Voting in Light of God's Sovereignty
God’s sovereignty is often a sticky discussion among Christians. In fact, arguments about what the sovereignty of God means in relation to humans are among the most divisive intramural squabbles within the Church. However, there are categories in reference to God’s sovereignty with which the majority of Christians agree. I believe that those points of agreement in Christendom about God’s sovereignty provide useful parameters for how Christians should approach voting.
Most Christians willfully subscribe to the Bible’s statement in Philippians 3:20 that a Christian's "citizenship is in heaven.” As subjects of King Jesus, we understand that our main allegiance is to God; we are called to live lives that reflect His character and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is sovereign over the lives of His people.
Throughout history, the Christian's primary allegiance to God has created tension, and Church history is written in the blood of faithful martyrs who refused to allow their Christian identity to be subjugated by the rulers of this earth. When faced with the decision to obey God or to obey man, most Christians applaud the choice by brothers and sisters in Christ to sacrifice their body for the sake of their soul. I’m afraid, however, that many Christians don’t earn that same applause when inside of a voting booth. For many Christians, material concerns take precedence over voting in a way that reflects the character of God and that glorifies Him.
With the understanding that no human being is perfect, navigating through the maze of candidates’ issues of integrity is possibly a Sisyphean task for believers who desire to vote in a manner that brings God glory. However, followers of Jesus are urged to pray, “For kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Participating in the election process by voting with the desire to promote to positions of power men and women who will enable us to live peaceful lives with the freedom to worship God is a good and just thing. It could be argued that voting is a responsibility that shouldn’t be shirked.
Unfortunately, the perfect candidate is never going to be on the ballot. Like all humans, politicians are sinners and their opinions and positions are going to reflect that reality. If Christians vote, and Christians should vote, we will, by necessity, be voting for sinners. There are some issues, however, that should be non-negotiable for subjects of King Jesus. This is in large part because, as strangers in a strange land, Christians represent their King. By pulling the lever for a candidate, Christians are doing so in proxy for Jesus. This is why, for example, I don’t believe that a Christian can legitimately vote for any candidate who even partially defends abortion.
There are several issues, if not many, that Christians could argue determine the validity of our vote. Abortion, however, is a disgustingly obvious non-starter for Christians. Or, at least, it should be. Unfortunately, there are many professing followers of Jesus who are willing to overlook the murder of babies if enough of the candidate’s positions are in sync with their own. Making it even worse, that alignment is often in regards to comfort and security.
Comfort and security in this life are fleeting. Upon the return of the King of Kings, it’s going to be next to impossible justifying voting for a pro-abortion candidate or even one who is merely wishy-washy on the issue of murdering babies. There’s going to be no good way for anyone to be able to look Jesus in the eyes and explain that making America great again (whatever that means) justifies the claim that Jesus is okay, on any level, with the murder of babies. As Christians, God expects us to defend the oppressed and fatherless. That means voting for candidates who defend the lives of babies. Of course, since God is sovereign over all creation, Christians have a responsibility to vote for candidates who actively stand against obvious evil (standing against same sex marriage comes to mind). Christians should be single-issue voters in regards to many issues.
Acknowledging God as sovereign over all creation is one thing; acknowledging sovereignty as an attribute of God is another thing altogether. Within systematic theology, God’s sovereignty is often referred to as omnipotence. According to theologian Wayne Grudem, the basic textbook definition of omnipotence is that God is able to do all His holy will. Where God’s holy will ends and humanity’s unholy will begins is the point where the theological fighting becomes personal. However, there is a relatively safe definition that keeps discussions about God’s sovereignty out of the weeds and helpful in thinking through a Biblical approach to voting.
God’s sovereign hand determines the outcome of history. At the least that much is agreed upon by the majority of Christians. This means that the hope for Christians isn’t found in who wins elections; our hope is in the glorious return of Jesus. At his return, King Jesus is going to punish those who have refused to bow the knee before him in faith and repentance, reward his followers, and set everything right. By faith, Christians don’t have to sacrifice their integrity in the voting booth by choosing the lesser of two evils.
While we are called to actively participate in our culture and seek ways to enact justice and righteousness, we are not called to fix anything. Within our participation, God expects us to keep our eyes on Jesus and our faith in Him. It is not our responsibility to do the least amount of damage as possible. It is our responsibility to seek to promote candidates who best reflect the concerns of God. If that means casting a write-in vote, Christians are not only free in Christ to vote according to our Biblically informed consciences, we have the freedom to rest in the reality that God is in control and He doesn’t need our vote to change anything. God wants our vote for His glory. Christians should be voting for men and women who best reflect the character of God, regardless of whether or not that person is on the ballot.
Being caught in the harsh spray from the progressive storms ravaging long-held values, it becomes easy to justify compromising while inside the voting booth. But, as Christians, we are not called to compromise the name of Christ. We are also not called to participate in the political judgment of the nation in which God has called us to be His ambassadors. Voting for a candidate because we believe that he is a twenty-first century Nebuchadnezzar is not justified anywhere in the Bible. God never asked the Israelites to hasten His judgment. In fact, the opposite is true. God called His people to repent and turn back to Him. As Christians, we are not called to misguidedly help usher in judgment on this country. We are called to live in a manner that reflects the character of God, bring Him glory, and preach the gospel. Voting for the lesser of two evils is a poor way to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and doesn't reflect the character of God. As Christians, we should be willing to set aside our temporal concerns while inside the voting booth.