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How Should Christians Vote?

October 12, 2016

Devout Christians have disagreed vehemently about how to vote in this election. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas labeled #neverTrump Christians as proud; Robert Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention said he would be writing in a candidate. Well-regarded theologian Wayne Grudem once wrote in favor of voting for Trump, but now he has retracted his endorsement, saying he doesn’t know how he will vote.

 

Do you know how you will vote on November 8?

 

 

 

While God hasn’t told us whom He will vote for, we do know His opinion on many of the issues. If you’re Diehard Democrat or Raging Republican, you won’t like everything you read here. My goal is to encourage Christians to let the Scriptures inform their politics instead of the other way around.

 

Here are the issues, in alphabetical order….

 

Abortion

“…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk. 1:15).

 

Needless to say, “lifeless tissue” can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist was not only filled with the Holy Spirit, but he also “leaped for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb (1:44) as a prophetic testimony to Jesus. The sanctity of life is important to God.[1]

 

Character

“Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel… he reigned over Israel for two years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 15:27).

 

This is the basic formula that repeats itself all throughout chronicles of the kings in Israel. Almost every king was “evil in the sight of the LORD”, and that king was like the rudder on a ship, determining the direction of the entire nation. Character matters in government.

 

So what do you do when the two major party candidates both have evidence of evil character? My advice would be: don’t think of your vote as an endorsement; think of it as a strategic move. If Christians feel that their vote is an endorsement, they might feel that their only option is to not vote for President. That is one option, but it’s not the only option. What if you were given a choice between Richard Nixon and Adolf Hitler? You couldn’t endorse either because both have a sordid history. But even if you despised every one of Nixon’s policies, a non-vote would be perilous.

 

Environment

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15).

 

God’s first task to man was to be a good steward of His good creation. Working and keeping the garden probably didn’t include trashing it and making it a cesspool. So what does this imply about global warming, drilling in the Gulf, fracking, and the role of the EPA? Your answer will depend on: (1) your evaluation of the credibility of scientific research about environmental harm, and (2) how you balance environmental concerns with economic ones.

 

Fiscal Responsibility

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Pr. 22:7).

 

According to this proverb, the United States is a slave. We have gone from the world’s greatest creditor nation in 1980, to by far the greatest debtor nation the world has ever known. If the United States does not exercise fiscal responsibility, we will one day be unable to exercise any other responsibility.

 

Immigration

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:33-34).

God always took special care of the immigrant, and therefore, so should we. We ourselves are immigrants, awaiting our heavenly country (1 Pet. 2:11).
     
 So does this mean that we should allow immigrants to cross our borders illegally? Should we offer immigrants the privilege of not paying certain taxes but enjoying what those taxes purchase? Should we have no concern for the dangers of terrorist infiltration?
           
Common sense suggests that some or perhaps all of these questions should concern any nation. The voter must balance “common sense concern” with “humanitarian concern”

 

Israel

“Now the LORD said to Abram… I will make of you a great nation… I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse” (Gen. 12:1-3).

 

How a people treats Abram’s descendents will determine how blessed or cursed that people will be. There is some debate in Christian circles over whether these verses now apply to how one treats the physical nation of Israel, or instead, to how one treats the “spiritual” nation of Israel, which is the church (Rom. 9:6-8; 1 Pet. 2:9).

 

Regardless of where one stands on this issue, neither side will deny that there is a future for ethnic Israel (Rom. 11), and that ethnic Israel holds a special place in God’s heart (9:4-5). Therefore, it’s probably not a great idea for any nation to cast them to the curb as a matter of government policy.

 

Justice

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For He is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:3-4).

 

One of the major duties of every government is to execute justice through righteous law enforcement, for the protection of its people. Some people believe that the police have too much power, and others believe we are weakening them to our detriment. Don’t just take the side of the people around you. Do your research.

 

Part of having righteous law enforcement is having righteous laws. Which President will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will judge righteously? Which President will take steps to ensure that our Criminal Justice system is fair and reasonable for all?

 

Poverty

“Open your mouth or the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Pr. 31:8-9).

 

According to King Lemuel’s mother, who delivered these words to him, it is the responsibility of government leaders to defend the poor. Some people will argue that welfare and social security are two ways the government can care for the poor. In the Old Testament, Israel did have an ancient system akin to welfare (Lev. 23:22). On the other hand, some will argue that modern welfare is being used as a lifelong crutch that perpetuates poverty, rather than resolving it. Do your research.

           

Beyond government programs, consider which candidates’ policies will better drive our economic engine to lift people out of poverty. Consider which candidate will offer better educational opportunities for our inner cities.

 

Racial Reconciliation

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both (Jews and non-Jews) one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14).

 

Jesus didn’t die to make tax rates fair or to guarantee your right to free speech or to protect your nation from invasion. These might all be important issues, but even more important than these is the mission of Jesus. The mission of Jesus was to reconcile people to God and to reconcile people to people. He bled for racial reconciliation, and thus, this should be an important issue to us.

 

Religious Freedom

“O Nebuchadnezzar… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us… But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:16-18).

 

Christians are called to submit even to evil government leaders in all things (Rom. 13:1-ff), except in matters that violate conscience. Ever since the constitution was reinterpreted to allow for same-sex marriage, some Christians have been forced out of their jobs, and at least one has been sent to jail. Hobby Lobby had to fight hard and spend lots of money in order to retain the right to not financially support abortion. Regardless of whether you agree with the responses of some Christians to laws that violate their conscience, religious freedom is important to God because it allows people of faith to live peaceful and quiet lives, with no hindrance to the spread of the Gospel (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

 

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, there are some issues that I did not cover. Perhaps you have a vested interest in caring about our military, our right to bear arms, health care, or free trade. All of these issues are important to many people, but I’m not aware of any Scriptures that directly and inarguably address the government’s responsibility in these areas.

 

One thing that becomes clear when you see this list of issues is that no one candidate is a perfect match. From here, you have to weigh which issues are the most important to God based on the Scriptural evidence, which ones are most important to you based on personal research, and which ones are most important for our nation in this particular hour.

 

A last word of warning: Christians, we should expect this election to divide our nation, but let’s not allow it to divide God’s church. Refrain from name calling and shaming those who weigh the issues differently.
 

Our witness to the world does not depend upon every Christian sharing the same opinion, but it does depend on every Christian sharing personal opinions respectfully.

 

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[1] If you have ever made the painful choice of having an abortion, there are oceans of grace available to you! Blood spilled out from Jesus’ hands so that your hands would be free from guilt. Trust in Him, and you’re free and clear before the only Judge that really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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