Your children have been hearing a lot about the election in their schools, in your family, among friends, online and on television. As a Christian parent, priest, or teacher, what can you say? Does God care about the election? Here are some thoughts to help shape your conversation.
The answer is yes, God cares about elections. Because elections are about people, and God cares about everything that happens to people. In an election, we choose leaders to govern and care for the people at every level of our country’s life. Jesus said that even a sparrow is not forgotten by God. If God cares for the tiniest bird, then think how he cares for every single human being. “Even the hairs of your head are numbered,” said Jesus (Matthew 10:30). That’s how extreme God’s love is for us.
All of us are children of God. That means everybody in the world. Whether we live in China, or Mexico, or Canada, or the United States, we are all children of God. And therefore we are brothers and sisters with people all over the world.
God cares for his world, and for all of us who live in his world. And he cares about how we take care of the world he has given us. That’s why elections are important. We are choosing people to act on our behalf. We may not be the President, or a congressman, senator, or governor, but we are choosing people who will do these important tasks of leading our country in a way that takes care of this world we all share. We each have our own special interests, but we elect people to act for what’s called the “common good”: the neighborhood, town, state, country, and world we share with others. We elect people to care for the common good.
One day you will be able to vote. So how will you go about making a decision on how to vote, especially if you are a Christian? Everyone has a different way of deciding, but for Christians we have to ask ourselves the question, “What is important to God?”
To learn what is important to God, we can get a lot of clues by reading the Gospels and seeing what Jesus Christ says and does. For a start, he said that there are two most important commandments. First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). And second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If we want to dig deeper into what Jesus means by loving our neighbor, then we can find in the gospels a long list of what Jesus cares about.
He cares about children.
He cares about people in distress.
He cares about the poor.
He cares about people in prison.
He cares about people who don’t have enough food.
He cares about people who don’t have a place to live.
He cares about people who are treated unfairly.
He cares about people who are afraid.
He cares about people who are rejected by others.
And he cares about speaking the truth and standing up to bullies.
What Jesus cared about should inspire us when we’re deciding for whom to vote. Christians don’t all agree on how all these ways of caring should be put into practice. This is why there are debates among people of good will in our churches. Some people will say this way is better than that way. This candidate is better than that one. No candidate is ever perfect. But when we’re voting we should be thinking about what kind of world God wants. What kind of world would he want us to help build? And which candidate comes closest to building that kind of world?
These pointers toward a conversation won’t answer all your children’s questions about elections, but perhaps it will give a helpful start.
The Very Rev. Dr. John A. Jillions is priest at Holy Ghost Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church in America) in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Public Orthodoxy seeks to promote conversation by providing a forum for diverse perspectives on contemporary issues related to Orthodox Christianity. The positions expressed in this essay are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.