The Political Christian

Red or blue?  Liberal or conservative?  Republican or Democrat?  Is there an appropriate way for Christians to vote?

To hear many people talk, there is.  The association of the Republican party with Christians – or at least more conservative and evangelical Christians – has become ubiquitous in recent elections, a trend that reflects a longer-standing but less-publicized  broad understanding.  Because of the policy platform of the Democratic party for years – abortion rights most particularly – many people have assumed that if you vote along Democratic lines you aren’t a good Christian.  Of course this seems overly-simplistic, and now we have research to back up that hunch – in case you needed research.  
This study indicates that there are two types of Christians that are driven to vote in opposite ways based on where the emphasis of their faith lies.  Those concerned more with issues of personal sin vote more conservatively.  Those concerned more with helping others tend to vote more liberally.  This shouldn’t exactly be a shock to anyone, but it’s one way of quantifying one potential factor in what makes Christians vote a certain way.
What ought to be more obvious to a committed Christian is that these are not either/or inclinations.  We are called to both be concerned about morality as well as helping others.  We are not offered the option of focusing on one and ignoring the other.  Which leaves the Christian voter in an interesting predicament, it would seem.  But it would seem it’s not strictly a matter of personal preferences.  Denominations and congregations have fallen out along party lines – at least based on my unofficial observations over the years.  And I know Christians who have been made to feel unwelcome – or at least less included – at congregations based on their political leanings.  Yet if neither party fully or adequately represents the sum total of Christian policy making (or ever claimed to, for that matter), how do congregations open dialog on this topic?  
Is there an issue that is a make-or-break issue?  Traditionally abortion has been viewed as that very issue – the one that can’t be tolerated in conservative Christian circles.  Is it that easy, though?  Note that this is not the same as asking whether or not abortion is Biblical or not – it’s not.  What is the committed Christian to do if neither party offers options that allow them to vote with a good conscience?  What do you do?  Should there be a viable third option?  Could there be?

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