Vote By Faith
It would be quite surprising if anyone reading this were unaware of next week’s midterm elections, and I feel compelled to address the gravity of it.
When the Lord sent Judah into exile away from Jerusalem and the Temple, he told them, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)
I have not been prone to write about politics in the past, nor am I inclined to start now, but there are at least three things we must realize as followers of Christ living, interacting, and voting today.
We do not escape the realities of living in this world simply because our minds are set above (as in Colossians 3:1-2).
Some issues that are bandied about in the political realm are actually pre-political; they are beyond and before our political thoughts or preferences.
Love of neighbor demands that Christians not shrink from the responsibility of civic involvement.
As Christians, we ought to take great pains never to conflate politics and Christianity. That is to say, we must not begin to assume that all who are devoted to Christ agree regarding every issue, and, therefore, those who disagree with me politically are clearly not as devoted to Christ as those with whom I agree. Christianity is not tied to a political party or even to a particular nation or form of government. The Bible and the US Constitution are not equal authorities, and the Lamb’s Book of Life does not have a box to check for donkeys or elephants.
We must nonetheless recognize that every voter brings their worldview and governing values into the voting booth. No person is perfectly and dispassionately objective; no vote is in a vacuum, devoid of values or moral consequence. Our worldview inevitably drives our voting. The values of every voter direct—as rightly they should—that voter’s decision-making.
Christians are called to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16), adding flavor, illumination, and a purifying influence to the greater glory of God in a world steeped in darkness. This world may not be our home (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 2:11), but we are called to live here as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20). We cannot carry out that mission by shutting ourselves off from civic responsibility, nor by separating our Christian convictions from our politics. We must think and vote “Christianly”. (See last month’s article, “Our Dual Citizenship”.) Our faith must inform every aspect of our lives, including our politics and our voting.
That is not to say that we must all agree on taxes, size of government, particular persons (or personalities) who run for office, or even systems of government or economics. (Our form of government is relatively young in world history; the Church is not.) However, there are some issues that transcend politics and party, and Christians should be the very first to recognize that.
None of us today would give a pass to someone from any political party who sought to reinstate slavery, no matter how strongly we agreed with them on other issues. Such an issue is “pre-political”, though we know that at a point in our history it had been made a political issue. There are such issues today, and, now as then, they have unfortunately been made matters of partisan debate even among those who claim Christ.
While elections inevitably involve a variety of nuanced issues, abortion is not one of them, contrary to the common propaganda. Abortion is precisely as nuanced and worthy of political debate as slavery was in its day. Let me say this as clearly and directly as I possibly can: no disciple of Jesus Christ can legitimately support elective abortion or vote for any politician who will act to promote or protect this evil practice. Regardless of the worldly rhetoric that has poisoned even many churches, anyone who acts in support of this great evil will answer for their action before the throne of Almighty God.
Similarly, to support those who actively promote behaviors which are expressly condemned in Scripture is to stand against the God of Scripture. Such God-defying behaviors specifically and prominently include the widespread immorality of the ongoing sexual revolution (this includes celebrating “pride” about various forms of sexual sin and disordered desires) or the endorsement of any form of bigotry and partiality. These realities exist in a sinful world, but to embrace them as good and valid or to support those who do is to fall into the same pattern of sin as ancient Israel. As Paul would later say to the Roman church:
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
…Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28, 32 NIV)
There is much room for diversity of thought among Christians. Even though we share core convictions, we can often differ on any number of issues. Brethren who are equally committed to Scriptural truth may still disagree over a number specific doctrines, even forming different denominations or associations.
Unity is not uniformity, but unity in diversity has its limits. There must be shared core values for unity to have any meaning. The promotion and propagation of that which God hates must be universally rejected and condemned by those who claim to belong to Him.
We must participate in the world around us; we must take seriously the right and responsibility of voting. We must also ensure that our votes—and every other aspect of our lives—reflect the reality of Christ and our submission to Him, not merely our social, political, or economic theories.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Isaiah 5:20 NIV