The political situation in which our country finds itself requires the church to reexamine its role in civic involvement. A quick glance at the current political reality shows that the church has succumbed to the temptation to promote specific ideologies, rather than promote dialogue and respect for the conscience of the individual. Many believers ruthlessly attack and criticize other believers, thus abandoning the spirit of love and respect for human dignity that should characterize the disciples of Christ. It is essential that, as sons and daughters of God, we remember that those with whom we differ politically are still our brothers and sisters. God loves that "enemy" with the same intensity with which He loves you. Furthermore, God's will and command is that we love that person just as we love ourselves. It is unacceptable for one believer to condemn and judge another; at least that is what the gospel teaches us.
Today, our country is marked by political polarization, which has permeated all aspects of our lives: culture, universities, the workplace, the park, the church, and even our dining rooms. At this historical time, the church needs to rediscover its evangelical vocation: to promote peace and family unity.
The primary duty of every citizen, including Christians, is to seek solutions to the problems that afflict our communities (local and national). These solutions must consider and allow individual freedoms, to the extent that these individual freedoms do not violate the community’s welfare and wellbeing. For example, in our country, the law gives individuals the right to own and carry firearms; this is an individual right. However, if the use of firearms threatens the welfare of the community, then the community has the right to control how and when an individual uses a firearm.
The church exists within a secular society. This means that we do not have a theocratic (religious) government. The function of the church is similar to that of other groups or associations: to influence others with your ideas and perspectives. If these ideas and perspectives violate the freedom and individual rights of certain citizens, they should not be imposed by means of legislation. We must respect the freedom of conscience of others unless an individual right inflicts bodily or psychological harm to other members in the community.
We cannot impose the Christian faith through legislation. The church should not try to impose its morality or biblical principles (as understood by each particular group) by force. Believers and the church are called to influence society with their example, their testimony. The only way that the principles of the gospel can percolate the public conscience is through our example. The best strategy to convince others that the principles of the gospel offer the best alternative to solve our problems is through our service, love, and sacrifice. "Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 (NASB)
You and I have the privilege of contributing to the common welfare of our communities and our country. We will do this through our participation in the political process. Politics is nothing but the common effort to seek and provide solutions to the challenges of our community. We do not impose our ideas or concepts, we simply share them with the other members of the community until we reach a common agreement, an agreement that benefits the majority. Just because another person may think differently, we cannot consider him or her an enemy.
In these 2020 presidential elections, the reputation of the church is at stake. A large number of the new generations have already lost their confidence in the effectiveness of the church to contribute to the common welfare. The youth are joining other groups or organizations that genuinely care about the common good. The church loses respect when it identifies with a political party or candidate. For that reason, it is counterproductive when a pastor or local church promotes a specific presidential candidate, when they tell their parishioners who to vote for.
In a democracy, the freedom to choose our leaders is an inalienable right. Any attempt to restrict that right, whether by an individual, a group or the government itself, is a fundamental violation of the principles of democracy.
Each of us has the responsibility to analyze the problems of our community and the solutions that each party (or candidate) offers. Based on that analysis, we decide whom we should support. Let us remember that the aim is to find a solution that benefits the majority and that, at the same time, respects individual rights. For Christians, there is no political party or candidate that offers all the solutions that we consider "biblical." When we cast our vote for a candidate, we must accept that there will be some positions in which we will differ.
There is no political platform that includes everything that we deem important. This means that we will have to compromise some values that we consider important. The question is which principle should we use to make such a decision. I believe that the answer, although difficult, is to consider which political platform (or candidate) promises more benefits for the common good.
The following biblical passages provide us guidance on what to consider when making this decision:
“Seek the welfare of the city where I sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare, you will have welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil. 2:4
When you enter the ballot box, ask yourself, which candidate will work for the welfare and progress of everyone in our country? After the elections, regardless of who wins, we must make a commitment to continue working together for the wellbeing of our community.