Jack Burke: How to choose candidates
By Jack Burke
Special to the Salisbury Post
When I first read Carol Cauble’s column last Saturday (“Where is our faith? Or fooled again?”) I was confused. I simply couldn’t figure out what her point was. Clearly she is an Old (God the Father) Testament person, and a conservative who doesn’t like Donald Trump, but what was her point?
One thing is clear; she believes “the scriptures have all the answers for our serious decisions that affect us throughout our country and the world.” To demonstrate this, she provides us with a list of 15 issues, 14 of them from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, when I checked the reference scriptures out, they didn’t seem to provide much guidance, at least to my untrained eye.
For example, item 10, False Speech (Proverbs 17:7) says “Wonderously show thy steadfast love, savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at thy right hand.” I don’t understand what that has to do with false speech, a.k.a. lying.
Another example of this irrelevance can be found in item 14. Good, Bad Government (Proverbs 29:2) “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name: worship the Lord in holy array.”
Love your neighbor
With that said, I favor the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Christ’s most important teaching for us is found in Mathew 22:39 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” and He went on to tell the Pharisees that all the law depends on the First Commandment, to love the Lord and the Second, to love your neighbor.
In Luke 10:30-37 Christ explained who our neighbor is with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Note that Samaritans were foreigners, and not well regarded at that. Sort of like Latinos or Muslims are by some of us today.
Guidance for leaders
When we look at the range of issues and problems facing current and future presidents, we are unlikely to find clear answers in the Bible. But Jesus does provide some guidance, particularly in His call to love our neighbors. Consider some of the issues/problems presidents must deal with:
• Universal health care
• Peace in the Middle East
• Environmental problems
• Income disparity
• International trade
• Racial conflict
• Crumbling infrastructure
• Economic growth
• Social Security’s future
• College education
• Climate change
• Taxation policy
• Foreign policy
‘Render unto Caesar’
Where in the New Testament can we find specific directions? For the extremely wealthy, He spoke of the difficulty a rich man would encounter on seeking to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, likening it to a camel passing through the eye of a needle. When He called upon one of his followers to sell all of his goods and follow Him the young man declined.
On the question of government and taxation, Christ was very clear, as reported in Mark12:17. He took a Roman coin, pointed to Caesar’s image and said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s …” Christ seems to understand the separation between church and state quite clearly.
On other issues, we can apply His instructions to love our neighbors, wherever they might be found. I’m not going to pretend this is easy — following Christ has never been easy — but it’s not a bad place to start. (Remember that cross?) Overall, another approach is to ask ourselves the (rather tacky) question, What Would Jesus Do?
On a very practical level, how do we make decisions in the upcoming elections? I suggest we begin by putting aside party loyalty and consider the candidate. Would you lend him/her a lot of money? That’s a real test of trust. What have they actually done and/or accomplished that you approve or agree with?
Thinking of this as a job interview, how does the candidate come across? Forgetting your ideology, what do you think of his/her decision-making skills and process? Remember, the successful candidate is going to have to make decisions none of us can predict in the next four years. Remember, back in 2010 no one thought of buying the Salisbury Mall.
Make up own mind
Personally, I am not particularly impressed with the accumulation of great wealth by a candidate, I’m reminded of the needle’s eye. I’m very unimpressed with specific church membership. I’ve seen too many people who use church membership as a proxy for integrity. Politicians lead that pack.
Candidates frequently ask voters to “prayerfully” consider them. God gave each of us free will. I think He did this for a reason, so that we are forced to accept responsibility for our decisions, and not try to dump them off on God. That doesn’t preclude including Christ’s teachings in our decision process; that I highly recommend.
Whatever you do, make up your own mind in peace and quiet and then vote.
Jack Burke lives in Salisbury.