It’s 9:57pm on Tuesday night. I’m paying attention to the results of the US Senate election in Alabama. As of the time of this writing, Roy Moore is winning by about 30,000 votes with 71% of the results in. The race is tightening as the final numbers come in.
And I’m wondering what is going through the minds of people – how are they reacting to this? I’m wondering how people are sitting with what looks like an US Senator Roy Moore. I’m especially curious about the folks who are struggling with this result. One interview of Roy Moore that I saw had the host saying that he was clearly a polarizing figure. I think that is something everyone can agree on.
It’s now 10:05pm – 78% of the vote is in and Roy Moore is ahead by only 20,000 votes. The race is tightening. The anxiety level of people is also tightening in around people – squeezing them in a death grip.
I’m wondering what an election of Roy Moore to the US Senate will mean. I’m wondering how I am to pastor in an age in utter contradiction – the calling of many elected officials to resign over sexual harassment and misconduct, yet the potential election of someone accused of pedophilia, supported by the leader of his party who is also accused of sexual harassment.
Now it’s 10:09pm – 79% of the vote in. Roy Moore is winning by only 15,000 votes.
Regardless of the result of this race, it will be close. This is symbolic of the country at large – very divided. Far too many people attaching their identity – who they are as a person – to a partisan political party. How sad. This is not healthy. This is dangerous. We are so much more than just donors and votes for either political party.
10:12pm – 83% in. Moore has a lead of approximately 13,000 votes. The race continues to tighten.
How is it that Christians can be more attached to party ideology and party label than to Christ? How is that Christians can swear their allegiance to party and consider it their salvation and the salvation of the nation, rather than the Savior? This isn’t an accusation against one set of Christians – it applies across the spectrum. What does it mean to be Christian in America in 2017? We have candidates who claim the label of Christian. And several of them are resigning from office for sexual misconduct. Others are denying allegations and sticking it out. Christianity, it seems, is often just a tool for the obtaining of power. Especially when it isn’t lived out. But maybe that’s a bit harsh.
10:16pm – 86% in. Moore is ahead by about 2,500 votes. If the trend continues, then Doug Jones will take the lead by the next reporting of results.
Is a Jones victory a victory for Christianity? No. It’s a victory of Doug Jones. It’s a victory for one of our two flawed political parties. And it’s a loss for Moore and for Trump. Why do we insist on a system that creates only winners and losers? When there are only two options and two results, then everything get’s lumped together with it. Some will claim that Christianity lost. Some will say that Christianity won. The reality is that Christianity isn’t on the ballot. It’s not a tool for political power, even though it often gets used that way. This goes against everything Jesus taught. It’s what got him killed by the Romans. He wouldn’t be a pawn in the power plays of the Temple leadership and Roman authorities. He didn’t accept either one as legitimate.
10:21pm – 87% in. Doug Jones is ahead now by about 500 votes.
I’m curious about the reactions now. Is there shouting and cheering in the Jones camp and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Moore camp. Having been through many campaigns, I know these feelings well. Especially when I’ve done strategy and managed campaigns for candidates that aren’t expected to win.
10:24pm – 89% in. The results keep flip-flopping. Moore just had the lead again, and now Jones does again. This time by about 9,000 votes.
If Jones pulls this off, I wonder how he’ll govern knowing that people weren’t necessarily voting for him as they were voting against Moore. Six years can come and go quickly. And it will be difficult for a Democrat to represent a very Republican state. Then again, it just emphasizes the fact that we have a sickness in our country – partisan identity. Party becomes more important than anything else. Not healthy.
10:27pm – same results.
The analysts will all be asking the same question – what does this mean for the 2018 election cycle. You see, in the world of politics – a world in which the people who live and die by politics and campaigns – it never ends. It’s a continuous campaign. It never ends. One campaign just leads to the next. There is no end game. It’s a continuous game. Policy isn’t about helping people. Policy is a tool for fundraising to help your candidates raise money so they can try to get more votes. The end game, if you wanted to say there is one, is the obtaining of power. But for what purpose?
10:30pm – Doug Jones was just projected to be the winner.
Wow, what an election night. Most people will say something to the effect that now the hard part begins – governing. Wrong. Tomorrow Doug Jones’ re-election campaign begins. Now, the next election begins. Now the 2018 mid-term election begins. Now the 2020 presidential election begins. Now this election and that election begins. It’s always about the election. It’s a perpetual election. It’s perpetual fundraising. All for the purpose of obtaining power and preventing others from obtaining power. But to what end?
And for Christians the deeper question is this – what is our identity going forward? Is it attachment to political party? Is it to continue fooling ourselves that the parties can be controlled and used to further our theology? Or do we wake up to the reality that the parties will use Christianity and Christians as long as we are useful idiots.
Tomorrow is a new day. What will we do with it? Will we advance the agenda of a political party, all the while telling ourselves that we are advancing Jesus’ mission in the world this way? Or will we will participate in the unfolding of the kingdom of God?
There are going to be more Roy Moores in politics. And there will be plenty more rationalizing of candidates, what they say, how they act, etc. There will be Christians who confuse their identity as Christian with political party loyalty. And there will be much more hypocrisy – allowing forgiveness for one’s preferred political party and its candidates, but hell fire and brimstone for the other party and its failings.
How will the world know Christians? Will they know us by our political or ideological identity? Or will they know us by something far more radical and different? Will they know us by our nationalism and patriotism and America first-ism? Or will they know us by something else? Will they know us by our blaming the country for this ill or that? Will they know us by our excuses? Or by something else?
In John 13:35, Jesus is quoted as saying: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love isn’t some nice slogan. It isn’t some kind of tool to be used to further some agenda or fundraising plea. Love is far different. Love is living in such a way that you aren’t focused on the response. You just go and love.