In this year of presidential elections, I decided to summarize key values that guide me as I make the decision for whom to cast my vote. It takes knowing three basic things to choose a candidate for public office responsibly:
1. values we hope the candidate will stand for and the order of priority among them;
2. ways in which and means by which these values are best implemented in any given situation;
3. capacity—ability and determination—to contribute to the implementation of these values.
Most important are the values. As I identified each value, I thought it important to (1) name the basic content of the value, (2) give a brief rationale for holding it, (3) suggest some parameters of legitimate debate about it, and (4) identify key questions for the candidate.
I write as a Christian theologian, from the perspective of my own understanding of the Christian faith. Whole books have been written on each of these values, explicating them and adjudicating complex debates about them. In giving rationale for a given value, I only take one or two verses from the Bible to back up my position, more to flag the direction in which giving a rationale would need to go than in fact strictly to offer a rationale. I have identified some 20 such values. In coming days I will post one a day.
He has now posted eight or so of those twenty values, and each is worth serious consideration, regardless of the different conclusions each of us will come to. If you haven’t already, you can see the rest of the values by subscribing to his Facebook page.
In one of his essays in The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis writes, “He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself.”
It’s imperative, in my view, that Christians think theologically about the political options with which we are presented. If we have surrendered ourselves first and most fully to God, and if we have come to view our other allegiances, commitments, and loves in their proper place under the Lordship of Christ, the way we approach politics will look different than those who find their primary identity in a nation or a party or a class.
The bottom line is this: voting matters, and it matters why we vote as we do.
[Image credit: via aaronfreiwald.com]