Augustine spoke of the City of God and the City of Earth. The City of God, our eternal destiny, is more glorious, more important. Nonetheless, this fact doesn’t render what we do now as unimportant. As Russell Moore has said, “our lives now are an internship for the eschaton-” for the New Jerusalem, for our eternal life in Jesus Christ. But, as Americans, we are rulers. We often complain about our government and our ruling structure, but the reality is that there has never been a place in human history where the people had so much sovereignty over their governmental structure. We are not serfs living in a feudal system, or Roman subjects living under a totalitarian emperor, or people living under a Communist regime. We have more power than anyone else has ever had. And, as Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Because we live in a democratic republic, we are held accountable to God for our votes. We’re accountable for whether or not we choose to vote, and for whom we vote. So, for Christians, voting really is not an option. It is our Romans 13 responsibility. And, who we vote for is equally a matter of accountability to our Lord.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for; that’s a matter of conscience between you and the Lord. But, I am going to say that I think there are some God-directed biblical principles that should inform our voting as Christians. A major point we teach as truth at Grace is that God speaks to all of life and all of learning; that He cares about all of it. So, as you prayerfully consider who to vote for, consider this: we are commanded and invited by God to care about those things that are most important to Him, to prioritize our lives around the gospel, and around the revelation of His nature and character. As we become more sanctified in our lives, our priority list should look the same as His. So, rather than giving you a “voting guide” that says who to vote for, here are a few of the issues that I believe matter most to God.
I’m getting these from my reading of His Word so, please, check me on this. Make sure you see what I see. But, if you see it, please acknowledge that as a follower of Christ these must be your priorities, too, and they must be the priorities of anyone for whom you cast your ballot (whether they claim Christ as Lord, or not- I’m mindful of Luther’s statement that he’d rather be governed by a competent Turk than an incompetent believer, which, again is a matter of prayer).
Life matters to God. God is the author of life; He created it. He lovingly crafts us in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139). He knows our names from the foundation of the earth (Rev. 13). As human beings, made in God’s image, we have a dignity, a value, and a worth that far exceed that of the rest of creation. Again, this doesn’t mean those things aren’t important, or that we don’t have to steward them wisely. That’s a command from God, too. But, human life is sacred. In the age of abortion, of genetic engineering, of babies on demand, where these ethical and moral issues are rampant, where our leaders stand on the issue of life is critical. Many people believe that the same sex/ gender issue is the human rights issue of our time. While that may be important, this is life and death. Physical life and eternal life matter to God. Your candidate should be inclined toward life.
The sojourner and the weak matter to God. God tells Israel, whether His original nation, or we who were grafted onto the vine of Israel as Christians, ““You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 23). Sojourners are exiles, immigrants, and refugees. We, children of the City of God who live in the City of Earth, are sojourners. We are to love as we are loved. This means that refugees, exiles, and immigrants, whether from Syria, Mexico, or wherever, matter to God. We can differ on how much prudence to exercise in how we welcome the sojourner, how we balance security with hospitality, but it’s really not an option to reject them, to turn our backs on them, or to revile them. Your candidate may have a prudent plan for how to go about welcoming the sojourner, but they should care for them as God cares.
The poor and marginalized matter to God. God speaks over and over again in Scripture that our righteousness is tied directly to how we treat the poor and marginalized of society (Ex. 23, Lev. 23, Lev. 25, Luke 6, Luke 14). He entreats Christians to care for the poor, to watch out for them, to work for their justice, to not exploit them. We have a responsibility to work to fix systems that are broken, that trap people in cycles of generational poverty. We have a responsibility to work to rescue people from slavery and captivity, both spiritual and physical. Who you support may have different ideas on how to go about doing these things, but caring about the poor and marginalized has to be something he or she cares about deeply.
There are others, but space limits prohibit more detail. God’s Word is our guide. It’s not that economic issues don’t matter, or defense, or other things I may have left off the list. They are all important things, things with which we should be concerned. They are just not God’s highest priorities. And, we have to be sure our priorities align with his.
Ambiguity is unacceptable on the things that matter most to God. Make sure you know where the candidates stand before you vote. And, make sure your candidate has the heart of God on the issues that matter most; if they don’t, and you vote for them anyway, then please be prayerfully certain that God is your god, and not anger, or security, or prosperity. Again, as Russell Moore has said, “it would be a shame to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That would be a very bad trade.”