2016 | Week of October 31 | #1175
What an election cycle this has been! I can’t imagine anyone hearing this commentary anywhere in America is caught by surprise by the news that we have a national election next week. Each day—and sometimes every hour–seems to bring new controversy and breaking news about the presidential election.
That said, this election has presented us with some more-than-usual challenges in how we think about voting, especially as Christians. What do we do in situations like this? How do we think about voting when the choices are particularly difficult?
Many people, including Christian leaders, have written and talked about this very question this election cycle—and I’m going to add my two cents to the mix. Before I get to that, however, I want to lay some groundwork.
Too often even Christians forget that government is not man’s idea; it is God’s. Human civil government is the second of three social institutions that God gave man for mankind’s good and God’s glory. In chronological order, those institutions are marriage and family, as we read in the opening chapters of Genesis; then human government, a bit later in Genesis; and then the Church, as we see in the book of Acts.
Civil government was established after Noah and his family were off the ark following the universal flood. In Genesis 9, verses 5 and 6, God tells Noah that if a man murders another man—one who bears God’s image—by man the murderer is to also die. God charged man with establishing this order and punishment.
Further, God determines the type of government any nation will have and directly controls even the leadership within those types of government. In Daniel we learn that God puts up kings and takes them down, and in Romans we learn that the powers that be are ordained of God.
God has given America a Republic—a fairly fragile representative form of government. I say fragile because a Republic rests on the character of the people who elect those who represent them. When the character of the general populace is bad, the character of those elected will likely also be bad. When the character of the people tolerates bad character in the leaders, the Republic’s days are numbered. As John Adams said, our form of government “was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
In addition to all this, we as Christians are called to be good stewards, and that includes being a good steward of the form of government God has blessed us with. At a minimum in America that means we must vote; it should not be an option—not for this election or any other. No excuses.
So, now, some questions to consider as we seek to vote as wise stewards of the one vote we each have—as we seek to vote knowledgeably and responsibly—even in races where the choices are not easy. 1) Do we have line-in-the-sand, non-negotiable issues for voting, such as life or marriage? 2) Is one candidate clearly better or clearly worse than the others? 3) Is there one candidate with whom we agree with enough to be comfortable voting for him or her? 4) What is the net result if we don’t vote in this race or we do a write in vote or vote for a third party in that race? 5) Can I vote the way I am leaning with a clear conscience? 6) Am I willing to take the risk with a candidate I don’t really like and don’t fully trust but who seems to be marginally better than the others? and 7) Does voting defensively make sense?
I can’t answer these questions for you, but I truly believe we each need to answer them. We need to be very much in prayer about this election next Tuesday, November 8, seeking God’s mind as we wrestle with these questions and maybe some others. This I know: sitting this election out is not an option. We have much more on the ballot than the presidential race. Our Wisconsin ballot includes a US Senate race, all 8 of our members of Congress, all 99 of our state assembly representatives, half of our state senate, some partisan county offices, and in many places even a referendum. Duty calls us to do our part and vote knowledgeably, responsibly and prayerfully and duty calls us to encourage others to join us as we seek to honor God by being good stewards of the government He has given us.
For Wisconsin Family Council, this is Julaine Appling reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”