A Simple Christian Guide to Voting

guide to voting

Do Not Make an Idol of Self

When you are at the center of your thoughts, then you think about the world from you out. Therefore, a self-centered person is only concerned with what affects them the most personally. This kind of self-referential thinking leads to voting that is merely based on self-interest, with no regard for the public good and social justice for the underrepresented in society. It can also lead to a self-centered apathy that reasons: (1) my vote will not affect my day-to-day life so why should I care? (2) I am not personally interested in politics, so I don’t vote, (3) and sometimes they attempt to spiritualize the apathy by thinking “my commitment to the priority of my faith keeps me from getting my hands dirty in secondary worldly matters like politics.” Each strand of this reasoning is the result of making an idol of self.

A commitment to vote should first be motivated by a resolve to honor God    and second by a resolve to love your neighbor. Self-centered voting or apathetic non-voting are acts of rebellion.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Do Not Make an Idol of Political Power

While the believer must be involved in the political process to promote righteousness, honor God, and love neighbor, Christian must not trust in political power. Just as the Christian must not think about the world from themselves out, they likewise must not think about the world starting with politics and political power. When we begin our thinking with politics and elections and then draw conclusions about God and the vitality of the church, then we have made an idol out of political power. Satan doesn’t tremble at caucuses, primaries, and presidential elections though they have their place. He does tremble at the awe-inspiring reality of the church, whose ministry has more consequence than any presidential stump speech or primary.

When the Christian votes he or she must think about God in Christ first and then draw conclusions about the place of politics,    elections, and how they should vote.   

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Realize in a Federal Democratic Republic, You are the Government

The apostle Paul writes about government in Romans 13, and he asserts, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” (Rom 13:1). Paul also says that the government “does not bear the sword in vain” (Rom 13:4) and that governing “authorities are ministers of God” (Rom 13:6). This means that in a representative democracy like ours, not only do elected governmental officials bear the sword of civil authority; we all have a hand on the sword as well. We, the people, are the government, and we are accountable to God for how we govern with our vote. For instance, this is why I would never vote for a candidate who supports the slaughter of the most innocent among us through abortion or who supports any form of racist ideology.

A Christian must realize that they cast their vote as a minister of God, a governing authority, and they should prayerfully wield the sword    in the voting booth.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:16-17)

Character is the first Qualifier or Disqualifier

There are many considerations every person who votes should take into account before filling out their ballot, but a candidate’s personal character should be a first order qualifier or disqualifier. There are many people with excellent personal character who would make poor elected officials and may pass the initial qualification and be rejected upon further consideration. But there are also candidates with whom a Christian may agree on many key issues but who possesses poor personal character. No issue should overcome major character concerns in a candidate. A Christian simply cannot say to the glory of God and the public good, “Sure, he is a bad guy, but he is our bad guy.” No candidate will be without blemish; but neither will all candidates be equally flawed in character. The best candidate may or may not be a Christian.

A Christian voter should care about character more than they care about party,    personality, personal gain, and pragmatic concerns.

“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Prov 6:16-19)

Religious Liberty, Religious Liberty, Religious Liberty

Religious liberty is a gift granted by God and not one granted by government. Good governments protect the religious liberty of all citizens and bad governments repress and stifle religious liberty of all or some of its citizens. Period. The responsibility of government is to protect the citizenry from violence and evildoers, near and far. Promoting or restricting the religious conscience of its citizens is outside of the scope of its authority. The promise of religious liberty should not be a majoritarian right and Christians should contend for the religious liberty of all citizens. John Leland (1754-1841), a zealous Baptist evangelist, and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who openly rejected parts of the Bible to the point of using scissors to cut out the parts he did not believe, were co-laborers in defending religious liberty in their day. Whether a candidate is a Leland or a Jefferson, religious liberty must be defended.

Christians should only support candidates who will zealously spend and be spent to defend the religious liberty of all.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Mark 12:17)

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By |February 29th, 2016|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today

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