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Volume 12, Issue 2: Magistralis

Picking One's Poison

Nathan Wilson

WE have once more completed the cycle. One more revolution is tucked away nicely under our belts, and we can all hop about clapping our hands with glee. The Olympics are here again. So are a bunch of presidential hopefuls. Words fail me.

As a kid I always loved a good circus, but for some reason they have lost their appeal in recent days. The presidential race used to be so interesting: three rings active at once, clowns dashing about on fire engines in all three. What could be more important? Oh, I don't know, blowing one's nose. Sleeping. Picking a scab.
Of course that's what the presidency is all about: scab-picking. This year we are going to sit through speeches, debates, commercials, all of which will concern the way our scabs should be picked. Should we poke around at the kneecap, or get to work down where the driveway gravel is imbedded? This year the entire country, and millions of Christians, will be concentrating on getting the scab-picker of their choice into office. When honestly, as long as the president's role involves picking, who cares who's doing it?
No doubt this seems a trifle apathetic. In one sense it is. I couldn't care less whether Bush or Gore were in office, and I don't intend to lift a finger in support of either of them. But I should care a great deal who leads this country. Is this contradictory? Am I being inconsistent? I hope not. A national leader represents us before God as well as to the rest of the world. Our leader's sins are our sins, his folly is our folly because he is ours. This is why we have a right to be upset when he sends troops where he shouldn't or when he supports what he shouldn't. He is doing those things on our behalf. We are married to our leaders. Thus, we should care very much who leads us, in the same way a bride should care who is standing in the tuxedo across from her.
So am I then justified in thoroughly not caring whether Bush or Gore represents me? Well, would you rather marry a murderer or a rapist? If my life is going to be Hell, it doesn't really matter whether I am on the third level on the left side or third level on the right. They're both Hell. They will both lead our country into foolishness. They will both simply apply fingernail to scab.
What our country needs is a principled leader (of course he would probably be assassinated). We need someone who will, for the first time in centuries, dig down deep and tear the whole scab off. Who knows what we might find? Will we get a leader like that this time around? Probably not. Then who do we vote for?
We are going to be associated with our president in a corporate sense whether or not we vote for him. But our own consciences as individuals do not have to be burdened. We do not have a moral obligation to vote for a potential winner. We have a moral obligation to vote for a suitable candidate. No suitable candidate has a hope of victory, but that does not change our obligation. We the people, as a people, will be guilty of foolishness, but we do not have to add individual reprehensibility to that corporate guilt. Our votes are freely given. God may put us under a spiritual rebel, but that does not mean we must cast our lots in with him beforehand.
If we do not vote for a man qualified before God to lead our nation, then we are aligning ourselves with evil. Voting for a rebel is rebellion. No God-hater should receive a pat on the back, no matter how minuscule, from a Christian. Such pats have become all too frequent.
Every election these issues are discussed. Christians argue whether or not voting for an unbeliever is acceptable, whether voting for a little evil instead of a medium or big evil is in itself evil, and have many other extraordinarily intelligent conversations over their ice water. In such discussions some kind soul always finds a way to quote Luther.
"Well, you know what Luther said." Here he sips his drink, "Luther said he'd rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian." Then he goes off to check the barbecue. Such is the world. Someone is going to read this article and feel the need to relieve himself of that quote. Well, Luther is irrelevent for several reasons-the first being that we haven't any wise Turks, only foolish ones. What Luther said (if he said it) really amounts to "I'd rather be ruled by a pagan who behaved like a Christian than a Christian who behaved like a pagan." Wouldn't we all. But that's not the same as voting for him. I'm sure most women would rather be married to a pagan who behaved like a Christian than a Christian who behaved like a pagan, but that doesn't mean they can marry one. Of course, it is never simply one of those two options.
When this time of election draws to a close, and it becomes obvious which two men are the finalists in the duel, we can look at them and pray God that the lesser fiend wins, but we mustn't support him. We cannot cry "Crucify Him!" If we were to watch a saint martyred, we might pray to God that his murderers shoot him rather than skin him alive, but we cannot chime our "Shoot him!" in with the crowd's. Christians have become confused here, and because we are so adamantly opposed to skinning, we become the strongest supporters of murder by bullet. We put signs in our yards, organize fund raisers to buy the gun and all in all, act like jackasses. We hate murderers, and so we vote for thieves. We may be ruled by a son of Hell, but we cannot agree to be one.
The sooner Christians stop attempting to back a winner, and begin to back righteous men regardless of their odds, then we will suddenly realize that their odds are shortening. How can we expect God to provide us with a good leader when we are the ones voting for bad ones? We must become righteous ourselves, we must clean our consciences before we can ask for a clean man.
This, no doubt, will be awhile. For now, just watch the Olympics.

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