I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for as the Scriptures leave that decision to the liberty of each individual’s conscience. But I, like all Christians, do have the responsibility to put forth biblical principles concerning civil society and its public policy. So, while I’m not going to argue that you should vote for a particular candidate, I am going to address the fact that more than a million Christians, according to some polls, believe it’s wrong to vote for a Mormon.
I certainly understand why Christians feel that way; Mormons are not Christians. And, all things being equal, I’d rather vote for a Christian than someone else. But, that’s the issue: whether or not all things are equal. Before I get to the point, let me list some relevant biblical principles.
· Old covenant Israel had a different covenant relationship with God than do all other nations past, present, and future.
· Today, it is the church that stands in covenant relationship with God, not America (or any other nation).
· God lays down “laws” concerning ethics and morality that He expects the church to enforce with regard to its members. God does not command those “laws” be enforced on non-church members even though non-church members who violate those “laws” are in sin.
· The church is global and can exist in any nation regardless of that nation’s government.
· The church is commanded to influence individuals and structures (including government) through the persuasive message of the gospel and all its implications.
· The church is not commanded to impose God’s “laws” on a nation as if that nation were the church or in covenant relationship with God. The church has no right to forcibly impose Christianity on others.
· We do live in a fallen world and people do harmful things to others.
· We have the right to defend ourselves from those who would do us harm.
· Because we have the right to defend ourselves, we have the right to enlist others to help defend us. We can do that through private contracts (security companies) or government.
· God has not prescribed what kind of government nations should have now that the New Covenant age has dawned.
So, the question then becomes, based on the above biblical principles, what kind of government should Christians seek to have? If Christians advance the gospel with its ethical and moral implications through persuasion and not force, then we should strive for a very limited government that primarily protects us from those who would harm us. We should strive for a government that protects the rights that God has granted all human beings: the rights to life and liberty. We want to be free to worship, speak, and live the way we deem appropriate to glorify God. We want others to be free to live how they want as we seek to persuade them to come to Christ. Of course, if we want liberty, we have a responsibility to protect that liberty, which means we want laws against infringing on liberty. That means we want to outlaw murder, robbery, extortion, kidnapping, abortion, the theft of intellectual property, etc. But, we don’t want to outlaw other religions, immorality (that doesn’t affect the rights of others), hate speech, etc. We want to be free to engage in the marketplace without government regulation and we want to be free to engage in the marketplace of ideas without government intrusion.
The point then is that Christians want to elect persons who understand these principles (that ultimately flow from a biblical worldview) whether they are Christian or not. There are many Christians who would impose their religion on others through government. Not only does God not want us to do that, not all Christians agree on everything. Some would outlaw movies and card playing while others would force us to go to church on Sunday or baptize our babies. Others would ban alcohol and gambling while some would enforce tithing. Still others would enlarge the welfare state while some would take imperialism to a new level. We have to be careful not to look at issues at a surface level. Let’s take a step back and think about who we would or would not vote for and why. And remember, we are not electing someone to oversee the church. We are electing someone to ensure the principles of liberty in our civil society, Christian or not, and yes, Mormon or not.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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