ASK THE PASTOR: Can a Christian Vote for…?

In this “Ask the Pastor” post, I want to address an issue which is a particular challenge to Christians as we undertake the privilege and responsibility of voting for the leadership of our nation, state, city, etc. The question, as it has been posed to me in various ways, goes something like this:

Since we are most certainly living in challenging times in America, I think we need strong leadership which honors biblical truth. Could I, as a Christian, vote for someone who is Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or athiest to be President? Is voting for someone who definitively adheres to a non-biblical faith wrong for a follower of Christ?

This issue is ‘front and center’ for us in this year’s election. As I stated during a Wednesday night prayer meeting recently, I believe that for the first time in my lifetime, we as Christians are faced with a choice of two Presidential candidates who are antagonistic to Christianity. One candidate is a Mormon. Mormonism, regardless of the claims of its adherents, is definitively NOT Christian. The other candidate has disparaged biblically serious Christians in his public remarks. In the world in which we live, a situation like this reminds us where we must place our hope:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7, ESV)

Is the answer that which a pastor friend of mine has publicly stated–to not cast a vote in the presidential election? I certainly believe it is an option, and it is a valid option. I have a question though: is it the only option?

I do not believe it is. Let me begin by referencing our confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message, in the article which speaks to “The Christian and the Social Order”:

All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

Exodus 20:3-17; Leviticus 6:2-5; Deuteronomy 10:12; 27:17; Psalm 101:5; Micah 6:8; Zechariah 8:16; Matthew 5:13-16,43-48; 22:36-40; 25:35; Mark 1:29-34; 2:3ff.; 10:21; Luke 4:18-21; 10:27-37; 20:25; John 15:12; 17:15; Romans 12–14; 1Corinthians 5:9-10; 6:1-7; 7:20-24; 10:23-11:1; Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Philemon; James 1:27; 2:8. [Article XV; http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp]

Thinking within this framework, we must first always remind ourselves that our primary calling is our Lord’s Great Commission to share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). That being said, we are also able to advocate on behalf of biblical morality and ethics in the public square at the same time. Followers of Christ MUST stand up convictionally for the truths we believe…in all aspects of our day-to-day living. We acknowledge that necessity in our work, our school studies, our neighborhoods, and our broader community. Unfortunately too many find it a challenge to take that truth into the ballot box, choosing instead to vote either by family heritage (“My family has always voted…”), one’s pocketbook, or some other criteria. We CANNOT subjugate biblical truth to a secondary, or even lower, rank when we cast our ballot.

Please note that the focus I present is on biblical truth and not a person or a political party. And that, I believe, needs to be the bottom line when we consider the individual for whom we will vote regarding any office, from President of the United States, to the Governor of our state, or to the City Council. I doubt that we will very often find a candidate for office with whom we will completely identify and agree with 100%. Honestly, I would love for there to always be a biblically-focused, Southern Baptist (or any other scripturally conservative) Christian running for each office each election. The fact is…that just isn’t going to happen often enough. That being the case, I believe we need to investigate the candidates and make our choice based on the one who most closely advocates for the world view we as Christians desire to encourage in the public square, keeping in mind that we are able to “work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising [our] loyalty to Christ and His truth.”

I certainly think that a Christian can vote for a Mormon, Scientologist, or Jehovah’s Witness without advocating the validity of that belief system. In cases such as these, we can take the opportunity to express why we believe our faith in Christ is different and the reason that fact is ultimately important.

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