Friday, April 12, 2019

How Christians Should Vote--A Biblical Model

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In 2016 Russell Moore, then director of the ethics (ERLC) division of the Southern Baptist Convention, claimed: "Christians voting for Trump betrayed everything they believed."

This tore at the fabric of the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

I'm not a Southern Baptist, but I paid attention to the discussion that followed. It was heated, forceful and helpful.

Now, as baseball great Yogi Berra liked to say, "It's deja vu all over again."

The 2020 election will be the most consequential in American history since the Civil War.

Be informed.

Is voting for Donald Trump wrong? Is it a betrayal of Christianity? These questions haunted the halls of Christianity and politics in 2016 and are back on stage in the prelude to 2020.

In this Faith and Freedom column yesterday I noted that a new Gallup poll shows that evangelicals continue to strongly support Trump, and both Gallup and leading newspapers across the nation are trying to figure out how evangelical Christians can vote for someone so morally inferior in their mind. An irony in itself, given the carelessness which the news media handles the truth.

In response to Russell Moore's claim, the biblical conservatives of his denomination and many other highly respected theologians responded forcefully---some saying his comments were "sickening and theological malpractice."

The following is from these sources, and some of my own thoughts and convictions based on Scripture:

Dr. CEB Cranfield: "A candidate's personal sinfulness matters, but it matters less than public policy."

Cranfield says:
"Often the only choice open to the Christian in a particular situation will be a choice between evils; but he will realize that it is not a matter of indifference whether the greatest possible, or the least possible evil comes to pass, and that to help bring about the greatest evil by refusing, out of mistaken perfectionism, to chose the least is surely to be guilty of dereliction of duty."

The point of voting is often misunderstood. It isn't for virtue signaling.

The Pharisees of old prayed in public. They did alms in front of everyone. Today, Pharisee's virtue signal to please the crowds on Twitter, the hordes on Facebook and the elites in their social circles and even their own churches.

Jesus called the Pharisees of His time "whitewashed tombs"---white and clean on the outside and rotten on the inside.

There are Pharisees among us today.

These folks today post endlessly on social media, displaying their own virtue while calling Trump---and other social conservatives "Unclean" and " Untouchable," because we oppose "women's health care" aka abortion; we support secure borders, thus proving we have no compassion toward the stranger---therefore are unbiblical, and we oppose same-sex marriage, further proving we have no love---only bigotry, hate and intolerance.

Prior to the 2016 election, Dr. Grudem was unsettled regarding how he should personally vote. Then after more study and prayer, he told the press he could only vote for Trump in good conscience.

Dr. Grudem said just prior to the 2016 election,
"Voting for Clinton and her ultraliberal policies is not an option for me as an evangelical Christian. Therefore I'm left with two options: 1. vote for Trump, or 2. vote for a third party candidate whose hopes of winning belong to fantasy---not reality. And if these are my only two options, then voting for a third party candidate has the clear effect of helping to elect Clinton, because it is taking my vote away from Trump. That's why the liberal media loved it when I said I was finding it hard to decide."

He says, "It wasn't even close. I overwhelmingly support Trump's policies and believed that Clinton's policies would seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever."

  • The issues in the 2016 election were: 
  • The Supreme Court
  • Abortion
  • Religious liberty
  • Sexual orientation regulations
  • Taxes
  • Economic growth
  • School choice
  • Healthcare
  • Protection from terrorists
  • Immigration
  • The military 
  • Energy
  • Safety in our cities

The important issues have not changed from 2016, but those on the Left have become more brazen in pushing their agendas.

The Southern Baptist Convention created a paper of the role of government according to the Bible. The paper is based on Romans 13 and I Peter 2: 13-17. I recommend you read it.

What is an election?

Christians must understand what an election is, and is not.

An election is not a place for witnessing to the lost or for showing the world how awesomely you live your Christian life. Elections determine the direction of public policy for a state---a culture. For Christians, we should approach an election as an opportunity to help the state do its job---it's God-given job.

Philosopher and theologian Norman Geisler explains that results matter in voting.

He says:
"The Christian ethic does not neglect results. Although results do not determine what is right, they may influence one's ethical decisions. For example, a Christian should calculate which direction a gun is pointing before pulling the trigger. Drivers need to estimate the possible consequence of their speed in relation to other objects."

He says, "With the Supreme Court on the line in 2016, our religious liberty was staring down the barrel of a gun.

The 2020 election will find our religious liberty staring down a double-barreled gun. Supreme Court and immigration.

Geisler warns this has limits. In Christian ethics, these results are all calculated "within" rules or norms. No anticipated result can be used as a justification for breaking any God-given moral law.

He says, "Christians believe our actions must be governed by God's absolute moral standard. The standard proceeds from His unchanging nature and His expressed commandments."

The end does not justify the means in biblical Christianity. But it gives guidance to the decision making process.

We must stay focused on what the state, or government, is supposed to do---and what it is not supposed to do.

Typically, Christians have evaluated fitness for office with a focus on personal morality. In early America, most candidates running for office had some level of Christian commitment. Today that has changed, and in some cases, there are no candidates that reflect personal evangelical morality, while there is a growing number of humanists, secularists, atheists and now Muslims in our Congress.

The Left tries to discourage, mislead, and shame evangelicals into simply not voting---which clearly gives their candidate the advantage. In that, the Left's moral compass is fluid, not fixed on biblical Truth, but on their own truth which changes with cultural norms, they take no responsibility for their candidate's morality or lack of it.

And politically, it's all the better if a secular Left candidate tells the public they are a "Christian" and they attend the United Methodist Church, or whatever. It doesn't matter to them, because it's all about perception.

These are thoughts from some of our best and brightest in the evangelical community---and of course some of my own thoughts.

I would encourage you to check out the sources linked above.

And ponder this:

So far in his presidency, Donald Trump has done what he promised regarding the abortion issue, the homosexual agenda, and its infringement of religious freedom, and the Supreme Court. He has chosen two conservative "constitutionalist" justices.

He is appointing conservative judges across the country. Economically, our nation is once again beginning to prosper.

Most evangelical leaders believe he has done more for religious freedom than any president in history.

He strongly supports Israel. He has successfully confronted terrorism, including ISIS.

A true biblical worldview must lead us to prioritize the issues, which places abortion and religious liberty and human sexuality and marriage at the top of the list.

Any vote destructive to those ends defies God's natural order.

Martin Luther made this interesting observation:

“In the preaching office Christ does the whole thing, by His Spirit, but in worldly government one must use reason, — from which the laws have come, — for God has subjected temporal rule and bodily things to reason (Genesis 2:19), and has not sent the Holy Spirit from heaven for this purpose. Therefore governing is harder, because it cannot be ruling over things that are certain, and must act, so to speak, in the dark.”

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful.