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The Voting Booth

As the last two US Democratic primaries are held today in South Dakota and Montana, I’ve been thinking again about the different ways followers of Christ enter a voting booth.

During the course of this lengthy election process, with far more to come, it’s been clear that some of us believe we have an obligation to cast our ballot in a way that supports our own Christian values. I’m inclined to think that the best way to do that is to lower our expectations for government and settle for a political realism that grants people with opposing viewpoints the civil rights and protections we would want for ourselves.

I realize that, to some, this will sound like a forfeiture of faith. But would it really?

Imagine what would happen in our court system if 51percent of the electorate chose a president who could convince congress to adopt the Ten Commandments as the law of the land:

1. No God but the God of the Bible

2. No idols.

3. No taking of the Lord’s name in vain.

4. No work on the seventh day

5. Honor your father and mother.

6. No killing

7. No adultery

8. No stealing

9. No lying

10.No coveting.

Would we suddenly become a moral nation that stopped producing pornography, exploiting workers, and abusing legal and illegal substances? With Ten Commandments on the books, would we become a noble democracy that elects its leaders through a political process that brings out the best in candidates, and their supporters, rather than the worst?

Even during the days of Moses– when it was a capital offense to promote another god, curse a parent, or collect wood and start a fire on the seventh day– the Ten Commandments with all of the additional case laws based on them, could not keep a “chosen people” from wanting to adopt the gods, values, and government of their neighbors. According to the God of the Bible, the law of Moses didn’t keep the mountaintop city of Jerusalem from sinking lower than the Dead Sea community of Sodom.

As much of some of us would like to think otherwise, America is no better than ancient Israel. Government is no church. And law is no substitute for grace.

When the Apostle Paul wrote, “But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his, and those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness'” (2Tim 2:19), he was giving counsel not to government, but to the church. Just as importantly, he was not urging a new law– but an extension of the life-changing grace that his readers had already found in Christ.

If we want to really adopt the perspective of the Bible, wouldn’t we do better to remember that fallen human nature is such that if we “ban a book in Boston” we can assure that it will become a best seller. Make a public moral outcry against a movie that profanes the reputation of Christ and we can all but assure that it will be a box office success. Forbid a sexual behavior and multiply its allure.

Don’t get me wrong. I would never want to diminish the importance of a national law that reflects the wisdom of God, while being supported by the moral consensus of our voting public. Neither would I want to minimize the importance of wanting our elected officials to be people of integrity and principle. I’m just saying to those of us who look to the Bible for our counsel and wisdom, let’s use government to regulate a public moral consensus that both atheists and church going people can agree is in our common interests. Let’s vote as if our responsibility as citizens is to treat one another the way we would want to be treated.

I can’t help but believe that lowering our expectations for government might be a way of elevating the importance of personal faith in the Lord of lords.

OK, I’ve had my say for now, :-). What are you thinking?

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29 Responses to “The Voting Booth”

  1. desert rose says:

    Through my years, I have heard individuals vote just party regardless of the issues.  In this election, I have heard the same thing, only it goes like this:”I will vote for a woman, because she is a woman.””I will vote for a black man because he is black,””I will vote republican because I think democratis are evil.””I will vote for democrates because the repulicans have done such a bad job and the current president is a horrible ‘so called Christian.”I am mortified by these statements, as we should look at each canidate, not by reace, not by party but by what they individually represent.  I agree with what you have written and thought it was well worded and puts us to thinking.

  2. brownsfan1642 says:

    In Daniel, we see that is God who raises up kings and tears down kingdoms, which tells us two things: God has purpose for human government, but that human government is transitory. It is a helpful corrective to keep our emphasis on the God who ordains human government, rather than the government itself. He is the King who endures forever.

  3. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Good Morning everyone, Mart, I believe God is the one that sets up Kingdoms, and tears them down, which includes our president, my obligation is to respect who ever that person is at the time.
    I personnally had other choices than those we have left to choose from, i do not always get my way, and just because one of these 3 will be our next president does not mean it will be good for our country.
    I personnaly believe our country is close to being taken over by another country, as history has proven many times in the past, when a government believe they are rulers of the world, and we are close to believing this.
    i am not sure but what the fuel shortage is going to cause another war with those in charge of the fuel, and it will not matter who is president, and even though we believe we can win any war, if it is God’s time for our end of control, we will become slaves to another country, in which we are close to being slaves with the fuel market.
    Many say we must vote for the lesser of 2 evils, i am not sure this is God’s thinking, but who ever wins, my desire is to not put them down, but pray for them, and continue to ask the Holy Spirit to guide them according to His will.

  4. tallmark says:

    Makes sense to me. I don’t believe you can legislate morals. Live them. Teach them.

  5. kramnotrub says:

    All I can say is poor stewardship. Apparently Lot had the same attitude toward Sodom. 2Pe 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2Pe 2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) God has given us an incredible Christian heritage in America. Will we squander that heritage? Do you tell your children “lower your standard” when they get bad grades? Do you tell your children “lower your standard” when they have sex before marriage? Did the good samaritan “lower his standard” when he saw the man in need? The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for the righteous to do nothing. Rom 13 says to submit to the government. In America, YOU are the government. Will you let this land be ruled by those who kill and destroy? God has given you resources to influence and you use them to discourage!!! Of course, if you have interpreted Scripture to say spilling innocent blood is good and unnatural unions are good, then I understand your position. Isa 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

  6. Ayanfe says:

    I agree with you Mart and Tellmark. You cannot legislate morality any more than you can force Christian values. That would constitute an oxymoron. It is the Holy Spirit that creates the conviction so we are saved by Grace through faith.

    In the final analysis I think, our (Christian) influence is spread not by force or coercion, but by compassionate demonstration and example. I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi that said something like “…like us go forth and spread the gospel, and if necessary use words”.

  7. Your Love Inspires says:

    Psalm 91 comes to mind with the political climate as of late. Many in government claim the “blessings of God” while being deceitful, self centered and self serving, all contrary attributes to what we believe as Christians. We are to walk as “sheep among wolves,” using our decernment to avoid the evils of the day. As tallmark said in his post, I also do not believe morals can be legislated, especially when our “leaders” do not practice what they preach. Let us carry ourselves as “the salt of the earth” and contrast the world and its abominations to God while asking His blessings. This will all one day fade away but our faithfull walk, not selling out to the principalities of darkness for a political affiliation is eternal.

  8. Mart De Haan says:

    kramnotrub, thanks for expressing another perspective. I’m not saying “do nothing.” Pray, do good, seek mercy and justice, offer help to the poor, advocate, write, talk, go, be… just don’t spend the reputation of Christ on a political process that involves attempts to win control of the white house, congress and judiciary by any means and at all costs.

  9. hal.fshr says:

    The issue Mart brings up is vital and unfortunately very complicated. To become a Christian morality movement to inforce many of our views in the political arena can railroad the church away from its Great Commission mission. However, what political values we do hold should have some kind of influence in our current culture. Political activism versus politcal non engagement seem to both be extremes. I appreciate the many blog responders in their diverse opinions on this subject.

  10. BruceC says:

    I spent 27 yrs. of my life in law enforcement; starting in corrections for a few years and ending in police work. Seen the vitims and the guilty and felt bad for both. I love my country and in this dark world it stands like beacon yet; even though it too has many disturbing faults. There has never been or shall there ever be a perfect nation wrought by the hands of men. That is reserved for Christ alone. But in my heart I believe that many blessings of God are being withheld because on the day I type this thousands of defenseless babies will be offered up on the altar of selfishness and conveinence. To me abortion is the litmus test of a nation’s direction. All other issues pale in the face of abortion. I try to see it from God’s perspective and from His Word and it makes me fear for my nation. It may be honorable to help free others living under tyranny, but when God’s little priceless gifts are denied their right to live at the same time then hypocrisy sits in authority. Sorry for the rant; but abortion just isn’t talked about much anymore.

  11. 1000mike says:

    Good Morning to Everyone! I am glad to be here.

    I Agree with tallmark when he says “I don’t believe you can legislate morals. Live them. Teach them.” And I agree with Your Love Inspires when they said”… especially when our “leaders” do not practice what they preach. Let us carry ourselves as “the salt of the earth” and contrast the world and its abominations to God while asking His blessings. This will all one day fade away but our faithfull walk, not selling out to the principalities of darkness….” BUT GOD IS still in Control & HE is still on the throne—not us. “…for my ways are not your ways & my thoughts are not your thoughts…” As the eagle is to the fieldmouse so are GODS thoughts and plans to us…. From our tiny human perspective it sometimes seems that The Sky Is Falling!! The Sky Is Falling!!
    However I think that Ayanfe Has the right idea here “It is the Holy Spirit that creates the conviction so we are saved by Grace through faith.
    In the final analysis I think, our (Christian) influence is spread not by force or coercion, but by compassionate demonstration and example. I believe it was St. Francis of Assisi that said something like “…like us go forth and spread the gospel, and if necessary use words”.

    I believe that just as we were brought to Christ one person at a time our Actions and our lifestyles and our Christian Values must be shining examples as we try to be the best stewards of what GOD has given us. Individually we were called to GOD, Individually we meet HIM when we die; Individually we are responsible to HIM. Therefore let us act as HE though the HOLY SPIRIT would have us act. It is a sorry messed up world—but we knew that it would be so from the Fall in The Garden Of Eden, so why so shocked now my friends? Walk the Talk, live out Gods dream in your life, and vote your conscience for the best candidate you can get.

  12. dineenmiller says:

    In reading this I sensed a deeper meaning. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I identified something I’ve believed for a while. As Christians we must be about what we are for, not what we are against. Christ’s ministry was his love and service to mankind. His great sacrifice.

    I’m married to an atheist (my ministry is to the unequally yoked). I know full well what it means to keep peace. I’ve had to walk carefully and be very conscious of the Jesus I show to my dear husband. 2 Cor. 2:14-16 talks about being the aroma of Christ. That’s our greatest strength, right there.

  13. SULLIVANCLAN says:

    History, both biblical and secular, shows that it does not require that leaders are godly in order for God to do His work through Him, which is what brownsfan1642 says and what Mart is saying when he says “just don’t spend the reputation of Christ on a politial process…” I believe our responsibilities as children of God is to extend the same grace and mercy God has shown us to all the people in our lives. All of the rest just isn’t in our job descriptions – leave that to God. One rhetorical question: If we prayed for the leaders that we have in this country as intensely as we condemn them for their stances, what would be the effect on our country?

  14. daisymarygoldr says:

    Sorry Mart, politics is another one of those things that causes my womanly-mind to draw a mute blank:( although it was delightfully interesting to read your passionate views regarding “morals” in politics and government.

    Neither Moses nor his people were able to bear the burden of the Mosaic laws which included the 10 commandments (Acts 15:10). God in Christ fulfilled its every requirement to give us the perfect law of LOVE that sets us free (James 1:25).

    “And this commandment we have heard from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). It did not judge those it affected, but provided mercy…this law was the life of Jesus Christ our Head and today the same should be the life of his Body- the Church.

    So whatever we say or whatever we do (includes politics/voting to elect), remember that we will be judged by the law that sets us free (James 2:12)!

  15. poohpity says:

    I really chuckle at not only the rhetoric of the politicians but of so called Christians. A lot of talk but no action on both fronts. While we vote because one calls themselves a Christian but we do not do any research into the background of their platform. At times I sense the ostrich is our model we put our head in the sand and just sit by while the world goes on around us. Well maybe not because there are numerous complaints flying all around. This may sound cynical but I believe it is factual.

    God told us do not do this and we do it, all of us sin. Christ died because all of us sin and will always sin but we spend so much time looking at other peoples sin we are unable to see our own. Yes we have forgiveness and eternal life but we do not want to get dirty by serving each other. We look at the people standing on the road side asking for help and say they need to get a job and go to financial counseling before we will help, that is not biblical. What if that person standing on the roadside is Jesus?

    It would be nice if we had someone running for office that had the interests of the people in mind rather than someone who is being swayed by their biggest financial backer and that also seems to be how churches are run today too. I am open to feed back on my thoughts.

  16. illumna says:

    I can understand most of the comments people are offering here but I don’t agree with many of them because I believe their premise is wrong. Your premise is that, for example, Sodom fell to their sins even with the “laws” they had. Thus we cannot legislate morality anyway.

    That sounds fair enough but let’s look at it differently. The Bible only tells us that Sodom fell but it doesn’t describe how they got there; all we know is that they gave themselves over to sin–possibly due to passivity amongst the people. Maybe after 200 years the state of Sodom just became apathetic to those sins, and instead of upholding God’s laws by use of their government, they let people do as they wish. Because of course they would live as the salt of the earth. Possibly, everything became watered down after that and the next generation was destroyed because the government didn’t set a precedence of moral standards against God’s HOLY law.

    I’ll be more blunt and re-quote what I am hearing, “We will allow our government, to which we’re responsible for as a people, to allow bestiality, homosexuality, abortion, bigamy, etc, to occur, and expect our children not to suffer because of it. Heck, we don’t want to offend anyone with God’s standards.

    God gives us wisdom. We should not remove the stop signs from our roads just because people aren’t going to stop for them anyway.

    Just a last note, I would rather have the Ten Commandments as the law of the land than the Islamic Sharia law which is probably to come anyway due to public apathy.

  17. daisymarygoldr says:

    illumna, Your zeal to uphold God’s laws is understandable. In saying “We will allow our government, to which we’re responsible for as a people, to allow bestiality, homosexuality, abortion, bigamy, etc…” you have overlooked the 3 main commandments which Jesus redefined as God’s standards:
    1. Everyone who hates or gets angry or calls his brother a fool is guilty of murder
    2. Every man/woman who looks at a woman/man or with lust has already committed adultery with her/him in his/her heart.
    3. Everyone is our neighbor including our enemies.
    According to the above, we must admit and acknowledge that there is none good because all have sinned and continue to sin. Therefore, it was possible for God alone(not the people of Sodom or US) to fulfill the attributes of His own Holiness.

    In insisting “I would rather have the Ten Commandments as the law…” one is-
    1. Rejecting Christ’s complete work on the cross.
    2. Rejecting the liberty in Christ by choosing to live under the bondage of the Law.

    You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace (Gal 5:4).

    No offence meant here but simply justifying my stand for the perfect Law of ‘love, grace and mercy’ in Christ which is above every other law even the Islamic whatever(sorry:(

  18. poohpity says:

    I think that Sodom was destroyed before the law was even given. I think their destruction was due to the fact that they had no belief in God which is what the end result of all humanity will be because of their lack of belief.

    I believe what is being said here is that how can we hold others to laws they have no knowledge about nor any desire to know them. Let us be in a position to give them the desire to know a gracious, just and loving God by our actions and not our judgment. I would rather be in the US than any other country but I find the faith of believers in other countries stronger because He is all they have to depend on, under their oppressive dictators. I find that the apathy comes because one looses hope or condemns and takes for granted the freedom we are allowed.

  19. Elaa says:

    The need for politicians to ‘legalize’ religion – as it were – is because people are unwilling to accept responsibility for their lives. I think people will feel more comfortable telling their children it’s against the law to have premarital sex, rather than tell them it’s unscriptural.

    I say frequently that when I was growing up, the fear of my mother was the beginning of wisdom, because a) God I could not feel His immediate discipline, and b) God could manifest Grace and show mercy (even though my mother did so also occasionally.)

    But listen around, what do you hear? People want the educational system, Sunday school teachers, Pastors and now politicians to be responsible for how their lives and/or their children’s lives turn out.

    But we know how human beings can have a phobia for legal compliance. Yes, this is shaky grounds.

  20. lilu1314h says:

    I’ll ask God b4 cast out the vote, to choose the person that He has put in my heart. Continue to pray that God will give wisdom to His chosen person to rule the country according to His plan.

    What’s the difference a Christian can make in the country is – Christian can pray for “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”

    God bless.

  21. sjd says:

    No we would not suddenly become a moral nation. I agree we can not legislate morality. But I can not help but believe that Satan is enjoying seeing the law removed from public places, seeing the law removed from prominence even among our churches, that he would be overjoyed with Christians not wanting to see Christ like values continue to be promoted at every level of life. Would it be the loving thing to do, to not express God’s moral law? It seems that when ancient Israel had a strong leader who followed the LORD with all his heart, this was a positive thing. I realize we are not a theocracy, but to advocate not promoting Godly direction in our government seems wrong.
    Keeping God’s law was never meant to be the way to salvation. God’s moral law has never changed. It still stands. God’s character has not changed. We are not promoting our thoughts on judgement, but rather God’s. And we are clearly told in Scripture that we are to share this with others. To tell someone they need a cure for something and not explain to them what they need to be cured of, seems ridiculous, and they would not see their need for the cure. I do agree that government is not ultimately responsible for this declaration. God’s people, the Church, are/is responsible. We are the minister’s of reconciliation. I respect your thoughts Mart, and do see some merit in your position, even as I continue to write.

    I will need more time to process some of these thoughts. But, frankly, I do not see where removing the Law from prominence could ever be good, when I consider some of the purposes of the law as taught by Paul:

    Romans 3:19-20 (NASB95)
    19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;
    20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

    Romans 7:7 (NASB95)
    7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”

    Galatians 3:24 (NASB77)
    24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

  22. Mart De Haan says:

    sjd, I feel the weight of what you are saying. My problem is that I can’t see how, by politicizing a few select moral laws, we are doing justice to the Law of God. Has the political process helped to reinforce the credibility and compassion of the church on either “the right” or “the left”? Aren’t the select laws that are being built into party agenda already written on the heart? What about the many other laws of pride, greed, envy, materialism, covenant breaking etc?

  23. 1000mike says:

    Hello Again:
    WOW! Folks please please remember how Jesus taught strongest was NOT JUST by Words which have SO very many “Extra” baggage–BUT INSTEAD JESUS LED by Example.
    Its True ACTIONS do speak louder than words!!!
    I hope thay we, as Christians do not get sucked into the “debate with words”. I strongly believe that words are very slippery things…one day they mean one thing IN THAT CONTEXT and the next day the exact same words IN A DIFFERENT CONTEXT mean something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT!
    I know “For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of GOD.” BUT I strongly feel that is is our duty as Christians to TRY to “Walk the Talk>” :):)

  24. pansy919 says:

    I agree with Mark and from looking at and hearing all the candidates, I am waiting on the Lord to tell me who He needs in there at this time in History. It may not be the person that I would pick, but God knows what need to happen next in this world to accomplish His will for the return of Christ Jesus our Lord.

  25. abqbishop says:

    I think we are largely going to get who God thinks we deserve according to His will at this time and possibly according to the consequences of our sin over the last 4 years. Many times in the Old Testament the Israelites wanted a king, and many times they got kings that ended up being borderline if not full-blown crimminals! Be careful what you wish and pray for.

  26. Ted M. Gossard says:

    I so much agree with your point here, Mart. Way too much weight is put on politics and our government and nation by Christians. But the answer is not to retreat and discount it. Not at all! It has its place, and like you say, we must see it for what it is.

    As for me, I guess I see problems idealistically from the kingdom of God in Jesus, with both candidates now. And no doubt this is subjective to how each of us work through the same values we have as Christians. I don’t see voting either way as a slam-dunk and I think there can be good arguments on either side. I know how I’d vote now, and how I’m leaning and will probably end up voting in November. But I hold it with both some idealism as to what I think God calls govt to as well as realism.

  27. DanEdwin says:

    Because believers in Jesus Christ are the church, and because we are also the citizens of our democracy (the state), we see there is no separation between the church and the state. The members of the church as the people of our democracy are also the state. The leaders or administration of any particular religious institution or denomination should have no controlling influence over the members of the church as to how we fulfill our part in matters of state. As responsible citizens, the members in Christ should arise and stand up for what is right, to do our part in bringing the Kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Are we loving our neighbor and country if we sit back and let the world go to hell? Please forgive my lack of grace for words. Take care, and may God bless.

  28. dianeric says:

    Thank you Mark C!! First let me say that we are Blessed to live in a nation with the rights that we have. Those rights, though, are being eroded……by special interest groups, which, Jimmy Carter warned Mr. Reagan about as their Presidential transition took place.
    This year, I am troubled as to whom I will vote for. Both parties want the two rewards: Power and Money! Both parties do have evil tendencies: Love of Money (Capitalism/Big Oil/big business), dare I say Republicans? Eventually, the dismantling (jobs to other nations……it just happens to be expensive to live here!) of the middle class will make this nation crumble.
    Allow anyone to do anything at anytime, even if it means to squash the right to free speech of others (Homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle; ABORTION….
    the murder of God’s creation…….. The fact that this procedure exists has taken away the blessedness of life, and/or, the respect of it. I shudder to think of the judgement of individuals, or nations, that support this), the person that supports the right to choose will have to answer for this belief; I may be judged harshly because I do not act like an advocate (radical, or, otherwise)for the unborn; the sheer number of abortions that have been “legally” performed indicate the procedure is a form of birth control. Dare I say Democrats?
    A conservative party may serve to prevent further liberalization of existing laws. A liberal party WILL attempt liberalize further. I DO have to vote for a candidate that would be the lesser of two evils! I get frustrated by my intensity in such matters, which always leads to the thought of doing nothing politically because God is in control and prayer changes things! I try to make this less of a stress point in my life by remembering the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV, Matt. 22:37-40). This is tough, because more times than not, when I openly express support for God in a conversation regarding our national situation, I can expect that there is a good chance of having to deal with a closed mind. We truly do need to lead by example and love the person and hate the sin.
    That being said, I cannot accept being TOLD that homosexuality is a legitimate alternative lifestyle and should (possibly) be honored in the public schools AND taught to my children. NOT!! I have the right, verbally and morally, to disagree and should have the right to state exactly how I feel regardless of “polictal correctness”. As an example: homosexuals have changed the English language by giving a new, if not priortoral meaning to “gay”. It use to mean happy, playful……… As a result, my free speech has been effected. How? If I describe a homosexual specifically as a “q….”, would this disortation be allowed in this forum?
    Neither party will truly do anything to help the majority of voters in this nation. If there were someone that would, why has there been NO Legislation that has placed controls on Big Oil, or, amended the financial LAWs that mandate corporations to make as much profit as possible at all times?. I would not expect Mr. McCane to do so. If Mr. Obama is such a people person, then why didn’t he? Ron Paul may be right. How much more can the economic balloon take?
    Politically, I think the only answer is term limits, even for those that have done some good. Most are out of touch with the true needs of the majority of the American public. Have you ever researched the retirement package for the US Legislative Branch?
    I struggle continually, but remain Blessed…..
    God Bless!

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