With the US presidential elections only a few days away...
I thought it appropriate to take a few minutes to share some thoughts regarding the Christian's responsibility in the realm of politics. While it is clear to all of us that the Bible says nothing specific about voting, it would be difficult to imagine that, if the New Testament writers had an opportunity to be involved in the selection of the emperor, they would not have cast a vote for one who would increase the hostility toward believers or reduce the freedoms they enjoyed in propagating the Gospel message. Since persecutions ebbed and flowed in the first centuries of the church and the level of persecution directly impacted the believers’ freedom to perform the great commission, the person seated upon the emperor's throne played a huge role in the furtherance of the kingdom.
Today an ideal situation might be that we, as American voters, were presented with two equally godly individuals, where we could simply vote for the policies they promise to uphold. We, of course, do not live in a perfect world and the character of the candidates has been one of the hottest topics in the news, social media and around the kitchen table.
Since it may be difficult for a believer to cast his or her vote for either candidate based upon character, we must look beyond that and determine, first, if we bear a responsibility to vote, and second, what criteria we should look to when making our final decision.
The Bible places a responsibility upon the Christian to be obedient to authority. Paul is perhaps the clearest on the subject when he writes, "There is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." If that is true, then we must concede that the form of government we reside under was designed by God for the age in which we live. Since a democratic government places a responsibility on its citizens to vote, we can conclude that it is not only the right but also the responsibility of the believer to vote his or her conscience. The Bible also explains the purpose of government. It was established not to replace the church in ministering or caring for the needs of the citizens but to provide structure and to protect its citizens. Paul wrote "For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."
How then do we determine whom to vote for?
The first few centuries of the church saw a variety of different Roman emperors. Some were indifferent to the Christian church while others were harsh opponents whose policies restricted the spreading of the Gospel and the safety of the believer. If the first century believer could have chosen, there is little doubt he would have voted for fewer restrictions and more freedoms. Today we are presented with candidates that have done much to call into question their character, and as a result, it may be difficult to vote for either party. Perhaps we need to look at this election from a different standpoint. Rather than focusing upon the character flaws of the candidates, perhaps we should look at the freedoms they will protect or remove as it relates to our responsibilities to perform our Christian duties. If one party shows evidence that these freedoms will be protected, it is my opinion to cast our vote for that candidate. Remember, it is not the government’s responsibility to perform the duty of the Christian or the church.
Ultimately, we must understand that God is on the throne, and He is the one who sets up and pulls down regents. Daniel declared, "The Most High rules the kingdom of men." We know that all things are heading toward the return of Christ who will set up His kingdom where righteousness will reign. Until then we should be praying for our leaders that we might enjoy an environment that allows us the freedom to serve Christ and proclaim the Gospel freely.