(This is part 3 of a 3 part series on Faith, Politics, and the 2012 Presidential Election. In part 1 I tried to express my concern about evangelical Christians being distracted by one thing – President Obama and the desire to get him out of office – while something more sinister – Governor Mitt Romney – might be on the horizon. In part 2 I outlined the basic belief’s of Mormonism and highlighted how those beliefs are drastically different from Christianity. In this post I want to list some Bible verses and offer some suggestions on what we can do during this election. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think regardless if you agree with me or not.)
What are we to do?
It seems we do not have a good candidate this time around, so what are we to do?
Many people will point to different Bible passages to try and explain how we should vote. In reality, the Bible says nothing about voting because the Bible was written in non-democratic cultures to people who knew nothing of democracy. The Bible was written to people who lived under kings and queens and emperors. The people had no say in who their rulers where. Often times the rulers were cruel and brutal to the people of God. Yet still, God endorsed governments and commanded His followers to pray for their leaders and as much as possible live under submission to them and at peace with them. It seems to me that the biblical principle was, and is, to influence culture by proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and that through influencing culture you will influence politics; not the other way around.
The Bible does gives us principles on how to live in relation to the government. The most familiar (and oft quoted) passage of Scripture is Romans 13:1-7…
“All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God.2 So those who are against the government are really against what God has commanded. And they will bring punishment on themselves.3 Those who do right do not have to fear the rulers; only those who do wrong fear them. Do you want to be unafraid of the rulers? Then do what is right, and they will praise you.4 The ruler is God’s servant to help you. But if you do wrong, then be afraid. He has the power to punish; he is God’s servant to punish those who do wrong.5 So you must yield to the government, not only because you might be punished, but because you know it is right. 6 This is also why you pay taxes. Rulers are working for God and give their time to their work.7 Pay everyone, then, what you owe. If you owe any kind of tax, pay it. Show respect and honor to them all.”
Another popular passage is 1 Timothy 2:1-3…
“First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him.2 Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior,4 who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth.”
Closely related to the above is Titus 3:1-2…
“Remind the believers to yield to the authority of rulers and government leaders, to obey them, to be ready to do good,2 to speak no evil about anyone, to live in peace, and to be gentle and polite to all people.”
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:13-17…
“For the Lord’s sake, yield to the people who have authority in this world: the king, who is the highest authority,14 and the leaders who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.15 It is God’s desire that by doing good you should stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you.16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as servants of God.17 Show respect for all people: Love the brothers and sisters of God’s family, respect God, honor the king.”
Some principles from these passages include…
- Pray for your leaders.
- Respect your leaders.
- Obey your leaders.
- Be good and loyal citizens.
- Do not speak evil of your leaders. (Please read that one again and again.)
- Strive to live in peace.
Here are two basic principles from the Old Testament…
- Appoint Godly leaders: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21).
- Appoint leaders who will fight for justice: Most all of the verses in the Old Testament (and there are 100s of them) were written to the kings and rulers of Israel and even pagan countries.
What are we to do?
I think, above all, we, as followers of Jesus, must realize that our citizenship is in heaven. If we can realize that, then we can offer grace to those who vote democratic, those who vote republican, those who vote 3rd party, and those who choose not to vote at all. We must commit to not let politics divide us, and we must never put our politics above our faith. Furthermore, no matter what your political affiliation, your goal should be to push kingdom agendas, not personal or political agendas.
Above all, somehow, we have to get to the place where we do not judge a person’s commitment to Jesus based on how they vote or if they vote at all.
So, here are our choices this election year. All of which are legitimate choices for followers of Jesus:
One the one hand we can vote for the lesser of two evils.
On the other hand we can vote for the devil we know instead of the devil we don’t know.
We can throw both our hands in the air in protest and vote third party or not at all.
But whatever you do, and however you vote, don’t place your politics above your faith and don’t place your politics above your relationships with other believers. We are citizens of the kingdom. Our kingdom family is more important than our political leanings.
During the rest of this political season, let’s commit to praying for our country and extending love and grace to one another.