With election season heating up, I was asked the other day how do we vote “Christian?” I think this is a fear by many Christians who do not want to vote in a way that displeases God. I also think this is a weapon that other Christians use to swing to get people to vote how they want. I thought I would take some time and address this issue, and my hope above hopes for this piece is that it will get you excited and interested enough in politics that you will first and foremost get out and vote. Our lack of voter turn out in this country is appalling, so I want to encourage you to get involved and vote. It is a awesome power that we are able to wield, so go wield it.
There are two extremes I hope you will avoid in politics. The first extreme is neutrality. There are plenty of Christians that do not get involved in any way in politics like politics and religion cannot cross paths at all. These Christians do not vote, do not campaign, do not debate politics in any way. Just know, Jesus was quite politically active. He discussed taxes on a least two ocossians, political loyalty, temple politics, marriage and divorce (which were matters of law even back then), and more. In the gospels, when Jesus is questioned by a religious leader or a scribe, it is often more of a political question than a religious one. Who is my neighbor? What is the greatest commandment? Do we pay taxes to Rome? What do we do with people caught breaking religious law? Questions regarding Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath? All of these questions had political implications, involving Roman/Jewish relations along side the religious ones, and Jesus did not shy away from them. He was politically active.
The second extreme is misusing the bible to back your political position as the true position of God. I am not sure God has a politcal party. There have been many Christian political groups that have done this. Some feign politcal independence and state they do not endorse candidates or positions, such as the Moral Majority and Christians Coalition, but we all know where Jerry Fallwell (Moral Majority) stood and Pat Roberson (Christian Coalition) stands on political issues. These groups and some like them go point by political point giving you the “Christian” position, but not so fast. Be careful when you state certain political positions are Christian.
I have read the bible. I admit that many know it better than I do, but I have yet to come across passages that address topics such as school vouchers, paths to citizenship, free verses a more controlled market, state rights verses federal powers, etc. Sure, I absolutely believe that the bible can give us a moral compas to direct our political ideals, but we must be very clear. The bible cares more about your personal faith and relationship with God than it does with economic principles and even civil liberties. The bible just doesn’t cover these topics. It has a more important focus and that is to reveal God to you and how you can relate to Him.
The idea of voting “Christian” is a misnomer. There are strong faithful Christians on opposite sides of many political issues. Disagreeing over free trade, does not make one or the other a better or more faithful Christian. If you love God, pray, and vote what is on your heart, your vote will be a worthy and valid vote, even if your vote doesn’t match mine or Billy Graham’s.
With that being said, here is my practical advice on voting.
1. Develop your own political positions! Know what the political topics are, research them, and build your own position. I know too many people that vote for who they like rather than the candidate that agrees best with their own political platform. Why? Because they do not have a political platform. Go get and develop your own political platform.
2. Know the candidates. If you have your own political positions, then learn as much about the candidates and where they stand. With that information, you can find the candidate that agrees most with you.
One tip on getting to know the candidates. Examine where their campaigns receive their money. The candidates will never stand against their cash flow, so knowing who funds each candidate will help you learn about where they will stand. For example, some of Hillary Clinton’s biggest support is from big banks, Barnie Sanders is largely funded by unions, and Ted Cruz has received much from the oil and gas industry. That will tell you, Clinton will always be pro-big bank, Sanders will fight for union rights, and Cruz will support the oil and gas industry more so than environmental concerns. They may flip-flop on many issues, but they will stand with their financial support.
Also, very few candidates will laud in speeches that they will back the agenda of big oil, big banks, big pharmaceuticals, big corporations, but their financials will tell you these things.
Lastly on finances, there are PACs, which stand for politcal action committee. These PACs raise massive amounts of money for candidates. PAC support is reported. Find out what these PACs stand for and who they support, and again, you will learn where the candidates stand. You do not invest hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars if the one you are supporting will vote against your platform. Finances are a great way to see through the political speech and discover a candidate more deeply.
3. Finally, just be a strong Christian. If you read your bible, pray, seek God in your life, you are not going to vote against Him. If you love God, which if you care about voting Christian, I imagine you do, then your vote will be as worthy and valid as any other, whether you are a democrat, republican, libertarian, tea party, independent, etc.
Just vote! Get registered. Study political positions and topics. Study yourself and develop your own position. Don’t just vote for the person you like, but the one you believe in and most closely follows your own position. Then, just believe in yourself and your faith in God. Then vote, and I am confident that your vote will a worthy one.
Thank you for reading and sharing, Preacher Jesse