How Should a Christian Vote?
by Dale Reeves
With just eight days left until the November 3 general election in our country, more than 52 million Americans have already voted this year, shattering previous records. That’s 5 million more votes than the total early vote four years ago. If you’re like me, then you are tired of the nonstop political ads, mailers in our mailboxes, constant reminders on social media platforms to register to vote, and political sign-stealing from people’s yards that has taken place on both sides of the fence. I have a question for you today. How should a Christian vote in this election?
Are there any guidelines that Christians should be following as they cast their votes for the leaders of our nation, state, and local communities? Some people are so fed up with the political circus that they’ve decided to abstain this year. Did you know that historically in America, 25 million people who refer to themselves as “Christian” do not vote? That’s roughly one out of every four Christians.
I would propose that it is our ethical, moral, and civic responsibility to care, to pray, to think, and to take action. We have an obligation to ensure freedom and peace are preserved for the next generation—for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren, and even their children. I believe that the events of this past year have cast this election in a whole new light. We find ourselves as a society staring into a very interesting juncture in our nation’s history. Many political commentators have stated that this election is the most significant since 1864, when Abraham Lincoln vied for a second term. The future of our beloved nation hung in the balance that year. If Lincoln had lost to George McClellan, the Civil War would have ended and the evils of slavery would have remained legal in the Confederate States, and perhaps this atrocity would have grown even in the North.
I’m Voting for Jesus
Franklin Graham called for a day of fasting and prayer in our nation yesterday, because as he said, “There is so much at stake—our religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the fate of our nation are on the line. . . Let’s call out to God together for his intervention and mercy. He is our nation’s only hope.”
I like the “Jesus 2020” signs I’ve seen in a few yards. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but he was present at creation with his Father when the elephant was created. We know Jesus wouldn’t be a Democrat or a Republican if he were running for president of the United States. He is already the Lord of the universe, why would he need to be president of our nation?
Who, then, should we vote for? None of the candidates are Jesus, none of them are perfect, none of them are without their flaws. I have good friends, neighbors, and family members on both sides—and in the middle—of the proverbial aisle. Since all members of the media are flawed as well, how do we sort through the truth from falsehoods? You could choose to spend your whole day fact-checking fact-checking sites, and still be confused. A recent poll revealed that 72 percent of Americans now believe that “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading.” The spread of false information and personal attacks has increased tensions between Americans and has further divided our nation. So, I’m not going to share opinions in this blog or suggest who you should vote for, but as our church belongs to a fellowship of churches who choose to “speak where the Bible speaks” and “be silent where the Bible is silent,” we want to let God’s Word be the source of truth today.
Our leadership team at Christ’s Church has been asked why we haven’t said anything about the upcoming presidential election. Our policy at our church is to not tell people which candidates to vote for (including national, state, and local leadership). It is not our place to tell you how to vote. We live in a country with free elections. This is not an endorsement of any candidate, but a perspective informed by the Word of God. Our first allegiance is not to any candidate or party, but to the truth of God and his church. We have the responsibility of learning all we can about the candidates and their positions, especially in the context of biblical principles. We must all ask God to guide us in casting our ballots.
Personalities, Platforms, and Policies
Some people are voting in this election against certain candidates based on their personalities, style, rhetoric, age, or demeanor. They might not be able to tell you what the platform and policies are for the person they are voting for. It is simply a vote against someone, not for someone. I believe that we each have the moral, civic, and biblical responsibility to prioritize the issues. Even though all issues are important, I don’t believe from a biblical perspective that issues like climate change, the economy, immigration, the second amendment, and taxation are of equal weight with God’s stance on protecting the life of the unborn or his views on same-sex marriage. For Christians there ought to be several nonnegotiable values such as the sanctity of life from conception through natural death, the sanctity of marriage, and freedom of worship. The church must continue to draw a clear line in the sand on these issues.
It was theologian Augustine of Hippo who said,
“The citizen of the Kingdom of God is always going to be the best citizen in the kingdom of man.”
In the midst of being governed by an evil Roman empire that persecuted Christians, the apostle Peter wrote, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. . . . Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13, 14, 17, NIV).
We are to “honor” the emperor, but we are to “fear” only God! Our allegiance is to something higher than the dictator or ruler. If you’re a Christian, your allegiance should be to God first. This means that if we must choose, we must choose our highest authority.
God on Politics
Jesus gave us a foundational principle for how we should interact with our government, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21, ESV). The apostle Paul directed us to submit to the governmental authorities God has ordained (Romans 13:1, 6, 7). And God’s Word is clear in 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 that we are to pray and intercede for “kings and all those in authority”—whether we agree with them or not. In fact, the less we agree, the more we should intercede.
We have an obligation to care, even in the midst of the political circus and turmoil we have experienced this year. Jesus challenged us to be salt and light in a dark world (Matthew 5:13, 14) and to shine like lights in the world in the midst of a “crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15, ESV). We must be aware of policies and organizations that stand in opposition to the teaching of Christ and the church. We live in a society today that is bent on rejecting God and his law.
I have read several issue comparisons between the major candidates from a number of sources, in an attempt to discern the truth. There are some very helpful tools and resources presented here. This site provides a lot of information regarding federal, state, and local candidates so that you can take ownership in praying, thinking biblically, and then taking action (voting and beyond).
God’s Word Is Truth
God’s Word is very clear about certain nonnegotiable for believers in Jesus Christ.
“From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Psalm 22;10, NIV).
“A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, ESV).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT).
We’re not just voting for one person. We must care not only about the presidency and vice presidency, but also future Supreme Court justices, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and our state and local leaders, as they set the agenda for our country and our state.
In the words of a retired pastor friend of mine, Charlie Maloney, “True disciples of Jesus will survive the election and whatever else, including 2021 and beyond, should the Lord tarry. Our faith is ultimately in Jesus; not in politics, nor governments, nor policies, nor medicine.”
Unlike many politicians today, God doesn’t change his Word along with whatever is trending in national polls. The grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of God lasts forever. Make no mistake. Our hope rests in him. I’m voting for Jesus and for God’s sovereignty, and for his will to be done in my life, in my family, my church, my community, my state, my nation, and my world. Will you join me?