My Facebook feed over the last few days has been, not surprisingly, full of election-related posts. With early voting now underway, most of these posts assert that one candidate or the other is “winning by a landslide” while the other one is doomed. You can take your pick as to which candidate is in which position, and also as to whether or not any of these posts are even accurate. The way I figure it, this thing isn’t over until it’s over and it’s not November 9th which means it’s not over yet.
As I definitely come off as having a bit of a conservative bent, it may surprise you to find that I have concerns regarding the potential victory of either candidate. Again, I’m a Canadian citizen living in the South which means I can’t actually vote, so this isn’t a pro-Trump or pro-Hillary thing. Like I said in my previous post, when it comes to Christianity in the U.S. I think we have two kingdoms at work. One is the Kingdom of God and the other is the kingdom in which we have our churches and the freedom to worship openly without fear of persecution. My concerns are more with how we as Christians are going to handle the next few weeks in particular, and with how those two kingdoms are going to interact in general.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook on LGBT pages, mainly just looking for opportunities to support them through apologising for things other Christians have said or done and trying to show that we’re not all assholes. Sadly, I don’t have to look too far for such opportunities. One that came up this week was when Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker made comments supporting gay rights and treating members of the LGBT community with respect and in response Christian bookstore chain Lifeway pulled her books from their shelves. (The article I found can be seen here.) As she mentioned, and I totally agree with, the LGBT community are watching us as Christians, looking to see how we care about them and whether or not we even do care about them. In the time that I’ve spent interacting with the LGBT community on social media, I’ve come across many that don’t understand what Jesus is all about but who don’t want any part of Him because of the way that we His people act towards them. And when our ideas of outreach and evangelism include a “hell house” depicting the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I can’t say I blame them for how they feel. Generally speaking, we as Christians have done precious little to even treat them with the respect we owe to a fellow human being. The end result, as far as I can see, is that they don’t care who we believe in because we’ve shown we don’t care about them.
What does this have to do with the election? If Trump wins, he has promised to look long and hard at overturning the same-sex marriage laws in the U.S., which means that under a Trump presidency Christians could potentially have the opportunity to undo some of the changes made in this country over the last few years and work to restore the U.S. to something resembling a Christian nation. My concern is that we will try to do just that. If we do, and even worse, if we succeed, we’ll be winning the battle for our own kingdom at the expense of the Kingdom that really matters. We’ll be showing members of the LGBT community, and others that disagree with us, that we care more about our own comforts and our own viewpoints and our own beliefs than we do about theirs. Why would they want any part of our Jesus if that’s how we portray ourselves and, by extension, Him? Jesus Himself said that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Why then do we fight so hard for our own kingdom in this world? The cost of having that kingdom may very well be turning others away from Jesus, and that, quite frankly, is too high a cost. Am I saying that we should just give up on this world and the problems that we see around us? Of course not. I’m just saying that we need to be very careful with how we address these problems. The world around us sees very clearly when we fight to keep traditional marriage as the only legal definition of marriage while at the same time roughly half of all such marriages end in divorce. It’s hard to take us seriously when we approach it like that, you know?
If, on the other hand, Clinton wins, we as Christians are likely to see further changes in this country that we don’t necessarily agree with. Again, my concern is not whether or not we engage with these questions but rather with how we go about it. If we fight tooth and nail for legal definitions while at the same time ignoring the brokenness around us, we’ll wind up damaging both kingdoms.
I know this is a lengthier post, and I apologise for that. My concern regarding the upcoming election is ultimately that we not use it as an opportunity to become guilty of the things we’re already accused of being. Regardless of who wins, we need to engage with the brokenness around us, reach out to those we disagree with, and treat them with respect. The changes to the social fabric of the U.S. do not mean the loss of the Kingdom of God in this country. It’s time we Christians stopped acting like it does.