By JEREMIAH G. DYS
CHARLESTON -- If Election Day in 2008 taught us anything, it is that the evangelical voter base is neither as strong, nor as weak as the punditry believes.
In the days leading up to Nov. 4, editorial pages ran scurrilous commentaries attacking as "clever ploys to elect Republicans" the democratic process used to define and defend marriage against those who feign tolerance and advance an agenda of familial redefinition.
The election of Barack Obama kindly puts that notion to rest.
Evangelical voters, led by Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and others voted in droves for the hope of social justice change the presidency of Sen. Obama has promised. Let us hope they are correct.
At the same time, voters approved marriage protection amendments in three states by wide margins -– two of those states sent their Electoral College votes to Sen. Obama. If there was ever a "clever ploy" afoot, it certainly backfired in California and Florida.
Rather, the evangelical subculture has fallen prey to its unwitting commitment to unbalance Grace and Truth. The two, like Christ, ought to be in perfect harmony by professing evangelicals. The modern notion of evangelicalism has overemphasized Grace to the point many no longer recognize Truth.
Such a failure is evident at the polls. According to exit polling data, 44 percent of voters identified themselves as "moderates" and only 34% percent self-identified as "conservatives." Liberals, according to the exit polls, made up a mere 22 percent. That there is such a moderate middle reflects the failure of evangelicalism to equip their adherents with a Biblical worldview.
Leaders change, but our duty toward our democratic republic and God does not. Our Declaration of Independence reminds us of a "self-evident" truth, namely that any right we possess was given to us by "our Creator." Our national philosophy is not that government was endowed with "certain unalienable rights," its citizens were.
Regardless of who is elected to office, we retain the rights endowed to us by our Creator and merely lend a few of those rights to a central governing body. The duty to ensure the wise application of those rights-on-loan falls to our active participation in self-governance. We are a democracy operating within the bounds of a republic that gets its authority from the rights we possess inherently and steward wisely.
Our responsibility to engage in self-governance does not end when we submit our ballot, just as the duty of those representing us within the republic to operate according to the consent of the governed will not end upon their inauguration. Democracy requires more of us than simply casting a ballot every several years. It requires that we hold accountable the person for whom the ballot was cast – that we democratically steward the republic entrusted to our care.
For all the derision levied against them by newspaper editors, this concept is not being taught from enough pulpits today. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that those identifying with Christ must understand the totality of their worldview. When that is fully grasped, the Christian's duty to submit to government becomes a responsibility to speak Truth to culture, so that culture will ultimately speak the Truth.
Your political party affiliation does not concern me. Your responsibility to God and government does. The opportunity presented to you as a citizen of Heaven, first, and of this state and nation, second, to embrace the sanctity of human life, enrich marriage, and safeguard religious freedom excites me.
The evangelical's duty to culture could not be more clearly explained by the Rev. Billy Graham: "In the face of all kinds of conditions screaming to be rectified, too many of us find ourselves afflicted with a case of moral laryngitis."
Dys is the president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, a servant organization that advocates for policies that embrace the sanctity of human life, enrich marriage, and safeguard religious freedom. Online at www.familiypolicywv.com.