As we are heading towards another election, I have been asked to address the question of how to vote faithfully as a Christian. I imagine this is a question that many of you have been wrestling with for weeks if not years, so let’s explore this idea of voting faithful as a Christian.
Step 1: Be Uncomfortable
First, concerning the election, if you are right now, uneasy, confused, lost, and a tad physically queasy, well then, you are in a very good place in order to vote. With the long established separation of church and state in the United States, no matter the candidates’ personal faiths which absolutely can be Christian, we are choosing leaders for a secular role in a secular government. That is just a weird experience for a spiritual individual. If you feel weird and uncomfortable voting, that is good.
Every political party whether one of the big two or one of the numerous smaller parties will wax poetically about their Christian values. The Republicans will tout, “We are against abortion, just read about John the Baptist, Jeremiah, and Samson and how important they were in the womb.” The Democrats will tout, “We will feed, educate, and strengthen the poor, just as Jesus calls us to do.” Why do they tout Christian values? Because they want the Christian vote, but truthfully, their platforms are ultimately secular because they are guidelines to run a secular government.
There are good reasons why as a Christian you are uncomfortable with parts of all varieties of political platforms. They are secular things, and the Bible makes it clear that Christians and the secular world do not mix well together 1 John 2:15, John 16:33, James 4:4, John 15:19, Romans 12:2, just to name a few.
As a Christian, there are parts to all political platforms that make me say, “yes!” and parts that make me say, “what…really?” I do look at the Republican platform and think, yes, the unborn are a class of people worth fighting for and worth civil rights. Then, I look at their massive tax cuts that disproportionality help billionaires, and think, I have a school teacher in my church who had to set up a wish list for parents and friends to buy books for her classroom, and I am disgusted.
I look at the Democratic platform and think, yes we should actively seek to help the poor and needy. Then, I look at how they tax small businesses and wonder how they are fighting for the little guy.
I could go on. There are aspects of the Libertarians, Green Party, and on and on, where I say, I like that idea, and that idea makes me cringe, so voting is, or at least should be, hard for us Christians because we are participating in a secular government activity. There should not ever be a secular place or a secular activity where we, Christians, feel completely comfortable.
If you are not uncomfortable voting, I worry that your political ideals are shaping your faith rather than the other way around. I worry that you are not truly wrestling with God’s word or the political issues. I worry that you are not giving your vote the value it truly has.
Step one to voting faithfully is Be Uncomfortable.
Step 2: Be Read and Prayed Up
The Bible does not have a section on voting, and it has very little that directly addresses what a Three Branch Voting Republic Government should look like. Most of the governments in the Bible are monarchies of various kinds. Even when the somewhat more democratic Greeks and Romans rise onto the scene, the Bible takes very little notice of their governments to comment on what they do well or do wrong. The Bible cares a lot more about what a person believes about God and Jesus than what a government does.
This does not mean the Bible does not have something to say and important truths that should help guide our vote. It just means there is not a single passage to read that will give us a quick answer. To vote faithfully we must be students of God’s word. We must diligently work to write God’s word into our hearts and into our minds and into our character so that our vote will be shaped by God’s ideals rather than any political agenda. We must be avid readers of God’s word, so were are prepared to answer tough political questions in light of God’s word.
Does the command to welcome the sojourner (Deuteronomy 10:19) effect our thoughts on immigration and refugees?
Does Jeremiah being set aside to be a prophet before his birth (Jeremiah 1:5) and God hand crafting babes in the womb (Psalms 139:13-14) effect our thoughts on abortion?
Does Ruth being legally allowed to pick from Boaz’s field and Boaz being legally forbidden from picking his entire field (Ruth 2:2 and Leviticus 23:22) effect our thoughts on the social safety net?
Does Jesus saying give to Caesar what is Caesar’s (Mark 12:17) effect our thoughts towards our responsibility regarding taxes and government duty?
Does the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) effect our thoughts on healthcare?
Does the command not to kill (Exodus 20:13) effect our thoughts on abortion, gun control, war, healthcare, poverty in the inner cities, social security and medicaid, and so on?
Does the command not to play favorites and show partiality (James 2) effect our thoughts on criminal justice reform, racism, campaign finance reform, super pacs, and lobbyists?
I hope the answer is yes. To vote faithfully, and well, to live faithfully, we must be students of God’s word. We must have God’s word implanted in our hearts and minds, so it will bear fruit in our actions whether it is in the voting booth or at work or at home or wherever we are.
Also, we must pray. James calls Christian to pray for wisdom in James 1:5. Pray, pray, pray for wisdom when making these difficult and uncomfortable voting decisions.
Step two to voting faithfully is to Be Read and Prayed Up.
Step 3: Be Compassionate
I hope I have revealed that voting is a difficult task. We spiritual Christians are participating in a secular task picking leaders in a secular government. Therefore, we must be compassionate with our vote and with our political activism.
Some of the issues are incredibly complicated and difficult to solve. If health care was easy, various political parties would not be screaming we need to fix health care. It would already be fixed. There are good, and dare I say, biblical reasons to be on various sides of several political issues. Certain bible verses are easy to take two ways. It can be hard to discern which side is right or if both sides are right or if both sides are wrong. Don’t believe me? Go and read about Martian Luther and Ulrich Zwingli trying to unite their reformation movements. It basically went kaput over one verse.
Also, how do you even begin to rank political issues in importance? I don’t know. By lives? By stock market numbers? By what? Then, which issue will cost more lives or effect the standard of living more: abortion, the economy, war, a hawk President that will ramp up drone strikes, education, health care, legal and illegal drugs? Voting is extraordinarily hard. We must be compassionate in this entire process.
We need to remember that not only good people, but godly people, can be on various sides of a political issue. All people have value, and should be treated with respect and compassion. Political ideals are no reason to break Christian fellowship over. Also, political ideals are no reason to lose your Christian witness over, either.
Step three in voting faithfully is to Be Compassionate.
Step 4: Be Active
Ok. Now, that I have sufficiently put butterflies into your stomach and probably made things much worse for your internal dialogue, let me say, we must vote. Voting is an incredible power that we have in this country. Yes, as I have said multiple times, voting and our politics is a secular activity, but our spiritual Christian voice can be heard if we vote.
The church can impact our country from the highest office in the land all the way down to our local communities if we get active and vote. Use this power wisely and as often as you are able. If you are uncomfortable, read and prayed up, and compassionate, you will vote faithfully to God and His word…even if you vote differently than me.
It is hard, but it is a valuable exercise that I hope you will use faithfully for the Lord.
Step four in voting faithfully is to Be Active.
Step 5: Be Confident
This is like gut punch after gut punch. I have got to pick between these folks…this is the best we’ve got? I have got to pick what I believe will spark the economy? I have got to pick what I believe will solve the social security fund crises? I have got to pick what I believe will solve healthcare? I have to pick what I believe will solve the divides in our communities? I have to pick what I believe will solve foreign policies? And on and on, it goes.
Also, I have to do all of this and be faithful to the teachings in God’s word. I know. I know. Stepping into the voting booth is a tremendous task and responsibility. But the results belong to our God. And in the chaos that is the American political system, it is still our God that sits on the throne of the universe. There is no vote that you or anyone else can cast that will unseat God from His sovereign rule over all things. God is in control today, and He will be in control on November 4th no matter how you vote, I vote, or how nasty the fight over whether certain mail in ballots are valid or not.
Romans 13 tells us that governments are established by God. That does not mean our government is perfect and without sin or blemish. The Bible is full of examples of God doing the miraculous and bringing about His will through governments that hated and denied Him. Go and read about the Philistines and how they caused Israel to call out for a savior in Judges and Samuel. Go and read about the Babylonians and how they caused God’s people to repent and return to the faith in multiple prophetic books. Go and read about the Romans and how their roads and peace allowed the gospel to spread.
Romans 13 does not tell us that our government is perfect, but that our government is established by God, ultimately for His glory. God will not be surprised or dismayed by the election results in November. We can trust that God is moving in our nation and in our government because our God reigns. So be confident in our God to make use of this and every election for His will and His purposes.
God is in sovereign control, and one tool God will use to bring about His will is your vote. How cool is that?
Yes, voting makes my head and my stomach hurt, but God uses my vote for His glory and His will. That is awesome.
Step five in voting faithfully is to Be Confident in our Sovereign Lord.
I hope in this election you will be uncomfortable and wrestle with God’s word and political issues. I hope you will read and pray up, so you can be equipped with the knowledge and wisdom needed to vote faithfully. I hope you will be compassionate. Voting is no reason to break fellowship or to lose your Christian witness over. Go and actually vote. Do not sit on the sidelines. Lastly, be confident in our Sovereign God. When you step into that voting booth, God is moving in your life and using you for His will. That is awesome. You are awesome. Go and vote.
Be Uncomfortable. Be Read and Prayed Up. Be Compassionate. Be Active. Be Confident. Do these things, and I believe your vote with be faithful to our Lord.