Unless you’ve been on Mars for the last year you know there’s an election campaign going on in the United States to choose our next president. This campaign has been a difficult one for Christians. I’ve been conflicted over who to support or whether to support anyone at all. My position has changed more than once over the past many months. As a follower of Christ I believe the Holy Scriptures are divinely inspired, inerrant and sufficient. They provide all I need to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Yet, nowhere in them will I find a ballot marked for me for November 8, 2016.
So how do I make this decision? For a thorough discussion on how to make decisions in areas where the Bible does not provide specific guidance, I recommend Gary Friesen’s book “Decision Making and the Will of God.” But, here are some thoughts on deciding how to vote:
- Read what the Bible says about the role of government and the characteristics of godly leaders. If you don’t know what the target is, you won’t know what you’re looking for. For example (Psalm 94:20-21, Proverbs 14:34, 16:12, Romans 13:3-4).
- Do not vote for someone who promises to support sin. I’m not talking about disagreement on a policy issue like, for example, minimum wage laws, but open advocacy for wickedness, such as killing of the unborn.
- Do not make the decision based on whether or not you think the person will win. Pragmatism is not a Christian virtue. We’re not called to make decisions based on how popular someone or something is. We’re called to make decisions based on what is true and good and right. You’ve not “wasted” your vote if you vote, or even decide not to vote, out of a conscience informed by the Word of God.
In the end, vote for the person who, based on the information you have, most exhibits the characteristics of a godly leader and is most likely to pursue governance the way the Bible says it should be pursued. However, if, after examining the candidates, you feel you cannot vote for any of them, I believe that is a legitimate option as well, provided it is taken out of an informed conscience and not due to apathy or laziness. Scripture reminds us that what does not come from faith is sin so it is not wise to violate one’s conscience (Romans 14:23).
Let me insert here that I believe a decision to vote for someone is different from a decision to endorse someone. I believe the threshold for endorsement is much higher. I may decide to vote for a candidate reluctantly while being unwilling to endorse him or her. If I’m offered the choice between being shot in the foot or the head, I’m going to choose the foot but that doesn’t mean I recommend being shot in the foot.
Having made the best decision you can, leave the results to God. While voting is the tool He uses to raise up leaders under our form of government, those who occupy leadership positions are still put there by God and are the best choice from His perspective for accomplishing His will – which is the sanctification of His people, the judgment of the wicked and the furtherance of His glory. Whoever wins on November 8 is the person God ordained to that office from eternity past (Proverbs 8:15, 21:1, Daniel 2:21)
Finally, let’s not allow this election to cause disunity in the body of Christ. A brother or sister at church may vote for someone you do not support or they may decide not to vote at all when you’ve decided you must. Whoever is elected November 8 will have no more ability to thwart God’s plans for His people than did pharaoh. So, let’s keep our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and not let this cause a rift among the people of God. Because, I believe no matter who is elected, a unified church is going to be more important over the next four years than ever in our lifetimes.