Tomorrow is the day. Election Day. It’s time to vote. Although many of us may have already voted, I thought it was still appropriate to rerun this post I wrote two years ago before the presidential election. My goal is not to tell you who to vote for, but simply to dig into God’s Word to find some spiritual principles to guide our decisions. Yes, God wants to be God in every area of our lives, including politics.
So, what does the Bible say about voting, government, and the Christian? Honestly, I couldn’t go straight to any chapter and verse, so I did a little digging into Scripture. Although the Bible doesn’t say anything directly about a Christian voting for government leaders, I did find some solid principles we can apply to the responsibility of the Christian voter.
God establishes all rulers and governments
First, let’s take a quick step back and look at God’s intent for government. God establishes all rulers and government (Romans 13:1). God’s original purpose for all human authorities is the good of the people they govern (Romans 13:4). Of course, the best “good” for us is God’s good for us. In a perfect world, as God’s representative, a good human leader would be one that reflects God’s character, principles, and purposes in his or her governance.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world warped by sin. Many leaders are in it for themselves. Sometimes leaders even purposefully seek to harm those they govern. (God has a lot to say about this, but that will have to wait for another post.) So, how do we decide who to vote for? The following three principles can guide our decisions.
Three Helpful Guidelines for the Christian Voter
- Vote for the man or woman who will seek to further God’s will on earth – In Matthew 6:10, Jesus directed His followers to pray for God’s will to be “done on earth as it is in heaven.” No one who follows Jesus should knowingly vote for anyone who stands for values, actions, or goals that directly oppose God’s will. In fact, we should cast our vote for someone who has clearly stated goals and activities that align with God’s will.
- Vote for the man or woman who will work to secure religious freedom in our country – In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul told Timothy to pray for those in authority in order that Christians “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Christians must vote for leaders who will purposefully provide a government framework that allows Christians to openly live out the tenets of our faith.
- Vote for the man or woman who displays godly character and values – It’s easy to talk a “godly game.” People can say anything they think the voter wants to hear. The proof is in their behavior. The candidate doesn’t even have to be a Christ-follower to have “godly” character. And on the flip side, the candidate can claim to be a Christian but not display godly character. The Bible tells us that God has written His law on the hearts of all people because they know right from wrong and instinctively keep God’s commands (Romans 2:14-15). Leaders who consistently and flagrantly behave in ways contrary to God’s character show themselves to be rebellious toward God. Again, it’s not enough to accept what a candidate says. We must look at their behavior, including the way they treat other people.
Godly leadership characteristics
What should godly character and values look like for a leader? Considering the principles above, I think it’s appropriate to apply the qualifications God gives us for church leaders to the realm of government. The following list was compiled from three passages which give us qualifications for church deacons, elders, and overseers. (See 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:6-11, and Acts 6:3.)
- Above reproach
- Not a drunkard
- Not quarrelsome
- Not greedy
- Manages family well
- Holds to godly truth and values
- Not overbearing
- Not quick-tempered
- Not a “mere talker”
- Full of wisdom (See my post “8 Characteristics of Godly Wisdom”)
How does your candidate measure up to this list of godly characteristics? Can you apply the 3 principles above and in good conscience vote for the candidate you’ve been supporting?