On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, US citizens will go to the polls to exercise their right to vote for a new president. Since the primary two parties in the US are Democratic and Republican, the focus of the election is on Hillary Clinton (Democratic) and Donald Trump (Republican). But there are other nominees such as Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green), Darrell Castle (Constitution), and Evan McMullin (Independent). My objective in this post is to provide basic guidelines for my fellow Christians as they cast their ballots on November 8.
- Make God’s Word your primary voting guide. “Your word is a lamp to [guide] my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 110:105).
- Pray to God for guidance before casting your vote. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him” (Prov. 3:5-6). Pray also for the candidates even the ones whom you do not like. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- Vote for a candidate who upholds Christian principles. For instance, are his/her views regarding the following issues biblical? Religious freedom. Will the candidate hinder you from exercising your faith in Jesus Christ, or will he/she protect your liberty as a Christian. Sanctity of human life. Will the candidate promote abortion, or will he/she fight for the sacredness of life in the womb? Marriage. Will the candidate endorse same-sex marriage, or will he/she uphold the biblical definition of marriage—a union between one man and one woman only? This is just a sample of moral questions we need to ask ourselves as we consider a candidate. As followers of Christ, we must not “give approval to those who practice” what God has declared to be morally evil (Rom. 1:32).
- Vote for a candidate who is able to lead our country with justice. Remember that you are not voting for a pastor but for a president. The candidate might not be exactly on the same page as you are theologically, but if he/she is committed to a fair and righteous judicial system, then you may want to consider voting for this candidate.
- Cast your ballot in good conscience, realizing that you will give an account to God for every decision that you make. Admittedly, it can be challenging to find a candidate who is both gifted in leadership and righteous in character. That’s why, before making a final decision, seek wisdom from God.
- Vote for a candidate who has already demonstrated his/her ability to lead well. Look at the candidate’s track record and ask these questions: What did he/she do to improve our economy, stop crime, and maintain peace and order in our land? Did the candidate abuse his/her political power to serve his/her own interest? Was he/she immoral, corrupt, dishonest, or greedy?
- Recognize that from eternity past God has already ordained our next political leader. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). Ultimately, it is God, not the people, who appoints a leader (Gen. 45:8). We are only God’s instruments in bringing about His eternal plan. Be willing therefore to submit humbly to God’s sovereign will, trusting that His will is always for our good and for His glory.
- If the candidate who wins is immoral, remember that God is able to use even wicked leaders to accomplish His eternal plan (Rom. 13:1-7). Of course, this does not give us permission to vote for bad candidates! However, it should remind us that our greatest hope does not lie with any earthly leader, but with our heavenly Father, who is divinely able to overcome evil for good. Indeed, God in his providence can even use a bad ruler as his “servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4).
- Never forget that God is causing all things—including the upcoming election—to work together for the good of His people, conforming them more fully to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). Whatever the outcome of the election may be, one thing is certain: God will use this election for our sanctification. We are concerned about peace and prosperity, but God is concerned about our piety and his eternal glory.
- Finally, respect those who oppose your political position. Even among Christians, there are varying opinions regarding who should be elected to leadership. So, learn to “agree to disagree,” or better yet, to disagree with kindness. Even if your preferred candidate does not win, you are still to honor the candidate who is elected. You must also obey your new leader, unless he/she instructs you to do something that would require you to disobey God. As Christians, our greatest allegiance is to God. As Scripture exhorts us to do, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
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