This is a bad year for American politics. But take heart, we’ve had a lot of bad years in the past. Although, it might be pointed out, none of them seemed quite as bleak as this one.

Yesterday at Cedarville University we had a panel discussion in chapel on the November election. Faculty members from our history department and political science department contributed to a conversation with our president, Dr. Thomas White, about a Christian perspective and response to our presidential options.

Not voting is always on the table. But many Christians would consider that to be an abdication of Christian stewardship. And, while every election forces us to choose between the lesser of two evils since all candidates are sinners, this year that reality seems particularly pronounced. Determining how you will vote can be tricky business. Even trickier is trying to talk about it all in a way that is helpful and charitable.

Dare I dip my toe in those troubled waters?

One thing that stood out from the conversation yesterday, one take away point for me, came from Cedarville professor Dr. Mark Caleb Smith. He mentioned the tendency of some evangelicals to talk themselves into liking a candidate more than they actually do. Since we don’t have a bonafide evangelical on either side of the ticket, some try to fabricate one and market them to the masses.

Here’s the thing. Vote your conscience. Do what you think is best and right. But don’t put lipstick on the pig. I’m not calling Clinton or Trump a pig — just roll with the metaphor. You don’t have to justify your vote to the Christian world by trying to make your candidate into the embodiment of Christian values.

And while I’m on this rant, you don’t have to, better yet, you really shouldn’t, call trusted, dear, Christian brothers “closet liberals” because they don’t endorse a particular candidate that you paint in the colors of conservative Christianity. No one is buying that schtick. And my point is, you don’t have to manufacture a robust Christian option where there isn’t one.

We can all mourn together at the loss of great options, even if we don’t agree on how to cast our respective votes. Lament can be a unifying theme across political differences this year. But let’s not change the standards just to make ourselves feel better. There’s no way to make November 2016 pretty.