There is big diversity among Christians about the election this Tuesday. Some say they are voting for President Obama while others say they are voting for Mitt Romney. Others boldly say they are voting for Ron Paul or some other third party candidate.
Some Christians are just negative. They don’t like Obama and the Democratic positions in favor of abortion on demand and same-sex marriage, and they argue about the morality of borrowing huge amounts of money to expand government programs. Some Christians are negative about Romney, mostly because he isn’t just an ignorant member of a cult, but he was a leader in his local Mormon church at least ten years. These Christians don’t want to offer any validation to Mormonism as a branch of Christianity.
The final group of negative Christians say they are writing in a candidate to make a statement and hope the whole thing crashes, or they say they are not voting at all.
Does the Bible have any help about how to think about the election? Yes! Let me summarize the Bible’s teaching about government, and suggest several ideas on how to apply it to our current situation.
All Christians are duel citizens. Philippians 3:20 says that our citizenship is in heaven. That must always be our highest priority. Yet, Paul made use of his Roman citizenship several times in the book of Acts (16:36-39; 21:39; 22:25-29). Jesus says we are in the world, but not of the world. Like salt and light, Christians are to be a distinct influence on the world around us (John 17:15, 16; Matthew 5:13-16).
How do we live out our duel citizenship? First, always remember that God is sovereign, even over politicians (Proverbs 16:1; 21:1; Acts 17:26, 27; Psalm 75:6, 7). But God’s purposes are complex, not simplistic. In other words, don’t look at one bad thing affected by Superstorm Sandy this past week, and then assume you figured out what God was up to! It is best to say God was doing 10,000 things when he allowed Sandy to strike the northeast section of our nation.
The same will be true when he allows the election to turn out like it will. He may be judging some of us, rewarding some of us, testing some of us, bringing justice to some of us, and many more things all at the same time.
Our job is to trust God and rest in his wise plans. If you knew all that God will be up to in the election results, you would rejoice in his wisdom, power, faithfulness, justice, goodness, and love. You would not want to change a thing!
To see what the Bible says about human governments, find Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-3, and 1 Peter 2:13-17. That is about it. While there is much in those sections, I can summarize your responsibilities in a few words: submit, honor, pay your taxes (even if they go up!), and pray. God ultimately sets up the rulers and takes them down. He does it to promote the justice and welfare of sinful people all over the world. Treat, therefore, any ruler respectfully (even in your heart attitudes), because God put them there.
What is interesting is that these same Scriptures have applied to every Christian in every time and place until now. Some preachers Americanize these instructions and assume things that might not be there. These words were originally given in the context of the Roman Empire under the evil, satanic, Caesar Nero, who eventually executed both Paul and Peter.
How should our brothers and sisters in communist China apply the Bible’s teaching? How about those in Russia under Putin, or in the Middle East under Islamic Sharia Law, or under corrupt dictators in Africa? They must submit, honor, pay taxes, and pray!
We live in a Representative Republic, and God sovereignly put us here. We can vote for those who govern us. We can make a salt and light difference this Tuesday. Our Constitution begins, “We the people...,” not with some dictator enforcing his or her will upon us.
The Founders of our country were aware of the corruption of man and created a separation of powers within our government, with checks, balances, and accountability. But our system of government will only function properly if our people are moral. They must know the difference between right and wrong.
Historians differ widely on how Christian the Founders of our nation were. Some seem to think they were almost Bible characters, while others think they were all deists. Based on their church attendance and stated theological beliefs, I think they were a mixed group. We’ll meet some of them in heaven, but others will not be there.
Historians, on the other hand, almost unanimously agree that the Founders assumed the Bible’s standards of morality were for everyone. Jefferson may have cut out the miracles from his Bible, but he extolled Jesus’ moral teachings, for example.
Over the past seventy-five years or so, our country has tried to keep the morality of the Bible, without the foundation of God and the Bible. This has eventually crumbled into morals like “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do,” things being right or wrong as long as they don’t harm anyone else, or whatever works for most people.
Our goal as Christians is getting to the hearts of the people of our land, not to put scotch tape around the crumbling shell of morality. Martin Luther King, Jr., however, made some wise statements. He said, “While it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated,” and that though laws can’t make you love me, they can keep you from lynching me. That is right.
Plus, establishing right standards is actually a blessing to those around us in society. It is a form of loving our neighbor, by meeting needs they don’t even know that they have.
Here’s the bottom line. Don’t make an idol out of politics, assuming it can do what only God can do. Don’t get too high or low whatever happens Tuesday. God will be on the job Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. His master plan won’t be affected positively or negatively. Do pray--it is commanded of Christians to do. Do vote. God uses your prayers and votes within his big plan. Do be a loving duel-citizen. Do keep smiling, knowing that King Jesus is coming back to fix it all. All wrongs will be righted. All rights will be vindicated.
If you are not a Christian, why not? Even if all of your people get elected for the next fifty years in a row, what will that matter 50,000 years from now? Don’t win the election and lose you soul. Jesus is the forever king that rose from the dead. Repent and trust in him today. Eternity is forever--there is another presidential election scheduled four years from now!