Election Day Is Not a Vote Between Hades and Paradise

by Joy

Tomorrow is Election Day in the US, and I for one can’t wait for it to be over. We live in the hotly-contended state of Ohio, where our phones have been ringing with recorded political messages since the summer and the primaries.

VOTE painted on a doorAfter fielding 8-10 calls per day, none of which had a real live person on the other end, I gave up. I turned the ringers off all our phones, set the machine to answer early, and left the following message as our greeting:

You’ve reached the Bennett residence where we’ve turned our ringer off and stopped answering our phone because the only people who call this number are people who are selling something or asking us to vote for them. We don’t make any of those decisions over the phone. If you’re calling for any other reason, leave a message and we’ll get back with you eventually.

Fifteen years ago, I was a student at a conservative Christian college, where people took great pride in finding new and creative ways to put down President Bill Clinton. His bid for re-election was my first presidential election, and I had proudly voted straight-line Republican on my absentee ballot. A year later after his re-election, I was spending long nights in the student newspaper office on the third floor of the arts building. The other editors on staff and I labored over headlines and layouts for that week’s paper and discussed politics of the national and the collegiate. The news was awash with scandals and calls for impeachment, and we joked, as only celibate college students could, about oral sex and interns. Yet, even as I laughed at the idea of an intern hiding under the POTUS’s desk in the Oval Office, I couldn’t help but think about all the doomsday predictions made by Christians during Clinton’s first and second campaigns and how none of those predictions had come true. Sure, he had lived up to his womanizing reputation. But aside from our self-righteous hypocritical conversations about what constituted sexual intercourse (who better than Christian college students to know where the lines are and how to get right up to them without actually crossing?), my life and the nation’s circumstances hadn’t changed.

It was the first time I saw for myself how overwrought and exaggerated political promises, both the golden rainbows promises and the end-of-the-world promises, really were. We were not in a Democratic utopia, but neither were we in a death spiral towards a rock cliff as the Republicans would have us believe.

I think of those days whenever I summon the courage to listen in on today’s political dialogue. I can only manage small doses, but I can’t help but wonder if the people talking really believe what they are saying. It would be laughable if it weren’t so destructive. Do they really demonize the other side? Do they know people who hold opposing views, and if so, how is that relationship? I have dear friends who affiliate with both major parties and plenty of the minor ones. My friends are more important to me than political candidates and who wins and who loses elections.

My husband and I had dinner with my parents the other night, and we got to talking about how God enters our messy stories and does big things with small people. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 is quite the cast of characters, full of scandal and rebellion and deception and intrigue as bad or worse than any we’ve seen in modern day America. Then my dad pointed out something about the story of Ruth.

Have you ever noticed where in Israel’s history the story of Ruth and Boaz takes place? It’s in the middle of the book of Judges, when Israel is making a bloody mess and clamoring for a king to fix it all. (Sound familiar? It does to me!) The big picture is dismal, tragic, and chaotic. But in a tiny town named Bethlehem, one righteous man and one foreigner who chooses to follow Jehovah come together, and they are the great great grandparents of King David, who is in Jesus’ lineage. I love this story. This is what God specializes in – working big things out of small people doing the right thing in a small place, out of the limelight and ignored by everyone of consequence. Stories like this give me hope in the face of the ugliness, the increasing bitterness, and the chaos in our country.

I am under no illusions about the results of the election tomorrow. If my candidate wins, I know we won’t all ride off into happily-ever-after. And if the other candidate wins, I know our country won’t break off the face the earth and plunge into Hades. I will keep trying to make things just a little bit better in my home and in my community, the same way I do now. My everyday life won’t change. Except for my phone, which will finally stop ringing.

 

27 Responses to “Election Day Is Not a Vote Between Hades and Paradise”

  1. Agnes November 5, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    ‘God enters our messy stories and does big things with small people’ – I LOVE this! And love your balanced perspective Joy, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I think we will be VERY surprised to see who is at God’s right hand when we get upstairs.. I can imagine there are many ‘nobodies’ who are extremely powerful for the Kingdom but we just don’t see it. Thankfully God does. Noise and fury don’t always equate with real power.

  2. Gianna November 5, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    Yes, I read on another blog about how this is NOT the most important time in our country’s history. That is stated at every single election. And the writer pointed out that statement is extreme. The most important decision for president was during the unrest right before the civil war because that involved slavery.

    Decisions that I make do affect someone, but it’s not always life or death. Relax, people!

    Thank you for this post. I did the same thing as a college student and up until 5 years ago. I honestly didn’t think that you could be a Christian and not a republican. (Sad, huh?)

  3. Marilyn November 5, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    I think another piece is that no matter what happens Tuesday, God’s story is continuing to unfold and it’s not an American story. It’s a world-wide story of grace and redemption. Thanks for the post.

  4. Marilyn November 5, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Thanks for this post – another really important piece is that no matter what the election results, God’s story is still being told — it’s still unfolding page by page and person by person. And it’s not a story about red and blue, it’s not a story about America. It’s a world-wide story of Grace and Redemption that reaches from Pakistan to Tasmania to Quebec and all points between and around. It’s not bound by a culturally determined political process and outcome.

  5. kathie November 5, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    So well said! This ought to be the front page news! If only we could remember we LIVE in THE STORY.

  6. Karla Archer November 5, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Exactly.

    Thank you for writing this, Joy.

  7. Jean Wise November 5, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Wonderfully written. Best I have read about this messy election. As a fellow Ohioan thank you for your words

  8. kim November 5, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Right there with you in this. Thanks for articulating this so well, Joy!

  9. Joanna November 5, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I might not be American but with a number of American’s I call friends, but one thing I can never get is the hysterical political debate. It is refreshing to hear the calming voice of balance

  10. Diana November 5, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Perfect. Thank you for these wise, calm words. I get enough recorded messages over here in this thoroughly blue state of CA – can’t imagine what it’s like in a swing state. UGH. Starting to breathe easier being this close to it all being over – and praying for no hanging chads/illegalities or any other thing that might delay a clear decision either way!

  11. Heather November 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    AMEN!! So well stated.

  12. Joy Lenton November 5, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Joy. Thank you for this biblical and balanced perspective on the election. I hail from the UK and we are no less involved in the outcome because politics tend to have a global impact and we are connected by virtue of having friends/family residing in the US. I love the way you bring the emphasis back to how God is using seemingly insignificant people to fulfil His plans and purposes. It helps to have the wider view to make us appreciate both the here and now and eternal perspectives too.
    May you stay in peace, whatever the outcome, and keep trusting in the Lord’s higher authority and purposes. God bless all my American friends! :)

  13. LoveFeast Table November 5, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I love your father’s insight on the book of Ruth. It helps keep it in perspective, doesn’t it? ~K

  14. Kristin T. (@kt_writes) November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    This is so perfectly put: “This is what God specializes in – working big things out of small people doing the right thing in a small place, out of the limelight and ignored by everyone of consequence.”

    What a great reminder! And it also inspires a prayer: that *everyone* will have the opportunities and self-perception needed to do those small important things.

  15. Margaret November 5, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I agree with Agnes–love that phrase. I, too, am looking forward to the day my phone stops ringing

  16. Kelly @ Love Well November 5, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    This is so true. It’s a reminder to me that voting is one thing, but living my day-in, day-out life faithfully is the big thing.

    (And your line about Christian college students and the lines of actual intercourse? That made me laugh out loud. Because YES! From one conservative-Christian college student to another, YES!)

    • Joy November 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      I realized what a hypocrite I was during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. All these Christians were up at arms about oral sex being sex, while we college students were totally thinking about it the way Clinton did — that it didn’t count. Nothing like being caught in your own inconsistency!

  17. Kelly Chripczuk November 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Thank you for this, I needed it today. I get discouraged by how many Christians allow themselves to be held captive by the idea of salvation through politics. We vote with our lives, every day and, if we’re wise, we vote for grace and mercy and hope for everyone, because we know how desperately we need it ourselves.

  18. Kirsten Holmberg November 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Thanks for that little slice of encouragement in the midst of the whirling chaos. Well said!

  19. Hope November 5, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I really needed to read this tonight. I was really cranky.

    I thank you, my husband thanks you!

    • Joy November 6, 2012 at 6:17 am #

      That made me grin! Who knew a post about the election could help a marriage! :D

  20. Nancy Kilgore November 6, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    You know, yes, you are right that the results of elections are not our salvation. But I saw & heard something last night on that put the fundamental issue facing us all in this election into high definition.

    It was a short ad titled: ‘Some issues disqualify a political candidate from consideration’. I’ve copied the content of the ad below. Following that is a link to the video of the ad. I encourage all of you to look at this video, in the interest of understanding true truth, in order to truly consider where we should draw a line in the sand regarding who we vote for. Thanks…

    “When we were attacked by terrorists, Americans united against the violence. Imagine if a candidate for public office said, “I support the right of the terrorists to do what they did.” Would it matter if that candidate had the best education plan in the world, or the best health care plan? Or would you simply not bother to ask about these other issues? Some positions disqualify a candidate from any further consideration.

    [Followed by photos of aborted children]

    What about a candidate who supports the right to do this to children by abortion?”
    http://www.priestsforlife.org/images/index.aspx (I’m not Catholic!)

    • Joy November 6, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      Nancy, it’s bizarre to me that someone would try to put abortion in the same category as terrorism. But even if you do, the choice is still not clear. Neither of the main candidates for the presidency support terrorism, and both of them support the right to choose.

  21. Nancy Kilgore November 6, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Joy, perhaps I should not respond to your statement without first asking you, “Did you go to the website & view the video?” If not, then perhaps it would be best if you did that before responding to me, in all fairness!

    The point of comparing one item to another is not to equate them, but to cause reflection. What is so different, though, between death by terrorism vs. death by abortion? They both kill human beings made in God’s image, without provocation of any sort!

    Consider: 3,000 Americans died at the World Trade Center on September 1, 2001, by the hands of terrorists. Basically innocent people. (I am a Christian. I’m acutely aware that, “There is none righteous; no, not one.”; myself, so very much included!!!)

    Yet, another 3,000 Americans died that day, with no outcry, but this time, legally, at the hands of abortionists.

    And, 3,000 Americans died by abortion the day before 9/11, & 3,000 died by abortion the day after 9/11, & so it continues, daily, up until today.

    If 9/11 had continued unabated, every day, on some American city, we would be fighting with all our might against the perpetrators. That would be the defining issue if that were happening today. Yet abortion has killed 55,000,000 American children. Where is the outcry?

    Romney has never voted for, & never will vote for, ‘partial birth abortion’, as Obama has as senator. Do you really know how that happens? What could possibly be in the heart & mind of a man who supports such an atrocity?

    To vote for the ‘choice’ of partial birth abortion is to choose to: kill a viable baby, 3/4 outside of her mother’s womb, except for her head still being in the birth canal; to take a pair of scissors & pierce the little girl’s skull at the back & open the scissors to make the hole larger; to take a suction tube to the hole to suck the precious little girl’s brains out, so her skull collapses; so a now very dead baby can be delivered.

    What could possibly be in the heart & mind of a man who supports such an atrocity?

    Romney is not as pro-life as I would like to see but neither does he have the president of NARAL as one of his campaign managers as Obama does. Obama supports unlimited access to abortion. Obama demands that all of us pay for abortions via insurance, with no co-pay at all. Obama has also had the Muslim Brotherhood into the Oval Office, with open arms. There is a world of difference in these two men’s worldviews, if you’re willing to examine them more just a little bit more closely.

    And what is ‘the right to choose’, anyway, as you choose to call it? Why couch it so, hidden, as you will, without including the rest of the statement? “Pro-choice” = choosing to abort your own child. “Pro-life” = I am for the right of every human being, created in GOD’s image, to have the life God designed for him or her; in other words, I am for the choice to not kill God’s unborn children. There are no freedoms guaranteed without the freedom to live, first. History has proved that plenty of times!

    Why don’t you see what I mean?

    • Nancy Kilgore November 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      I’m sad to see that you have not replied to my second feedback. I hope you will watch that video ad.

      Using the word ‘bizarre’ with me actually hurt a bit. I found it unkind. I am sad about the state of affairs in our nation. Very sad.

      And, perhaps ‘bizarre’ is a word that would be more honestly applied to Christians who would ignore the deep, prolonged, widespread & heinous injustice that exists in our nation in the killing of millions upon millions of innocent, helpless children. The spiritual ramifications of permitting this, without even an outcry, are incredible. I felt as if you had a cavalier attitude towards the abortion issue, not really examining it closely. That is troubling to me, coming especially from one who has lost one of her own precious, precious babies! I am so sorry for your loss, Joy. Very sorry.

      God’s Richest Blessings to you, Joy.

      • Samantha November 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

        I appreciate you speaking up about these issues. You’re right- on one hand “innocent” people dying by Terrorism is equally sorrowful to the Lord as innocent babies dying by abortion.
        They are separate issues and yet the outcome is the same-premature death.

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