As you probably know, this is an election year. You may be a Republican or a Democrat or a Libertarian or an Independent. But during these last two months until the election, there are some important things to remember. The first is that, as important as elections are when it comes to the future of this country, we should not confuse that importance with ultimate things. Elections in particular and politics in general are penultimate things (that is, “next to the last,” or not ultimate). This means that no election can ultimately thwart God’s will in Jesus Christ for you or for anyone else.
The second thing to remember is that politics runs according to reason, logic, and the best that we can do with our limited vision. We live in a country where we are free to elect the leaders we think will rule best, and it is up to us to convince others of our points of view. This means that we must argue our cases not from Jesus, or the Gospel, or the Church, or the Sacraments (all things that require faith, and so are not accessible to unbelievers); we have to argue from things that are open to all people, believers or not. When it comes to the amendment to the Minnesota Constitution about marriage, we don’t argue from what the Scriptures have to say; we argue from what is naturally observed about families and what is best for children. We argue from what is good for people, and what can be known from “nature” (although, of course, we know that God is the author of nature, which includes marriage between one man and one woman). We also believe that Christ died for all people, even the unborn. But when it comes to national and local politics, we argue from the fact that the unborn are, by virtue of their humanity, worthy of the rights that belong to all human beings in this country. Likewise with health insurance, the economy, etc.
Another thing to remember is that, because politics are penultimate, “winning” and “losing” are relative terms. They apply only to this nation, and they do not, in themselves, affect how we carry out our vocations in this life. No matter who wins or loses on November 6, no matter whether that person is the one for whom you voted or not, on November 7 you will continue to be citizens, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, workers—and, most importantly, hearers of Christ’s Word and new creatures whom He has claimed for Himself. His promise never changes, even (maybe especially!) when things do not go the way we think is best politically or economically. Jesus remains the Lord, and He will continue to do His work of forgiving sins and calling sinners to Himself, and He will return to judge the quick and the dead. This is still His creation, regardless of what politicians do, and it is good for them (as for us) to know that they stand “under God,” as they go about their vocation of ruling.
So educate yourself, do your civic duty, vote—and then trust God. Penultimately, you have a duty to do here, but ultimately God will do His will. And while we do not, finally, know what His will is for the United States as a nation, we do know what it is for us in Jesus Christ: that because He has redeemed us with His suffering and death and resurrection, we are His own, and we live under Him in His Kingdom forever.
*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”