Your CHRISTIAN Guide to VOTE

Your CHRISTIAN Guide to VOTE

With all of the claims and counter-claims of politicians, it is easy to become confused about whom to vote for in elections.  In voting, we are most often guided by the political party we associate with.

We encourage our readers to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We view the Bible as the final authority for faith and practical living.  While we believe that our eternal citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), God has temporarily placed us in countries here on earth and wants us to participate in their affairs.  Given these three fundamental positions, we believe Christians are called to vote according to the values of our permanent “country” (heaven) as spelled out in the Bible.

According to some estimates, multiple millions of Christians are not registered to vote and many who are still don’t take advantage of this right.  One of the most fundamental values given to us by God in the Bible is that of stewardship—that is, we are to be stewards, or managers, of what God has given us.  Being citizens of a constitutional republic that allows citizens to vote for their leaders, we Christians can exercise stewardship over the government by, among other things, voting for our leaders.

The Bible does not tell us who to vote for.  Neither do we.  However, the Bible does spell out God’s view of government and it gives us values to consider when making voting decisions.  We discuss both of these subjects briefly below.

A Biblical View of Government

One section in the Bible (Romans 13:1-7) most clearly and succinctly explains God’s view of government.  In this letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians as follows:

  • We are to submit to governing authorities—vs. 1.  Not to do so means we are rebelling against God and inviting His judgment (vs. 2).  That’s not to say there is no room for dissent when we see biblical values such as those outlined below being violated.  But in general, we are to submit to government authorities unless they require us to disobey clear instructions from the Bible, in which case we should stand up for what is right no matter what price we have to pay.  The Apostle Peter gives similar instructions about submitting to governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17)
  • God has “established” government leaders—vs.1.  They are literally “servants (ministers) of God” (vs. 4).
  • Our leaders are to administer justice, and we have no reason to fear them if we are living correctly (vs. 3).
  • A major responsibility of the government is to punish “wrongdoers” (vs. 4)
  • We are to submit to government authorities not only because they have the power to punish us but also to keep a clear conscience because we are obeying God’s commands (vs. 5).
  • We are to pay taxes to allow our political leaders (like pastors) to devote full time to governing (vs. 6)
  • We are to honor and respect our leaders (vs. 7).

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians to offer “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving . . . for everyone—for kings, and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

As we make our voting decisions, we need to keep in mind what God designed the government to be and do and the part we are to play in government.

Biblical Values

There are far too many political issues for us to discuss here.  What we want to focus our attention on are the biblical values that should guide our voting behavior.  Christians face the same issues that all citizens in a community face.  But if we take our faith seriously, we will approach them differently than others.

Here are some of the biblical values that should help guide us in voting for candidates:

  • Sanctity of life.  According to Genesis 1 and 2, God is the Creator of all life and uniquely among all creatures He has made humans “in His image.”  Throughout the Scriptures God repeatedly places high value on preserving human life.  It is clear to those who take the Bible seriously that we are to maintain the sanctity of life in all phases of life, from conception to the final stages of life.  Question:  Where do political candidates stand on issues that deal with the sanctity of life?
  • Stewardship.  In Genesis 1 and 2 we read that God created all things and entrusted to people the management of the rest of creation.  God is the owner and has appointed us as His managers or stewards.  Question:  Which political candidates appear best capable of managing God’s creation? But we believe stewardship extends to more than the physical world God has created—it extends to every area of life—our finances, our time, our abilities, the people we lead, etc.  Question:  Which candidates create an environment for us to exercise personal stewardship in all of life?
  • Sanctity of the family.  Since we take the first two chapters of Genesis seriously, we believe there is no question that God created one man and one woman to share an intimate, life-long relationship and that He created us as sexual beings with the ability to procreate and told us to have children (multiply).  Question:  Which political candidates are most likely to uphold the biblically mandated family structure and promote healthy family relationships?
  • Protection.  It clear from the entire sweep of Scripture that a fundamental purpose of government is to protect its people from threats, both internal and external, to peace and physical safety and well-being.  While Jesus told individual Christians to “turn the other cheek”, there are no similar instructions for governments.  Leaders who through inaction or misguided actions threaten our safety and security are not fulfilling their biblical mandate.  Question:  Which political candidates can best protect its citizens from internal and external threats?
  • Justice.  We believe it is clear from Romans 13 that a fundamental purpose of government is to administer justice.  Promoting justice includes, in part, making sure that wrong-doers are restrained and punished, that laws of the land are applied to all citizens equally and fairly, to make sure all citizens have access to legal recourse, etc.  Question:  Which political candidates hold the greatest promise of administering justice?
  • Poor and underprivileged.  In the Bible God places a high priority on helping and protecting the most vulnerable members of society—the poor, homeless, immigrants, orphans, the aged, the fatherless and widows.  Question:  Which political candidates show the greatest willingness to meet the needs of underprivileged, vulnerable members of our society?
  • Productivity and industriousness.  As a counterbalance to concern for the poor, it is clear from the Bible that God puts a high premium on hard work and being industrious (Genesis 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10).  With a few important exceptions (i.e., those who are permanently mentally or physically handicapped), our approach should be to help people struck by adverse circumstances to “get back on their feet”, rather than permanently depending on the government or private individuals and organizations.  Question:  Which political candidates propose policies to help the poor in time of need yet encourage them to be independent and productive members of society?
  • Character.  From the selection of Abraham, Moses, Saul and David in the Old Testament to the appointment of church leaders in the New Testament, it is clear that God puts a high value on character.  We believe that wise policies and actions flow out of strong character.  There are many dimensions of character—honesty, integrity, courage, fairness, humility, compassion, etc.  Question:  Which candidates display positive character qualities and show an ability to maintain a balance among these qualities, not simply enforce the ones they agree most with?
  • Righteousness.  Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”  It is clear from the Bible that leaders of non-theocratic nations (such as ours) should create an atmosphere that is conducive to practicing righteous living.  We need leaders who will promote the freedom to believe and practice faith and to express that faith to others without coercion.  Question:  Which candidates will promote an environment that is conducive to righteous living?
  • Glorifying God.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17 that we should do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God through Him.  In short, we Christians are to glorify God, or make Him look good, in our voting just as we are to do in every other area of life—from our jobs to our relationships with our spouses and children, etc.  Question:  How can we glorify God with our voting behavior?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could find candidates who score an A+ on each of these dimensions?  Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and our politicians, like all citizens, share in that “fallenness.”  At the very least, we should vote for those candidates who come closest to living up to biblical ideals as expressed above. How do we do that? See the 10 Guidelines for Christian Voters Outlined below

1. Make God’s Word your primary voting guide. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 110:105).

2. Pray before casting your vote. Ask the Lord first for guidance as you vote. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him…” (Prov. 3:5–6). Pray also for the candidates even the ones whom you do not like. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1–2).  

3. Vote for a candidate who upholds Christian principles. For instance, are his/her views on important moral, social, economic, and health issues biblical?

Religious freedom. Will the candidate hinder you from exercising your faith in Jesus Christ, or will he/she protect your liberty as a Christian?

Sanctity of human life. Will the candidate promote abortion, or will he/she fight for the sacredness of life in the womb?

Marriage. Will the candidate endorse (so-called) “same-sex marriage,” or will he/she uphold the biblical definition of marriage—a union between one man and one woman only?

Racial injustice. Will the candidate treat every life, regardless of color or race, with equal importance, as created in God’s image?

Violence. Will the candidate be committed to establishing a peaceful and orderly society?

Economic crisis. Will the candidate promote biblical work ethics? “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28).

Medical Care. Will the candidate give importance (as the Bible does) to good physical, mental, and spiritual health (1 Tim. 4:8; 3 John 2)? How will he/she address the issues surrounding COVID-19?

Of course, this list is not meant to be exhaustive but just a sample of some moral, social, economic, and health questions we need to ask ourselves as we consider a candidate. Remember, as followers of Christ, we must not “give approval to those who practice” what God has declared to be morally evil (Rom. 1:32). 

4. Vote for a candidate who is able to lead our country with justice. Remember that you are not voting for a pastor, but for a president. The candidate might not be exactly on the same page as you are theologically, but if he/she is committed to a fair and righteous judicial system, then you might want to consider voting for this candidate.  

5. Vote for a candidate who has already demonstrated his/her ability to lead well. Look at the candidate’s track record and ask these questions: What did he/she do to improve our economy, stop crime, and maintain peace and order in our land? Did the candidate abuse his/her political power to serve his/her own interest? Was he/she immoral, corrupt, dishonest, or greedy? 

6. Cast your ballot in good conscience. Admittedly, it can be challenging to find a candidate who is both gifted in leadership and righteous in character. That’s why, before making a final decision, seek wisdom from God.

7. Recognize that from eternity past God has already ordained our next political leader. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). Ultimately, it is God—not the people—who appoint a leader (Gen. 45:8). We are only God’s instruments in bringing about his eternal plan. Be willing, therefore, to submit humbly to God’s sovereign will, knowing that his will is always for our good and for his glory.      

8. If the candidate who wins is immoral, remember that God is able to use even wicked leaders to accomplish His eternal plan (Rom. 13:1–7). Of course, this does not give us permission to vote for bad candidates! However, it should remind us that our greatest hope does not lie with any earthly leader, but with our heavenly Father, who is divinely able to overcome evil for good. Indeed, God in his providence can even use a bad ruler as his “servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4).

9. Never forget that God is causing all things—including the upcoming election—to work together for the good of his people, conforming them more fully to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28–29). Whatever the outcome of the election may be, one thing is certain: God will use this election for our sanctification. We are concerned about peace and prosperity, but God is concerned about our piety and his eternal glory.  

10. Finally, respect those who oppose your political position. Even among Christians, there are varying opinions regarding who should be elected to leadership. In fact, some even believe that Christians should not vote at all for “the lesser of two evils,” for lesser evil is still evil. So, learn to agree to disagree, or better yet, to disagree with kindness. And even if your preferred candidate does not win, you are still to honor the candidate who is elected. You must also obey your new leader, unless he/she instructs you to do something that would require you to disobey God. As Christians, our greatest allegiance is to God. As Scripture exhorts us to do, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Final Tone

Throughout the election season, you will hear us talk about the importance of voting and doing so according to biblical values.  But our pledge is to do so in a civil, humble manner.  We recognize that even well-informed, well-intentioned Christians disagree on how to apply and interpret biblical values in fulfilling stewardship in government.  Above all, we encourage you to pray for the coming election of leaders at all levels of government.

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