A voting guide for Christians
With all of the claims and counter-claims of politicians, it is easy to become confused on whom to vote for in elections. In voting, we are most often guided by the political party we associate with.
We at Northwestern Media encourage our listeners to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We view the Bible as the final authority for faith and practical living. While we believe that our eternal citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), God has temporarily placed us in countries here on earth and wants us to participate in their affairs. Given these three fundamental positions, we believe Christians are called to vote according to the values of our permanent “country” (heaven) as spelled out in the Bible.
According to some estimates, multiple millions of Christians are not registered to vote and many who are still don’t take advantage of this right. One of the most fundamental values given to us by God in the Bible is that of stewardship—that is, we are to be stewards, or managers, of what God has given us. Being citizens of a constitutional republic which allows citizens to vote for their leaders, we Christians in the United States can exercise stewardship over government by, among other things, voting for our leaders.
The Bible does not tell us who to vote for. Neither do we. However, the Bible does spell out God’s view of government and it gives us values to consider when making voting decisions. We discuss both of these subjects briefly below.
A Biblical View of Government
One section in the Bible (Romans 13:1-7) most clearly and succinctly explains God’s view of government. In this letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians as follows:
- We are to submit to governing authorities—vs. 1. Not to do so means we are rebelling against God and inviting His judgment (vs. 2). That’s not to say there is no room for dissent when we see biblical values such as those outlined below being violated. But in general, we are to submit to government authorities unless they require us to disobey clear instructions from the Bible, in which case we should stand up for what is right no matter what price we have to pay. The Apostle Peter gives similar instructions about submitting to governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17)
- God has “established” government leaders—vs.1. They are literally “servants (ministers) of God” (vs. 4).
- Our leaders are to administer justice, and we have no reason to fear them if we are living correctly (vs. 3).
- A major responsibility of government is to punish “wrongdoers” (vs. 4)
- We are to submit to government authorities not only because they have the power to punish us but also to keep a clear conscience because we are obeying God’s commands (vs. 5).
- We are to pay taxes to allow our political leaders (like pastors) to devote full time to governing (vs. 6)
- We are to honor and respect our leaders (vs. 7).
Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians to offer “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving . . . for everyone—for kings, and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
As we make our voting decisions, we need to keep in mind what God designed government to be and do and the part we are to play in government.
There are far too many political issues for us to discuss here. What we want to focus our attention on are the biblical values that should guide our voting behavior. Christians face the same issues that all citizens in a community face. But if we take our faith seriously, we will approach them differently than others.
Here are some of the biblical values that should help guide us in voting for candidates:
- Sanctity of life. According to Genesis 1 and 2, God is the Creator of all life and uniquely among all creatures He has made humans “in His image.” Throughout the Scriptures God repeatedly places high value on preserving human life. It is clear to those who take the Bible seriously that we are to maintain the sanctity of life in all phases of life, from conception to the final stages of life. Question: Where do political candidates stand on issues that deal with the sanctity of life?
- Stewardship. In Genesis 1 and 2 we read that God created all things and entrusted to people the management of the rest of creation. God is the owner and has appointed us as His managers or stewards. Question: Which political candidates appear best capable of managing God’s creation? But we believe stewardship extends to more than the physical world God has created—it extends to every area of life—our finances, our time, our abilities, the people we lead, etc. Question: Which candidates create an environment for us to exercise personal stewardship in all of life?
- Sanctity of the family. Since we take the first two chapters of Genesis seriously, we believe there is no question that God created one man and one woman to share an intimate, life-long relationship and that He created us as sexual beings with the ability to procreate and told us to have children (multiply). Question: Which political candidates are most likely to uphold the biblically mandated family structure and promote healthy family relationships?
- Protection. It clear from the entire sweep of Scripture that a fundamental purpose of government is to protect its people from threats, both internal and external, to peace and physical safety and well-being. While Jesus told individual Christians to “turn the other cheek”, there are no similar instructions for governments. Leaders who through inaction or misguided actions threaten our safety and security are not fulfilling their biblical mandate. Question: Which political candidates can best protect its citizens from internal and external threats?
- Justice. We believe it is clear from Romans 13 that a fundamental purpose of government is to administer justice. Promoting justice includes, in part, making sure that wrong-doers are restrained and punished, that laws of the land are applied to all citizens equally and fairly, to make sure all citizens have access to legal recourse, etc. Question: Which political candidates hold the greatest promise of administering justice?
- Poor and underprivileged. In the Bible God places a high priority on helping and protecting the most vulnerable members of society—the poor, homeless, immigrants, orphans, the aged, the fatherless and widows. Question: Which political candidates show the greatest willingness to meet the needs of underprivileged, vulnerable members of our society?
- Productivity and industriousness. As a counterbalance to concern for the poor, it is clear from the Bible that God puts a high premium on hard work and being industrious (Genesis 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10). With a few important exceptions (i.e., those who are permanently mentally or physically handicapped), our approach should be to help people struck by adverse circumstances to “get back on their feet”, rather than permanently depending on the government or private individuals and organizations. Question: Which political candidates propose policies to help the poor in time of need yet encourage them to be independent and productive members of society?
- Character. From the selection of Abraham, Moses, Saul and David in the Old Testament to the appointment of church leaders in the New Testament, it is clear that God puts a high value on character. We believe that wise policies and actions flow out of strong character. There are many dimensions of character—honesty, integrity, courage, fairness, humility, compassion, etc. Question: Which candidates display positive character qualities and show an ability to maintain a balance among these qualities, not simply enforce the ones they agree most with?
- Righteousness. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” It is clear from the Bible that leaders of non-theocratic nations (such as ours) should create an atmosphere that is conducive to practicing righteous living. We need leaders who will promote the freedom to believe and practice faith and to express that faith to others without coercion. Question: Which candidates will promote an environment that is conducive to righteous living?
- Glorifying God. The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17 that we should do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God through Him. In short, we Christians are to glorify God, or make Him look good, in our voting just as we are to do in every other area of life—from our jobs to our relationships with our spouses and children, etc. Question: How can we glorify God with our voting behavior?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could find candidates who score an A+ on each of these dimensions? Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and our politicians, like all citizens, share in that “fallenness.” At the very least, we should vote for those candidates who come closest to living up to biblical ideals as expressed above.
Throughout this election season, you will hear us talk about the importance of voting and doing so according to biblical values. But our pledge is to do so in a civil, humble manner. We recognize that even well-informed, well-intentioned Christians disagree on how to apply and interpret biblical values in fulfilling stewardship in government. Above all, we encourage you to pray for the coming election of leaders at all levels of government.
These are the challenges we face:
- To think biblically
- To seek God’s wisdom in choosing which candidates to support
- Then to vote!
To find out where you vote, take a look at the official state websites that will help you find your precinct, polling location, and view sample ballots: