How do we, as followers of Christ, vote in a way that is consistent with our faith?
Some believe the answer is to cast our ballot in favor of candidates who will try to make the morality of the Bible the law of the land. Others believe the most Christlike vote is the one that grants people with opposing viewpoints the civil rights we want for ourselves.
In either case, we are faced with an important question: Do the clothes of biblical morality fit the frame of American constitutional government?
As we move together into a season of national elections, let’s think again about how much hope we’re putting into the process itself. Free elections may be the best civil instrument we have for influencing social policy. But will political success give us the spiritual results we’re looking for? Let’s use the following self-test to help us think through the issues:
1. The first of the Ten Commandments (a) encourages religious freedom, (b) declares it illegal to believe in any god other than the God of the Bible.
2. Under the national law of Israel, adultery, homosexual acts, cursing a parent, and advocating another religion were (a) tolerable, (b) strongly discouraged, (c) to be punished by death.
3. The history of the Bible shows that spiritual conversions are more likely to occur (a) within a well-ordered, prosperous nation, (b) within a society marked by social disruption and economic distress.
4. The Scriptures urge followers of Christ (a) to honor and pray for “Caesar” even though Caesar declared himself a god, (b) to be unconcerned about what a government leader does.
5. The emphasis of the (a) Old Testament, (b) New Testament, (c) the entire Bible, is to create a national culture.
6. Christ would be most critical of those who (a) have had an abortion, (b) have committed homosexual acts, (c) have committed heterosexual adultery, (d) have a condemning heart toward those who hurt themselves and others by wrong choices.
7. We are called to be like Christ who (a) in His earthly life was known as the friend of sinners, (b) in His glory will judge and condemn those who have not believed in Him.
8. God honors (a) those who view themselves as honest, decent, law-abiding citizens, (b) those who are broken by their own moral failures.
9. Christ was loved more by (a) Bible-quoting religious leaders, (b) public sinners.
10. The cause of Christ will be advanced most effectively by (a) the election of the most moral candidates, (b) healthy churches that are more interested in loving lawbreakers than in passing laws.
1. (b) The first law forbids the worship of all other gods except the God of the Bible (Exodus 20:3); 2. (c) Capital punishment was required for these actions (Leviticus 20:10,13; Exodus 21:17; Deuteronomy 13:1-11); 3. (b) Historically, people have turned to God in difficult times that bring them to the end of themselves (Judges 10:6-16; Psalm 78:34); 4. (a) In addition to Peter, who made it church strategy to show respect for a pagan Caesar (1 Peter 2:14), Paul urged readers to pray for those who have authority over them (1 Timothy 2:1-2); 5. (a) While the emphasis of the New Testament is to create a “moral and spiritual culture” within the wider culture, the emphasis of Mosaic law is to create a national culture; 6. (d) While Jesus never condoned sin, He made it clear that He did not come to condemn but to rescue (John 3:17); 7. (a) We have been called to pattern ourselves after the king in His earthly life (John 13:14); 8. (b) One of the most basic foundations of the Scriptures is that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in Jesus’ parable of the religious man and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14); 9. (b) Ironically, it is the pattern of Jesus’ life that He was hated the most by religious legalists (Pharisees), and that He was loved by known sinners who came to Him for forgiveness; 10. (b) Healthy churches give us a chance to fulfill our Lord’s words when He said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
We are indebted to men and women who have given their lives to government service. Some deserve to be counted among the Josephs, Daniels, and Esthers of God. I’m also thankful to be living in a country that allows its citizens to participate in government through free elections.
At the same time, I hope this self-test will help us keep our political interests in perspective. Even though our forefathers drafted our Constitution from a Judeo-Christian perspective, our nation is now made up of people from many different religious and cultural backgrounds. Because of this pluralism, we need to temper our political ambitions with respect for those who disagree with us.
In a democracy, public policy can rise no higher than the moral consensus of the voting public. Let’s remember that the laws of Moses failed to make Israel a moral nation. Our best strategy is to demonstrate Christ’s love to our neighbors, our government, and our world.
Father, we want our thoughts to be shaped by Your thoughts. Where we are wrong, please give us understanding. Where we are right, please give us courage. And as we move toward the election of local and national leaders, help us to show that we are Your people, that we are first of all citizens of heaven, and that we put far more confidence in You than in temporary political success.