If ignorance is indeed bliss, then those Americans unaware of this year’s presidential primary are of all people most blessed! One major Democratic candidate could (and probably should) be facing a federal indictment over how top-secret state communications were handled. The other top Democratic candidate is a self-described socialist. Not long ago, he would have been relegated to an asterisk as an inconsequential third-party extremist. This is a different America, indeed.
The leading Republican candidate has boasted of his adulterous “conquests.” He appeared on the cover of “Playboy” with a model wearing only his tuxedo jacket covering her body. His casino in New Jersey was the first in America to open a strip club. He attempted to displace a widow through eminent domain to build a limousine parking lot for his casino. And he has been personally endorsed by the president of Liberty University, the world’s largest evangelical university. These are strange times, indeed.
The almost universal mantra of Christians who support the leading Republican candidate goes something like this, “We’re electing the Commander-in-Chief, not the Pastor-in-Chief.” If one says that often enough, one can use it to cover a multitude of sins. Indeed, Americans are not voting for the nation’s chief pastor and no candidate is perfect, but does that mean that character, virtue, and vice do not matter?
The Democratic primary is down to two contenders. Both are vocal supporters of abortion and same-sex marriage. How can Christians support such candidates? Again, people say, “My candidate believes in other things that are good. Besides, even though I personally don’t agree with abortion or same-sex marriage, I must not impose my Christianity upon other people.”
Here is the question that Christians must answer: Does the lordship of Christ over their lives matter outside the church? Does the lordship of Christ carry over to decisions we make at our voting precinct?
Let’s be clear: the Bible knows nothing about dichotomizing one’s life into realms of “sacred” and “secular.” For the Christian, all of life is sacred. Nothing exists outside the Lordship of Christ. For those who disagree, think deeply about these stark words of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23).
To the one who protests that Jesus is referring to “religious” things (the ones condemned speak of their prophesying, exorcising demons, and doing miracles in Christ’s name), think about 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If activities as seemingly banal as eating and drinking are to be done to the glory of God, then surely our vote for leaders of our country ought to be done to the glory of God.
What we must do is think deeply about those for whom we vote. The best candidate may not be a Christian, but at least he should be a person of common decency and virtue, a person who has demonstrated a consistency lifestyle and decision-making that does not blatantly contradict scriptural precepts. Is this person honest? Does he exhibit a concern for others? Has he been faithful in his most intimate relationships with others? How does he treat his opposition – with grace or retribution? Does he exhibit, not merely with words but with life, that there is a just and righteous God who rules over us and to whom we are accountable?
This is the question that we need to answer about our decision: Can I justify to God the reason for my vote? Superficial answers won’t do.