I don't normally get overtly political here, and I promise I won't do it again for a long time, but I have to say that the developments of the past month or so have left me cautiously optimistic. For the first time in 32 years there appears to be no presidential candidate (who has a chance of winning; sorry, Mike Huckabee) whose policies align closely with the religious right.
James Dobson, who focuses on a lot more than the family these days, has already stated that he cannot, in good conscience, vote for John McCain. That echoes views previously stated by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. And that leaves, well, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the choices, doesn't it? You think the good Dr. Dobson will be pulling the lever for Clinton or Obama? Me either. So what's an upstanding conservative to do? In ancient times, when faced with a similar predicament, vanquished leaders would fall on their own swords. I wonder what the modern-day equivalent might be?
It was a bad marriage all along, so I can't pretend that I'm disappointed. The unholy alliance between evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party caused massive damage to the reputation of the Christian Church. Nowadays when someone asks me, "Are you a Christian?" I am forced to equivocate. "Yes, I am," I tell them, "but not in the way the term is commonly understood in 21st century American culture. I don't care about the color of my state on an election-night map. I'm the kind of Christian who just wants to follow Jesus."
Make no mistake. I surely believe that following Jesus has social and political implications. But those implications cross party lines, and more frequently than not have absolutely nothing to do with party lines. It is the great religious tragedy of the last quarter century that those distinctions have been lost, and that evangelical Christianity has been equated in the public mind with a particular brand of political activism that is narrowly focused on issues such as abortion and gay rights. In contrast, I would like to think of myself as pro-life, even after kids are born.
And so in November I will vote for a candidate who will offer an imperfect solution to complex issues, and who will not be God's President. And I will rejoice because, for once, and perhaps for all time, the stranglehold has been broken. Maybe, just maybe, we Christians will figure out that looking to any political party to embody God's will is as much an idolotrous stance as worshipping a golden calf. And maybe, just maybe, we will be willing to serve in the prophetic role to which we have been called; standing apart from political systems, and working toward a social agenda that values loving and serving people -- individuals unborn and aged and everywhere in between -- as the means by which the Kingdom of God might be advanced.