Recently, my Dad and I were talking on the phone and the topic of politics came up. He asked me what I thought about the political race, and I briefly gave him my list of pros and cons for Trump and Clinton, but ultimately came to the conclusion that I could not make a decision at that time.
Right now, for the conservative evangelical, it is one the most difficult times to choose a candidate. When presidential nominees no longer fit the mold of mainline conservative Christianity, what do we do?
In other words, as Christians how should we vote? Do we pay attention to character? What do we look for? Do we vote for the party, not the party’s leader? Do we not vote?
I believe these questions are essential to have answered when it comes time to vote on November 8, 2016.
First, let’s answer the character question since that’s the easiest (in my opinion).
Do we pay attention to character?
The answer is: Yes! In 1 Timothy 3, the standard of leadership is listed for the church and in verses 4-5 a statement is made about the importance of managing one’s household. The logic is this, “If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” God makes it clear that if someone is not fit for leadership of household and self, then he or she is not fit for leadership of others. So if character matters to God, then character should definitely matter to us. But what if neither presidential candidate displays much character? Well, that leads us to our next answer…
Second, what do we look for? Specifically, what policies do we look for?
For many, the government policies they agree with are based more on tradition, than biblical principle. Many are clear on the distinctions of liberal versus conservative politics, but few can cite those policies in their relation to the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Bible needs to be viewed as the ultimate standard by which we live and the guide for public policy. More than “choosing sides” (i.e. voting democrat or republican), it is important to vote for the person who most closely aligns with Biblical truth and policy (this answers voting for the party vs. party leader question by the way).
But what if presidential candidates don’t care about the Bible?
As a young voter I used to live by this principle, “Christians should only vote for other Christians.” The problem with this principle is that:
1. It assumes that those who are outspoken believers are actually walking the walk;
2. It’s dependent on my interpretive standard of a baseline Christian. If ever people run for president who do not measure up to that standard I’m out of options.
So what do we do?
Recently I came across this quote by a well known theologian named Wayne Grudem,
“I think Christians should support the candidate who best represents moral and political values consistent with biblical teaching, no matter what his or her religious background or convictions.”
I agree with this quote because the reality is that we live in a time when Jesus Christ is no longer the primary consideration of our nation.
Presidents won’t ever fit our idealistic molds, and we need to choose the one who’s policies most align with sound biblical teaching. I don’t think we would be doing many people favors by withholding our vote, instead I think we need to do our best to help society by picking the candidate that best aligns with what we believe based on the Bible.
Lastly, although it seems that finding quality candidates is hard at this time, the truth is none of it really matters. Romans 13:1 states this,
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
The bottom line is, God is in control of this nation’s future. Whether or not the United States of America obtains a mainline protestant or evangelical Christian as president ever again really does not matter because God does not need a “Christian” president to achieve his purposes.
Joseph saved his family from famine under Egyptian rule. Esther saved the nation of Israel under a Persian emperor. Most of all, Jesus paid the price for our sin, conquering Satan, sin, and death under the authority of a polytheistic Caesar who set himself up to be god over the people.
Christianity in American politics has seemed to have flourished for some time, but now is entering a time where it is in the minority, and that’s OK.
God’s used to his people being in the minority. In fact, He prefers it.
For in man’s weakness God says,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).