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.
Corrupt politicians who live above the law, terrorist attacks, racial tension and profiling, skepticism toward law enforcement, the loss of religious freedoms – this is the current climate in America. It’s tempting to wring our hands or decry the need to return to our “values” (values, by the way, that have gotten us no further than this). What all of this chaos should do is serve as a reminder.
It should remind us that America is no different from the rest of the world where these realities have not been masked behind a veneer of morality. It should remind us that apart from God’s grace, any one of us is capable of saying and doing horrible things. It should remind us that we must work to end racism, injustice, and violence. It should remind us that our ultimate hope is not in the world as we know it getting better. It’s found in the knowledge that one day Jesus will return. Everything wrong will be made right. This world will be re-created and sin eradicated. That is our hope as Christians. And so in the midst of chaos, we echo the words of the Apostle John: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:27 ESV) This is sound advice for all of us to follow. It’s especially good advice in an election year.
The political climate in America has been toxic for quite some time now. But this election seems to have taken things to a new level. There is no place for harsh, vulgar speech in any realm of life. It’s especially unwarranted and unbecoming by those in a position of or aspiring to leadership. Candidates would do well in many situations to keep their mouth shut. So too would supporters when speaking to or about people who have different opinions.
One of my pet peeves is people who are inconsistent in the positions they hold. (I know I’m guilty in some capacity so this is a reminder for me too) Typically this shows up in the statements people make about political and social issues. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good causes out there worth fighting for and raising our voices about. But at least be consistent in your positions.
Don’t rail against sex trafficking and continue looking at porn. Don’t complain about the gap between rich and poor and then bemoan higher taxes. Don’t denounce the discriminatory treatment of one group of people while denying another group the right to practice their faith according to their conscience. You are free to take any position you like in this country. But please, be consistent.