Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why I'm Voting For A Mormon

Our upcoming election is a big one.  Probably the most important one of my lifetime.  Its either Romney or Obama. That's our two choices. I know there will be others who are on the ballot, but they have no chance to win so they are completely irrelevant.  So, out of the two that are running, I have to make a choice. As a follower of Christ, there are many people who approach me and want to know how I'm going to vote in this election.  My mind is made up and I'll show up on election day to cast my vote for Mitt Romney.   I know there are many believers who struggle with the idea of voting for a Mormon.  So, here's my logic as to why he gets my vote.

First, in November, we are voting for a president not a Savior.  I already have a Savior and I don't need an imperfect politician to replace Him.  If Jesus was running for president, He'd get my vote but He isn't. While I think choosing the person that is to lead this country is extremely important, in the end, He'll only be a speck on the footstool of the One ruling the Universe.  My hope and confidence is not in a political system that is the construct of human intellect or in those men and women who are leading in that system.  So, while I think this election is very important, I rest at night knowing that my King is the Supreme Ruler over all, regardless of who occupies the White House.

So, while I strive to keep a correct perspective on life, I am faced with the awesome challenge of being in this world but not of it.  That ideology compels me to maintain an allegiance to a kingdom not a political party.  That being said, as a representative of that kingdom, as an ambassador who has been sent here with the charge of extending the principles, character, and nature of that kingdom on this temporal world, abstaining from a political process where I can affect a nation would seem to be a dereliction of my responsibility. While my vote is not the most important responsibility I have as a believer, God's principle of stewardship makes it clear that the freedom I've been given demands my engagement in the process.  For too long the church has debated whether or not it should even be involved in politics.  History clearly shows that when the church becomes absent from anything, it turns dark in a hurry.  One only needs to look at the current political climate to prove that point.  Let me go a bit further.  While we sit around and complain about the "liberal" media, our absence from that medium for many years has created that monster.  I could go on concerning this topic, but I'll stop there.

So, its a given as a believer, I'll be engaged in the political process.  But, how can I, as a believer, vote for a Mormon?  After all, spiritually there are major differences in how we believe.  The same holds true with our current sitting President.  As a matter of fact, I have no idea what he believes.  I know he claims to be a believer, but his actions are not consistent with that statement.  Some may say, that I shouldn't judge his heart to which I would say, I'm not, I'm judging his fruit.  Jesus didn't tell us that we would know His followers by what they say.  He said we would know them by their fruit.  So, using that principle that Jesus clearly told us to use, it would seem that out of the two candidates that we have to vote for, we have a Mormon and an unbeliever.

Since, it would appear that neither man holds my religious convictions, then next on my list would have to be character.  Now, I admit that looking for character in the political arena is much like looking for cell phone service in the deep jungles of the Amazon.  It seems that our culture has become very good at churning out politicians rather than statesmen, and that is truly sad.  However, character is still important when it comes to the person who will be leading our nation.  Being a good speaker, having charisma, making promises, and being a good debater are all secondary to being a man of character.  The truth is that I don't personally know either candidate, so I have to rely on what I've seen and heard.  The sitting President always has either an advantage or disadvantage here because he has been in the spotlight for four years.  His character has been on display much more than his challenger.  If his character is strong, then it becomes very difficult for his opponent to challenge in this area.  If his character is weak, however, the cracks in his character are well known which affords his challenger a huge advantage.  Throughout his presidency, President Obama has struggled with one of the major responsibilities of a leader and that is to take responsibility for his actions.  He often defaults to blame shifting which speaks volumes about his character.  His constant "blaming" of the the former administration for all the problems in America today, is a major crack in his character.  Four years ago, he asked America for the job.  He did not have to take on that responsibility, but he did.  With that job came the huge responsibility of taking on some huge challenges.  When someone does that, then from the moment they take on those challenges they take ownership of them.  The blame game is over, and from that moment on a leader becomes responsible for everything he has inherited.  The economy, unemployment, and an out of control national debt are areas that a man of strong character would take ownership of, but he refuses to do so.  Instead, he elects to blame someone else.  He also has proven to be divisive in the past and in his tenure as President. He has made statements over and over again that demonize groups of people, social classes, Congress, and the Supreme Court.  Causing division through divisive rhetoric for the purpose of political gain and control, speaks clearly of cracks in one's character.
It's true that we don't know a great deal about Mitt Romney because he has not been under the microscope that the current President has been for the last four years.  However, we do know a few things about him.  It would seem that one of the biggest attacks against his character is that he makes a lot of money and takes advantage of every opportunity to legally increase his wealth. Now, if that road to wealth was riddled with shady deals, dishonest practices, and illegal actions then it would most definitely put his character in question.  I've done a bit of research in this myself, and if there was any of that going on, I can't find evidence of it anywhere.  Demonizing a wealthy man for simply being wise in his business practices speaks more to the character of the one demonizing than the one being demonized.  Being wealthy does not make one evil. I actually think a successful business man would be a major positive for a nation trillions of dollars in debt.  I heard a story recently of a family that was visited by the Romneys one Christmas Eve.  They had learned of a family hit with a tragedy and just wanted to help make their Christmas a little better.  They didn't bring cameras and use it as a photo-op.  They just loved on that family without any agenda.  I heard another story of a man living in California at a time when wild-fires had devastated his community.  One of Romney's sons found out this man needed some help taking down a tree that had burned in his yard.  Mitt was in town doing some campaigning and heard his son was going to help this man.  Since he had a break between events, he volunteered to go along and help.  Again, no cameras or news crews came along.  Just a man and his son helping a neighbor.  I've heard other stories about him that are consistent with these, and it is never him tooting his own horn.

I'm a follower of Christ and as such, the Bible is the foundation of who I am and what I believe.  Among other things, I see good relations with Israel as a must.  I feel that Romney as President makes that more of a possibility than our current President.  While I have to take Romney at his word on this, Obama's previous four years clearly shows where he stands in regards to Israel.  Let's face it I'm also a conservative.  That's not just a title I wear.  It encompasses my whole value system.  That value system is characterized by a sense of personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, limited government, and a priority on national sovereignty.  My value system includes a strong pro-life stance and religious freedom.  I'm also a Constitutionalist.  I believe our constitution is the supreme law of the land and as such governs those who govern us.  It provides for an executive branch that executes the law, a legislative branch that makes the laws, and a judicial branch that interprets the law.  In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act which was sent to him after being passed by both houses of Congress.  President Obama disagreed with this law that defined marriage as a union between one woman and one man.  I disagree with Obama on this issue but he has a right to his opinion as do I and I am completely ok with that.  However, President Obama went further than simply disagreeing with it.  He made the statement that he and his administration would no longer support the constitutionality of that law.  In doing so, he circumvented the authority given to him by our constitution and in essence violated the law.  His responsibility as President is to execute the law not interpret it.  This action communicates one of two things about our President.  Either he has a complete disregard of the Constitution or a complete lack of understanding it.  Either way, from where I stand each one disqualifies him from holding that office. With Romney I can only base his view of the Constitution on statements he's made concerning it.  Those statements are consistent with one who understands the role of president under the guidelines set forth in the Constitution.

I could go on, but I'll conclude here.  I would rather the man I vote for agree with me on every issue.  I wish he loved what I love and hated what I hate.  I wish he held the same theology, ideology, and philosophy that I do.  I wish he had the same worldview as me and was passionate about the things I'm passionate about.  I wish he rooted for the Cowboys, couldn't stand the Yankees, and loved burnt orange. Unfortunately, that would require me to run for the presidency.  Romney doesn't exactly fit into that box but he's a much closer fit than the other candidate running. That's why he'll get my vote.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Than A Facebook Friend

If you are like me you have some really close friends on your Facebook friends list.  On the other hand we also have many on that list that we wouldn’t really characterize as close friends.  It’s just the nature of social networking.  These not so close friends comment on our posts from time to time and vice-versa, but we really don’t know them all that well.  In order to truly know someone, there has to be conversation and face time.  No, not Facebook time, face time.  Close intimate relationships require one on one time, where masks come off and hearts are revealed. 

The same holds true with our relationship with God. God is not content with us simply knowing about Him.  He longs for us to know Him.  The sad fact is that many of us are content with treating God as little more than a Facebook friend.  We connect with Him on a superficial level, memorizing a few scriptures, going to church, and praying when we need something, if we do that much.  What an absolute tragedy!  The Creator of the universe paid a hefty price for the purpose of having a relationship with us.  He longs to share His heart with us and reveal Himself to us.  He longs to hear the deepest cries of our heart.  Yet, we often relegate this relationship to a set of mechanical rituals and an impersonal theology.  God wants so much more. 
Abraham and God were friends.  God shows up one day on his way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  When Abraham sees the Lord and his angels, he insists they sit down and relax.  Abraham then races to fix them a meal.  This isn’t a fast food meal.  He has his wife prepare bread and his servants kill a calf.  I’m not sure how long this process took, but from the context it’s a given that this was a lengthy ordeal.  Abraham prepares an atmosphere that is welcoming to the Lord.  He actually wants Him to stay a while and that’s exactly what the Lord does.  He sits down and stays a while.  Immediately following the meal the Lord starts to leave but pauses.  Here, we find a very interesting passage of Scripture where we are given insight into God’s reasoning with Himself. 
17 And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:17-19 NKJV)
God is about to go to Sodom and Gomorrah and deal with the sin there.  As He’s leaving He reasons to Himself that He should not keep this from Abraham because of their relationship.  Wow!  God wants to share with His friend Abraham what’s on His heart.  So, God goes on to do just that.  He tells Abraham that He is headed to Sodom and Gomorrah to deal with that city.  Abraham is a little taken back by this revelation and responds by asking God if He would destroy the righteous along with the wicked.  Abraham is reasoning in His mind that this is not right and asks God this question, “25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Abraham is convinced that this is not consistent with what He knows about God. Abraham is convinced that this God he knows would never destroy this city if there were at least 50 righteous there.  The following scriptures are a continuing conversation with God and Abraham in which Abraham presses God and each time He does, God’s character becomes a bit clearer to Him.  By the time this conversation is over, Abraham has come to the realization that not only would God preserve a city if there were 50 righteous in it, He would do it if He found as little as 10 there. 
God wants the same when it comes to our relationship with Him.  He wants us to know Him.  He wants our conversation with Him to be more than prayers of petitions and meaningless religious rituals.  He’s a living breathing being that wants relationship with us.  He wants to show us what He sees.  He wants to share His heart with us.  He longs for our undivided, undistracted time.  While He wants us to share all that is on our heart with Him, He also wants us to be quiet and learn to listen to what He is saying.  I believe that just like He did with Abraham, He’ll show up anywhere He is welcome and He’ll stay as long as we have the time for Him.  Think about it.  The Creator of the world wants to share His heart with you.  I don’t know what you’re gonna do with that truth, but as far as I’m concerned I refuse to treat Him like a Facebook friend.