One of the questions I have been frequently asked over the last months is how to vote in this election. The questioner is not asking WHO I am voting for (I won’t tell you), but HOW I am voting. I have read so many articles and blogs detailing how and who to vote for…so many that I am tired of thinking about it. But I thought I might distill some of the wisdom I have read down to a few points.
I think Christians fall into three camps when it comes to voting…
Camp 1: Some Christians are going to vote for a 3rd party candidate or write in a candidate. They feel that they cannot in good conscience vote for either of the two main presidential candidates due to their policies or their personal character. But they are convicted that they should vote because it is a precious freedom afforded by our country. The potential negative with this option is that they are not having a direct impact on the two individuals who have a chance at winning the election. On the positive side, they are presumably choosing a person of character with God honoring policies.
Camp 2: Other Christians view this election as binary and will choose from the two candidates available. We all know one will win this election, and so those Christians will use discernment to choose the candidate who best reflects biblical values. This is more pragmatic since it recognizes that we have two flawed candidates, but we may as well pick one. The potential negative with this option is making a foolish choice in selecting a candidate that is not qualified to be president. On the positive side, they are impacting the election directly by using biblical discernment to make a difficult decision.
Camp 3: And I am sure there are some Christians who will not vote at all. I can agree with these folks that God is sovereign over our leaders in government. The Lord will give us the president that we should have at this point in history. The potential negative here is that this person is not exhibiting good citizenship and probably just trying to avoid making a difficult decision. On the positive side, maybe their conscience is clear? I admit I have a hard time understanding or defending this position.
And finally, here are some things I consider before voting:
1. I will consider who will do the most good for the church. This is not selfish because I read in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 that I am supposed to pray for our leaders to allow Christians to live “peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.” If that is not a selfish prayer, then how can it be a selfish vote? And it seems that this prayer for a peaceful life also helps advance the Gospel.
2. I will consider what policies and decisions each candidate is most likely to support. Which candidate will do the most good for our country? I will consider abortion, marriage, religious freedom, the Supreme Court, refugees, taxes, military, economic policy, foreign policy, as well as other issues as I vote. The Bible has plenty to say about each of these. Some folks suggest that the government cannot legislate morality, but I disagree. The government already legislates morality…the only question is, whose morality? My conviction is that God’s laws are given for the flourishing of humanity, so I consider that as I vote.
3. I will consider the candidates’ character. If you had asked me before the primaries what Americans want, one of the answers I would have given is: they want a leader with character. Maybe I was wrong, because here we are with two immoral candidates. And while we know that “all have sinned,” it’s not really that easy. Some people are known for their bad character. Let’s not pretend that character is unrelated to leadership. On the other hand, I have confidence that God uses immoral leaders based on leaders from the Bible. Whether major momentary lapses like David’s adultery and murder or a consistent display of bad choices like Samson, God still uses these leaders (even if it means bringing judgment on a nation).
4. Christians have been given the wisdom of God. We have the mind of Christ. And we know wisdom is given when we ask for it (James 1:5). Since we have been given the right to vote, we ought to use our best biblical discernment in casting that vote. It seems that the American people have been given this stewardship role, so why would we bury the opportunity in the ground?
I am not going to publicly voice support for a candidate, even if we had great ones to choose from. The ministry of the Gospel is far too important to let my political leanings get in the way. Our allegiance to Christ transcends any politician or party. And the world is watching how we speak and act this election season. I don’t want them to see a donkey or elephant, but instead, a Lamb.