November 3, 2008 by

The Crossroads


Categories: food for thought, politics? oh puh-leeze.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the political climate of America quite like this.

Tomorrow, Americans will go to the polls and vote. But I believe it is going to be much more than selecting a President, or even staffing the various offices of our federal, state and local governments for another few years.

The United States is at a crossroads.

And the scary thing is, the choices we have aren’t all that clear.

This is the first time since I’ve had awareness of our political landscape that I’ve seen the political map so redrawn, and the demographics of our society so scrambled. The biggest example I see of this is of the evangelical Christian community. In the last election, it was widely known that conservative evangelical voters put George W. Bush over the top. Our choices seemed clear, and our base was solid. This time it is different. A combination of political disappointments and an increasing awareness of our social responsibilities have caused a larger number of evangelical voters to look at the other party this time–despite the gay marriage and abortion issues at stake. The map is redrawn, and the demographics are fragmented.

And yet–with this kind of a shift, you’d think Obama would be a shoo-in. After all, if evangelicals basically decided the last election, and now that voting bloc is fragmented, that alone should be enough to tilt the scales. Indeed, with a sitting Republican president as unpopular as Bush, one would think the run toward the Democrat candidate would be overwhelming, that Obama would easily have double digit leads. But he doesn’t. After all the millions his campaign has spent, after all the media bending in his favor–although the polls show him ahead, it’s astounding to me that the race is actually this close. Despite all the media spin, it’s obvious that no one is willing to rule out a McCain victory. He’s pulled it off before, and with worse poll numbers than these. So with a race this tight, and fragmented voting blocs–who is supporting McCain? It’s apparent that a significant number of people from a wide range of demographics are NOT convinced that Obama is “the change we need.” And yet–this time the choices just don’t seem that clear. The pros and cons for each candidate make things much more muddy–to the point that I find there are actually a lot more “undecideds” among even Christian voters than I think anyone realizes. Even a day before the election.

The truth is–no one really knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. We can hope for one outcome or the other–but we just don’t know. And the scary thing is, there is so much at stake. A few too many votes for just the right combination of candidates and offices–and we could steer this nation closer to outright socialism than any of us would have thought possible four years ago. We could open the gates for a lot more than we are barganing for.

Obama in a stump speech said recently, “We are three days away from bringing fundamental change to the United States of America.” Fundamental change. That means change at the foundations, not just a changing of methods. I don’t think anyone realizes how deep that well goes.

I’m not meaning to use this post to stump for my candidate–although my readers already know who I’m voting for. I’m just saying we are at a crossroads, and it’s very sobering.

Sarah wrote a thoughtful post today I’m still chewing on, about how she’s learning as a Christian not to embrace empirical government values and not to be idolatrous about nationalism. But while I understand her point, I just want to say as a balancing point that I don’t think it’s necessarily idolatry to be patriotic, to love the nation you live in even though you are a citizen of a higher kingdom. I don’t think it’s a sin for me to love America the way I do, or to desire her best interests. It’s a mixture and a mess, but the truth is, while Christianity was born in a hostile idolatrous empire called the Roman Empire–the United States was formed as an experiment in fairness and freedom, largely by professing Christians. I don’t want to see this nation stray from her founding principles, because I think those principles are the very reason the U.S. has been such a force for good in the world. Who wouldn’t want to see that continue?

There are those who may think I’m being too dramatic about this; I hope I am. But I don’t think so. I feel like this could be a deciding point for America for decades, even centuries (if we last that long), and things have gotten so cloudy and muddled we could make a disastrous choice without even realizing what we’re doing.

In fact, the reason I’ve chosen my candidate is not so much because of his political views, but because the other candidate, in my view, is throwing up more of a smokescreen here. It’s the smokescreen, the confusion, that’s got me suspicious about motives; so the one who blows the most smoke loses my vote. 🙂

Ultimately, if I read my Bible correctly, regardless of the vote–we are to accept the candidate who wins as God’s choice in the matter. The only solace I really have is that God is still in control of the affairs of this world, and the part America will play in them.

So tomorrow, I will go to the crossroads and vote my conscience. I encourage all Americans to do the same. My prayer is not so much that my candidate wins, but that God will have His way. Because I have to admit that although my vote reflects what I believe to be the best choice–I do not see the big picture.

All through this election process, the only thing I’ve known to pray is:

“God, please give us the President we need–not necessarily the one we deserve. Let mercy triumph over judgment.”

I hope that you will join me in this prayer.

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

10 Responses to The Crossroads

  1. Amy

    Excellent, excellent post. Jeff, I agree with you more about everything in your post than you can possibly imagine. 🙂

    I love what you said here:
    “All through this election process, the only thing I’ve known to pray is: “God, please give us the President we need–not necessarily the one we deserve. Let mercy triumph over judgment.”

    Amen! Yes, Father!

    ~Amy 🙂

  2. Lightbearer


    The only thing that is keeping me from freaking out on the day before the election, is the fact that I know God is in control.

    I too have been praying similarly.


  3. Rachael

    I am with you on everything you have said, Jeff. Do you mind if I post this on my blog??? I am trying to do a “political” post each day and would love to use this.

  4. Jeff McQ

    Thanks, Amy, for the encouragement, and thanks for participating in the prayer. 🙂

    Indeed, that is our ultimate peace–that God is in control.

    Yes–feel free to use whatever of this post you find helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. co_heir

    I agree with your prayer. I think that maybe this election will give the Church the opportunity to remember who really is Lord, and where our allegiance and citizenship is. I hope we take advantage of that opportunity.

  6. Jeff McQ

    P.S. Your profile page doesn’t link to any blogs. Would you mind sending a link to your blog as well? I’d like to visit.

  7. Sarah

    Thanks for the link, Jeff! As Christians, I think our love for America should be the same love that God has for America. God loves all His kids the same and doesn’t have favorites. I think that’s where nationalism gets it wrong.

    In the same way that I have been through a process of understanding how Constantinian Christianity has effected our practices of ecclesia, I’ve also been considering how this Christian legacy has affected our politics.

    Looking at our founding, I can’t say that everyone who shares in this heritage can honestly say it was an experiment in fairness and freedom for them. For some it was, but that was a limited inclusiveness (landholding white males).

    I think we aspire to that – but if we don’t honestly assess ourselves in light in God’s standard, then national pride (the religion of national mythology) gets in the way of true repentance and reconciliation – first being reconciled back to God, and then reconciled with others. (Unless we believe we are completely sinless as a nation). If our love for America reflects the love that God has – it is a love that accepts us unconditionally without leaving us the way we are. It continually calls us to higher ground, to reformation, to reconciliation, closer to Him, closer to love.

    And that’s all I have to say about that. 🙂

  8. Jeff McQ

    Sorry for getting to this reply sooner than this–the election is over, now. 🙂

    I couldn’t say *everything* on my mind because it would have made the post too long–I was sort of hoping for a comment like yours to segue into it :). But when I talk about nationalism and “an experiment in fairness and freedom”, I have no illusions as to the imperfections of said experiment, or the flaws of our nation. At the time of our founding, slavery was a major stronghold; certainly fairness and freedom were not extended to those people–at first. But the experiment went on, and eventually the slaves were freed. The founding principles of our nation eventually won out, even in areas where we were not applying them. And I think that trend continues, because the principles are good ones, and they shape us.

    I agree that nationalism can *become* idolatry, and that even our own history has been written to reflect how “perfect” America is. It is in the making of patriotism/nationalism automatically *synonymous* with idolatry that I take issue. Without turning a blind eye to America’s flaws, shortcomings and mistakes–and her sins–it is still the love of country that motivates citizens to help make the country improve and grow.

    As a patriot, I don’t favor America to the point that I want her to be better than everyone else. I simply want America to be the best she can be, and I want her values defended when I see them threatened. And as a point of balance–I also want her to repent when she sins, and I can recognize the discipline of the Lord on her when she does not.

    So I’m a Christian. I’m a citizen of God’s kingdom first. I’m also an American patriot. I yam what I yam. 🙂

    Thanks again for making me think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.