Adam Hamilton cites Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest who wrote a landmark book entitled Situation Ethics. In his book he tries to find middle ground between people who believe there are absolute rules that all must follow and people who believe there are no rules that must be followed at all. As we encounter situations in everyday life, Fletcher feels our guide is the love we should feel for others. If we follow the guideline of expressing love for our fellow man, we will avoid the negative judgements associated with absolutes and the dangerous behavior of no-holds-barred living.
As Christians, this love is manifest in the “Christian love” for our fellow man, the kind of love that Jesus called for in Matthew 22: 37-39: And He said to him, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
This means as Christians, we have a standard for behavior and that standard is love.
The WWJD movement (What Would Jesus Do) of the 1990s was predicated situation ethics, that Christians should demonstrate the love of Jesus to others. As you may recall, the WWJD wristbands were designed as reminders of our calling.
But how do we fit into what is happening to our country today?
Where do we fit into the upcoming national presidential election?
In my own personal opinion, we are not a good fit at all.
Politicians want our vote. There is no doubt about it. Christians are referred to as the “evangelical vote.” Both candidates have courted evangelicals.
The problem is how do we square our commandment to love our fellow man with what the candidates offer?
Again, we are not a good fit. I am reminded of John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
As we near November 8, the charges and counter-charges are so crass, that I cannot say I am comfortable with the whole campaigning process. Add to that the idea that I know what the candidates really want from me: all they want is my vote…and that’s it.
I know some individuals who try to justify their choice in various ways, citing one candidate’s lifelong commitment to a particular church. Another candidate says they will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will uphold conservative values. Truly what does this mean?
They just want your vote.
Today’s younger generation has become fed up with Christianity. It is a well-known fact that the US has a growing percentage of adults who just don’t find church appealing anymore. The percentage in 2015 is 23%, up from 16% in 2007. **
I fear that times like today just fuel these attitudes. How can people of God support a process that seems so antithetical to Christian teaching? The word hypocrisy comes to mind.
Jesus seemed to be apolitical. The Pharisees wanted to trip him up by asking what He thought about taxation. They hoped he would show some sign that He wanted to rebel from Roman rule. He bypassed their trap by His famous response “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” I take that to mean that taxes need to be paid but we also have a true indebtedness to God; that payment is as important as government taxation.
Many Jews in Jesus’ day wanted a leader who would overthrow Roman rule and instead they got Jesus. They wanted a strong, confident military leader who would take back the Holy Land and The Temple but instead they got Jesus.
Let’s return to the WWJD admonition and try to figure out what Jesus would do about participating in today’s election.
Of course, I am not sure what He would do but I suspect He would vote. Again, He is not an advocate for overthrowing the government. But let’s go further. Would Jesus be pleased by how we are behaving in our political campaigns?
I surely doubt it.
The situation we find ourselves in right now in America is challenging. As Christians, where do we fit in?
We don’t fit in.
As American citizens what should we do? We should vote because we have that privilege. Every morning I start my day with a prayer for America, asking God to show us as a nation a way to live together in love.
It is a prayer that I wish God would answer.
So far, I am waiting… waiting…
*I try to post every other day but for the past nine days, I have been vacationing with my wife and internet connection and vacation activities have kept me from my regular posting. Sorry…
**A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious ‘nones’ from the “Fact Tank Website” May 13, 2015