Many Christians are feeling angst regarding who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. That’s no surprise given that both major parties nominated candidates who are morally unqualified to lead our country. Nevertheless, voting is an important privilege as Americans. Here are three principles for Christians to employ as they head to the polls.
1. Pray for wisdom.
James says if we lack wisdom we should ask for it. If there was ever a presidential vote that required wisdom, it’s this one. I have yet to see a sound, historically faithful, exegetically derived argument showing that Christians must vote. Especially in a situation like this with two very amoral candidates. We are right to demand integrity of our leaders and we need not feel obligated to support candidates that make us uncomfortable. Scripture never calls us to condone or willingly lend our support to those who dismiss or deny what is evil. Yet legitimate, peaceful voting is such an incredible privilege that abstaining should be an absolute last resort. We need wisdom to know how to vote.
2. Listen to your conscience.*
This one comes with an asterisk right up front. Our conscience is not perfect. It is not an infallible guide. But when the infallible word of God informs and shapes our conscience, it becomes an important means by which the Holy Spirit guides us. So if our biblically informed conscience tells us that life ought to be defended from conception to death and that how we treat others – particularly women – is important, then we dare not ignore that. Justifying a vote based on “the lesser of two evils” or “the courts” is not only flawed logic (one that cannot be carried to it’s moral end), it in no way excuses turning a blind eye to troubling truths. Justifying a vote for a candidate who is “more qualified” yet supports the barbaric murder of the unborn (all the while claiming to value life) is equally as lacking in sound judgment. If your conscience is telling you no for reasons like these, listen to it!
3. Rest in God’s sovereignty.
Both the Old and New Testaments consistently attest to the fact that God is sovereignly behind the rise and fall of all who are in power. No matter who wins, he or she will be a footnote in the grand story authored by a God whose will cannot be thwarted. And so it will be with all who come to power from now until return of Jesus Christ.
Until that glorious day, get out and vote.
The toxic climate surrounding this year’s presidential election is, even by political standards, unfathomable. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you have two candidates who are equally unfit for the office they seek (albeit for very different reasons). The angst felt by voters who are forced to choose between two candidates with no moral authority is real and understandable. It’s led some to wash their hands of the process altogether. Others have engaged in various mental and moral gymnastics to justify backing their candidate. Still others can, without violating their conscience, cast a ballot for one of the nominees. At the end of the day, Scripture has some painfully explicit directives for Christians regarding their attitude toward the next president.
They are to submit to the winner of the election recognizing that all authority comes from and is ordained by God (Rom 13:1, 1 Pet 2:13-14). They are to pray for (1 Tim 2:1-2), respect (Rom 13:7), and honor (Rom 13:7, 1 Pet 2:17) their new leader. And lest we think the current candidates are exceptions to this, remember that all these commands were originally given to Christians living under the Roman Empire. Our candidates look like angels compared to Nero. To recap: submit, pray for, respect, and honor – I don’t know about you, but I have a long ways to go.
I try hard not be surprised or outraged by the behavior and beliefs of unbelievers. By nature and apart from grace, all of us are drawn to darkness. I shudder to think of where I would be without Jesus. What is concerning to me is when those who have affirmed and come into the light begin to go back into the dark.
When God’s people turn their back to the light, when they change what has always been true for God’s people in all places and at all times, there is a problem. We would do well to heed the warning of Isaiah about people who call what is evil good and what is dark light. May God keep all of us from going into spiritual exile.
Recently at work, I overheard a co-worker say, “Their family is very strict from a religious standpoint. Their daughter lived at home until her wedding night.” If not co-habitating before marriage makes you “very strict” on the religious front, then I guess I fall into the same category (for the sake of argument, I’m seeing religion as a positive thing). So do a lot of my friends. My co-workers statement struck me in two ways.
One, there was an implication that being religious (i.e., Christian) does not require you to live any different from the rest of the world. Only the strict live radically different. What a sad statement about American Christianity. Two, those of us who live out biblical values will continue to find ourselves increasingly at odds with the culture around us. Soon, we will stand out without even trying to do so. That’s a good thing. It will be an opportunity for us to show the world that God’s ways are best – provided we show that through humility and grace and not through condescending, judgmental attitudes.