In part four of this "NOT Voting" series, I want to briefly address an issue related to politics in general and voting in particular when it comes to Christianity, namely, division.
Point #4: Voting has the potential to divide the Church.
As if all of the divisive language about red states & blue states, democrats & republicans, and conservatives & liberals is not enough to place a chasm between members of society as a whole, it also comes to bear on the church. In fact, voting can cause a deep polarization in the church. Thus, it is not uncommon to see bumper stickers that say "You can't be Catholic and vote for (insert issue here)," "Jesus is not a Republican or Democrat, but he votes Republican" or something similar. You get the point! Just as well, it is not uncommon to hear persons on one side of the political aisle deeming others heretics or apostates because they plan to vote for a different candidate. Indeed, for many there is something of an apocalyptic mindset behind all of this, that is, some folks believe that one candidate or the other will lead America into the flames of hell while the other will help usher in God's Kingdom. Thus, it should be no surprise that, when folks speak out of this type of perspective, they are ready to point fingers and condemn and name-call.
What happens then is that Christians become divided. The poll booth can divide. The ballot box can divide. The election can divide. The rhetoric can divide. And now, even for all the people who mouth the "separation of church and state" ideology, they have let politics overrule their allegiance to the unity of God's Kingdom. Indeed, elections have the potential to segment the Body of Christ one limb at a time. As a Christian, this is terribly distressing to me. And this leads me to suggest that American voting is, in some ways, quite foreign to Christianity in that it is so individualized and privatized that it removes one of what is supposed to be our distinguishing factors: community! In ancient Greece, when voting was done, it was usually done in public, where all could watch you make your choice. This, of course, raised the level of accountability dramatically. But this is all but missing from voting today. Yet, I'd venture to say that even if voting were public, it would still often have the potential to divide; perhaps it would just bring about that division more quickly.
Indeed, stepping into the booth alone to make "my" decision, a decision made apart from the larger faith community, can run contrary to the deep communal aspect of Christianity as Jesus, Paul and other Jesus Movement leaders saw and understood it. In short, the privatism, which is more of an American trait that either a first-century trait or a trait of the Christian community can possibly be shown to stand at odds with Christianity. Just as well, the emphasis on individualism in voting, that is, the emphasis on "self" and the concern to look out for my "self interests" over others' interests, the concern to place a premium on "my" opinion/vote at the risk of hurting the unity of the Body of Christ, can potentially fly directly in the face of what Christianity is really all about, that is, being a tight-knit community of Jesus' followers. Or as Paul put it, this can stand at odds with being of "one mind" with one another, an act which illustrates the unity of the Godhead and even our baptisms (Gal 3). From my perspective, that's just another reason why voting in this election is just not worth it.
(Please NOTE: I am currently taking a break from Facebook and will NOT be commenting on responses to this post made there.)