How can you vote for him? — wrong question

In an interview with Richard Beck, The Nomad podcast: The Gospel According to Johnny Cash — Richard Beck , rich with food for thought, one part seemed particularly relevant:

56:28 — In America, where we vote every four years for a president, being a good person is almost reduced to voting well every four years, which is important, obviously. But it can still leave your own personal life in between those every four years fairly untouched. You can have this kind of halo about yourself, like “I’m on the right side of this political fight. I’m not voting and ruining the world like these other people, so, since I am politically on the right side, I am a good person.” But, are you a good spouse, are you a good friend, are you a good lover, are you a good co-worker, are you a good neighbor? How you cast your vote doesn’t say a whole lot about the kind of human being you are at the address you live, or where you work.

I’ve heard people say that — this year in particular — they don’t buy the argument that no matter how you vote, you could be a good person — that there are good people on both sides of the political divide. I hear people talking about un-friending longtime friends — not just on social media but in real life — because they are voting for the opposite side. And not just friends, family members, too.

I don’t think what Richard Beck said in the quote above was a namby-pamby statement of “Well, there are nice people on both sides.” I think what he said was more along the lines of what Jesus said when confronted with questions regarding the sinners and “wrong-side” people in his time and world. When people questioned him about the evil conquerors of the Jews who levied taxes, he said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). When people wanted to stone an adulterer, he said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). And, yes, I know he also said, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” but the first part of that sentence was, “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11). Religious leaders asked why Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors and he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12–13). He desires mercy.

You know what? I think if Jesus were walking the earth right now, if he were here in the United States, he’d have dinner with Trump-supporters and Biden-supporters. He’d have coffee with pro-lifers and pro-choicers. He’d converse with members of ultra-conservative churches, mainline churches, progressive churches, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Islamists, people in same-sex marriages and those in traditional marriages, and everyone else, even KKK members like that college kid did . Maybe when people condemned or questioned him, he, like the pope, would say, “Who am I to judge?

And yes — again — I know that Jesus does have a right to judge! He’s God after all. But when he was incarnate, walking around as a human in his time and world, he did not judge. Sure, he got angry sometimes. He overturned tables in the temple, he called religious leaders vipers and hypocrites. You could call that judging, but I don’t. He was angry and frustrated, also saddened, by the wayward behavior of some of his countrymen, and he sometimes showed it. But when they came asking him sincere questions, like Nicodemus and the rich young ruler, he was tender, kind, and loving. He hung out with people who were on the wrong side.

We are asking the wrong question when we ask, “How can you vote for that person?” We are asking the wrong question when we ask whether we can befriend, be kind to, or give the benefit of the doubt to someone because of who he or she is voting for. The question is, who am I to decide who is good? Who am I to know what is in the heart of my fellow man? Who am I to pick and choose those who are “worthy” to be my friend? I am not perfect. I mess up all the time. I do judge. But I believe Jesus calls us to recognize God himself in every other human, to “live in mutual dignity,” as Father Greg Boyle says, going on with:

We get up and hit the ground judging. We can’t help ourselves, but we can catch ourselves. Choose love as the architecture of our hearts. (At an online retreat October 30-November 1, 2020)

Choose love.

Originally published at on November 1, 2020.



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Mavis Moon

About 25 years in Information Technology, love to read & write. I write several blogs. Deeply interested in faith and religion.