Note to readers: This blog is mainly for my congregation. If you have consistently been at my church, you would know that I believe that the change that is needed in our nation is only going to be accomplished through repentance, faith, prayer, and the spread of the Gospel. I have hesitated to even post these things for fear that people will view me as a “political” pastor. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ exclusively. I would never lower the office of elder to the endorsement of a candidate. As a good soldier of Jesus Christ, I refuse to be entangled with the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4.) These articles have been written to help my people think through a minor, yet important, part of their Christian walk.
I have been asked by several people for a Christian approach to voting. Since the Bible does not directly give commands for voting in a Republic, we must dig far deeper to understand the Lord’s mind in this. As an elder, I do not endorse people for public office. However, I am responsible before God to teach people to observe all of His commandments (Matthew 28:19-20.) Jesus Christ is Lord of everything including the voting booth and Washington, D.C. Here I want to offer a few thoughts that inform my voting. I will be expounding much further on each point in my Sunday School class as we discuss a theological framework for all of life.
What is Government?
Before we can ever consider who to vote for, we need to have an understanding of what government is according to God. The Bible does not create a mammoth institution to regulate business, building codes, education, etc. Instead God gives to men the commandment to enforce His Law. Nothing more, nothing less. The biblical view of government is that God has ordained men to enforce His Law (Romans 13:1-7, Genesis 9:6.) As such we should only render to Caesar that which God has declared belongs to Caesar. This is obedience in all areas that God has ordained. God has made allowances in His Law for taxes to be levied in order that His justice might be carried out. God has given to men the duty to execute murderers and exact other punishments. He has spoken on many issues and given directives as to how His Law is to be enforced. However, what the Bible teaches is a far different creature than the mammoth institutions we call government today. In the same vein, the Bible is clear that the government of all mankind rests upon Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all, and we are to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29.)
Human government has only been given by God the power to punish evil and praise good (Romans 13:3.) God has never given to man the authority to create or nullify law. He alone defines what is right and wrong. Government only exists to ensure that those who violate His law are punished. This understanding of government helps to rein in extra-biblical expectations and demands when voting.
What is the basis of law?
This obviously brings us to the next big issue, the basis of law. Where does law come from? Who determines what is right and wrong? James tells us that there is only one Lawgiver (James 4:12.) God alone is the basis of law. Because God is the sole Lawgiver, human governments have only been given the designated authority to enforce God’s Laws. God has given to no one the power or authority to add to or negate from His Law.
This understanding of law has a huge effect on voting. Does this candidate actually believe that the government has the authority to speak to any issue? Does the government have the authority to define marriage? To define life? To define carbon emissions as good or evil? To define torture as good or evil? What is their basis for right and wrong? What is the government’s role in law?
What are the Biblical requirements for a magistrate?
Because human government is people enforcing God’s Law, God has given clear instructions as to who these people are supposed to be.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 2 Samuel 23:3
The one who is to be given the power to enforce God’s Laws must be just. He must follow God’s Law in his own personal life. Also, he must fear God. He must understand Who God is and what God requires of him. He must fear God in order that he might not seek to take power that belongs to God alone.
When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. Deuteronomy 17:14-20
Deuteronomy 17 is perhaps the most detailed passage explaining who should be given the authority to enforce God’s Law. First, we see that God is the One who chooses leaders (Daniel 4:17, Romans 13:1-2.) People must seek God’s mind not polling data, talking points, debates, etc. Secondly, the one chosen should be one of the people of God. We do not want a pagan to be tasked with enforcing God’s Laws. An unconverted man will not rule in the fear of God. Third, the man must not have any self interest. He must not be seeking personal profit from the job. He must serve for God’s glory and the common good. Fourth, he should not be someone who would lead the people away from God’s commands. Fifth, he should be sexually pure. A man that is swayed by sexual appetite will be swayed from the rest of God’s Law as well. Lastly, the man is to be a student of God’s Law. He must study continually what God has declared to be right and what God has declared to be wrong. He must follow God’s Law and not turn aside from what God has commanded.
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. Exodus 18:21-22
In Exodus 18 we read the rulers are to be able men. That is that they are to be qualified and capable of enforcing God’s law. They must fear God. They must be honest. They must not be greedy and hate the idea of using the position for financial gain.
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. Isaiah 3:12
Also, only men are to be in positions of governmental authority. It is a shame to a nation when a woman rules.
Does he love God?
In addition to these things, here are a few more things to consider when voting. First, what is the greatest command? To love God with all your heart. We so often disqualify people from office for sexual immorality and lying. But what about not loving God? Jesus Himself has said that the greatest commandment is to love God. How can someone be qualified for office who breaks the greatest commandment God has ever given? Loving God is a far greater issue than abortion according to Jesus.
Does he love his neighbor?
In the same vein, the second greatest commandment is to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. This speaks directly to abortion, war, poverty, imminent domain, and a host of other issues. How can someone be in favor of the unprovoked murder of his neighbor and yet still love his neighbor? Will they use the power of government to abuse the poor for their own profit? This speaks to many other issues as well, but it especially speaks to his personal ethics. Instead of asking what someone will do with our tax dollars, the better question is how does this person love their neighbor with their own time and money? Are they generous to the poor out of their own time and money? Forget what they will do with your tax dollars, what do they do with their own money? If a man can only love his neighbor with your money, he is someone who does not love his neighbor. This makes him a gross violator of God’s Law and unfit for the authority to enforce God’s Law.
Does he keep his word?
The ninth commandment speaks directly to keeping one’s word. Jesus said our “yes” is to be “yes” and our “no,” “no.” Elected leaders take oaths of office. They swear on God’s Word to uphold the Constitution of the United States. However, many of them campaign on things that are directly contrary to this oath. In other words, they openly declare that they are going to place their hand on God’s Word and lie. Such a man is unfit for public office.
Will they leave law-abiding people alone?
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
We are commanded to pray for those in authority. One of the things we are to pray is that they would leave law-abiding people alone. As Christians we want to serve the Lord in peace. We want our families, finances, businesses, and churches free from government interference. Is this person that is seeking office going to preserve and expand personal liberty? Are they going to limit the government to its God-ordained role and leave law-abiding people alone?
Are they wise?
So often people choose candidates that have worldly appeal, success, wisdom, or experience. However, if you were to study Proverbs most people running for office are called fools by God. Why would we even consider voting for a fool? Is the person wise according to God?
Will voting for them incur the wrath of God?
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 2 Chronicles 19:2
When Jehoshaphat, a God-fearing man, helped Ahab, an ungodly man, achieve his political goals, Jehoshaphat incurred the wrath of God upon himself. Christians should never help the ungodly achieve their political goals. We should never support, endorse, or vote for a politician who by his or her actions hates God.
There are many other things that I take into consideration when I vote. However, these are the most explicitly biblical principles that apply to voting. I know that many people will object to this concept of voting because these biblical principles disqualify almost every major party candidate. However, I am not commanded to vote for a Democrat or a Republican. I am not called to vote for a winner or endorse a candidate. As a servant of Jesus Christ I do not fight for kingdoms of this world (John 18:36.) I am an immigrant in a foreign land (Hebrews 11:13-16.) I am an ambassador for a kingdom that is going to encompass the world. As such, I am called to follow Jesus Christ, preach the Gospel, and teach the nations to obey His commands.