Eugene Cho

how i’m voting

My ballot still sits on my desk but I’ll be completing it soon and walking it in on Tuesday to my local polling place.  As I shared last week and again, yesterday during my sermon at Quest, I will not be divulging who I am voting for various reasons. 

Side question: Do you think “active” pastors [currently serving congregations] should publicly share who they are voting for?

Politics can get heated and messy.  You don’t just have to watch the various media and news outlets to know this.  You can also sense the tension within the Christian community which I think is perfectly normal and okay as long as we 1] engage in the rules of civility and 2] get off our righteous soapboxes and consider what it means for us to live out our faith and convictions beyond the election season. 

Personally, I don’t believe that followers of Jesus should be in bed with either of the two major parties.  We ought to remain “Independent” with a commitment to collaborate, listen, engage, and support the political system all while understanding that the political system is not our ultimate Hope or Answer.  In addition, we must never lose the courage or conviction to speak prophetically to a group of people because we are lured by the power associated with politics or a political party. 

So, how am I voting

1.  As I did last week, I want to acknowledge that Abortion is an important issue for me as it should be for all Christians.  But I also want to place Abortion in the context of the larger Pro-Life Ethic of Womb to Tomb.  While abortion is a big issue, I don’t see much changing no matter who or what Party is in office. 

2.  The number of verses in Scripture speaking to the Conversation of Abortion or Homosexuality [the Gay Conversation] can be counted on your hands.  The number of Scripture speaking to the treatment of the poor, oppressed, and marginalized exceed 2,000 verses.  I want to vote for a president that will place the poor – locally and globally – as a priority.

3. Education.  Access to education.  Elevation of the public school systems.

4. Diplomacy and the our nation’s international standing.  One of the primary jobs of the President is to PROTECT the country at all costs but I want a President that will seek to re-earn the respect of the larger global community – friend and foe.  I want a president willing to engage in discussion and diplomacy; a president that will utilize military power as a last resort.  A candidate that can inspire global leaders not only to look out for their nation’s agenda but the global agenda of peace and justice. 

5.  Human dignity.  The presence and growth of human trafficking – including children – is egregious and must be put to an end.  I want a president that will work with other global leaders to make this a global priority.  If they can act urgently to put together an economic bailout plan, imagine what they can accomplish with the same sense of urgency over the global injustices.

6.  Candidates that reflect Character, Competence, Courage, and Compassion.  I can’t emphasize the importance of these four elements in anyone in leadership.

There are other things on my mind but my head is hurting.  After the elections are over, there needs to be some healing time for not only the divided nation but also a divided church.  

No matter how things turn out in this historic and polarizing election, I trust in God’s sovereignty.  I choose to vote – not based on fear – but based on trust that ultimately, God remains in control.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Psalm 20:7

Filed under: politics, religion, , ,

33 Responses

  1. DK says:

    Why are people so wrung up about pastors who share about sharing their choices? The threat of the IRS to revoke tax exemptions are bullying tactics. Personally, I’d like to hear how my leaders will vote and why.

  2. ngoldfarb says:

    FACTS, JUST FACTS, ONLY FACTS

    FACTS THAT SHOULD SCARE EVERYONE

  3. Jason says:

    I agree with you on keeping your mouth shut about your choices. As a soon-to-be pastor, I want my congregation to use their brains and choose the candidate that they feel is most consistent with Scripture. I expect Christians to allow their faith to influence the voting decisions.

    But I also don’t want the people I serve or those outside the church to see me as another pastor sticking his nose in politics. I don’t agree that a Christian has to vote one way or the other order to be a Christian. And I don’t want to give the impression the that that’s the case. It has nothing to do with tax status, it has everything to do with equipping and training the saints to live godly lives.

  4. Bob says:

    I Barak Obama approve this message

  5. Teresa says:

    I appreciate the way you keep bringing it back to principles. No matter who’s elected, a pastor has to “reach across the aisle” to people on both sides, as a good leader must, and help lead the way to living out our faith and calling….I think it’s better not to tell. It would be easy for people to stereotype, or be distracted….

  6. elderj says:

    As a person in active ministry I do not generally share my political leanings. I agree that we ought to remain “independent” in the way you describe. As for the 6 issues you raise, I believe they are important, but more than that, I believe that both parties would agree that they are advocating for the things you mention. So it really isn’t about whether a particular candidate cares about the issues you mentioned, but which advocates the better or more successful approach to resolving those issues. What is the best way for placing the poor as the priority? Who is best equipped to deal with questions of education – the federal government, or local people?

    Another point I want to make is that people place far too much weight for the accomplishment of these goals on the presidency, when it really is the legislative branch that carries the responsibility under our constitution though they have often abdicated their duties. A lot of things that presidential candidates promise, they have no constitutional right or responsibility to deliver. Foreign policy really is the place where the president has the most influence.

    Finally, your post does read a lot like a regurgitation of the democratic party platform as articulated by Sen. Obama.

  7. Bret says:

    I beleive in social justice for all. At the top of the list are those who are defenseless, those who are guaranteed by our consitution to the “right to life”, those who are supposedly in the safest place God has created this side of heaven, the unborn child in the mothers womb.

    I beleive in taking care of the “least of these”, who could dispute that a baby in a womb is the least of these?

    I beleive in being my brothers keeper, and would not allow my aunt to live in poverty in south Boston, nor my half brother to live in a shanty shack in Kenya.

    I beleive that Gods inerrant word teaches us HE has formed us in the womb, and knew us even before….hence, life begins at conception, and that that answer is not above my payscale, but is clarified by scripture.

    I beleive that there is only one way to heaven, that is grace by faith, and that there are not multiple ways to heaven. I do NOT beleive that just because an atheist mother was a “good person” that she is in heaven, nor that works can get us there.

    I do not beleive that if my daughters would get pregnant, that the baby in their belly is punishment, but as Luke teaches us , babies are a gift from God Himself.

    I beleive that there will be a time to put partisanship aside and that Obamas pitiful 13% history of reaching across the aisle in the senate will not produce unity.

    I beleive taxation is theologically sound, but am confused about why the top ten percent of income workers pay 75% of all the taxes. I know when my taxes rise by $4000 a year, it ill hurt the ministries I support, including pregancy centers, addict ministries and feeding the needy.

    I know I can feed the needy and help those who need help more effieciently than any government agency, if you dont beleive this, go to your local DCF or DOT.

    I beleive Christians should be more gracious and should feed those who need it, both spiritually and physically and that when you forcibly remove finances from those Christians via taxation, it removes the Christians principle of graciousness.

    I know when Peter “escaped” imprisonment by the Pharisees and Sanhedrin, that instead of going back to prison, he made the statement that we should listen to God, not man, when the governing bodies are going against Gods moral laws.

  8. Daniel says:

    What do you think about visible Christian leaders or figures like Don Miller or Brian McLaren endorsing a candidate?

  9. randplaty says:

    I completely agree with and respect your stance on keeping your vote a secret. A pastor’s influence is precious and needs to be guarded carefully.

  10. Ken G. says:

    Your position and calling at this time is unique to your church and the community it serves. Nothing, including politics, should get in the way of your single and clear message of redemption and restoration in Jesus Christ. Too many spiritual leaders forget that the great commission is our calling, not politics.

    In the midst of slavery, poverty, religious hypocrisy, and corrupt politicians, Jesus kept on task – that the kingdom of God is near. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    For pastors to get sucked into the vortex of the political arena AND lose their ability to reach people about Christ because they alienated them on a side issue is a shame. This issue is Christ and Christ alone. If the pastors don’t stand firm on that mark, who will? Don’t get distracted from your primary mission.

  11. Diana says:

    Eugene,

    If those are the issues that are important to you, I think your choice is pretty obvious. Gobama.

  12. Matt EHH says:

    I think the pulpit is a bad place to endorse politicians, and not because of the tax implications. I think that ministers who preach or teach the bible, can easily confuse the difference between personal conviction and biblical mandate if they are promoting politics. i understand that its difficult to separate the personal from the subject, but in issues like the presidency, there are incredibly faithful women and men who are voting for both parties and Jesus isn’t running, so I say let democracy do its thing.

    I am strongly passionate about the pulpit being a place where the gospel and how it is connected to every day occurance and politics is taught. Our faith should shape our response to these issues, but our votes shouldn’t be mandated.

    I am open about who I support personally, just not when I am teaching the bible.

  13. eugenecho says:

    @daniel: i have no problem w/ visible leaders making their intentions known – as long as it’s well articulated. i think it’s when you’re in ‘active ministry’ that you should refrain.

    @ken: that’s a good word. but i’d push back and say that jesus was actually very engaged in the politics of this time. it’s just that he wasn’t engaging it in your typical political manner. thankfully, he not only preached the gospel, he lived out the gospel and pursued shalom here on this earth.

  14. Tracy says:

    HISTORY will be made in ONE day. God is an awesome God.

  15. Daniel says:

    How about this one: If Obama or McCain contacted you and asked to be on their Faith Advisory Board, would you?

  16. Michael W says:

    Daniel, that is something I have talked about with my friends. Granted I am not a pastor, so the situation is unlikely, but I think that my choice would be obvious. I would absolutely be on either McCain or Obama’s Faith Advisory Board. It would be one of the best ways to see Faith transcend political party.

  17. TC says:

    “No matter how things turn out in this historic and polarizing election, I trust in God’s sovereignty. I choose to vote – not based on fear – but based on trust that ultimately, God remains in control.”

    While I think I understand what you’re trying to say, I am still scared by what this statement means… I too believe that God is just, sovereign, and almighty… but I’m afraid we, as the modern church, use this all too often as an excuse. Let me explain:

    I believe that the Church has a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to get involved and the problems of our world and fix/change them. The ways to do this is through action and through prayer, both individually and corporately. And one of the ways the Church can do this through action is to become involved in politics. (I know, a can of worms just spilled out… but hang on.. gimmie a minute)

    What I mean by that… is that we, the church body (not each representative church congregation), get involved in social justice movements… call your congressmen and congresswomen, and lobby for the things we believe. With EVERY other agenda having political action committees lobbying congress on all sorts of issues from defamation of jews to big oil, why shouldn’t we form a PAC that has social justice views from a Christian perspective. I know, there are a lot of good organizations out there… but the church has to do more.

    And then maybe… just maybe… people within the church will become fed-up enough to run for office. To make change from the inside out. To stand up for what they believe through legislation. (I know, another can of worms about separation of church and state) But if we are to believe that all good moral values come from God, and that this country NEEDS to follow those moral values (even the basic ones), then we MUST believe that we cannot TRULY separate the church from the state… but that the church should always be influencing the state at every turn and every decision! Is it fair that California Cheese has more influence in our current politics than the church?

    Now back to that statement… “I trust in God’s sovereignty.” Yes, I do too… BUT… the scripture also says “Do not put your Lord God to the test.” There comes a time when responsibility is in our own hands and he lets us choose our own future. It is like a debate about (and just as serious) evangelism. If you don’t share the gospel to them (and maybe we’re not talking about strangers here… but family and friends) can you just wait on God to reveal himself to them? Sure, God can do that… he can do anything. But there may come a time when it’s too late… and you realize that God put you there for a specific purpose. That purpose might have been to share the love of Christ with your friend, or it might have been to start or join a movement to make sure that God’s agenda is not forgotten, whether it’s in a vote, an organization, your church, your family, your friends, your workplace, or your conscience.

  18. Rick says:

    I agree with your decision to be private about your vote. If serving as a pastor, you must be pastor to the whole flock. Your pastoral ministry to an individual might be compromised if you articulate your vote – even if that distancing is by their choice not yours, it’s not worth doing. Your call is to pull people back to the real issue: not D or R or indy, but Christ-follower.

  19. Matt K says:

    I’d disagree with the phrase “The number of verses in Scripture speaking to the Conversation of Abortion…. can be counted on your hands.” A specific reference to 21st century medical procedure? No not many verses. Scripture passages that explore the themes of life, murder, family, children, the sick, the marginalized, the defenseless, the beginning of life, parenthood, and the like that are related to the great moral blight of abortion are too many to count.

    Abortion is a biblical justice issue, a big one.

  20. andy says:

    geez, am I the only person here who keeps their faith and politics separate?

  21. laurel says:

    although i’m not a fan of bush, i am pleased by how much aid he has given to africa… there hasn’t been much media coverage of that, but evidently they really like him over there. I could be wrong, but it seems like the media only covers the bad news, what he does wrong, and leave alone what he does right. some balance would be nice.

  22. Justify Not says:

    When a person tries to seperate abortion from other social injustices, they are simply rationalizing and justifying their opposition to the biblical principles of sanctiity of life, helping the oppressed and defending the defenseless (millstones, anyone?)

    What group of people on earth are more defenseless than unborn children?

    Heres something that should satisfy all of us…..lets take the 300 million dollars per year in taxes we give to Planned Parenthood and invest it into education for the poor, pregnancy/sexual awareness programs and other social justice initiatives. Wouldnt this help lower abortion via education?

    Lets NOT sign into law the “freedom of choice” act, which prevents any further legislation to lessen the ease of gettting an abortion at tax payers expense while at the the same time, allowing for laws to be passed that do make abortion more accesible.

    Unfortunately, one candidate has promised to increase funding for abortion AND has promised Planned parenthood that he would sign into law the freedom of choice act…..its not McCain, if youre wondering.

  23. chad m says:

    early on, during the primaries i made i known through facebook that was supporting Obama…i then received some interesting emails and comments from students at church…students who believed all Christians are Republicans…

    i try to maintain a level head, but admit this election season i’ve put it out there, i voted for Obama. i’m willing to engage in conversation about why and even willing to have the tough cnversation with parishioners about the abortion issue.

    i wonder Eugene, should politics be private? i aree a pastor has a great deal of influence and i don’t believe pastors should “endorse” a candidate from the pulpit or encourage his/her congregation to vote a certain way. however, can’t we engage in the political discussion and speak to issues just like anyone else? in fact, i think we “ought” to be engaged!

    thank you for your continued thoughtfulness and reflections! i have a great deal of respect for your ministry and leadership. i’m also thankful to have your voice in our denomination!

  24. nan says:

    hi pastor eugene,

    what do you think of all-church endorsements? in our sunday paper, there was a full-page ad supporting “no” on a proposition, then another page supporting “yes”. both had lists of church names…

  25. ashley.marie says:

    I think you should avoid divulging because people will immediately judge you.

    I hate that.

    I just found your blog, by the way, and I adore it. After a long email saga with my parents resulting in crying in public yesterday, over me simply wanting them to acknowledge that I’m not a bad person because I’m not voting Republican.

    The judgment drives me crazy.

  26. Judy says:

    If competence, courage, compassion, and character are high on your list, you will vote for John McCain.

  27. eugenecho says:

    @laurel: bono and geldof was very praiseworthy of bush and his advocacy for africa. it was quite moving actually.

    @daniel: if i was asked by mccain or obama to serve on some sort of faith advisory board, i would do it provided that a] i receive the blessing of my elder board and church members and b] i did not receive any compensation.

    @chad: i liked what mlk jr. said. he chose not to endorse any specific candidates but to endorse agendas. so, as christians, i think about what matters to the heart of God and as prayerfully as possible, pursue those things and regardless who is in office – locally or nationally – place those values before them.

    @nan: no, i don’t agree with church endorsements.

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  31. Kevin King says:

    I, as a pastor myself, do not think it is appropriate to share who you are voting for from the pulpit. However, I do have many friends in my congregation, that I have developed honest and open relationships with. I have shared with them who I am voting for and why, and they have shared with me. Some even voted opposite me. So I believe we can share as long as it is in the proper context.

    PS – nice picture! :)

  32. [...] the sequel to the original The Abortion Conversation which I posted on my blog before the recent presidential election which sparked some good and intense [...]

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