3 Things Every Christian Voter Should Consider
- Liberty University Sponsored Article
- 2016 2 Feb
When it comes to politics, it’s often easy to despair as a Christian. After all, we may remind ourselves, the Kingdom we belong to is not of this world, so what does it all matter, anyway?
It’s easy for anyone, Christian or not, to become disillusioned with politics and to think that our personal vote doesn’t matter.
However, there is a lot to be said for performing our civic duty as Christians. God calls us to render to Caesar (i.e., the government in power) what is Caesar’s, and in Romans 13, Paul gives a very practical exhortation to Christians to be involved in government insofar as we are still a part of this world, and it honors God when we live as exemplary citizens, as long as obeying government authorities does not contradict obedience to God.
But though the call to Christians to be good citizens and to make use of our democratic system may be clear, this does not mean that choosing who to vote for is an easy decision.
Below are three guidelines that can help you as you seek discernment in your political decisions.
1. Policies are More Important than Party Lines
It’s human nature to want to give our allegiance to someone or some group that we can believe in, but the truth is, neither Democrats or Republicans or any other party is perfect or perfectly aligned with Biblical morality. As Christians, we may certainly lean more toward one party than another, but many times we may need to remind ourselves that just because a candidate is from party A, doesn’t mean he or she is the best choice.
This means that it’s important to do your own research. Don’t rely on political titles to clue you in to what a candidate is really all about. Look them up, discuss their policies with others, listen to their ideas.
Katie Thompson, writing for Christianity Today, gives some helpful guidelines:
"Research their policy positions and voting records, and pay attention to their campaign rhetoric and promises. Do this knowing that you won’t walk away with absolute clarity. It’s unrealistic to expect to find the “perfect” candidate or party, but is there a platform that, despite imperfections, you believe in enough that you can participate in? That has potential for renewal and restoration?"
2. Competency Matters More than Religious Affiliation
If we are honest, we likely have our favorite Christian denomination--the one we view as the denomination that holds all the right doctrines and views Christians were meant to hold. Whether we are Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Catholics, or any other denomination, we likely feel an affinity with a candidate who shares our specific sect of Christianity.
However, the candidate who is the most religious or the candidate who shares our particular strain of Christianity may not be the person the country needs as a leader. Christian faith can and should influence a person’s politics, but being a Christian alone is, in most cases, an inadequate qualification to lead the country.
When considering potential political candidates, pay attention to their previous record. If they have been in politics for some time, this shouldn’t be hard to research, but if they are new to the political sphere, look into how they handled situations and conducted themselves in whatever field they were involved. And then ask whether their conduct showed discernment, an understanding of the situation, and an ability to lead.
3. Personal Character is Not to be Overlooked
Generally, Christians seem to have an eagle eye for personal character when considering political candidates, but there are times when the allure of a candidate may blind us to flaws that are very much at odds with Biblical values. Some good questions to ask yourself when evaluating a candidate’s personal character and morals are:
- Did they vote for things that went against policies they claimed to stand for?
- Did they give time and money to something at odds with Biblical morals?
- Do they fulfill promises they made to those who supported them in the past?
The Bible is filled with passages of God’s people being led astray by a handsome countenance, eloquent words, or empty promises, only to be left unfulfilled and under God's judgment for their lack of discernment. Studying these biblical passages can be a great way to seek discernment for our political decisions even now in the 21st century.
John 7:24 provides an important reminder: "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
Our Christian faith makes political participation a calling and a civic duty for us, but our involvement in politics also should never cause a divide between the sacred and the secular in our lives. If Jesus is "over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:6), we cannot take our deeply-held faith out of our political decisions. Instead, we should use our Christian values as an opportunity to influence the world for Christ, even by something as simple as voting our conscience.
Written by Veronica Neffinger, editor for ChristianHeadlines.com. Sponsored by Liberty University, training champions for Christ since 1971; and Liberty University Online, the largest Christian university in the world with over 200 online programs.
Publication date: February 2, 2016