Let me give you a list of all the Bible verses that address your vote in an election:
Did you get all those?
The Word of God forms and shapes who we are as His children. You cannot have a relationship with God apart from His Word. He speaks through His Word to our hearts, our minds, and our entire lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit teaches us, tells us when we’re wrong, leads us to be right, and equips us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.
But when God is silent – when He does not speak directly to a particular matter – we do not invent words for Him. We take what He has taught us, with the Spirit of wisdom He imparts to us, and make decisions and take actions that reflect the love of Jesus and refrain from offense to God and to our brothers and sisters.
What that means for the election, therefore, is that no one can say, with Biblical authority and certainty, “This is the only way for a Christian to vote.” One of us may vote for Trump, with the full conviction of our conscience that this is the right thing to do. A brother or sister in Christ may, with equal conviction, vote for Biden, with the same mental framework behind that decision.
Let me give you a different arena in which a similar result happens: a split decision among Christians. Which worship style do you prefer (choose; vote for)? If you choose to attend traditional worship, does that mean the contemporary worshipers are wrong, stupid or evil? If you choose contemporary worship, are you saying the traditional worshipers are wrong, stupid or evil?
Where we invite sin into our hearts, into our nation, and maybe even into our church, is when we judge someone else’s faith or intellect based on a decision they make that has neither God’s command nor God’s prohibition to guide them. The theological term for such things is adiaphora: neither forbidden nor commanded by God. The Holy Spirit will certainly guide our decision-making process, but we cannot, with Scriptural integrity, say that God wants all Christians to vote Republican or Democrat.
God doesn’t pick sides in our games or contests or campaigns, at least not like we do. I’ve heard Christians say that Trump was “anointed by God” and given by Him to lead us as a Christian nation (we’re not a Christian nation anymore, but that’s a different newsletter article). If that’s the case, then we also have to accept that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were anointed and sent by God. And God loves the Packers so He made them win the Super Bowl four times. What about the other 50 – did God screw it up? We need to understand how the will of God works in these things: the active will of God, when He inspires us to believe, live and love His Son and each other in real time and real ways; and the passive will of God, when He allows things to happen in our lives that test our character and strengthen our faith. God doesn’t pick the winners and the losers in our little games and elections.
Here’s the dilemma we Christians in 2020 face: there was no democracy in Biblical times. It was all authoritarian, no popular elections. So without that clear mandate from the Word on how to vote, we need to assess our choices and apply what God has actually said. Some issues involve specific spiritual principles that God clearly addresses. Other election issues are not spiritual in nature, in terms of Biblical theology. We need to take these into account, and distinguish between the two. We also need to distinguish between what I say and what God says. Sometimes I get those two voices mixed up.
With those core values in mind, I will address those issues that God addresses, and touch on those that He doesn’t.
Freedom of Religion: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).
God expects us to honor and respect those who govern us, that we are to pray for them and obey them. The Catechism goes so far as to say we should “love and cherish them.” God does not say they need to earn or deserve it first. Christians respect the office of government, and obey its laws.
That holds true right up until the point that the governing authorities try to force us to participate in or condone practices or policies that directly violate the Word of God and/or our sanctified conscience, or keep us from teaching and practicing God’s Word. Then “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
In political terms, if a candidate or party designs to force churches or religious organizations to hire people whose lifestyle or belief system stands directly in opposition to the Word, they are denying our freedom. If a political entity wishes to compel Christians to participate in a ritual or ceremony that contradicts God’s clear teaching – regardless if said Christian is in business: I don’t stop being a Christian just because I opened a bakery – their hostility to Christ and Christians must be opposed. If a state institution or political agency wants to discriminate against religious individuals or groups just because they’re religious, I will not help them with my vote.
So I will share my viewpoint on a few key issues, as the Holy Spirit has led me through the Word to view them. You may not see it the same way. God bless us both.
Abortion: God is abundantly clear on this subject, starting with Exodus 20:13. God never uses the word fetus for an unborn child; He uses the word baby.
We proclaim our faith in God, Maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible. All our days are in His hands, including those before we actually show up (Psalm 139). He is the Lord of all life, and He does not surrender that role to any individual who wishes to destroy a life He has created.
Scientifically, the unborn child is a human being, with all the genetics and characteristics therein. Theologically God calls that child a baby. The Lord also calls upon each one of His disciples to protect and support those who cannot do so for themselves, especially the widow and the orphan. Therefore, Christians care and provide for the child and his/her mother.
Politically, I just cannot vote for someone who advocates for the butchering of an unborn child – which is exactly what the procedure entails. Nor can I reconcile in my mind the canard that pro-choice is not pro-abortion, because leading or encouraging a young woman to reject God and His Word is what Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:6 – “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” In other words, the “I’m opposed but it’s ok for you” argument doesn’t fly with God.
You cannot, with any legitimacy, build a Biblical case in favor of abortion, or the right of a woman to choose…to have the baby God has created inside her killed.
Racism: Hate and Christian faith cannot coexist in a believer’s heart (1 John 4:20). The grace of Christ unites us as one, regardless of skin color or ethnic background (Galatians 3:28).
What we’ve seen on the news in recent months has truly revealed the divisiveness and hatred the human heart is capable of harboring. God rejects all of it, including responding to violence with violence. He expects us to love one another unconditionally, as He does, and to put the interests of others before our own (Philippians 2:3-4).
We need to hear from our candidates how they will help heal the racial wounds we’ve inflicted, and how what steps they would take to improve the lives of those who live in daily need and daily fear. I want to know which candidate advocates policies that will rebuild families and reunite communities, and I will not vote for someone who wants to put them down and tear them apart.
Character: God doesn’t say much about the character of an elected leader, since Jesus first proposed the separation of Church and State (Matthew 22:21), which Martin Luther echoes in his distinction between the two kingdoms. Church leaders, yes; elected leaders, not so much.
I would love to vote for a candidate who demonstrates high Christian character. If I could find one. One of our members, whose politics are not my own, recently posted a plea for two different candidates to choose from. Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru recently wrote, in an essay detailing why he will NOT vote for Trump, that neither candidate has character worthy of the high office. I agree.
If you are truly moved by the character issue, integrity calls for realizing that the two main candidates cancel each other out, unless you’re drawn to the “lesser of two evils” debacle. Then character really isn’t your issue after all. In my opinion, if Christian character is that crucial, you have to step back to the VP candidates, and Pence is the only one who comes close to filling the bill. I have not seriously researched all the other third-party candidates, but realistically, none of them will be our next president.
There are a lot of other issues. If your priorities are different from mine, God bless us both, because He loves us both, no matter how we vote. And I love you, either way.
Some of us have already voted. Maybe you held your nose, or looked the other way, or let out an exasperated sigh as you cast your ballot. That day is rapidly approaching the rest of us. I pray that you are able to cast your vote with pride and joy, but you may be in the minority with those feelings.
Search your heart. Pray continually. And vote, with the best discernment God gives you. But vote, nevertheless.
Please remember this: divide and conquer is Satan’s favorite strategy. On November 4th, if we even know the winner by then, we need to throw away the rhetorical weapons of bigotry and hate that are fired by both sides. We need to put an end to sides, period.
It won’t happen in the outside world. It must happen in the community of believers.
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.