I don’t know how many times in the last several months of this political cycle I’ve read or heard a phrase similar to this one, “think about the future of your children!” Both sides of the political aisle believe that the election of their opponent will mean the end of the United States that they love so deeply. They are desperate to either save, or at least maintain their ideal of what America should be. I think there are two motivations for the above stated imperative: 1) they are trying to coerce me (and others like me) to vote for their preferred candidate; 2) they really are concerned about the future of their offspring. It’s probably some of both.
The first motivation is manipulative and has been frustratingly active in our political system for the last 240 years. It is a logical fallacy called emotional pleading; it is an appeal to someone’s emotions and fears and often causes people to make decisions based entirely upon feelings. If you know me very well at all, you know I refuse to be manipulated. You also know that I have very little respect for that kind of debate, it is an adult form of bullying. My decisions are based entirely on the Bible and a reasoned application of it’s truths to all of life.
The second motivation is an understandable concern of parents and grandparents. However, I think many people have grabbed the wrong end of the issue, or perhaps emphasized the wrong end too much. That is that many people seem to be more concerned with saving the ideal of the American Dream for their children than they are in actually preparing their children to survive in the world in which they find themselves. My responsibility is not to change the United States so that it offers an ideal life for my children; my charge is to equip my children to live strong in any country or context. I recently read an article in which a pastor’s wife presumed that the instruction in 1st Timothy 2:2 to pray for governmental leaders “that we may lead a quiet and peacable life” indicated that we should also “act” to help foster that kind of environment. Her understanding of peace seems to be the absence of conflict. Paul’s desire was not that the early church change the political environment of Nero’s Rome so that it would be friendly to the gospel. If that was the point, the prayer and the activism of the early church was a colossal failure. Instead, believers were to pray, so that they could maintain a quiet and peacable heart, even when the political world around them began to feed Christians to the lions, literally! (Cross reference Philippians 4:6-7 in the context of that epistle at which time Paul was a prisoner of the Roman government.) Peter indicated that the happy response of believers to suffering would cause others to actually ask them of the reason for their hope, despite their suffering at the hands of human government (1st Peter 3:14-16). History has proven that the genuine gospel prospers more in persecution than in peace. Sometimes I think many Christians are more devoted to the American Dream than to authentic discipleship.
I’m not advocating an apathetic demeanor towards human government. I’ve voted in every election in which I’ve been eligible, and I will this year. I am advocating that Christians maintain a correct perspective.
So, whether you are going to vote for Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump, or someone else, let me encourage you to devote more of your energies to equipping your family to live in this world. If your hope is to fix this world so that your children don’t have to face things that you find distasteful, you will be disappointed, no matter who is elected. If your energy is devoted to preparing your children for whatever comes, November’s elections will be far less frightful to you. Our goal is not to prepare the world for our children but to prepare our children for the world. Believe me, I think about the future of my children all of the time! I think about the kinds of things that they are going to have to face. But rather than basing my hopes on the election of a president by a nation of people that does not largely share my values, I’m determined to do every thing in my power to build them into strong adults who are able to navigate their society without fear, but in power, love, and a sound mind.