How Should a Christian Vote?

It’s election season and, yet again, the fervor is pitched.

I received this email from an acquaintance last week:

Dear Pastor,

We are in one of the most critical times of US history. The outcome of the mid-term elections will determine the path our country will follow. We are standing on a knife's edge. This is not a battle between Democrat and Republican, it is a spiritual battle between good and evil. The stakes are high. Our lives, our children's lives and our grandchildren's lives stand in the balance. We as a church need to stand in the gap and intercede…

The Lord uses His people to work His will. Now is not the time to be complacent.

Pitched indeed. “One of the most critical times of US history?” “We are standing on a knife’s edge?” “This…is a spiritual battle between good and evil?” Oh my.

I was grateful that this email did not draw a direct line between which party was good and which was evil, but, based on my Facebook and Twitter feed, there are many who wouldn’t hesitate to go one step further and draw those lines.

Some Christians say, “Republicans are anti-Christian. Anyone who understands what Jesus’ central call to ‘love your neighbor’ means must vote Democrat. It’s the only party that even pretends to care for the poor, for those who are discriminated against, and for the alien.”

Other Christians say, “Democrats are anti-Christian. Anyone who understands what Jesus’ central call to ‘love your neighbor’ means must vote Republican. It’s the only party that even pretends to care for the unborn and that protects religious freedom.”

If we frame any election in such language, we are in dangerous ground. We have too closely equated earthly and broken systems with the Kingdom of God.

Friends, before you vote, let me offer some advice:

1)      Both parties get it wrong. Neither party has a claim to the perfect embodiment of a Christian ethic. Both have blind spots.

2)      No one issue ought to determine how our vote is cast across the board.

3)      That said, some issues are more important than others. One issue doesn’t determine my vote, but I do care more about where my senator sits on life issues than on issues concerning education. That, of course, isn’t to say I don’t care about education. But they are not of equal ethical importance.

4)      Each office has different positions and values that are more significant to it. The position my local council member has on zoning is more important than her position on immigration. The position my state senator has on education is more important than his position on tariffs.

5)      Character matters. I would rather vote for someone who has great integrity than someone whose positions line up exactly with mine but is morally bankrupt.

6)      Educate yourself. As much as you’re able, spend some time informing yourself about the candidates. With some minor digging, I’ve discovered a candidate who had a domestic violence charge against him, another candidate who had been disciplined for sexual harassment in the workplace, and candidates whose personal platform was significantly different than their party’s platform (for better or worse).

7)      Remember your vote holds disproportionate weight in local elections. Pay as much attention, if not more, to your local elections. Your vote has more impact here. Don’t hesitate to let others know about your research (you’re welcome to send me a personal request for what I’ve discovered, if that might be helpful to you).

8)      Vote. It’s a great responsibility and opportunity we have to participate in this messy democratic process. It’s not ultimate by any stretch, but it’s important.

9)      Pray. The nations are in the hand of our Holy God. And those from every nation will bow their knee one day. May that day come and come soon. And may his righteousness be reflected in every law that is passed and every person that is elected.

Above all, friends, remember who is King. We are residents of an alien Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. And Jesus sits on the throne. We are not first citizens of America, but we are first citizens of heaven.

Yes, let us be thoughtful in how we vote. Yes, let us serve in politics. Yes, let us be engaged in politics. But may it never be an end in and of itself. May all we do indicate clearly to the world that we bow our knee to one King and we trust in one Kingdom. And so, may we bless this nation which we are so blessed to live in, but even more, may we bless the God of all nations.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash