Only ten more days! On November 4th a national election will be held. Americans will choose a President, Vice President, members of Congress, and many other state and local officials. Some of you might be thinking: "So what, Stephen! I'm here to ponder God's word and strengthen my faith, not listen to you talk politics."
Well, if that is your attitude, I hope you'll bear with me. I believe the Scriptures are very relevant to politics. I believe the Bible sets forth some important principles that are certainly pertinent to any election. Our aim in this lesson will be to consider those sacred truths and show that Christians who cast a ballot have a responsibility to vote for righteousness.
With the current election date so near, most who intend to vote have already made up their minds as to the various candidates they favor. If you have already determined whom you will support on the local, state, and federal levels, then I trust that your reasons are compelling and consistent with Biblical principles. Sadly, many cast their votes on the basis of superficial preferences (e.g., race, gender, or even a political party). To vote either for or against a candidate because of skin color or gender reveals prejudice. God is not partial in this regard (cf. Acts 10:34,35), and we should not be either. To blindly vote for or against a candidate because of his or her political party affiliation reveals that one has placed his trust in a group or organization. God's word warns against putting our trust and confidence in human leaders (cf. Psa. 118:9; 146:3). Hence, the merits of each individual candidate should be carefully weighed.
1. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN VOTE?
In the minds of many, this is a question that should not even be asked. However, some well-respected Christians of the past (like David Lipscomb, for example) affirmed that "the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Rom. 13:1) and "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, giv[ing] it to whomever He will" (Dan. 4:17). Thus, they believed that God's people ought to stay clear of politics and the election process, and simply leave the matter to the Lord. After all, God is truly in charge and will see that the proper authorities are elevated to power (as either a blessing or a scourge to a nation, in accordance with His will and the moral fiber of the people; cf. Prov. 14:34). Although this line of reasoning is strong, I believe it fails to account for the fact that in a democratic society, God may providentially use the election process (and our votes) to appoint the appropriate leaders for the nation at that time.
Others choose not to vote because, after researching the potential candidates, they find that none of them share their values. Many have no inner conflict voting for the so-called "lesser evil" (where such is discernable), but some do have a problem with this and chose not to vote at all rather than violate their consciences (cf. Rom. 14:23). Such a position must be respected.
Although I can understand why some Christians would choose to not participate in the political process (for the reasons above and perhaps others), personally, I believe that voting is one method by which a Christian can exercise his influence for good. Edmund Burke is attributed with the statement: "All that is necessary for the forces of evil to prevail is for enough good people to do nothing." People often think that their vote won't matter, and that they are just wasting their time going to the polls. While it is true that one vote generally won't decide the outcome, that type of mentality could determine the outcome of the election. What if 100,000 other godly people feel that their vote doesn't matter either? Then 100,000 votes for righteousness will be lost! Friends, we must realize that--regardless of an election's outcome--every vote for righteousness sends a strong message to our governing bodies and encourages other godly citizens. Truly, every vote counts.
Additionally, if there is a clear distinction morally between two candidates, is it not reasonable that we should vote for the one that upholds Christian values? Although Christians are, in the ultimate sense, citizens of a spiritual kingdom, certainly it is a good thing to vote for candidates that will support legislation that is consistent with godly morals. We can make a difference in the physical kingdom in which we currently live when we vote for righteousness!
2. HOW SHOULD WE VOTE?
We've already partially answered that question, but let's look at Philippians 1:20 to more fully answer the question - "According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death." Paul strongly desired that he would live his life in a way that magnified Christ, and that should be our desire too!
If a Christian decides to vote, he should take care to do so in a way that will magnify Christ. This should be our litmus test politically. Christ approves of godly moral standards, and when we vote for individuals who support such morals then we are voting in a way that magnifies Christ (i.e., we are voting for righteousness)! In contrast, when we vote for candidates who hold immoral views, views that clearly contradict values spelled out in the New Testament, we are not glorifying the Lord.
Therefore, to the best of our understanding, we should always vote in a way that brings glory to God. And friends, we must remember that the issues are important, not the political parties! My primary concern as a Christian who is striving to put the Lord first (even at the polls), should be to ask: What do the candidates believe on the important moral issues? Allow me to elaborate.
It is my conviction that the most important issue of this election is abortion. This issue has been exceedingly important for decades. Did you know that approximately 50 million babies have been aborted in America since 1973 when abortion became a "legalized" form of murder in the United States? Do you know how many people 50,000,000 is? Let me put it into perspective: Divide everyone in the USA into groups of six people and then kill one person in every group. That's how many 50 million is! If that doesn't bother you, then you have a calloused heart!
Dear listeners, is it wrong to kill babies outside the womb? If so, why would it not be wrong to kill babies inside the womb? While they are in the womb are they not human beings who are made in the image of God (cf. Exo. 21:22,23; Psa. 139:13-16; Jer. 1:4,5; Luke 1:44,45)? Are they not developing toward maturity, just like a newborn baby is developing toward maturity? Yes! To kill any baby, regardless of whether it is born or not, is wrong. Abortion is inherently sinful according to Proverbs 6:16-19:
"These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren."
It is an egregious sin to take the lives of these innocent babies! No baby deserves to be slaughtered! If we vote, we must respect the right-to-life that God has given to infants. We must vote for a candidate who is pro-life! To vote any other way is to support immorality and will certainly not magnify Christ's name. In many political races, there is a clear delineation between the candidates on this issue. If a candidate approves of abortion, how can a God-fearing Christian support such a one with his vote?
Another increasingly important issue in this election is homosexuality. This perversion is clearly condemned in the Scriptures. Under the Old Testament, it was punishable by death (cf. Lev. 20:13). Under the New Testament, homosexuals will end up in hell, if they do not change (cf. I Cor. 6:9,10). This is a serious moral issue in our society today, and it too is one where there is a clear difference between many of the candidates. We must vote for candidates who support God's values--that is, the values we find in the Scriptures.
Ultimately, our political litmus test for determining whom we should vote for must boil down to the moral issues (like abortion and homosexuality). A candidate's economic plan, foreign policy experience, health care program, tax ideas, etc., should be incidental to a Christian voter. If a candidate supports immorality (like abortion and homosexuality), how can a Christian magnify Christ by voting for such a one? We cannot consistently oppose wickedness and then vote for it at the same time!
In past elections, I've heard comments like this made: "I just cannot vote for candidate X because he will destroy our economy!" Even if such were true, it is irrelevant. I'm reminded of Proverbs 10:2 which says - "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death." You see, the amount of money we have in our pockets and how smoothly the economy is running does not compare in God's eyes to that which is righteous! Remember Sodom and the cities of the plain! Sodom's economy was apparently booming, but its pride, idleness, and abominable acts led to its destruction (cf. Eze. 16:49,50). Friends, we must vote for the candidate who will help this country morally, even if we think he might hurt us financially. God has spoken!
Election Day is near, and a lot is at stake. If you have not yet done your research on the candidates for the various political races, you need to get busy. There is a host of information available on the internet (e.g., www.OnTheIssues.org). The shameful moral condition that has swept over our society will either get worse or better, and much of it depends upon whom we elect. If you have an opportunity to influence the future by supporting those who will pursue policies that are more favorable to the well-being of the cause of Christ, I believe you should take advantage of that opportunity. Let us always seek to magnify Christ in our actions!
Finally, let me plead with you to pray for the best outcome in this coming election. It is good to pray for the accomplishment of God's will and to vote for righteousness.
Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.