To Vote or Not to Vote: The Role of Christians in Voting
A Christian or Catholic Voting Guide by Riz Olageur
What is a single ballot worth and is it really worth anything even when your candidate has a very slim chance at winning? What if there is a lack of righteous leaders to choose from – wouldn’t it make more sense to abstain from voting, rather than choosing someone you don’t really like? If not, then who should Christians vote for? How should Christians vote?
I remember one time, I asked a good Christian friend (one whom I had high regard for because I see him as passionate for Jesus and devoted to the study of God’s word), if he was going home for the major elections. Then, without even a hint of embarrassment, he answered, “No.”
I could not believe my ears at first. For me, it was unthinkable that a Christian like him could actually not be bothered by the fact that he was about to abdicate his voting responsibility. But then after some time, when I posted an article on voting on my blog, I realized that I had other friends who had similar sentiments, “Will my vote really count in changing my nation?”
This article will prayerfully serve as a guide to voting and help us apply what the Bible says about this topic.
Should Christians Vote?
As early as in the first book in the Bible, God’s will for man to rule and reign can be clearly seen. In Genesis 1:23, God commanded Adam to fill and subdue the earth and every living thing that moves on the earth. It is God’s will for man to govern well and thus bring righteousness that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34) and the triumph of righteous men that bring glory (Proverbs 28:12). All government is instituted by God (Romans 13) but His people have a role in influencing the government according to His statutes for His Kingdom to come, His will be done!
Now, ask the question, “In a democracy where government is “of the people, for the people and by the people, upon whose shoulders would the power to rule and govern rest? Whose actions would ultimately decide who will sit in power?” Is it not the people’s? God has delegated the authority to subdue and govern to man. But if we will not use that power to shape the destiny of a nation, could it be that we’re handing it over to those who will?
It is not entirely about who will win during an elections although it is, of course, our main goal to place righteous and competent leaders into office. But our responsibility to vote is diminished when it loses its ability to make a particular candidate win nationally.
I remember my last voting experience when God gave me a strong conviction to vote for a Christian candidate despite the very slim chance of him winning. But I voted for him, nonetheless. Why? Because we war not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of this world (1 Corinthians 10:3-5). By voting, I am making known where I stand. I wanted to be able to say to the next generation that when I had a chance, I stood for what is right even though it was unpopular. I didn’t abandon my post in deciding the destiny of my nation. My candidate may not have won, but I know I gave my best in the battle for righteous leadership.
Who Should Christians Vote For?
Casting the ballot, however, is only half the battle. For some of us, the real challenge is in choosing the candidate to vote for. Months before the elections I previously mentioned, I was not inclined to vote for the candidate I had voted for. But as I sought God’s will, the more I learned who God wants me to vote.
Having a solid conviction of our role as Christian voters should automatically lead to a desire to be able to choose the right candidates, the ones who will advance righteousness in the nation. But what exactly should we look for in a candidate and how do we get past the charade of masks we see?
“But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.” (Exodus 18:21)
Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18 is a key passage in the Bible on leadership. If you will notice, more than anything else, qualities that were emphasized had more to do with character rather than educational and other competencies. Jethro advised Moses to look for men who are capable, honest, who fear God, and hate bribes! In Acts 6:3, the 12 apostles appointed as leaders men who were “well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.”
This is not to say that a Christian vote gives capability, accomplishment and education should little importance. In fact
Exodus did mention “capable” men. However, the Bible wants to emphasize the primacy of character and wisdom over other flashy qualities that a leader may have.
For a fact, we have seen “able men” rise up in power only to bring more harm than good, causing the shedding on innocent blood, subjecting men under tyranny, because they lack the character and goodwill to choose what is just and righteous. Administrative ability is important but it should not be the top criteria on our list.
Other people look at the programs the candidates will implement. This is also important but realistically speaking, a good ironed out plan does not guarantee a successful administration.
What Is Character?
What is character, really? A famous quote says that your character is who you are when no one is looking. There are several things one can do to discover more about a candidate’s character.
One, you can check on a candidate’s personal background and history. What does it tell you about what this politician values? Does he value justice and human life? Some would have a history of advancing the welfare of the poor, while others would probably be known for giving to noble causes only after he has decided to run for office! That in itself tells a lot already. Does this candidate hold to Christian values or are they swayed by the majority or the squeakiest wheel?
Another check is through the candidate’s personal life. Some people say that a person’s ability to run government should not be confused with his ability to manage his personal life and family. But that is the complete opposite. This is why the Bible also advises that elders or deacons should have good reputation when it come to leading their homes. (1 Timothy 3)
Next, can this leader prioritize the common good rather than his personal agenda? Power can corrupt a person with shaky integrity. Integrity is sometimes seen when a person is able to make noble choices despite the temptation to protect his reputation, safety or position. What kind of decisions has your candidate made under the pressure? Is he a people pleaser or does he value others more than his personal agendas?
Lastly, do not be deceived by a wide array of credentials if on the other side of the coin, the candidate will push laws and philosophies that are detestable to God. What is the point of having an excellent leader whose administration goes against the very things that God abhors? Choose a leader who can gain God’s favor for your nation.
A Christian president who truly lives by God’s words would make a good candidate for presidency but the absence of a Christian candidate need not inhibit you from voting. Let us never forget that God used the King of Babylon to rebuild His temple.
“However, in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, King Cyrus issued a decree to rebuild this house of God.” (Ezra 5:13)
God is King over everyone, the saved and the unsaved, so we should never think that He cannot use the unrighteous man or woman to continue His work in the earth.
We should always look at the actions of each candidate and ask ourselves “does this look like something that Jesus would do? , is this a biblical decision?” Someone can say they are a Christian and not have a relationship with God. We need to use discernment to determine the truth. “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)
Here is a prayer for you to pray over yourself so that you will make the right decision when choosing a candidate.
Father God, I come before you and ask you to open my mind to the things of You. Let the mind that is in Christ be also in me so that I will be able to make the decisions that honor You. Lord, give me discernment, cleanse my heart from selfish motives but let the decision of voting be one that advances and glorifies your Kingdom and not my own selfish ambitions. Let me hold firm to my trust and hope which is in You and not in man. I commit to praying for the leadership of my country regardless of whom you choose in the end. Guard my heart and grant me godly wisdom to direct my decisions to righteousness. May my eyes be open to any deceptions or to see any spiritual manipulation the enemy may send my way. Give me sight to see the spiritual consequences of the decisions that I make. I lift up all others in the body of Christ to make the wise decisions for the Kingdom. All who don’t know you we call into salvation, in Jesus Name, Amen.
At the end of the day your decision is between you and the Almighty God therefore your only guide to voting is prayer and knowing what the bible says about each issue. God is not for or against one party or another; however, He is for righteousness and if we say that we are His hands and feet then we too should be for righteousness.
If you live in the United States here are the platforms for both the Democratic and the Republican parties. With this information you will be able to make an informed decision based on what the party endorses and what the bible says about each issue.