Third Rail Season
Every four years our country enters into the pastoral season of the third rail. If you don't know about the third rail, it comes from subway systems that run their electricity through a third rail that pad skim along. When people touch third rails, they are electrocuted and/or severely. Third rails are not safe places to play around. But they are so tempting.
At lunch this past Sunday a young student entering the American college system from Kenya asked me probing questions about Conservative and Liberals and why some issues were more important than others. Then, in a pause, she said "So who will you vote for?" The eyes and ears of others caught the question; conversation stopped and they looked at me. It was a third rail.
I told her that I have never told anyone but my wife who I vote for. It's not because I do not have strong opinions, but that my role as a pastor needs to be focussed on caring for the congregation God has given me that includes people of integrity who will vote differently. These tantalizing topics are not salvific, and Christians of integrity take opposing stands. Therefore I have chosen to be non-partisan, and that's hard for me, especially when there are so many great targets of conversation.
Where I can and should speak is to areas that the Bible addresses, and not just selectively: the poor, the right to life, anger, pride, care for the oppressed, stewardship of the land, air and water, making peace, striving for justice. Topics are more central than personalities (though poking at personalities is so much fun!)....but it's a third rail.