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CITIZEN RULER
September 12, 2008 (09:52 AM)

I am one of those people the media refer to as a "values voter." I'm not sure it's meant as a compliment. In any election, there seems to be a somewhat fluid list of important issues at the top. Somewhere underneath, or off to the side, exist these strange creatures who vote values instead of "real issues."

Change

I actually heard a pundit say the other day that the top three issues in this election are "the economy, the war and change." I agree that a lot of things in our nation need to change, but I'm pretty sure I don't agree with her as to which things. Change is not a clear direction; it's not really an issue. It's just a concept. It's one of those things that can sound moving and inspirational in a speech, but taken on it's own, it has very little real meaning.

I think most of us do agree that the economy, national security, energy, healthcare and immigration are all very important issues. These and many other problems in our nation are broad, deep and complex. We need solutions. In most cases, there are probably several good ways to go about solving the problem. Clearly, there are also many very bad ideas that only serve to compound the existing difficulties.

The Real Issue

So what do we do? It is my thesis that no man, woman, or committee of human beings possess the wisdom and skill necessary to fully remedy any one of these issues, much less all of them. Human beings are imperfect. We make mistakes. It's who we are. We're not going to find one of us who has all the answers. The only one who has all the answers is the One who created and sustains humankind and the world in which we live.

So the most important issue in any election is also the most important issue for every single living person.
There is ultimately only one question that I need to answer: Do I honor God and acknowledge His authority in my life? If I do, then I am covered by His blessing and protection. If I choose to ignore His wisdom and directives, then I am not. We have all seen, to varying degrees, what results in an individual human life when we insist on throwing out God's principles and making up our own. Society is no different.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." If no human being can perfectly navigate the delicate obstacle course of leading this nation, whom do I choose? I choose the person whose record most reflects that he or she honors God and acknowledges His authority; someone who realizes our very real dependence on God and seeks His wisdom in every situation. The Bible tells us that "righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people."

Life, for example, is a gift from God and I don't have the right to take innocent human life for the sake of convenience or even to avoid difficult circumstances. Nor do I have the right to extend that choice to anyone else. It would simply be an effort to substitute current human thought for the eternal wisdom of God.

Yes, the Declaration of Independence declares that our Creator has given us the right to Liberty. But first, we are given the right to Life. Whenever these two rights come into conflict, Life trumps Liberty. Everyone seems to appreciate this principle when his/her life is the one in question.

Similarly, marriage is an institution ordained by God. Everyone already has the right to choose it. We don't have the right to redefine it according to human preference. Individuals certainly have the freedom to choose a lifestyle outside the parameters of God's wise and loving instruction. However, society has no obligation to endorse it. Indeed, we have a responsibility to God and to future generations not to do so.

God calls us to love one another and to love our neighbors the way He has loved us. But as any wise parent can tell you, really loving someone does not mean always approving and facilitating their choices. True love will speak the truth at the risk of it's own popularity.

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God's Blessing

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12). From the earliest days, the blessing and protection of God have rested on this nation. From the very beginning, by consensus, we have chosen to honor Him and acknowledge His authority. The framers of the Constitution humbly prayed together for God's wisdom, and He gave it liberally.

It is the unique hubris of our time to think that we no longer need God's wisdom. "We have our own. We will make our own rules. We will solve our own problems. We will become a secular society. We will elevate no one religion above any other. They will all be given an equal platform without regard to relative contribution." This new way of thinking is dangerously naive and shortsighted.

The ideas and philosophies at the heart of the world's religions are vastly different. As Christians, we must not fall for the delusion that ideas must be treated equally. Ideas are not created equal and they have enormous consequences.

The very existence of this nation is fundamentally a consequence of Judeo-Christian ideals combined with the blessing of God. America was established and built primarily by the blood, sweat and sacrifice of people who honored the one true God of the Bible. They sought His wisdom and followed His directives individually and collectively.

Freedom of Religion

Certainly, our Constitution guarantees freedom of Religion. And true Christians would never think of trying to force anyone to be a Christian. But the Constitution offers no guarantee that Christian prayers will be prohibited at high school graduations. It does not guarantee that Christmas parties will go missing from Elementary School classrooms or that The Ten Commandments will disappear from our nation's courthouses. It does not guarantee freedom from individual offense. It simply guarantees to every American the freedom to worship as we choose.

Our freedom comes from God. The principles of our commonly held faith and heritage are what make this nation great. And until very recently, they were present, without apology, in every important aspect of life. To the degree that they are lost and silenced, we move away from the blessing and protection of God and from greatness itself.

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Tolerance or Denial?

There are some who would have us believe that to be truly tolerant of other religions, we must deny our own common faith and heritage. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is our common faith and heritage that have produced in us the very tolerance that others now seek to exploit. The incredible irony is that if they succeed in completely removing what remains of the true foundation, the shining city, whose freedom and opportunity drew them from their homelands, will finally crumble. It will be no greater than the governments and cultures they left behind.

So do we vote for one competent candidate over another because of shared faith? Absolutely! Because faith (or lack thereof) forms values. Values form culture. Culture forms society and society forms government either directly or indirectly. In a democracy, society forms government in the most direct way. We vote. We are citizen rulers.

We are, each one of us, directly responsible to God for the state of our nation. We are the rulers and we delegate authority to those who run the government for us at every level. We are responsible to choose them well; to choose them for the right reasons and with the correct priorities.

And they are responsible to hear and respond to our collective voice. They are responsible to bring their faith-formed values to the profound decisions of government. And they are responsible to appoint and confirm judges who understand and remember that their job is to enforce existing law and uphold the Constitutioné─ţnot to make new laws that disregard God, the will of the people and the Constitution.

Pray

If we honor God as individuals and as a nation, we have a position from which to pray for His blessing and protection. And above all, we are responsible to pray. é "If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their landé" (II Chronicles 7:14).

So I am a values voter. I vote moral issues, because my responsibility, our responsibility, is to obey God. His promise, then, is that He will hear our prayers and forgive our sins. He will heal our land. He will give true wisdom to our leaders. He will solve the unsolvable problems. His protection will rest on a righteous nation in a world where no human being can possibly guarantee our safety.

As God's people, we must continually fall to our knees and find our collective voice. We must confess our sins and ask for Godé─˘s mercy on ourselves and on our nation. And we must speak always to our society as Christ spoke to His on earth-- simultaneously filled with grace and uncompromising truth
Twila Paris
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