Every time we enter the season of elections in this country, Christians are especially strained in considering who it is we ought to vote for. Each elected office carries with it its own sphere of responsibility. And each candidate and party puts forward a platform ostensibly addressing how they intend to use that office to accomplish what ends it deems most desirable. Then the fire-fight begins. Each side demonizes the other. Each makes claims that if the opposing persons and views are adopted, horrible outcomes are guaranteed. And who are we to believe most?
In truth, no “side” seems incapable of making poor decisions and using less than honorable tactics. All sides claim to lament negative campaigning, while indulging in the very negative campaigning they decry. Some who seem squeaky clean at first, later prove to have monstrous skeletons in their closets. Others, who have proved themselves terribly immoral in their personal lives, have nonetheless shown bravery in the face of great conflict and to make sound decisions in terms of laws enacted and enforced. And here and there, a man or woman of true moral uprightness, perhaps even genuine Christian experience and convictions arises and serves admirably. May God increase their tribe. But untangling the whole mess seems almost beyond the scope of human endeavor.
Another complicating factor is one that can be reduced to an extremely simple example for discussion’s sake. When my car is in need of mechanical repair, am I as much worried if the mechanic is sincere but perhaps inept, or would I rather he be gifted and skilled irrespective of his personal morals? Raise the ante and ask the question again when it comes to choosing a surgeon. Do I want the gal with the best hands, or the one I am sure is not sleeping around? We can dance that jig till the cows come home – with no lack of passion on either side of the debate.
OK then – who DO I vote for? That’s what I want to know. Maybe you do too. And while it may be no surprise to some, it may to be many, that the Bible doesn’t address that issue given the type of pluralistic society we live in – at least not directly. Yet, I do think it provides a certain measure of guidance that is profoundly helpful. That guidance comes to us in Paul’s 1st letter to Timothy, when he addresses the issue of prayer for the then very pagan and anti-Christian government leaders of his day. Two verses especially invite our examination: 1 Timothy 2:1–2 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Given these instructions, what we can say with some reasonable certainty is that what we ought to expect of government at least are the 4 things we are told to entreat God for. I can only mention them in the briefest form here. Each could be expanded upon greatly.
1-That we may lead a PEACEFUL life. We are to ask that our leadership be peace-seeking, and not given to war and conflict without necessary cause. War is sometimes unavoidable when we are attacked, reasonable avenues of diplomacy to avoid conflict forced upon us fail, or the weak and helpless need defended.
2- That we may lead a QUIET life. Bound together with the first, we are to ask that our leadership be lacking in the stridency and pugnacious tendency that brings civil unrest as well. The quietude of domestic life lends itself to Christian enterprise to advance the Kingdom of God, rather than hampering the progress of the Gospel due to forcing people to live in constant turmoil.
3- That we may live GODLY lives. That our government and its officials would leave us free to seek a life of worship and service and influence for Christ in society. That it not be repressive and censorious toward the free pursuit serving Christ in every sphere of life.
4- That we may live DIGNIFIED lives. A government committed to protecting that dignity and sanctity of human life. Not enslaving its masses either overtly, nor through policies that strip men of their dignity through turning them into helpless dependents with no hope of progress. Valuing human life in every sphere.
What has this to do with voting? I suggest – this: We vote for those whom – as best as we can discern – espouse, will work for and will protect the four areas mentioned above.
Now each of us must do our homework to decide on who those persons will be. And to vote.