The Christian's Liberty In Voting
Like so many others, I am concerned about the presidential election that ends next week. What concerns me the most, however, is not the massive consequences that will result from whoever holds the office. As a Christian and a pastor, I am far more concerned about how the members of our church will vote, think, and act.
But I’m not going to tell them how to do this. Not exactly anyway. I know there are different political opinions within our church, and I think it should be that way. I do not think that being a follower of Jesus requires us to vote the same way in this or any election. In fact, political diversity within the church is a great opportunity to magnify the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ.
Our Great Ambition
First, we should make it our greatest ambition not so much to do the right thing in our voting, but to do the pleasing thing, to “make it our aim” to please our God in everything we do (2 Cor 5:9).
The reason I make this distinction is because we often assume the “right” thing is what we want to happen, what seems good to us. But the Christian should always desire for God’s will to be done, even if God’s will runs contrary to his own (Lk 22:42). Many times, God’s will does just that. God is often pleased to do what we would never want him to do. So we ought to be asking, “What would please God, even if it doesn’t seem so pleasing to me?” We are encouraged to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:10).
The answer to the question, “Who does God want to be the next president?” will become clear soon enough, for every authority that exists is appointed by God (Rom 13:1-2). God will get who he wants to get into the White House.
But until the votes have been tallied and a winner has been confirmed, we simply cannot know for sure what God’s will is. This is not a matter of revealed knowledge.
Consequently, the question of who you or I should vote for is a matter of Christian liberty. We have the freedom in Christ to vote either way. And it is this freedom which guides us as we “make it our aim to please him” with our vote.
Rejoicing and Resting in Christian Liberty
Christians ought to rejoice and to rest in the truth that the question of who I should vote for is a matter of Christian liberty.
We can rejoice because we have freedom in Christ, freedom to vote for anyone or even for no one. The simple fact is that the Bible does not tell us how we should vote. The Bible doesn't say anything about voting. The vast majority of Christians throughout history did not live in a time or place where they were given the privilege of electing their governmental officials. This is a privilege most Christians have never been given.
That doesn’t mean that we should be careless about our privilege as citizens of the United States. Nor does our belief in the sovereignty of God mean we should not exercise our rights as citizens and cast a vote. The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to make use of his privileges as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29). Neither should we hesitate to make use of ours. But we may also give up that freedom (1 Cor 9:18) and not vote at all—it is no sin.
We can also rest in this liberty we’ve been given. There is no “Christian” option at this election. There never has been; there never will be. Not unless Jesus is on the ballet. But don’t worry. You’ll never have to vote for or against Jesus. He is a king after all. He doesn’t take sides, and he doesn’t get his authority from democratic processes.
So if you can’t decide what to do with your vote, and if your indecisiveness troubles you, rest in the glorious freedom of your liberty in Christ. You may well be condemned by others by what you decide to do, but you will not be so condemned by God.
Be Fully Convinced
The truth of Christian liberty leads us to yet another way we can seek to please God in this election, namely, by developing deep convictions about important matters.
Christian liberty is not concerned with insignificant matters, like one’s favorite food or music or color. It is concerned about consequential things about which Christians can hold vastly different opinions. Even though we may not agree on these things, the Bible commands all of us to “be fully convinced” about them (Rom 14:5). So I say that Christians, regardless of whom they plan to vote for, should fine-tune their biblical convictions on important matters. Doing so will demonstrate why this election is particularly perplexing for Christians while also helping us maintain our unity in Christ.
However you vote, I hope you do so fully convinced that abortion and homosexual marriage is immoral and that candidates who advocate for its legality are deadly to human persons. However you vote, I hope you do so fully convinced that all sexual immorality, boastfulness, vulgarity, and factiousness are also immoral and that candidates who act like this are equally deadly for human persons.
Being fully convinced of both of these things will make it difficult to vote in this election and will inevitably lead Christians to different conclusions. We will make different calculations. Some may say that abortion is such a great moral evil that their convictions will prevent them from voting for Biden. Others may say that civility and decency are the lowest bar one must cross to earn their vote and that this rules out Trump. Others may well say that their conscience will not allow them to vote for either. Whatever the conclusion we reach, we will be blessed if we reach those decisions with deep, biblical convictions. “Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” (Rom 14:22).
You have freedom in Christ either way you make the calculation. But what we can all do is decry the immorality of the candidate and their policies that we end up voting for. Doing so will demonstrate that we have a higher authority to which we swear our allegiance and demonstrate the higher hopes that hold us together as Christians.
Voting Like a Christian
However you decide what to do with your freedom, let us act like Christians. We cannot expect the politicians to do so, but we can.
We can act like Christians by understanding that who we vote for is not a matter of revealed truth. One Christian will decide one way, another Christian will decide another way (Rom 14:1-2). We must not despise one another or pass judgment on one another but welcome one another as God has welcomed us (Rom 14:3).
And we must deepen our biblical convictions on all matters (Rom 14:6), knowing that “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10). Let us think biblically about all the issues that are involved in this election and not be blind to the sins of the party who might get our vote.
“Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). So let us all hold high our allegiance to God and his kingdom, which is “not a matter of eating and drinking” (or voting!), but “of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). Because we will not all agree on how we should vote, let us who share the church be more eager to celebrate the greater unity we have in Jesus.
So then, “let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19). We can do this. We are citizens of a better kingdom.