All three of us are pastors who love God. We have given our lives for His Church. We honestly hold our Bible beliefs. We love each other dearly. YET… All three of us will vote for different Presidential candidates.
Before I comment on the who questions it may be helpful to begin with the basic question of why.
When our King, Jesus the Messiah, was born, the Kingdom of God was established on the earth. King Jesus’ incarnate ministry began following John the Baptist’s proclamation, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).” Jesus’ message began with the exact same announcement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).”
Our King’s kingdom is beyond earthly borders, elected officials, capital buildings, and politics. King Jesus reigns supreme in the kingdom of heaven.
Those who have placed their trust in Jesus for salvation are citizens of His kingdom.
There are citizens of Jesus’ kingdom (I am guessing) in every government established on earth today. I am confident that King Jesus has citizens living under the government of North Korea and also in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Our King’s kingdom is everywhere.
First and foremost Christians are citizens of the kingdom of heaven and we are subjects of the King of kings. We are also citizens under the leadership of presidents, prime ministers, kings, ayatollas, dictators, and any number of other titles for national leaders.
When one’s citizenship in the kingdom of heaven conflicts with the citizenship requirements of earthly governments, the Christian must always choose the kingdom of heaven.
I don’t break the speed limit because I am a citizen of the kingdom of heaven but because I am a law abiding citizen of the State of Alaska. Jesus is my King and Bill Walker is my Governor.
In earthly governments that select leadership by voting (many nations of the world would literally die to have the right to vote) a Christian may ask, “Should I live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven or as a citizen of my nationality?” Until the time it is impossible, do both.
My vote is my voice.
My ballot is the only legally binding and official voice given to me as a citizen of the United States of America. I can voice my voice in many ways about various issues, and I should, however, casting my ballot is the only legally binding voice I have in the USA.
My vote is my morality in a simple “Please mark your ballot” form. I can talk for years about Biblical morality, ethics, philosophy, sociology, economics, and a host of other topics, but this all gets completely integrated into one simple oval marked with a pen by my hand.
I am thankful for an earthly government that (at least for now) welcomes my voice. Yes, Christians should vote (as long as you are free to vote your Christian conscience).
More important than “Do Christians have a moral obligation to vote?” is the question, “Am I morally responsible for my vote?”
YES! YES! YES!
The Apostle Paul was morally responsible for the murder of Christianity’s first martyr, Stephen. To my knowledge Paul never threw a stone and never even touched this Christian hero. But he was morally responsible. Why? In Paul’s own words,
And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him. Acts 22:20
In essence, Paul was morally responsible because he “voted” for Stephen’s murder. My conscience does not allow me to vote for a person who clearly and articulately fights for the murder of God’s unborn children or for a candidate who fights for unjust war. You and I are morally responsible for the stated intentions of the candidates for whom we vote.
The Bible reveals that Christians are morally responsible even for things we don’t do! How can a person be responsible for something they don’t do?
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
“I am sick of people saying that I have some culpability for abortion just because I vote for a pro-abortion candidate!” I heard a man exclaim. “Sorry, sir. Not doing the right thing for the unborn is a personal sin before the Holy God.”
In the USA elections you can vote for a write-in candidate, which I did four years ago. I expressed my Christian conscience through the voice of my vote. A Christian can surely find someone on the planet that aligns with their conscience.
After the basic why of voting comes the more complicated who of voting. Every Christian is encouraged to apply their understanding of the Bible to the system for selecting their ballot choice system.
As citizens, first and foremost, of the kingdom of heaven (King Jesus), I should vote for the earthly government candidates, propositions, and judges whom I believe will most advance, enhance, and protect the kingdom of heaven and it’s citizens.
I have no political advice for anyone. Politics is mostly an unknown to me. In fact, I don’t approach national and state elections from a political perspective, but rather from a Biblical morality view. Righteousness is more important to me than most anything else.
When seeking to determine for whom I will vote, I consider Four Foundational Questions regarding Bible truths.
- Does the candidate and party platform firmly hold to “The Bible is the infallible, authoritative word of God and the only rule of faith and practice?”
- Does the candidate and party platform firmly hold to understanding God as Self-revealed in the Bible?
- Does the candidate and party platform firmly hold to understanding Jesus as revealed in the Bible?
- Does the candidate and party platform firmly hold to understanding the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Bible?
In the previous national election (and appears to be in the 2016 national election) it was obvious that either the Democratic or Republican ticket would win the election.
I asked my four questions of President Obama and Vice President Biden and candidate Romney and Ryan.
President Obama received a NO on all four questions. Vice President Biden received a NO on all four questions.
Candidate Romney received a NO on all four questions. Candidate Ryan received a full YES on three questions and a partial YES on one question.
With eight NO answers on the Democratic candidates and platform, I couldn’t, in clear conscience, vote for this ticket.
With four NO answers and 3.5 YES answers on the Republican candidates and platform, I had to think a bit deeper. Since the four NO answers were from the Presidential nominee and the 3.5 YES answers were from the Vice Presidential nominee, I couldn’t, in clear conscience, vote for this ticket.
Some will ask why the difference between my take on Biden and Ryan since they are both Catholic. Biden, in my understanding, is not faithful and not in alignment with Catholic Christian teachings and practice (about almost everything) and Ryan is faithful and in alignment with Catholic Christian teachings and practice.
In the 2016 national election the two tickets and platforms most likely to be elected are again the Democratic and Republican candidates.
As I go through my four questions, I place the candidates and platforms as follows:
Hillary Clinton receives a NO on all four questions. Tim Kaine is a bit of a challenge in that what he states he believes and how he has governed are in direct opposition to each other. In governing the slaughter of the unborn and people in sexual sin candidate Kaine has consistently violated his stated Catholic beliefs. In this way he receives a half YES on all four questions for a total of two.
Donald Trump, scuzzy as he has been, receives (like Kaine) a half YES on all four questions, for a total of two. Trump is a bit of a challenge in my system because he is, reportedly, a rather recent convert to Christianity. People that I trust, such as James Dobson, James Robison, and others, have stated that Mr. Trump committed his life to Christ a couple of years ago and has a WHOLE lot of discipleship needs. In my simple system, Trump receives two YES answers.
Pence, on the other hand, receives four solid YES answers.
Clinton, Kaine, and the Democratic platform receive two YES and six NO answers to my questions.
Trump, Pence, and the Republican platform receive six YES and two NO answers.
The final tally on my Foundational Four Questions is:
- Clinton, Kaine, and the Democratic platform – Two YES and Six NO
- Trump, Pence, and the Republican platform – Six YES and Two NO
Last week I cast my ballot for the Trump, Pence, Republican ticket.
One of my dear friends and one of the respected elders in Alaska and beyond said to me four years ago, “We aren’t electing a Pastor and Chief, we are electing a Commander and Chief.”
My only reply is,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10
I would be morally responsible for voicing my vote for a candidate who doesn’t have even the beginning of wisdom or insight.
MCA Church does not support any candidate or political party. What MCA Church supports is thought through application of Biblical teaching and morality to your voting decisions.
Several people have asked, “Pastor Kent, will you help us understand how you are navigating this election so we have more ways to think about our decisions?”
My Foundational Four Questions don’t answer questions like, “Who is better for the economy? Who is better for keeping America safe? Who will best handle the refugee crisis? Who will be best for my health care needs?”
I can’t advise on these kinds of questions because I don’t know.
My advice is study, pray, vote.
My two pastor friends and I will all three voice our Bible based consciences.
Three different candidates will at least have one vote each.