In the past few years in America, Christians have faced several conundrums about how to vote and elect people for public office, if not at the polls themselves, then at least in thought. In 2016, the presidential election of Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton tested the conscience of many Christians as they attempted to wrestle with the importance of pro-life and pro-family issues against how morally inadequate one has to be in order to make one ‘unelectable’. In late 2017, the nation found itself repeating history on a smaller scale (and to a different result) with the prospective Senate election of Roy Moore in Alabama.
The following are three things that I feel are important to keep in mind when voting.
God is not the exclusive property of any one political party.
No political party in ANY country that I know of perfectly aligns themselves with God. For that matter, no person does either, despite their best efforts. We really can’t say whether Jesus would ‘lean’ Republican or Democrat. While the Republican platform touts the sanctity of human life in the womb and the value of the traditional family, as well as maintaining the free exercise of religion, the Democratic platform tends to pay more attention to many other social issues (it’s not an accident that nearly 90% of African Americans and around 65% of Hispanics, Asian Americans, and people of non-Christian religions voted Democrat in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to exit polls).
The respective weights of these issues in the minds of Christians may differ, and legitimate differences of opinion between faithful Christians can exist. The point is, if the other party becomes so systematically evil in our minds that we jump to either defend or demonize people or principles solely because of their affiliation with a political party, we are in danger of elevating our own political party to the status of an idol – in our minds, our party can never be wrong.
God changes the heart, not laws.
One who is familiar with the entire story of the Bible would find several warning signs in placing our faith in laws. The Old Testament legal code revealed that the fallen state of humanity was such that it could not actually consistently keep what God charged it with – the perfect law. And even when people DID keep some of those laws, it was possible to forget what the laws were really meant to stand for. The Pharisees loved to follow the law for the sake of following the law. They scoffed at Jesus for even associating with sinners, with ‘the other people’ (Matthew 9:10-13). They lost sight of what the law was supposed to point them to: God.
…but we should still vote.
Now, all of what I’m saying is not intended to make Christians leave the polls altogether. Participation in the democratic process is very important, and contrary to popular opinion, votes do matter (in December 2017, the state of Virginia made headlines for having an election won by a margin of only one vote). Christians are very much expected to make an impact on the world, and that includes making their voice heard in the political process. We should simply be careful to not get too wrapped up in who wins and who loses to the extent that we forget that God can use even the worst of situations to advance His kingdom.
I feel like there’s an awful lot I could write about the intersection of politics and Christianity if I choose to go down that road, but it has been the policy of this blog not to comment overmuch on specific current events. Instead, we choose to focus on God’s word, draw out the general conclusions, and leave specific matters to the individual to decide, in complete submission to God. Before heading to the polls, make sure that God informs your choices, prayerfully weighing the pros and cons of each candidate, both in the short and long terms. And remember that with God, the long term is much, much longer than a human lifetime.