Monday, November 21, 2016

Race, election, and the future, my 2016 vote as a white, evangelical pastor...

Like many Iowans, one of my greatest difficulties is I rarely think of race. It is a difficulty for I've come to learn from my ethnic-minority teachers that only majority cultures fail to see such things. I don't see race because it does not affect me Monday-Sunday. I don't see race because I've never been discriminated against, prejudged as dangerous in the middle of the night, or suspected as an illegal immigrant or potential terrorist. I am free, powerful, and protected by a history favoring my cultural background.

Still, at some capacity, I am labeled by some a backward fool, as a professed evangelical Christian. It is true my evangelical beliefs were attacked during my public university days by multiple professors. My desire to teach as an adjunct in public institutions is an uphill battle. Some of my cherished beliefs, especially the protection of life for the unborn, are considered dangerous to humanity.

So where did that leave me when I entered the voting box on November 8, 2016? And where has my heart been these past 10 days?

#1: I did not vote for either of the two major party candidates. Their character and/or platform kept me from voting for them. I believe the command-in-chief should be chief in character. I did not have a clear conscience voting for two people known by scandal and self-promotion.

#2: I stand with the scared citizens who fear Trump as leader. His "America-first" rhetoric can be translated into whatever "America" exists in his imagination. Is this the America of late 19th century Ellis Island where all people were welcomed into our country? Or is this the America of WWII when FDR threw Japanese citizens into war camps? Will we be marked by fear and reaction or by faith and receptivity? This country was built on the contributions of 1st generation immigrants, people of color, people fleeing persecution in search of hope. May that "America" stay fiercely present come inauguration day.

#3: I stand with the celebratory citizens who have said "no" to an amoral America. There has been a radical abandonment of ideas once believed foundational truths giving America solid footing. When the created order is reimagined by fallible humans, the fabric of society tears into pieces. Many citizens voted on November 8 to challenge this trajectory. They voted because they want little boys and little girls to grow up with a sense of gender. They voted because the concept of marriage for 3-4 millennia should not be rewritten in a single generation. They voted because law-breakers should have consequences, law enforcement honored, and government promises kept. They believe that the 1932 Little House on the Prairie carries more wisdom than 21st century Hollywood.

#4: I stand with all Americans (and non-Americans) who believe love and truth must be weld together. Civility, non-violence, and persuasion mark America at its best, whether its suffragettes or Civil Rights heroes. May the "right" and the "left" refuse to turn to cruelty to (re)gain power. No matter the winner, we all lose. The greatest force in the world is love, so may your charity be known to all. At the end of life, when we stand in judgment before God and history, the winners are those who sacrificed most not those who gained most.

#5: I do not stand with Americans savagely protecting their pocket books and places of power. It's not surprising that independent business owners vote toward the right and that government employees vote toward the left. Those not receiving government assistance vote right, those receiving assistance vote left. We've turned our political loyalties into a veiled cover-up for self-promotion. May there be a day when we pursue justice for others, protection for others, freedom for others, dignity for others, without the election directly benefiting ourselves.

#6: I bend before Almighty both in a posture of prayer and with a sense of peace. I went to bed on election night at 10PM unaware of the next President. The future of our country was not going to be set by the reports on CNN or FoxNews. The Sovereign Lord still held the reigns of history, regardless of the outcome of millions of American voters. This Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ, died on a cross to deal with the treachery and sin that lives in human hearts. He will allow evil to stretch to a certain place and then no farther. Nothing happens and no one is elected outside of His will. Whether it's a Churchill or a a Hitler, an Obama or a Trump, the heart of the king can be turned by the LORD. And so I pray for the new President-elect: may he be a Churchill, not a Putin. And yet, my confidence does not ride or fall on legislation or changes in leadership, but in a crucified and risen LORD who offers clemency, peace, and hope to all who will bow before Him.

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