No, I would not presume to tell anyone for whom to vote, but I would presume to speak to Christians about biblical guidelines for voting. Christians have an objective guide. Scripture is to inform our beliefs and behavior. In other words, the Christian worldview is to be shaped by the Bible. That means Christians are to be a discerning people. In a culture given over to superficiality, glitter, and celebrity, Christians ought to discern the differences between what God reveals as praiseworthy and what God reveals as wicked.
The media traffic in whipping up people’s emotions. The days of articulate, well-reasoned, thoughtful debates are long gone. I saw about three minutes of a recent debate, and that was about two minutes too long. Why? Instead of debate about substantial ideas, I heard almost nothing but ad hominem attacks. Interrupting one another, finger-pointing, crass language, and juvenile insults degraded the once noble office of U.S. president. So, what should the Christian do? Give up? No, I don’t think that is biblical. We are called to be good citizens, to pray for those in authority over us, and to live godly lives in an ungodly world (Mk 12:17; Rom 13; 1 Pt 2:13-17).
So what are some basic biblical guidelines for Christians when it comes to voting in this country, especially when our options are, to some degree, out of our control? I’m suggesting at least three here (more are to follow): character, a demonstrated commitment to life, and demonstrated commitment to upholding the Constitution. Other guidelines may follow in subsequent articles, but today my focus is theological/philosophical and specifically upon Christian U.S. voters.
First, character. Perhaps I can best illustrate what I mean via a real event that happened a few years ago when I was teaching a debate class to high school students. I asked the students (17 and 18-year olds) who they thought was one of America’s greatest presidents. Immediately, most of them said Bill Clinton. I said, “Okay, can you tell me why you think that?” Well, the class went quiet. I said, “Okay then, well what was Mr. Clinton known for?” Immediately, the class erupted in unison: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” They quoted Mr. Clinton’s own words. Thereafter, intelligent discussion ended. They began giggling and joking coarsely about body fluids, interns, and how Bill was a real hero to them. Now, think about this. When teenagers cannot tell you anything substantive about the U.S. presidency except that one of their heroes was an adulterer who lied under oath, what does that reveal about the character deficit in the nation? Not only does the office become cheapened, but the electorate becomes coarsened. Discernment is lost, celebrity is king, and we all lose. It’s important not to confuse categories. The students were, after all, teenagers. Most were not Christians, so I don’t want to stretch the illustration too far. I merely want to suggest to you that lack of character cheapens us all.
For voting Christians, therefore, we ought to look for a man/woman of character. Even though our options for president may not be Christians, we ought to discern the difference between those given over to wickedness and lying versus those who are men/women of character and who are faithful to their words. Is the person running for office noteworthy for his integrity, his fidelity to his promises, his character? Scripture calls us to discern. “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” (Pr 20:6 ESV).
Second, commitment to life. I’m sure I will take some hits for this, but that is fine. If a man/woman asking for my vote does not protect the sanctity of life, I cannot support him. Not only is the sanctity of human life in our Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”), it is fundamentally biblical. Scripture teaches that all human life is created in the image of God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). This foundational truth is non-negotiable for the biblical Christian because in it, we see that all human life has value. Because humans are created by the design of the holy, loving, and perfect God, human life is not to be sold for a profit by Planned Parenthood, to be prostituted, to be desecrated or discarded in rubbish tins.
The fact that we are living in a nation where 177 Democrats (no Republicans) recently voted that infanticide is the right of the mother, is disgraceful. Let that sink in, folks. On September 18, 2015, when H.R. 3504 went before the House for a vote to protect babies born alive after their mothers’ attempts to abort failed, and the child was born alive, 177 Democrats voted that the mother should be allowed to legally have her child aborted…even after birth. In other words, the child is alive, outside of the womb, and 177 Democrats voted it’s alright to murder it. You can link to HR 3504 via a simple Google search.
A political party in our nation says that a mother can deliver her child, then have it murdered, and it’s the woman’s right. If that is not barbarism, nothing is. For the Christian voter, the man/woman who would defend such a practice ought to be excluded from consideration as president. We remember that 6,000,000 Jews were murdered in WWII, right? Yet since 1973, just in America, 59,000,000 million babies have been murdered. Today alone in America, 2,900 babies have been murdered. That is a holocaust. If that barbarism does not convict you, I don’t know what will. Ten times as many babies are murdered as the number of Jews murdered in WWII, and yet there is an entire U.S. political party who defends this? The nation that murders its mothers’ wombs cannot, in good conscience, ask for God’s blessing. What would be just is God’s judgment. The biblical worldview teaches that God is the Author of life (Acts 3:15), and that life is sacred: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:13-14a).
Third, the U.S. Constitution. If the person running for U.S. president views the Constitution as an antiquated document with no bearing upon governance of the nation, then Christian voters need to know that. I have paperback copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution that I carry. When I’m sitting in traffic, or waiting in the optometrist’s office, or other places where I’m waiting, I reread them. If Americans do not know these documents, we are complicit in the continual downgrade of intelligent discussion. If candidates for political office oppose the Constitution, we need to be educated enough to recognize that, and vote accordingly.
There is much more to say about Christians in the voting booth. Christians need to discern; we need to recognize trees by their fruit; we need to evaluate demonstrated behavior rather than stated belief. We need to recognize, before it’s too late, that “He [God] makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding for the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a pathless waste” (Job 12:23-24 ESV). God is sovereign over historical events, but Christians are to be articulate and thoughtful citizens and voters. We need to learn that a person’s character, his/her demonstrated behavior when it comes to the sanctity of life, and his/view of the U.S. Constitution (at a minimum for Americans) reveal much. To all who will do the work of thinking deeply and praying for the next leaders of this nation, may we be faithful, to bear witness, and to live “godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12).