Voting Orthodox

Regardless of your opinions on who is going to do a better job at running the country, we can agree on one fact: There is no such thing as a “moral” party, and we will probably never see a President who live and acts upon a moral base which is 100% agreeable to the Orthodox Christian Faith.

As Orthodox Christians we believe in living a life which is compassionate, loving, giving and humble. As humans living as part of the world, we are also entitled to our opinion on the best decisions economically for the country. As American Orthodox Christians, the question should not be “should I vote” the question should be “which candidate is going to represent my opinions, morals and protect my rights the best”

Fr. Stanley Harakas points out in an article written in 2004,

St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, addressed the issue of Christians and the Roman Government of the time, giving timeless direction. Paul concludes: “. . . the authorities are ministers of God . . .. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:1-7). There are many different kinds of government. This passage clearly refers to the Imperial system. But when the system is Democracy, then the citizens are, in fact, part of the “authorities,” exercising through their vote, their own “authority.” Thus, the Orthodox Christian must also respect the electoral process and participate in it responsibly.

“The process of voting itself is part of the Orthodox Christian Church’s system of governance. Originally, voting was limited to the Bishops of the Church. From the New Testament times, at the Apostolic Council, described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, votes were taken during council meetings of the Apostles. (Acts 15:1-35). Soon after, a multi-leveled system of councils, from a local diocese, and particular monasteries, dioceses and metropolises, all the way through to the highest Ecumenical Council, the participant Bishops expressed the mind of the Church through voting. Voting as a practice has always been a part of the life of the Orthodox Church.” -Fr. Stanley Harakas

We have a duty, a privilege and a responsibility to vote and to vote wisely. It may be easy to feel that we are choosing “the lesser of two evils” but the reality is, these candidates have made it to this point by those who have voted, not by those who have abstained. The reality is, if we want to be a strong moving force in the elections, we should begin this process early and with conviction.

At this point in the election process, what advantage is it to us to complain about both candidates? They are here by our votes, or lack thereof and now we must discern the best option in order to make our point clear. The best option may be to vote for neither candidate, but we should vote nonetheless.

I do not think it is necessarily in anyone’s favor to vote for a candidate based on a single moral issue. Where one candidate is pro-abortion, another is pro-death penalty or pro-war. Where one candidate may seem to show compassion on a certain demographic, they may by exceptionally harsh on another demographic. Where they might be giving to one group of people, they will need to make restrictions on another group of people. The reality is that no one person or party really knows how do do it “right” because so much changes, and can change so quickly, and we all have unique opinions based on our unique experiences.

However, as Orthodox Christians, I do believe that we need to decide when it is important to take a stand on issues; especially if a candidate has extreme viewpoints on positions which are against our faith and is very aggressive in seeing their views into law. I also believe that we need to take a stand when practicing our faith freely, as outlined in the constitution is encroached upon.

St. John Chrysostom writes:

Wicked?…If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven

Freely practicing our faith does not just mean that we can worship in our churches without fear of being physically persecuted. Practicing our faith freely means that if we do not agree with a policy that we are not forced into the policy. Unfortunately we are currently witnessing a rise of policies which threaten our right to freely practice our religion. Quite frankly, it may very well be that the voice of secular society is so loud that it wouldn’t really matter who the president is, these policies will still push through congress in one way or another. However, having a leader who will be sympathetic to the voice of the minorities or another opinion to at least allow some leniency and balance is important.

Most importantly we must pray. We must pray that we vote with discernment. We must pray for whomever is our current President. We must pray for congress, for our governor. We must pray. Every single liturgy we pray for “the pious President of our Country.” I always thought the word “pious” was almost comical. I realize, however, that perhaps we are praying that they are in the process of becoming pious, and we pray to strengthen their own faith.

Our leadership will never be perfect, it will never be right. We live in a fallen world and are challenged by Satan and his army every single day. And so, as part of the Church Militant we must fight. We must vote. We must continue to make our voices heard. We must pray.