Want to see a circus once a year? Then Barnum and Bailey is the place to be. Those who want to see a circus every single day should look no further than recent events in US politics.
IS CAIN ABLE?
Consider, first, the unlikely, shot-in-the-dark campaign of pizza-guru-turned-politician, Herman Cain. Despite the predictions, historical pattern, and Vegas odds, Cain has rocketed to the top of the GOP field in many polls. Despite being a financial featherweight, Cain’s down-to-earth style, American-dream story, and working man persona have, so far, helped him knock a few heavyweights out of contention.
Before any loyal Cainites get too frenzied, however, they will do well to remember it is still a LONG way until the GOP nominee ballots are cast. A lot can happen between now and then. Nevertheless, many are left wondering: is Cain able? (Pun intended.) Only time will tell.
OF MORMONS AND WOMEN
In addition to Cain’s unlikely recent success, there are some theological and political quagmires that have also arisen from the GOP political landscape. With two Mormons and one female candidate in the hunt for the nomination, some Christians have been weighing the implications of casting their vote for either one.
While the mainstream media has been asking, “Will Americans vote for a Mormon (or woman) to be president;” some, in the church, have more specifically been asking, “SHOULD Christians vote for a Mormon (or woman) to be president?”
This is definitely a good question, and one worth asking.
A WOMAN FOR PRESIDENT?
Let’s tackle the woman-as-president dilemma first. The Bible sets forth clear instructions about gender roles in the church and home. There should be the God-given, creation-reflecting role of male headship in both institutions. Men, alone, are to be husbands and pastors. Believers should gladly submit to these guidelines from God.
As we flip the pages of Scripture, however, we do not find any such Bible verses about the government. Should we simply apply the standards of church leader’s to national leaders? The answer is no. We must not confuse these two entities. Why not?
The church (and in some ways, the Christian home as well) are meant to serve as the redemptive expression of God’s kingdom on earth. Despite what some think, the government does NOT have that place. Thus, the White House is not held to the same biblical standards as the Lord’s house.
What does this mean? It means that we very well may hold our pastors to a certain theological, moral, or gender-specific standard that we do not hold our politicians to. And that is ok. In other words, we must be careful about making rules where God does not. The Bible gives clear guidelines about gender roles in the church and home. God has not done the same for government.
A MORMON AS PRESIDENT?
What about the Mormon dilemma, then? If Mormonism is a false religion (which it is), can Christians, in good conscience, vote for a Mormon to be president? The best advice that I have heard about this issue, was allegedly spoken by the Reformer Martin Luther. Luther reportedly said,
“I would rather be ruled by a competent Muslim than an incompetent Christian.”
I tend to agree with Luther. It doesn’t matter if my plumber is a Christian, an atheist, or a Hare Krishna – so long as he stops the leak in my bathroom! Likewise, our first priority, when voting for a government leader, is his (or her) ability to:
a) govern and
Let’s not forget: a presidential nomination is not the same as ministry ordination. There is a time and place for voting for a pastor; that time and place is not November 6, 2012.
REGARDLESS OF WHO IT IS, GIVE THEM HONOR
Regardless of who the President is –be they man, woman, white, black, Mormon, Christian, etc.—there is one thing clear: the person in the Oval Office deserves our genuine respect (whether we agree with them or not). 1 Peter 2:17 speaks plainly about the appropriate response to the highest government official:
“Honor the king.”
That three-word injunction may not sound like much; but once you realize that “the king” Peter was referring to (in his own day and time), was none other than the Roman Emperor Nero, it should give us some perspective.
On the one hand, Nero was not a Mormon, a Muslim, or a Buddhist. On the other hand, he was something far worse. Nero was a polytheistic, Christian-burning pagan. He saw it as his duty to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth. He used to tie Christians to the top of telephone-like poles and set them on fire so that he could see his garden at night. He was a brutal, church-hating emperor; an antichrist in his own right.
Despite all of this, God directly told Peter’s audience, “Honor king [Nero].” Was this because he was such an honorable person? No. It was because he was the king. If such an emperor was to be given honor, how much more do our Presidents and statesmen? Let’s not be sucked into the kind of cheap, crass, President-slandering (past, present, or future) so often heard from the lips of foolish men. Rather, let’s show dignity and class as we honor our nation’s leader and, thereby,
“silence the ignorace of foolish men.” (3:17)
No matter what office is in view, there is no perfect candidate . I think it’s safe to say, then, that the voting booth dilemma is always the lesser of two (or three) evils. There is only one perfect Person in the universe Who embodies truth, righteousness, and justice. There is only One Man Whose shoulders are broad enough for the government to be upon; and He’s not running for elected office. He’s already the King!
Let’s campaign wholeheartedly for our chosen candidate, let’s cast our ballot having considered the truly substantive issues,and let’s sing “God Bless America” at the top of our lungs, all the while feeling that restless, Spirit-led tugging in our hearts for an even “better country.” (Heb 11:16)
For more on the Woman-as-President issue, I recommend Russell Moore’s article, “Who’s Afraid of a Woman President?”.
For more on the Mormon-as-President issue, I recommend Al Mohler’s article, “Mormonism, Democracy, and the Urgent Need for Evangelical Thinking?”.