We are only five days away from the 2012 presidential election, and I’m here today to tell you how to vote. I know that voting for the leader of the greatest nation on Earth is always a big deal, but for some reason, it feels especially big this time around. So, how should you vote on Tuesday?
Please notice closely that I didn’t say that I was going to tell you whom to vote for. That’s not my public calling (email me privately if you want that conversation!). Rather, I’m going to tell you HOW to vote.
This election will mark my fourth opportunity to vote for my potential president. I know, I’m a newbie to some of you who remember D-Day, but over these four election cycles, I’ve increasingly given more thought to what I’m actually doing when I enter that booth. I’ve not arrived yet, but I’ve come to understand what I believe are some important principles as a follower of Jesus Christ that are helpful for me. I pray they’ll be helpful to you as well.
1. Vote with a Bible in your hand.
For the Christian, there is no other authority than the Bible. FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC are not your authority. A political party is not your authority. An ethnicity is not your authority. Leave all of these other authorities for the world, pick up your Bible, and ask, “What does the Lord say?” You certainly will not find direct teaching on whom to vote for there, but you’ll find principles which will be your guide. Don’t leave the Bible at the door. Put it in your heart and mind, and then carry that into the booth with you!
2. Vote with an informed mind.
The quality of a democracy is incumbent upon an electorate that knows the issues. Too many people vote upon perception, feelings, and tradition. That’s lazy democracy! That’s being asleep at the wheel! Wake up and get informed!
Recently I’ve been in a series of serious political conversations with a person who thought he was a certain party and was planning to vote for that party’s candidate. Not only had he traditionally voted for that party, but he also didn’t like personal aspects of the candidate from the other party. I explained to him that those are poor reasons and then challenged him to simply take an issues quiz to see which candidate he most agreed with. He decided to give it a try, and we went to http://www.isidewith.com. After taking the quiz, he found out that on issues, he agreed with 90% of the candidate that he didn’t like from the other party! I encourage every one of you to go take that quiz and see whom you should vote for based upon issues because it’s issues that matter most!
3. Vote with the understanding that human government is never the savior.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the belief that if we can just get the right person elected, we’ll have heaven on earth. Everything will be fine. It’s gotten to the point that one of this year’s candidates has been both affectionately and derisively called “the Messiah,” but, that’s all poppycock! We must keep in mind that we are electing fallen men who will govern a fallen people in a fallen world. Never will there be heaven on earth until Jesus returns.
In fact, as you go to the voting booth, I pray it’ll be a stark reminder that your perfect King has not returned yet to set up His eternal kingdom here on earth. As you cast your ballot, say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
4. Vote knowing that no matter who wins, it is God who puts people into authority.
The Scripture clearly says that God works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11), which includes free democratic elections. Romans 13:1 tells us that governing authorities are established by God. Therefore, I believe the Bible teaches that all world leaders and authorities come to power by the providence of God for the purposes of God. Certainly, there are world leaders living and dead that we would not put into power, but we always have to keep in mind that God’s ways are not our ways. He works all things after the counsel of His will and always does what is wisest, most loving, most just, and most glorifying. In faith, we must trust that God is working thus.
As I said earlier, this is my fourth presidential election cycle. I’ve been voting for presidents since 2000 when it was Bush the younger v/s Gore, and in that time, I’ve voted for two candidate who didn’t win. I thought, “God, what’s going on?!” But, as I’ve matured, I’ve learned to pray, “Father, I don’t know why my candidate lost, but I’m going to trust You.” I hope that’ll be your prayer as well if your candidate is beaten.
5. Vote in a way that best fulfills Jesus’ commandment to be the salt and light of the earth.
Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 5:13-16:
- You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Salt, I believe, is pointing us to preserve the righteousness of God on earth, and I believe light is telling us to spread truth. In other words, we should vote in a way that will uphold God’s righteousness and truth. Therefore, for the Christian, moral issues should be the most important issues in deciding whom to vote for—issues such as life, liberty, marriage, and finances. These are issues of righteousness that God has called us to stand for. Therefore, we must ask, “On these issues, which candidate stands more for what pleases God?”
For instance, on the moral issue of marriage, President Obama supports gay marriage while Governor Romney opposes gay marriage. On the moral issue of abortion, President Obama supports taxpayer funded abortions while Governor Romney opposes it. For a more complete list, check out the Family Research Council’s 2012 Values Voter Presidential Voter Guide. Which candidate better promotes God’s values?
In less than a week, it’ll all be over, and the next president will have been elected. By all means, vote, but keep in mind that how you vote matters to God also. If you’re in Chicago, you’ll be tempted to vote early and vote often, but I pray you’ll withstand the temptation. Above all, if you are a Christian, vote as a Christian whose life is given to the glory of God, and may the majority win!