A Change is Gonna Come

along-the-way-mlsgregg-com

Gentle Reader,

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with politics and my particular interest in (alarm over?) the upcoming presidential election. A love of history and news combined with hearing from both parents and teachers that it is a privilege and a duty to participate in the democratic process pretty much guaranteed that I would be a political nerd.

But I’m beginning to wonder if the Amish and Mennonites don’t have it right.

There’s no hard rule that I’ve been able to find that dictates non-voting for all Amish or Mennonite groups, but from what I understand they generally avoid the ballot box. This is based in the idea of “two kingdoms,” the worldly and the spiritual; while the worldly government is to be respected, Christians are to adhere to the laws of the spiritual kingdom, even if those laws bring them into direct conflict with the worldly kingdom.

I was first exposed to the “two kingdoms” doctrine as a young teenager, when I listened to a radio dramatization of the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It took root in me deeply. I do believe that Christians should respect governmental authorities, but I also believe that our first and lasting allegiance must be to God. We must do as He says, even if this winds up meaning jail-time or death (as so many of our brothers and sisters in other, less comfortable countries experience today). I believe that following Christ will almost inevitably lead to civil disobedience in one way or another.

I have publicly stated that I will be voting for Gary Johnson, as he is essentially a moderate. I do not agree with all of his positions, but I am a moderate as well. I hold stances that are both “conservative” and “liberal.” The two major parties are basically the same at this point, wrapped up in a gridlock that does this country no good. It’s time our officials, who supposedly work for us, look past these allegiances and begin listening to each other. A president that is beholden to neither side of the aisle may help to accomplish this.

And yet…I grow increasingly uncomfortable filling in that bubble and sliding that sheet into the closed-topped blue box and hearing the election volunteer somberly announce that “Marie Gregg has voted.” With a little over two weeks before that momentous day, I wonder if I will vote at all.

If I do, I have a strong sense that this will be the last time.

The “Christianization” of society will not be achieved through votes or laws or strategy. In fact, this will never be achieved at all. Point blank: Read the Bible, people. Get over your laziness and your anti-intellectualism and start studying. Further, take a look at some world history. There never has been and there never will be any such thing as a “Christian nation,” either here in America or anywhere else. It is a concept not taught anywhere in Scripture.

Does America need to be made great again? Is it great already? Does America need to be saved?

Should we not be more concerned about those who may drown in a foundering ship of state than we are about plugging the ship’s holes? Should we not be busily engaged in throwing out life preservers to the passengers than in attempting to become the captain(s)?

I don’t know if I can in good conscience participate in this or any other election going forward. I really don’t. Something deep within, the strong heart-fluttering feeling I have come to recognize as the movement of the Holy Spirit, whispers that my eyes need not be on the person in the Oval Office but rather on the One who sits on the throne. That I must be about His business.

Is His business to overturn Roe v. Wade or is it to quietly invest in the life of woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant?

Is His business to worry about “religious rights” or is it to share the Gospel, heedless of the cost?

I leave you with these words from the apostle. Wrestle with them as I am.

…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

– 1 Peter 2:9-17 (NKJV)

God, grant Your people wisdom.

Grant me wisdom.

Signature

Addendum: I couldn’t figure out how to fit this into the above, but I am hearing some say that, if Clinton is elected, that all those who do not vote for Trump are guilty of everything that happens following. This is both straying very close to idolatry (if not outright engaging in it) and straight-up illogical reasoning. Please, do abandon this line with all haste. Neither Clinton or Trump is the savior of the country or any person in it. Nobody is guilty of anything Clinton or Trump does, says, feels, thinks or believes other than Clinton and Trump.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “A Change is Gonna Come

  1. I have a lot of the same feelings as you. I am torn between voting because I respect the veterans and the rights they’ve afforded us and just wanting to stay completely out of it. One thing I can say for sure is that I am not worried. God is ultimately in control and whoever is president does not effect that.

    Like

  2. You’ve written a very thought-provoking and heartfelt essay, Marie, and I salute you.

    I do disagree on some points; while we’re certainly to be about our Father’s business, part of that does involve participation in the secular ‘kingdom’. Caring for the widow and the orphan is an important value in both the Old and New Testaments, and the functional execution of that responsibility today lies with government. Should it lie with the Church? Certainly, but in point of fact the current situation remains, and until there’s a transition we have the choice of abrogating our own responsibility in continuing that support or taking the best choice available to help those who can’t help themselves.

    The Amish/Mennonite position is worthy of respect, but they have only recently been resident in a participatory democracy. If they have the true and transcendent passivity that would see their own annihilation under foreign assault or internal persecution (remember that Hitler was elected in 1933), that’s awesome, but it’s a test I hope they never have to face.

    Granted there are no Christian nations (except Vatican City), and equally that there never will be. The seed of the Gospel will fall where it may, but is it not implicitly, if not explicitly up to us to help the ground to become more fertile? Don’t we have a duty to pull the weeds and thorns? I do think that mandate is implied in the Parable of the Sower; but I’m no theologian, and I may be dead wrong.

    The United States was founded as a nation in which all faiths were welcome, and no state religion was to be tolerated, but that’s been massively perverted in recent years, twisted into the completely erroneous position that we are a secular land. There is nothing in the Establishment Clause that says that, and there’s ample evidence that our Constitution was framed around Christian principles.

    So maybe we’re the best hope the world has. We sure were in the 1940s.

    I sure wouldn’t say that someone who doesn’t vote for Trump is responsible for everything that happens if Clinton wins; that’s taking the Butterfly Effect to the point of idiocy. But I do think that one has to make the choice. Staying aloof is itself a choice, but it’s not moral high ground. It’s simply another choice.

    Seems to me like there is an aviation analogy. If you fly in mountains and in weather while trying to navigate by visual contact with the ground, you’ll discover that as the clouds get lower, the mouths of canyons look alike. You can’t just stop and park and think about it; you’ve got to choose, and one way may bring you out to the lowlands, while the other will give you the last look at a faceful of vertical rock.

    Maybe that’s why some birds are smart enough to walk, when the weather starts to stiunk!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s