There are certainly a lot of people out there telling Christians how they ought to vote, even if by no other means than saying how they are voting. This is a rather complicated issue, but one that needs to be addressed today, especially considering how many Christians have an unbalanced view of how faith and politics relate.
If you look across the American church landscape you will find that there are God fearing leaders who have Scriptural approaches to how they vote, yet you will also find that they cannot agree on who to vote for. It would seem that if everyone followed the same principles for voting, the obvious candidate would stand out from the crowd, resinate with all believers, and have a sort of aura about him. Yet, strangely, this is not the case.
Christian politics tend to be very strong armed even though they are built on weak, extra-biblical authority. So let’s weigh the issues and ask the questions on how Christians should NOT vote.
Christians Are NOT Required to Vote as a Unified Entity
In Texas, a large conglomerate of church leaders in a conservative denomination came together to cast their own ballot, determined to be unified on the primaries. It took three separate ballots before there was a solid enough consensus to support a particular candidate. Now there is an obligation for the group to uphold the candidate they
corporately agreed upon. Seriously? I have a few problems with this. 1. While a corporate consensus may add more weight to a candidate, it diminishes the very essence of democracy. 2. What if you had serious qualms about the candidate selected by the group?
Are you obligated to vote for him now even though you hadn’t submitted his name in the private ballot? 3. Being that these were religious leaders, are they going back to their home churches to exercise the will of the corporate decision? Again, what if they have issues with the nominee? 4. Should Christians leaders exercise their position to sway the vote amongst their congregations? 5. When did politics become the unifying force that brings churches together when they obviously can’t get together for the gospel? 6. Is this an attempt to circumvent the process in which God elects officials (Romans 13:1) to a process established in Baptist Church polity?
Needless to say, I find that this coalition, while not illegal (though they are stretching their liberties of the division of Church and State), it is never-the-less inappropriate. And I would say that even if they did determine to support the candidate that I support (which they didn’t), I would still disagree with their practice.
This leads me to wonder if Christians do not know the issues at stake or the importance they play as a part of the governing authority. Americans, and especially American Christians, tend to over-simplify complex issues (which by the way is a very evident mark of immaturity) and make up their mind as though they have discovered a second revelation. Furthermore, they seem content to follow the decisions of leaders instead of functioning as individuals bent on developing their own conscience and foundation. Christians that exercise this kind of control over their congregations are not pastors, but cultish leaders who are not teaching their followers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). But that’s a topic for another day.
Christians Should NOT Vote as a Self-Interest Group
Too many Christians are only fighting for what they believe to be in the best interests of the Church, themselves, and their family, while not taking into consideration what is best for the nation or the state. People in the projects vote as a self-interest group. They have been living on welfare and they are going to vote to assure that their needs are provided. I don’t say this to be critical of those under welfare, but to point out that it affects how they vote. It’s very similar to the way people pray sometimes – one church is praying for rain because they have a lot of farmers who depend on it and the church down the road is praying that it doesn’t rain so that they can have their daily Vacation Bible School outside.
When we vote as a self-interest group we tend to make exceptions to the law as far as it is convenient for ourselves. But when we stretch the constitution to make room for our personal interests we leave a stressed out system that allows for other things to slip past the tight regulations of the law. If you want prayer in school you should also be against the Department of Education. Otherwise you are suggesting that the government should make special exceptions for you and not others.