In a “normal” election year, it can be hard for Christians to know how to vote. But particularly this year, it has been especially hard for Christians to find their bearings as this election year has been the most interesting election ever in the history of our country. And the frank truth is that we often don’t equip the people in our churches on how they should be voting as Christians.
Well, I hope I can help. I will describe how every Christian should vote. And while tempting as it might be to just come out and pick a candidate or an issue, instead, I will tell you the principles that every Christian should take with them into the voting booth as they cast their vote for President of the United States.
Vote For Citizens
In some ways, Christians have a unique place in our society, because we have dual-citizenship. We are commanded to be “aliens and strangers” in this world because our “citizenship is in heaven” (I Peter 2:11, Philippians 3:20).
However, at the same time, we are nevertheless citizens of the towns, states and country in which we reside. Voting for Citizens means we should not simply vote for what we think is best for people in the Church, but rather as a citizen of Newark, or New Jersey or the United States. So, your vote needs to be an informed vote of the various issues being faced by your town, state or country.
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
Vote With Peace
Have we lost all civility during election season? Everything you read on social media and the news is so polemical and divisive. Let’s face it, no one has ever said, “Your rant in the comments on my post were so compelling that I have decided to switch sides.” There is a local hamburger joint by my office that has a Trump burger and a Hillary burger. And when you walk in the store, there is a running tally between which has been ordered more. Who cares if you like muenster cheese, how can you vote for her? I don’t care if you don’t like mustard, you can’t vote for him!
It is nearly impossible to find a conversation that involves both sides of the aisle that is peaceful and uplifting. People get “unfriended”, others avoid social media altogether. I choose to actively engage with the argument on both sides to keep me honest. I want to humanize – not demonize – those with whom I disagree. As Christians, we should remind ourselves to be peaceable and respectful and rise above the rhetoric of rabble-rousing.
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” ~ Titus 3:1-2
Vote With Knowledge
You should know where each candidate stands on a myriad of issues, not just the one you care about. Too many Christians have become One-Issue Voters and once they encounter a candidate who doesn’t agree with them on the hot-button issue, then they stop listening and stop learning. If you don’t inform yourself, then you’ll become the type of person who gets swayed by taglines in facebook posts. You need to develop your own filter so you can evaluate the things you hear in debates and posts.
Perhaps your One-Issue is abortion or same-sex marriage or the economy or foreign policy. I know of a woman whose One-Issue is stem cell research. The fundamental problem with being a One-Issue Voter is your president doesn’t just deal with that one issue. If you vote for a candidate because of their stance on marriage, then you’re also voting for their policies on the economy, health care and the environment.
Of course, I would never ask you to ignore the issues you feel strongly about. In fact, I would encourage you to continue to feel passionate about them, but you must also learn about the other issues facing the country. Don’t vote ignorantly, vote informed. So, when you cast your vote, understand how your vote is cast along the broad spectrum of issues, not just one.
Vote For Others
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Throughout Scripture, we are called to be advocates for those who have no advocate. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless, to stand up for those who have no standing. Cast your vote for the benefit of others.
Whether you advocate for the unborn, those in poverty or refugees and immigrants … or all of them. There is so much injustice in the world. There are an estimated 45.8 million slaves in the world & 4 billion people worldwide live outside the protection of the law. We cannot believe that the most important issue in this election is who will give me the biggest tax break or the best health plan.
The very foundation of our faith is built upon Christ’s sacrifice. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Cor 8:9) In the same way, our vote should be one that is willing to sacrifice our own comforts for that of others.
Vote With Prayer
Whether you vote for Trump or Hillary, one of them will be the leader of our country. And regardless of how you feel about them, you are called to pray for them.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” ~ I Timothy 2:1-3
Pray about who to vote for. Pray about the different issues. Pray for peace among the parties. Pray for those who need a voice. Pray for whoever wins, regardless of who wins!
In fact, if you haven’t been praying for the person or party with which you disagree, then let the first time you open your mouth be in prayer to God, not in criticism to others.
Vote With(out) Hope
The first election I remember was in 1984. Reagan won 49 of 50 states and garnered 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13. The country seemed full of happiness and unity. Now, it seems full of hate and division.
But, as Christians, we need to Vote Without Hope. Don’t place your hope in any one person. Ultimately, whoever wins will not deliver on every promise. Neither candidate will be able to accomplish everything they intend. And in four years, we will probably be using the rhetoric of division once again to nominate new presidential candidates.
However, we can Vote WITH Hope. That is because we believe in a God who is sovereign over the President and Congress and supreme over the Supreme Court. Romans 13:1 tells us “there is no authority except that which God has established.” Take heart! Because we have the promise that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:1).