Choosing the right candidate

A Christian Science perspective: On discerning the character of presidential candidates.

At their best, elections are about establishing effective, ethical government for the well-being of our country and our world. While it seems that government is in the hands of people, through Christian Science I’ve learned that we can look beyond the material surface of things to perceive more clearly that God, divine Love, is the governing Principle of the universe, including all of us. Understanding this has helped me gain a sense of peace as I pray about the many issues in the election process.

I’ve come to learn that by allowing my thoughts and actions to be governed by divine Principle, I encounter more civil discourse and make more ethical decisions in my daily affairs. Through prayer and action that is honest, meek, and charitable – with family as well as in social and business dealings – we bring more evidence of God’s harmonious government into our experience. It’s up to each of us to choose integrity over a convenient, self-serving spin, and to choose intelligent reasoning over the impulsive highs and lows of emotions in every department of our lives. The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explained, “Mankind will be God-governed in proportion as God’s government becomes apparent, the Golden Rule utilized, and the rights of man and the liberty of conscience held sacred” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 222).

As we obey the golden rule, by doing what we would have others do to us, we are better able to hear and follow God’s guidance. In this way, we will be able to discern the strong, enduring, helpful qualities of a candidate that “pertain unto life and godliness” that Christ Jesus embodied, such as virtue, temperance, and brotherly kindness (see II Peter 1:1-10).

While a candidate’s readiness and experience are important considerations, in a deeper sense, a candidate’s character matters most because it is the springboard for trust in government as well as for freedom, justice, and long-term security in society. Because God is the all-wise, all-knowing, and unerring animating Mind of the universe, and we are His spiritual reflection, we can increasingly discover our God-given ability to perceive the inner heart of people, including those in the public eye. For just as the reflection in a mirror must be like its origin, so it is that as the spiritual image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), we include the qualities of Mind.

Seeking wisdom from God, we, too, can trust that when we’re presented with difficult decisions between candidates, we will see through the rhetoric and political volleying to make an honest assessment and vote accordingly.

So it was for the prophet Samuel, who was guided by divine wisdom to choose the future king (see I Samuel 16:1-13). As Samuel considered each of Jesse’s sons, God directed Samuel to look on the heart, or character, of each one, instead of making judgments on outward appearances and human opinions. As such, Jesse’s youngest son – the shepherd boy, David – was chosen, and he reigned as a good leader.

As we look beyond conflicting human personalities and approach election choices by discerning qualities in each individual that are most needed for effective, honest government, our prayers will become more humble and effective. And in proportion as we acknowledge the supremacy of God’s government and express that in letting it govern our own lives, we will be better equipped to discern and choose the best available candidate for the job. In this way, our vote will better contribute toward blessing everyone and advancing society as a whole.

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