HOW TO VOTE AS A CATHOLIC

Much is discussed during election season: political party propaganda, taxes, the economy, and especially how much the opponent doesn’t have a decent or intelligent bone in their body. Millions of dollars are spent on campaigning and advertising with usually just one message: The other guy or girl does it all wrong, so I should be your choice. In America, it has become a nauseating subject for some, and for others, it consumes their very being and it is all they can speak about in person or online. 

Generally speaking, it seems that many Americans, if not most, believe the system is broken. Many people are unsatisfied with their voting choices, but feel the pressure to participate on election day because it is a responsibility of all citizens to engage in the political sphere by nature of our democracy. This pressure is not without value, so what is a good American to do, especially the Christian American? Read Genesis 1-11. 

The term ‘politics’ has a Greek etymology meaning ‘the affairs of the city.’ In essence, anyone who engages in politics is showing concern on how the community is supposed to operate. For the Christian, we have been given the answer by God on how to participate in community; we only have to read the Bible. We see two types of communities juxtaposed in the early chapters of Genesis: One that has yet to feel the effects of sin, and one built with sin as its foundation.

In Genesis 1, we are told the glorious news that God has created us in His image and likeness. While this means that we have inherent dignity, just by virtue of our existence, it also means that we are communal people by nature. If God is a Trinity of Persons united in love, then we who are His creation are meant to be a community that is also united in His love. This love takes the form of loving God and loving His creation as Jesus reveals to us. Which is exactly what Adam does in the Garden of Eden. He tends the Garden (participating in His creators work) and loves His wife Eve who reciprocates this love. A perfect community is formed when all are at the service of the common good and each other. Obviously, we know how the story ends, but until sin, we had an understanding of what true ‘politics’ or ‘the affairs of the city’ were. 

The other aforementioned city comes to fruition in Genesis 4 when the first ever city of Enoch is built. It’s builder? The notorious murderer Cain. Within this city, culture is born, but it also gave rise to even more bloodthirsty men than Cain. Cain used murder to dominate his brother and had founded a city that had the same principle of domination. As time goes on and more cities form, sin is so rampant that God sends the great flood to purge the earth. Even after the flood, the Tower of Babel again reveals the sinfulness of the city that is founded on the elevation of self. Even Jesus himself, avoided the city of Jerusalem in His ministry (unless He was worshiping as a Jewish man was required three times a year) until His hour had come, and He was murdered by the city that desired to dominate Him. 

The moral? Whenever many people are gathered, if they are not oriented towards the worship and right relationship with God, men and women desire to elevate themselves to the detriment of others. The simplest form of this type of community could be your local high school or the most complex form could be American politics. People who are mired in sin will grasp after money and power, and will do so at any cost, especially if it means harming others. In these systems, only the strong will survive, while the weak are left poor and outcast. 

This is the state of American politics. This is why many are unsatisfied every election. Because we have departed from the Genesis 1 community. Our political discourse has little to do about making the community better, which would mean the sacrifice of power, entertainment, and financial wealth for the sake of loving neighbors. Rather, nearly every conversation focuses on money (taxes, the economy, government spending) because people believe they can have control/power with more money. Or the conversation revolves around degrading the other candidate. We have decided to engage in politics controlled by sin, not the common good for the ‘affairs of the city.’  

The solution? Fall deeper in love with God through prayer, worship, and loving your neighbor. American politics can be changed from the bottom up. Everyone has the ability to know God and everyone has a community. If we take Mother Theresa’s advice and love the community around us, we can change the world. So while we can participate in a frustrating way in national politics, true political participation occurs every day, with the people around you. If you are a people united in sacrifice and love, then you are living the way that God intended, in His image and likeness.

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At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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