Public Square

How Should Christians Think about Election Day?

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How should Christians think about election day and political elections in general?

Citizenship in a free country like the United States is a great blessing from God. Our system of self-government assures everyone a voice in the affairs of the nation.

As Christians, our participation in this great American experiment enables us to bring a biblical influence to our culture. While this is not a silver bullet that will fix all the ills of our society, it is a part of being salt and light in the part of the world where we live. Our call to serve our communities in this way is just as important to God as the work we do in our churches, our families, and our vocations.

Yet in the last presidential election less than 50 percent of evangelicals voted, and I fear that in tomorrow’s elections that percentage will be much less.

The Need for Christians to Vote

The great evangelist Charles Finney wrote in 1835 about the need for Christians to vote:

God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as part of their duty to God…. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.

Interestingly, Mark Twain, who was not a Christian, wrote this in a satirical article published in 1905:

A Christian’s first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them…. If Christians should vote their duty to God at the polls, they should carry every election, and do it with ease.

In the same article Twain also writes,

If Christians could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country…

In her article entitled 3 Reasons You Should Care About Election Day, Anne Chamberlin writes that as Christians, “…we know that the purpose of government is not to save souls, but to “punish those who do evil and praise those who do good”” (1 Pet. 2:14).

She goes on to say that, “There is no one king in America. You and I are kings, for we hire and fire our elected representatives.”

From this Chamberlin concludes:

We can serve (our country and our neighbors) by exercising the gift of self-rule wisely, shrewdly. As Christ’s regents, we can support sensible candidates and policies to help bring about freedom and quiet living rather than oppression, here in our little 21st-century kingdom called America.

Given these arguments for how important it is that Christians vote, what happens when we don’t vote?

We end up with elected government officials who believe they have a mandate to do things that negatively affect our economic and religious freedom. The Houston mayor I wrote about last week was elected by only 10 percent of registered voters.

Making Your Vote Count

So how can Christians make their vote count?

A number of years ago Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade, wrote Your 5 Duties As a Christian Citizen. In this short paper he suggests five important ways in which we can be salt and light in our communities:

  • Pray: Pray daily “for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness” (1 Timothy 2:2).
  • Register to vote: Be registered as a qualified voter so you can practice your citizenship with accountability to God.
  • Become informed: Inform yourself and others concerning the structure of government, current political problems and issues, and how to serve God effectively in the political arena at your level of influence.
  • Help elect godly people: Help select and elect men and women of God to public office at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Vote: Vote consistently in every election, after becoming informed about the various candidates and issues and evaluating them on the basis of the Word of God.

Take these thoughts with you as you go to the polls tomorrow. After all, as Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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  • As a Christian who thinks libertarianism is the Biblical pattern for government, why would I vote for either a Republican or Democrat both of whom oppose Biblical principles? To exaggerate slightly, it’s like Christians voting for the Caesar who would burn the fewest Christians at the stake. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

  • ChipWatkins

    Instead of electing “men and women of God” to public office, we should elect men and women who will, with wisdom and discretion, pursue the enactment of public policies that are consistent with Biblical principles. Too many Christians who campaign for election to public office lack the wisdom and spiritual maturity required to build the coalitions required to enact such legislation.

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