The first time I was active in politics was as a young teenager over sixty years ago. I still have an “I Like Ike” button. In all those sixty years, I have never seen a campaign as awful and an election with such a dismal outcome regardless of who wins as the one currently before us. We Christians have been talking for decades about the declining influence of our Faith in the public square, an assertion supported by various statistics and polls. Now we are seeing the bitter fruit of the decline “up close and personal.”
What can be done? At this late stage, there are no quick fixes. There is no “Christian” candidate. The closest we can come to that is a third party candidate who is a Mormon. To not vote is an abdication of your God-given responsibility to be a good steward of the earth for the Lord. To vote, given the candidates, is to compromise that stewardship by choosing someone who does not share that concept. I will do my civic duty and exercise my Christian stewardship as best I can, but with no expectation beyond that I have helped prevent an even worse choice. I suspect you will likely do roughly the same.
We Americans are a people who look for instant gratification. In this situation, however, we need reminding that God is a whole lot more patient than we are. Not only in the present election fever, but in the general deterioration of our society, God has a greater vision and longer perspective than we do. We, too, need to step back and realize this will take some time.
Looking back at virtually any point in history, this is borne out. Imagine living in Rome as the Goths and others swarmed down, destroying your town, your way of life, your civilization. Or, a Russian Christian in the 1930’s in the midst of a severe and thorough persecution by a government which seemed hopelessly permanent. Or Japanese Christians in the 17th Century, victims of a determined attack wiping out the entire community, removing Christianity from Japan until modern times. Or a Syrian Christian today, chased out of the country into refugee status by ISIS, losing everything except their Faith in the process.
Many today have been instructed that God will give you prosperity, good things, happy times and good health if you agree to serve him. If you have bought into that, your faith is misplaced. God promises no such thing. He promises life, resurrection, eucharistic joy, salvation, a place in his family. Anyone who thinks this means you will be provided an affluent, problem-free existence might want to reflect on the Cross, the basic symbol of Christianity. It represents the intense suffering of the one you are called to follow. Even worse, he tells you not just to contemplate it but to take up your own cross and follow him. That might not lead to the new car, bigger house, and better job you were hoping for.
Now apply that thought collectively to the nation. God does not promise that America will be more powerful, or more affluent. He doesn’t even promise the nation will continue to exist. History teaches that nations and empires come and go, and there is no reason to believe ours will persist forever, either. Nor are we guaranteed perpetual immunity from the kinds of things that are happening to Christians in places like Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.
So, we need to look past this election. An attitude which sees the whole earth as the Lord’s is important as we try our best to be stewards of what God has given us, for a time, to manage for him. In order to avoid a continuing series of National Debacles similar to the upcoming election, we need to pay attention and become active all year long, not just at the last stages of a campaign. And we must look at governance, as the Lord looks at it, not simply at particular issues which appear more righteous and churchy than others. Never lose sight of the fact that, for Jesus, his face is always in the face of the least of his brothers and sisters, and that thought has a great deal of meaning for how a Christian-influenced government works.
Getting America to be a nation resembling something close to Christian morality and stewardship is likely to take more than one election cycle. In particular, it will take a great deal more understanding by churchgoers of what Christian purpose and God’s promises are about. If the Impending National Debacle serves as a wake-up call to get busy and teach the Faithful how the earth is the Lord’s, it will turn out to be useful after all.