It was Harvey Cox, a professor I studied with long ago in Boston, who said it most succinctly: “not to decide is to decide.” Sometimes, however, the choices don’t seem to be all that choice when it comes to elections.
Both of the current leading candidates for president, for instance, have ideas that are worth considering and they certainly have displayed high energy levels that could put folks half of their ages to shame. But both also seem to be dragging along with them a cartload of baggage that could potentially far overshadow whatever good they might be able to do.
So like millions of other folks, I find myself wondering just exactly how we got here. For as I suggested in a sermon a few weeks ago, it feels a little like when Samuel went to find a new king and Jesse brought seven of his sons before him for tryouts.
After looking over the boys carefully–and receiving a reminder from the Lord that it’s not what is visible that counts, but what is in the heart–Samuel finally said to Jesse, “Is that all of your boys?”
Or, in short, what Samuel wanted to know was what many today might also wish to ask, namely “Is there anyone else out there from which to choose?” For sometimes just picking the least offensive of our choices doesn’t negate the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil.
And so when it comes to this election some will simply sit it out, I suspect. But I’m not so certain that is a faithful response either. For if we are indeed the salt of the earth as Jesus told us, surely we’ve been summoned to sprinkle out our seasoning on society rather than simply stay safely ensconced in a salt dome somewhere on the sidelines.
One of my new friends, Susan Henry-Crowe, who ably leads our denominational Board of Church and Society, recently noted that the word suffrage means the right to vote but, she added, it has a secondary definition as well: suffrage is also a series of short intercessory prayers and petitions. In that sense, thus, voting is not simply a civic responsibility but it can even be an act of prayer and faith.
It may not be an easy decision for many of us. For in truth, there is no perfect candidate for president this year, but then there never has been. The good news, however, is that God has a great track record of using imperfect vessels for His purposes and He can even make Pennsylvania Avenue the Road to Damascus if He chooses.
Likewise, because we’ve not been called to be followers of either the donkey or the elephant, but of the Lamb Himself, on November 9, no matter who has been elected, He will still be our King.