that serving God through the use of the political process is but another way of serving Him. Of course it is. Not THE way, just one more way.

What's more, there was no form of government like ours in Scripture that required the input of the people to govern themselves. But there was self-governing taught in Scripture constantly. It's just that it was on an individual basis.

As to "hard line stances", yours conversely can be said to be too "soft line" for the situation. Yet I'm only saying that not voting is never a good option when the result is less opposition for the worst possible outcome. I think that should indeed be quite clear and reason enough for everyone to vote.

Stan said...

You take mine as a "soft line" stance. I've taken no stance. I've countered the "I won't vote; I'll just let God do what He will" position and I've countered the "You have to vote or you're evil" approach. I haven't actually taken my own position except to say that I've always voted ... which, I suppose, is not a hard enough stance.

Just one question that continues to float around and nag at me. You said, "not voting is never a good option." Does that mean that you consider it a moral, Christian, somehow biblical obligation to vote; do you consider it a sin for a Christian not to vote?

Marshall Art said...

"Do you know the meaning of the word "reasonable"?"

Yes. Yes I do, and thus my use of the term is...uh...reasonable.

Look, having a reason does not make something reasonable. I think you're confusing making excuses with having reasons. None of what is given to rationalize not voting is, in my humble opinion, a reason to recuse one's self. The "one vote doesn't matter" argument simply isn't true, as it isn't just "one vote", but "one vote added to millions of others". The hope is that it is "one more vote" than the opposition gets. But not voting insures one less vote and that is a vote for the opposition. So no, that argument isn't the least bit reasonable. There. Does our friendly neighborhood progressive liberal troll explain himself so clearly?

David laments his location renders his vote worthless. But again, that is never true in the way it appears to be. The fewer votes there are for the better candidates, or the better parties (such as they are), the more emboldened the leftists become and frankly, the more you validate their belief that the conservative side is disappearing. By not voting, you're helping to make that belief become a reality. I'm not saying your individual impact is great. I'm saying your individual act together with the acts of others of like minds will produce results. Voting is but one way, but it is as important as any other. It is YOU that has reduced its worth by the attitude that one vote means so little.

Voting is but one act that influences the culture in which we live. Any act that moves the culture toward a desired goal is a worthy act and one that then is best employed. And keep in mind that the general election is not the only opportunity to vote. There's the mid-term elections, local elections, school board elections and others. Each vote is a single act and each can be a way to glorify God, even if it means that lesser of two evils isn't as palatable as one would like. How does that move you toward your goal? By making the next election consider that the worse of the two evils won't cut it anymore. It bends the curve upward. We may not see the full benefits of our one tiny ripple, but it does have an effect. THAT is reasonable, even if the benefits are not fully felt.

"I was using sarcasm."

No kidding? So was I. Too bad sarcasm isn't as recognizable as one would hope on a blog. But seriously, I did not choose my words to insult, but to point out a reality. Those "reasons" are cheap rationalizations. I can't alter reality. If the truth hurts, so be it. Would you prefer I sugar coat it? I'll try to do so in the future if I think I can get the point across by doing so.

---more coming---

Stan said...

" I think you're confusing making excuses with having reasons."

Wow, again, very Dan-like. "I don't find your reasoning compelling, so you don't actually have any rationale. The only reason you're taking the position you're taking is because you're not looking at it honestly. The only reason anyone would disagree with me (at least on this position) is that they are being dishonest and refuse to think it through. Or they're just evil." Nice.

But, seriously, you keep speaking of a "goal", of moving our culture toward a desired goal. I really, genuinely want to know what you mean by that. It does appear that you believe that it is the obligation of every Christian to make a bad society good.

Marshall Art said...

"I wondered if it was a de facto way, that voting, on its own, glorifies God."

I would suggest to you that it depends upon what your intention is when you vote. Are you seeking to improve things, assuming that one would hope to for the glory of God.

"Or, to ask from the other direction, since it is a sin for believers not to glorify God, is it a sin not to vote?"

I would respond by saying that since there is most always a choice between outcomes that have some moral implication, then not doing one's part to bring about the better outcome would be as a sin of omission. While the lesser to two evils is still evil, the greater of two evils is worse. Note that there was once a code of eye for an eye. It got better. I'm looking to do something similar when I vote for candidates that weren't my pick in the primaries. I'm looking to do something similar when choosing between primary candidates that don't include my absolute ideal.

"And if so, is it a sin not to vote a particular way, or just not to vote at all?"

The answer is dictated by the situation. But as long as there's a worse option, and there always is, then I would suggest that to not vote at all would be the sinful option, if there is such a thing.

"Is it a Christian obligation to make bad people into good people or to make a bad political party into a good political party or to make a bad nation into a good nation?"

But that isn't the point of voting. Not at any given opportunity. It is only to bring about the best possible situation based on the choices available to us for the purpose.

Let's reverse the question a bit. Is it Christian to allow evil to flourish when one has the ability to influence change toward the other direction? Not voting results in the greater of two evils having a better shot at success. Not voting makes you complicit in allowing that which does not glorify God.

"Did Christ call His followers to make a better world, or did He call them to make disciples, to preach the gospel, to teach, to pray, to stand firm?"

Voting does this as much as any other action we have the liberty to perpetrate. How we live, the things we do, affirms all that we preach, teach and pray about. It influences others to act in a manner that glorifies God, making them disciples. And it definitely demonstrates how firmly we stand behind our beliefs. This last one is without question, and it is not to others that it demonstrates this as much as it demonstrates it to God...just like every other behavior.

"I haven't actually taken my own position except to say that I've always voted ... which, I suppose, is not a hard enough stance."

My mistake here. My original comment was not specific to any one person necessarily, but rather, I was attempting to address all the previous comments. What happened after that was the result of responses to that comment and, well, tangents, you know? It became more a debate about whether one should vote, not that you specifically don't. At least it wasn't my intention to imply that.

Stan said...

Just to be clear here, then, I understand you to say that:

1. It is a sin for a Christian to fail to vote.

2. It is possible for a Christian to vote and sin in that vote. (That is, some votes are sinful.)

3. It is every Christian's duty (read, "It is a sin if they don't") to stop evil in the world (obviously within his or her realm of possibility or influence).

4. Voting, for Christians, is part of following biblical (read "God's") commands.

Let me know where I failed to understand you properly.

Marshall Art said...

Another thing David said that others have also suggested in similar ways:

"I can see no Biblical command to vote, or be political. So, its not for me. I fully expect this country to lead itself to destruction, and my insignificant vote won't slow that process."

Stan accused me (twice now) of sounding like Dan. I think this does as well, if not more so. Why does the Bible need to state something in such specific terms? Voting is not separate from being a Christian who must live in the world. I think we are taught to live a Christian life and I can't see how not participating in that which has the potential to help others (the nation in this case) does not count as doing one's Christian duty to help those in need. I see every vote I cast as my chance to preach. If two candidates are separated by a single position, one taking a moral view and the other an immoral view, my vote for the moral view is preaching, teaching and making disciples of Christ, even if my vote doesn't help the better candidate win. I'm still going to do the Christian thing and support the better candidate or the candidate that seems less likely to cause the most harm. How could I not and still consider myself acting in a manner that glorifies God? It still stands akin to sins of omission. I had the chance and chose to step aside and let the poop hit the fan. That's Christian? I just don't see it.

You insist on looking at voting as a purely political act totally detached from Christian teaching. I see every move we make, and don't make, a demonstration of Christian living. (Don't ask me how well I'm doing.) The country isn't leading itself to destruction. You're helping by letting it get there as quickly as possible by not voting, by not being involved in the political process. Thanks so much.

""I don't find your reasoning compelling, so you don't actually have any rationale."

Stan. C'mon. That's not even close to what I've been saying. I didn't just claim the "reasoning" wasn't compelling. I explained why in fairly complete detail. There's nothing "Dan-like" about my comments. I feel rather compelled to insist your accusation is quite "Dan-like". But I won't. That would be "Dan-like".

Marshall Art said...

"But, seriously, you keep speaking of a "goal", of moving our culture toward a desired goal. I really, genuinely want to know what you mean by that. It does appear that you believe that it is the obligation of every Christian to make a bad society good."

There's a bit of a dichotomy here (not perfectly certain that's the right word, but it sounds good). On the one hand, we have making disciples, preaching the word, etc., as a Christian duty. On the other, politics not being a Christian duty. The problem is that I see every action I can make as either engaging in the former or not engaging in the former. Making disciples of Christ makes for a good society, don't you think? As many disciples as possible helps make that better society, even if making a better society isn't the goal. In short, it goes hand in hand. One way to make disciples is by modeling behavior, Christian behavior. That is as much preaching as reading from Scripture (though it doesn't replace Scripture). Indeed, I've always been of the mind that even atheists benefit by living a Christian life, even if they refuse to accept that Christ is God and that God even exists. Better, of course, would be that they live that life because it pleases God that they do so.

Voting is simply making one's opinion known in a general way about how life should be. It is, as I've said, just one more way to influence the culture, the end game being as many disciples of Christ as possible. Certainly there's a huge gap between any candidate and what he might accomplish versus the ideal nation full of disciples living in a manner pleasing and glorifying to God. But that doesn't mean that every little inch in that direction is meaningless or not worth the effort of casting a vote. The stars is all the nation disciples of Christ. The moon is a nation that is closer to actually being a nation of disciples than it is now...perhaps too many non-believers, but most acting like Christians and less suffering as a result. We might not get to the stars, but the moon is higher than here. My efforts toward that end may still be as rags, but I can't see that I should disregard the consequences of my actions and non-actions when living out the teachings of Christ.

Marshall Art said...

From your comment of 2/06/2016 7:38 PM

1. Don't know if I want to go that far. I have to say that based upon his record, both before his first election, as well as after his first term, not voting in the last two general elections may indeed qualify for the term "sin".

2. Sure.

3. I wouldn't insist that failing to do one's duty is a sin, but I do believe a Christian should do whatever possible to mitigate the proliferation of evil in this world to the extent where they are able.

I'm also unprepared to state emphatically that every candidate who doesn't get my vote is evil, means to engage in evil, or will implement anything that will bring about or support evil. Not every suffering is due to evil intent. Bernie seems to actually believe socialism is good for us.

4. I would say that it is a manifestation of Christian living in that it is part and parcel of life itself. We live life as a Christian and do all things for the glory of God.

Here's another angle that just came to mind. As we know, this is supposed to be a self-governing country. It is our form of government and that makes voting our duty as citizens. Leaving that duty undone leaves fellow citizens to suffer whatever results from too many people not doing their duty as citizens. Allowing suffering one could prevent, or have a hand in trying to prevent would qualify as sinful. It's like leaving others to do the work that needs to be done. Is that sinful? If so, then so would be not voting.

If we are called as Christians to help those in need, how is voting not a means of doing that, or not, at least, on par with doing that?

Stan said...

One other question. If a Christian decided to vote and voted for, say, a write-in -- you know, like his pastor or someone he actually thought could do the job better -- would you classify that as a "no vote"? Would you say that is a vote for "the other guy", or would you say that it is a viable statement?

David said...

I'm not sure I see the correlation of making disciples and how I vote. I've always understood making disciples to be an intimate, personal thing, not something vague like my private vote. I wouldn't call what a street evangelist does as making disciples.

Marshall Art said...

If his pastor had been vying for the position to the extent that he garnered national recognition and support, then it would simply be a matter of whether or not that support suggested a real possibility of winning, rather than merely helping the worse of the others from winning. But overall and generally, write in votes do not amount to anything more than frivolous votes, regardless of how sincerely the voter hoped to see the write-in candidate win. It rarely is difficult to imagine if write-ins, or even third party candidates have any legitimate chance. Thus, to cast a vote for a guaranteed loser is indeed a vote for the lesser of the two evils representing the two major parties.

It is also not a viable statement, given the fact that few have any idea of who the pastor is or what he believes and represents. As such, as a statement, it has no real voice. No one can hear it.

So now, we're looking at either a woman of questionable character or a socialist buffoon, neither of which will do any better than the current idiot-in-chief. While I understand the frustration of having to choose between the winner of that race, and a GOP candidate that is less than ideal, I can't see that it isn't inviting harm to our nation and its people by sitting it out, which will make it easier for the Democrat to win. There's no way anyone here can tell me we'd be as badly off as we are now if those sitting out the last two elections did their duty and cast their vote for McCain (gag) and then assuming he would've lost anyway, Romney afterward. Neither of these two guys lit my fire at all. Neither of them would have been anywhere near as bad as Obumble. But likely we'd have had better people on the SCOTUS and we'd not be a country that has either Obamacare or SSM. So thank you very much to all those who "made a statement" by sitting out the last two elections. I guarantee the statement I heard was not what was intended.

David said...

I'm not trying to make a statement. However, I doubt there were 5 to 10 million people that didn't vote Republican that would have. Second, the electoral votes don't even come close to the percentages of the popular votes for the last two elections. If the popular vote determined the president, I might acquiesce. But from everything I see, the popular vote has no apparent role in the presidential election. (Oh, and I did vote in 08.)

Finally, I have no reason to believe that making our country a "Christian nation" in any way is a biblical command. Look at the Roman empire. They had probably the biggest growth of Christianity ever. Did they become a "better" nation? The English empire was considered a Christian nation (even it's leadership claimed belief). Did that make it a better nation? (I'm saying no to both since one was horrible to its people and the other collapsed due to sin and corruption.) We need to make disciples, not to make a better country, but to save people. The making of a more Christian nation isn't even a tertiary goal (not biblically). And it is not historically viable. Even if a nation made up of all true believers formed, give it two generations to see it start to corrupt. We are sinful humans, and our sin nature rots us. Christianity will never be the majority, so the decay of this nation is inevitable. If Romney or McCain had won, I doubt they would have even slowed the decay. Sure, Obamacare wouldn't have happened (but that's not a moral or immoral program). I have my doubts that SSM wouldn't have been legalized. Even the Republican side is giving in to that since they too are succumbing to the emotional argument. They might have slowed the fiscal decline, but the moral decline is from the people, not the government.

The reason I see the moral decay of this country as a natural progression of natural man is because we were promised persecution and hardship. American Christians have not experienced life threatening persecution in this nation ever. We are simply due.

Marshall Art said...


"But from everything I see, the popular vote has no apparent role in the presidential election."

Then you're not looking at everything there is to see. To that end, I recommend that you go here and click on "Does my vote count?", to see that your vote does indeed make a difference in presidential elections. This link explains an important point, in that such elections are not national as much as state. The influence of your vote, of your political and ideological leanings need only affect those of your state in order to impact the entire nation.

You also aren't looking at the fact of how total numbers affects both other individuals, but more so those who run for office. This is why phone calls and letters are important, but in terms of only votes cast, those who might consider running for office will adjust their strategies, their platforms and even their calculations regarding whether or not they even should run based on how many people vote one way or the other. Look at how numbers impact candidates now. Talk of how Tea Party groups carry any influence is still common. They are still a relatively new phenomenon, very much compelled by the GW Bush years as much as by the threat of two Obama terms. Now, candidates consider these people when putting together their campaigns. Numbers matter. Sitting out elections matter, too. Just not in a good way.

"Finally, I have no reason to believe that making our country a "Christian nation" in any way is a biblical command."

This is a lame excuse for refusing to live a clearly Christian life, clear in a manner that influences those around you. Your comments stand as excuses for not doing the right thing. I can't control how well I influence anyone (indeed, I may be one of the least influential people I know), but that is no excuse to abandon living in a manner that models Christian behavior and ethics. "Oh, what's the use?" Is that really your position?

There is always moral decay. There will always be those who rebel against God. So what? Oh wait. Let's just let them. Let's do absolutely nothing to mitigate their effect on the world. Let's ignore the fact that our actions, words, behaviors might just how God uses us to bring to Him one more person.

So you insist that our hope to influence our nation toward Christianity is not a Biblical mandate. Tell me where we are mandated to sit back and welcome moral decay, doing nothing about it because we are promised persecution and hardship. I doubt you can.

Stan said...

I was going to let this all go, but I have to step in here. The claim you've made here is that refusing to vote is "refusing to live a clearly Christian life." Now, that is a magnificent claim ... that can't actually be backed with Scripture. I am extremely cautious about adding commands for Christians that God didn't seem to deem necessary. I would suggest you might want to consider the same. Your argument that "My vote influences America toward Christianity" is neither something I find in Scripture nor something I see in practice. Are you sure you want to add that to our Bibles?

David said...

I'm still not clear how voting has anything to do with a Christian life. Voting is not life. It is a single, supposedly secret act. I can hold my social and political views and share those, and still be just as influential. What does it matter how I vote when it's how I live that matters. You seem to put this huge moral imperative on voting that I can't find in Scripture or the Constitution or any significant document. It is my civic responsibility, sure, but not a moral (read sin) issue. Show me in Scripture that says I need to be involved in my government, or anything even close. How I live my life is not effected by my choice about voting, and I seriously doubt my choice about voting is causing anyone to turn away from Christ.

Marshall Art said...


My accused me of being Dan-like, and you again comment in a manner that suggests you may suffer from that affliction.

"The claim you've made here is that refusing to vote is "refusing to live a clearly Christian life.""

The claim I made is that lacking a specific Biblical command related directly to political matters "is a lame excuse for refusing to live a clearly Christian life, clear in a manner that influences those around you." I emboldened the latter half as that was omitted in your quote, and I think it helps to clarify my meaning. What I was trying to express, and apparently wasn't doing a good job of it, is that to make disciples of others, to preach the gospel, etc., requires that we live a Christian life...that we practice what we preach. Considering we live in a nation of self-government, participating in the political process is doing our share of the heavy lifting in that form of self-government. NOT voting is passing the buck and those that do not work should not eat.

More importantly, how can we be doing Christ's will in terms of helping others when we abdicate our responsibilities with regard to voting, whereby the outcome of an election can, and as we've seen in the last seven years, does have an impact on the most vulnerable of our nation? I point again to those Obama managed to get appointed to the Supreme Court and their immoral and unConstitutional opinions having an effect on our culture...a negative effect I might add. People can have their homes taken from them and given to private businesses. Kids will now grow up in a culture that tells them marriage is anything they want it to be. Many think the unborn aren't people, and while our young are beginning to see that isn't so (if stats are accurate), the time it took, the young that killed their own unborn and the numbers of unborn whose lives were lost is significant and indicative of a nation moving further away from Christian ideals.

Not voting had much to do with this. The simple act of even choosing the lesser of two evils had much to do with this. Yet much of it would have been delayed at least, had more people not taken the position that their votes don't count, that their Christian ethics do not include this particular act in which a Christian can choose to engage.

I don't need a direct line in Scripture telling me that being Christian includes doing my part to make a better world where sitting out results in one that is worse, any more than Dan Trabue should need Scripture to provide a specific definition of marriage. If doing good in the world isn't implied, if working to prevent evil in order to help prevent as much suffering as possible isn't implied, then you'll need to explain to me how I went so wrong. I'm not adding anything to Scripture. I'm saying that this single act, voting, is within the parameters of manifesting what Scripture already does say about how to live as a Christian. I don't see how we can disconnect ourselves from living in the world, even if we live as if we are not of it.

I have more to say on the issue, including responding to David's last, but I'm out of time for now. If you would prefer I drop it, let me know. I'm thinking of putting something together on this at my blog anyway if I can find the time to do so properly.

David said...

Then, could this not be a point of personal liberty? I don't see it as soon to not vote. It's not clearly stated or implied in Scripture. You are welcome to believe you are called to vote and be involved in the political process. I do not believe I am called to do so. I know that not everyone can believe as I do, otherwise or particular government would collapse, but to call those of us that aren't participating as sinning or encouraging sin is harsher that Scripture allows.

Stan said...

Just to be clear, Marshall, I insert quotes from you just so you know what I'm responding to. Inserting the entire context gets a bit tedious. I try to avoid tedious.

I understood your claim. Your claim is that voting "influences those around you." Since no one knows how I vote and that information is not used or disseminated, I'm not at all sure how that can be claimed. Thus, your claim that not voting is "refusing to live a clearly Christian life, clear in a manner that influences those around you" is questionable.

Now, of course, we might go to another source to determine that we should vote. I mean, we all agree that the Trinity is true even if the word is never used. There is sufficient Scripture to prove the concept without using the word. And I might even admit that we should try to influence our world for good. I'm okay with that. But we're still not to the point that "voting influences people for good" let alone "It's a sin to fail to vote." I haven't seen any evidence that voting mitigates the proliferation of evil (See California's Prop 8 or the Oberkfell ruling perpetrated by conservative presidential appointees to SCOTUS). I have not yet seen the connection between one Christian who fails to vote Republican (because that is the only non-sin vote) and helping those in need or making our world better, let alone turning anyone to Christ (of primary concern).

You see, Marshall, I'm not even disagreeing that voting is the right thing to do. I'm just disagreeing that the argument that it's sin to fail to vote ... apparently Republican ... is valid.

Marshall Art said...


Voting totals influence by indicating trends. I think it's a legitimate notion that some began to support SSM because they didn't want to buck the trend. For others, the trend compelled them to see what was being said. Don't focus on whether or not the influence is great or small, but only know that it exists together with all other actions that serve to influence. That's the point here. Everything that helps to move things in the desired direction.

As not voting allows the worst to succeed by lessening the numbers of those who oppose the worst, not voting is akin to supporting the worst. When those others didn't do what the Good Samaritan did, they were guilty of allowing the mugging victim to suffer and possibly die of his injuries. They were complicit in his suffering. Not voting is akin to walking by and letting bad things take their toll. Voting is doing something to effect change for the better.

It doesn't matter whether or not our efforts succeed as much as it does that we actually expended effort to do good. We can't know with certainty that our efforts will result in exactly what we hope will occur, and we can't help that our best efforts turn to poop because who we thought was a good candidate or appointee turned out to disappoint. That is no excuse to refuse to vote or to vote for someone with absolutely no possible chance of succeeding.

The idea of voting as a duty assumes the possibility that one's single vote is the deciding vote. It doesn't have to be for that assumption to be worthy of holding. But the reality is that one's single vote is not a single vote at all, but one of many, and the more the merrier when the goal is righteous. Sitting out doesn't just add one's vote to the total of those who sit out, but as it does nothing to help a righteous cause, it is equal to voting against the righteous cause.

Stan said...

Mind you, I'm not arguing with you here. I'm not disagreeing or telling you you're wrong on this. But, I have to say that I don't see it. Californians voted Prop 8 in and it had zero affect on views on same-sex mirage. More than 30 states had laws on the books defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman and it had zero effect on views on same-sex mirage. I have repeatedly voted for conservative candidates and it has had no effect on the candidates that are offered.

You disagree that a refusal to vote in an election is a statement, but wouldn't it be a statement if people started staying out of the voting booths in numbers because they don't have a candidate they can support? Is that not the same sort of "trend" that you say is an influence?

I do have to scratch my head on the Good Samaritan parallel. Do what? In my lifetime of voting I have seen none of my votes directly affect any "mugging victim". Not one. Every election season that comes around offers me less of what I can support, not more. You say that voting is doing something to affect change, but I don't see it.

And I'm still not clear on how this is a Christian matter. Again, not saying it isn't. Not arguing it. It's just that I see nothing in Scripture telling us to change our government or change our world. I see Scripture telling us to make disciples and teach obedience and pray, but I cannot find a single New Testament example of a biblical character, up to and including Christ, who lifted a finger in the arena of politics. Why? Rhetorical question. And in all honesty facing the specter of voting for the Democrat's socialist or the Republican's buffoon does not give me the slightest hint that I can vote for one of these to make America a better place.

David said...

When one votes for the lesser of two evils, how is that working toward a righteous goal? All it is doing is merely slowing the inevitable, not moving toward a better tomorrow, just hoping for a less worse tomorrow. Unless we see a truly electable candidate that believes in conservative moral values and aims to reform this country, nobody is going to be a step in the right direction. That's not because 40-some-odd percent of Americans aren't voting. That's because 60-some-odd present (that's being very conservative) of Americans believe that Christian moral values are wrong. As you keep saying, we are a country "governed" by the people. The people are increasingly morally decaying, so it only stands to reason that the leadership (which is chosen of and by the people) is going to reflect that decay. Unless we have another Awakening through God's mercy, we can expect a continued decline. Some presidents might show the decline, some might even hasten it (though I believe the government is always lagging behind the nation when it comes to the decline), but none in this coming election will make any progress toward reversing the decline. Only God working in the people will accomplish that. We're not going to vote this country into a better tomorrow.