We are fast approaching the one-year mark of the 2020 election, and since Biden’s appointment into office, the controversy in the political landscape of the United States has only continued to increase. Political tensions have affected the lives of all Americans, which makes it difficult to stay neutral among the differing opinions on each side. As an Adventist, and an individual who votes, I have had to confront the issue of Adventists’ role in politics and how one should balance religion and politics.
Officially, the Adventist church does not hold an opinion on whether or not individuals should participate in politics and remains neutral regarding political parties.
But, I have always held the firm belief that involvement in politics does not go against my religious values, especially while considering the separation of church and state. However, I have recently realized that not all Adventists share this same sentiment, which has led to many conversations discussing the topic and what an Adventist’s role should be.
Since I have been a politically active individual for much of my life and stand firm in my opinions and beliefs, the idea of uninvolving one’s self in politics, specifically in voting, makes me shudder with disdain.
Minorities have fought hard for the right to vote, so to throw away that precious right and take it for granted has angered me. If I had lived a hundred years ago, I would’ve had to fight alongside other suffragettes to gain my right to vote. This history of voting has made it difficult for me to understand why people may take that right for granted and ignore their ability to make a change.
Beyond historical events of voting, the more research I do on Adventists and politics, the more I realize that we are not instructed to be quiet in political matters. Even Ellen White recognized the value of being politically active in an article that she wrote for The Review and Herald on October 15, 1914:
“While we are in no wise to become involved in political questions, yet it is our privilege to take our stand decidedly on all questions relating to temperance reform. … There is a cause for the moral paralysis upon society. Our laws sustain an evil which is sapping their very foundations. Many deplore the wrongs which they know exist but consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. This cannot be. Every individual exerts an influence in society. In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of temperance and virtue?”
White brings up a good point in this statement: Shouldn’t our voices be used as a positive influence in society rather than staying silent in political matters?
In a divisive political landscape like today, we are often presented with the negative aspects of politics and how they can tear down relationships. But instead of using our voice to argue, or by just staying silent, we can use our opinions to bring about real change and foster positive conversations. Politics go beyond Republican vs. Democrat. Politics help us change the world around us, help those less fortunate and help us elect the most fitting leaders for our country.
Romans 13:1-3 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” (NKJV)
This text recognizes that, although we are foremost citizens of God and heaven, we must also recognize the authority of leaders on earth and the parts that we play in the citizenship of our country.
I am tired of hearing only about the negatives in politics and of arguing in circles with those who sit on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I know that my voice, my values and my opinions can do far more good in this world if I am willing to have hard conversations and stand up for what I believe in.
There are thousands of people in this country who need individuals to use their voices to make a change. I think of the vulnerable populations that are described in Matthew 25 – the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, the strangers. If Christ lived on this earth today, He would do all that He could to help the people who need Him.
As I have done more research and discussed with individuals who oppose politics, I have gained an understanding of their sentiments and the reasons why many stay uninvolved. I am not diminishing this decision. But I do think that each individual could be using his or her voice to take a stand on issues to help the vulnerable populations in our country that need help. The sum of our political activity should not be merely arguing about masks and vaccines at the dinner table. Rather, consider using your time and your voice to stand up for the issues that will make a difference in the lives of others.
Instead of being committed to one political party or being completely uninvolved, ask yourself, “How would Jesus stand in this situation?” Because, as stated in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (NIV)