Quick preface: I was recently reminded of a video clip I absolutely love that teaches a powerful lesson– when we don’t see eye to eye on something, it’s not always that one of us is absolutely wrong and the other is right, but that we are simply looking at it from different angles. I highly recommend watching this short clip — I feel like it applies so much to this election season. If you have a different perspective, that’s okay, I respect that. Because you’re probably just looking at it from a different angle. But at least we can try to understand where each other is coming from. I tend to see things very black and white a lot of the time, and as a result I often express my strongly held convictions pretty boldly. I apologize if that ever comes across the wrong way. No one’s perspective is flawless, and I’m open to being wrong on some things. Regardless of who you are voting for and why, I think you’re great and I love you! Let’s be friends!
An Open Letter to My LDS Friends Still Deciding Who to Vote For (or Who are Reluctantly Voting For Trump)
Wow. What an interesting year this has been. I, like many of you, have agonized over what to do this election. I think we all want to do the right thing, but with all the conflicting opinions, it can sometimes be hard to know what that is. I can understand the rationale for supporting Trump. I know many of us feel compelled to do what we feel is necessary in order to avoid what we consider the ‘greater of two evils.’
As I’ve thought about this, the question that has come to my mind over and over is: What does God care about more? or, what will I be held accountable for? Is it my vote itself– or the end result that comes of it? I’ve been thinking about this a lot. At times like these, does Heavenly Father expect me to use strategy to tilt the scales in favor of the least damaging likely outcome, even if that means voting for something inconsistent with my values? In other words, does the end justify the means, since the stakes are high? And if so, how high do the stakes need to be to justify that?
Ultimately, only God can answer that. But I think the following quotes provide a little insight:
“The guiding principle in the pattern of decisions based upon circumstance is to make choices according to the outcome desired rather than upon what is right or wrong. There is no use of an underlying set of standards to consistently guide those decisions. Each choice is made upon what appears to give the most desired result now. One who follows this path is left to his own strength and capacity and the support of others who can be influenced to act in his favor. Satan encourages choices to be made in this manner. It gives him the greatest opportunity to tempt an individual to make decisions that will be harmful even though they appear most appealing when made.” (Elder Richard G. Scott)
“Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people. And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” (Mosiah 29:27)
The more I think about it, the more I’m of the opinion that our votes, in and of themselves, will be what matters most. Will we stand up and vote for leaders who are honest and good, regardless of whether or not we stand alone? I don’t think our votes are meant to simply be used like chess pieces. Thinking about them in that way I think cheapens the sacredness of the privilege of voting & letting our voices/desires be known. I know the stakes are high, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that Heavenly Father would expect us to vote for a wicked man in order to maintain our liberties. In fact, I think it’s a false dilemma we’ve created for ourselves, out of fear. Which is exactly what I want to talk about. Faith vs. Fear.
Voting out of Fear
Fear. It’s a pretty strong emotion. It can drive us to make decisions we wouldn’t otherwise make.
Fear is a driving force behind the rationale that voting for anyone but Trump will throw the election to Hillary. But it seems to make more sense that if Hillary wins, it will not be the fault of those who refused to vote for Trump, but rather, the fault of the many who voted for Hillary. (Though I suspect many will have voted for her, not because they particularly like her, but out of feeling an urgency to prevent Trump from taking the Oval Office). Whether it’s voting for Hillary to stop Trump or voting for Trump to stop Hillary, it is a vote cast out of fear.
Another way we fall victim to fear is if we are not adequately informed, and thus are swayed by negative attacks & unfounded rumors that inevitably circulate about candidates we had once liked. Likewise, if we are too cynical and accepting of gossip, we may find ourselves believing that certain candidates we oppose are far worse than they actually are, thus heightening our fears. Every one of us is moved upon by fear at some time or another, which can lead us to act differently than we otherwise would have. It’s human nature.
But if we let fear rather than faith become the driving force in our decision-making at the polls, we may be trusting too much in the “arm of flesh” & our own limited understanding/reasoning – instead of trusting in the Lord as much as we should.
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“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
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If ever the “spirit of fear” is what sways us to change our course or make a certain decision, we can probably be pretty confident that we’re not being influenced by the right source.
“We make poor and irrational decisions if we are motivated by fear.” (Elder Robert D. Hales)
“Fear..is a principal weapon in the arsenal that Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts…A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission to fulfill that simply must not be dissipated in fear and anxiety.” (President Howard W. Hunter)
Just think of how many times in the scriptures we are commanded to “Fear not.” A lot. Must be important.
It isn’t as bleak as it sometimes seems
Speaking specifically of this election season, Elder Oaks recently advised: “In the distressing circumstances that surround us, we must trust in God and His promises and hold fast to the vital gospel teaching of hope.”
We all know the stakes are high in this election, but sometimes I wonder if we are obsessing too much about the possible worst case scenarios and not trusting enough in God’s ability to assist us through whatever might come our way. “But if Hillary wins, then [such & such] will happen and that will be the end of our personal liberties & we might not ever be able to recover!” and so on and so forth. (And we could arguably make a similar case regarding Trump). While there is definitely a basis for these concerns, having too much of a doomsday mindset can drive us to act out of fear instead of faith.
Consider the possibility that the future may not as bleak as it seems. Perhaps the adversary is the one who is trying to convince us that things are bleak, so that we will act on fear rather than on faith.
I love this. Particularly the last part. I believe the principle behind it is true. If we choose the right and stand firm for our Christian values, Heavenly Father will bless us more, regardless of what the majority ends up choosing. Let the chips fall where they may. He will help us pick up the pieces as long as we have done our part. But we’ve got to have faith in that.
“Do what is right, let the consequence follow. God will protect you, then do what is right.” (LDS Hymn #237)
Even if the worst possible candidate ends up being elected, through no fault of our own, God is still at the helm. He will be there to assist us in whatever consequences befall us as a result of that outcome. Miracles and tender mercies can still happen to change the course of the future. We must never forget that.
“Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed. For I am Thy God and will still give thee aid.” (LDS Hymn #85)
*Never make a decision based on fear*
Faith Over Fear Is What Made This Nation Possible!
I believe that the “third party votes have no chance” argument is basically a faithless and a hopeless one. You shouldn’t be afraid to vote for a third party candidate, like Evan McMullin (or whichever candidate you most closely align with). Voting your conscience is always an act of faith. In fact, putting faith over fear is exactly how this country came to be.
“Evan McMullin stands a greater chance of winning this election than thirteen primitive colonies stood of winning a revolutionary war for their independence against the greatest military power on Earth. I am so grateful that our founding fathers didn’t stand around speculating over statistics and analyzing the chances of whether they should do the right thing or not.” (Becky Rasmussen- Evan McMullin supporter)
I love that. Yes, our founders fathers faced great odds. What if, rather than rising up in faith, they had let their fears prevail?
“Let’s not forget the history of this great nation and how it came to be what it is today. Do we not remember the incredibly courageous people who have taken an unpopular stand and changed things for the better? Think of the Patriots who took a stand against the British; Abraham Lincoln and the Northern States who thought slavery and race inequality was unjust; and Martin Luther King, Jr and his supporters who fought against racism. And don’t forget people like Rosa Parks who was just fed up with segregation. These pivotal moments in America’s history all started with a small few who were brave enough to take a stand. If they could change things for the better, why can’t we? Let’s all stop and think about what kind of nation we would be living in today if those courageous people did not make their voices heard. And think about what kind of nation will we be living in tomorrow if we don’t stand for what we know is right today.” (Evan McMullin supporter who’s name I don’t know)
“The fact is all it takes for Clinton and Trump not to become president is for no one to vote for them. This is both incredibly difficult and incredibly easy. It is incredibly difficult because we have no power to force people to change who they will vote for. No matter what we say or what we do if people choose not to change we can’t do anything about it. That is where faith comes in. Because people also don’t just change out of nowhere. Somewhere along the line one person has to step forward and say ‘I’m not voting for Hillary or Trump.’ And they must step forward alone, with no promise anyone will follow their example. But the fact is people will follow, even if it’s just one. And when other people see that one other person step forward with you more are sure to follow. That is how movements begin. And they can begin fast. McMullin supporters already number in the millions and it’s only been two months. It’s never too late to do the right thing.” (David Schmidt- Evan McMullin supporter)
May we let #FaithNotFear drive our decisions on how to vote this coming week. Happy Voting!
Faith Trumps Fear (A message from Paul Hastings, a fellow Christian)
*Please don’t be offended if I don’t post/reply to every comment. I appreciate learning from different perspectives, but I just don’t have the time to respond adequately to all of them, and if it’s likely to explode into a big debate, I’d just rather not have that here on my blog. Thanks for understanding! Please feel free to post your opposing viewpoints on your own platforms