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Vote like a Lutheran

by Jaynan Clark Egland (WordAlone Network president)

October 31, 2008

photo of Pastor Jaynan Clark EglandSeems like everything is about the economy and the election. Everything you tune into, open up or turn on reminds you that the whole globe is spiraling down in a flushing pattern.

Everyone you talk to complains that their mutual funds, 401k’s, real estate, bank accounts are in the toilet and their costs for everything from heating their houses to feeding their kids and their own bellies are through the roof. Highs and lows are not just economic and electoral, they are emotional. Your neighbors, whoever they are and wherever they reside, are groaning and hurting. How does one respond? Who can deliver us from this global suffering? Where should you turn?

If you are not among those who have demoted the Bible to the lowly status of an antiquated document that spoke to a specific context long ago but only has a word for us today if and when we find something relevant to our present context, then you know very well where to go.

For those of you who are not so enlightened that you have ditched the Bible and you still submit to its authority over all aspects of your life and faith, listen to this historic and contemporary word:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from the bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:19-23 (NRSV)

A sinful world groaning in what appears to be an accelerating pace of decay should not be shocking to Bible-reading Christians--may I add--especially Lutherans.

So in a matter of a few days you are going to vote for the one who is going to solve this problem? The economy and our moral and ethical bases are comparative to a toilet stuck in a perpetual flushing mode. The water meter is spinning around, the cost is going up and somebody has to stop it from flushing! Is Obama going to be able to do the necessary plumbing or is it McCain? Is that where your hope lies? Certainly voting for one or the other must be the “more Christian,” yes even “Lutheran response.” So who is going to tell you who it is?

There are probably a number of church leaders and pastors who will offer their opinions and present them as some Lutheran doctrine for voting your faith. Please disregard these wolves. They use their offices to advance their political positions and worldviews.

They issue social statements as if they are inspired writings to tell you what you should think or believe on a number of issues facing us as individuals and as a society. They feel it is necessary to prepare, pay for and vote on social statements because the Bible isn’t “enough” to guide your decision-making or choices and would say that neither are the confessions of our church.


If Lutherans today had been taught what it really means to be a Lutheran and how to discern like a Lutheran and therefore vote like a Lutheran, one thing we would all agree on is that we would be going out and rightfully canceling each other’s votes on Tuesday. You would have read the Scriptures, listened to the Word preached and considered that there are two kingdoms, one governed by God’s right hand, one by His left hand. This one we reside in—the left-hand kingdom of this ol’ world is where the law resides in order to keep good order and decency. Its necessary function is to keep all of us sinners from killing each other in a variety of ways.

There are laws and provisions to keep our sinful natures under control and to legislate on behalf of the neighbor and community. We confess that God reigns in both kingdoms but here, in matters of government and business, we think not in terms of salvation and eternity but how to best serve the neighbor and keep sin in check for the good of all. We will disagree on how best to do this.

We would have Lutherans informed by the Word who vote Democrat, others Republican, throw in a few Libertarians and Socialists.

For the institutional leadership of the political parties or of the churches or reform movements to tell you that any one party or candidate is more or less a vote for or against Jesus is ridiculous and should be pointed out as such. These are times to just decide who is going to deal with the current and impending problems in a manner that you believe expresses how you would most practically and responsibly solve the problem if you were in charge. End of story. This is left-hand kingdom, practical, rational, law abiding thinking.

Hopefully you, as Christian Lutherans, understand that building the kingdom of God here on earth is not at all what we believe in. The kingdom of God invades this world, in all of its travail, when the Word is preached and the sacraments are administered rightly. There, as we gather as Jesus Christ’s church, the kingdom on the right, the work of the Gospel is revealed in our midst breaking in from the outside. Confusing these two realms, kingdoms, leads to ever increasing nonsense that confuses many believers on the floors of church assemblies and even on Election Day.

Neither Obama nor McCain can save us from ourselves; that is beyond any human’s ability and outside of every job description except the one Lord and Savior of us all, Jesus Christ--Crucified and Risen. So freely vote come Tuesday on one of many earthly, left-kingdom election days with the sure and certain hope that the one and only eternal Election Day isn’t on this ballot nor is it ever up for a vote.

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24,25. (NRSV)

[Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]