In every election cycle the debate amongst well-meaning saints resurfaces. Should Christians vote?
Here are a few ideas to include in our thinking…
1. The privilege to participate in our government
Given that we currently have the privilege to affect government policy through our vote, should we not take advantage of it?
Jesus’ well-known beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers” supplies a directive for human participation in the divine value of interpersonal peace. How far should we take such directives? Could it be that in the case of systems of government that provide for voter participation we should use our power to vote the politics of peace?
2. The priority of love
In the enduring words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”
Not love for a favorite candidate but for God and our neighbors.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself…Do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28 [ESV]
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 [ESV]
The great commandments have now since Christ become a trinity of directive. “Love God with all your person;” then, as a priority for His students the Savior inserted, “Love your brothers and sisters – fellow believers –as I have loved you;” and to fill out the love trinity, “love your neighbor – any fellow person, even a personal enemy – as yourself.” Love compels me to support that which glorifies God, the well-being of my Christian family and that of our neighbors in general. Casting an informed vote may help.
3. Lifting policy over preference of persons
If we can get both a holy person and great policies all the better.
Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, is rumored to have become famous for two things. First, that he lived in a bathtub and took it with him wherever he went, and second, that he possessed a lamp. It was said that with his lamp he went throughout Athens looking for a man who was honest. Legend says that before he could attain success his lamp went out. His search ended in futility.
Our favored leaders may be nice, well-spoken, charismatic and our favorite color but immoral in policy.
A believer knows it is the Spirit of God and not government policy that bears the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Wherever love exists, even in its weakest expression, God is the reason.
However, on the other side of that coin we are instructed to pray for our ‘king’ for the sake of a continuing atmosphere conducive to living peaceably and the freedom to share Christ (I Timothy 2:1-5). To pray for what we want, yet to do nothing to advance a policy that would support the answer may be considered irresponsible.
4. The prompting of conscience
“How can we expect people to “vote their values” when they can’t even define what those values are, and they struggle to articulate what they believe and why they believe it?” Ruth Malhotra, Public Relations Manager at RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Mission)
“We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions.” Dr. Al Mohler, “Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election” (November 7, 2012)
Our consciences resonate according to what we value morally. For example: Do we care about abortions and infanticide, or that our freedom to define perversions (wrong behavior) according to our own understanding of the will of God is at risk? At risk is our freedom to teach those definitions in our assemblies, and our freedom to deny participation to those that refuse to comply. Others are eager to band together to take your freedom away by voting for leaders and policy makers that support their viewpoint – what about us?
Oz Guinness warns us that "in the end the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor. The future of the republic depends on whether Americans will rise to the challenge of living up to America's unfulfilled potential for freedom, both for itself and for the world.”
Oz Guinness, A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, InterVarsity Press, 2012
5. The practice of faith
We know perhaps most clearly from the Apostle Paul that the Lord is the originator of governments as inherent to our existence. The very idea of authorities and policies that govern us is from Him - so are the outcomes of coups, revolutions, conquests and elections. Most of us are unable to predict them, but we know from many places in Scripture that the Lord is the one who ultimately decides. The Queen of Sheba knew this about Solomon (I Kings 10:9), Daniel knew this about Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:32) and Solomon wrote it in proverb form saying, “The lot is tossed into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 18). All living faith is recognizable by the behavior that acts it out. So, when the Christian votes they vote by faith, trusting the hand of the Lord to lead them, and entrusting the outcomes to Him.
Grace today y’all!