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There Is No Litmus Test for President

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There is only conviction and thinking and prayer and conversation.

And even that conversation will vary within your community.

I’m reminded of the paradoxes of the old culture wars. A couple decades ago when politics were just as heated and dialogue just as rare, Mrs. Kirkistan and I lived in a rough section of South Minneapolis. People of faith in our community—I’ll call them Christians—routinely voted “for” Democrats. Given the particular demographic quirks of the area, it was easy to understand why those candidates did better. For a variety of reasons (economic, housing, vision, spiritual) we ended up moving miles away. We eventually found ourselves at a large suburban church where the assumption was that everyone voted “for” Republicans. Mind you, much of this was never said aloud. It was all just assumed.

After all, Republicans were anti-abortion and that’s where God hangs out—right?

After all, Democrats cared for the poor and that’s where God hangs out—right?

The danger of litmus-test thinking is that it promises some clear, unassailable answer: the candidate is this or the candidate isn’t this. Case closed.

I argue that leadership is and always has been about more than one thing. There is no litmus test because the human condition is complex and society and culture are exponentially complex. And while I’m certain God is all about creating life, the Creator is also bent on sustaining life, so listening to the poor, the widow and the orphan take up a lot of column-inches in our common, ancient text. But even those are not litmus-like tests, because which party will actually do those things best?

I’m hoping the faith communities around the country will have conversations that help their members vote not according to some mandate from a culture-wars war-room, but instead according their growing convictions from dealing with texts, from conversation and from prayer.

It’s time the church led by being counter-culture.


Image via thisisn’thappiness

Written by kirkistan

October 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

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