Are you ready for Super Tuesday? Presidential primaries are being held in about a dozen states (Georgia among them), this coming Tuesday, with hundreds delegates available for Republican and Democrat candidates. There is a lot at stake and interest is high. Record voter turn out in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina has kept the 24-hour news business buzzing! So our turn to participate in this primary process has arrived. Most citizens don’t vote even in presidential races and party primaries usually don’t draw massive crowds focused on their civic duty! Are you planning to vote?
We don’t talk much about politics in the church. Right?! There are Christians on ‘both sides of the aisle’ and political guidelines are not easily drawn out of the Bible. Eternal life and genuine spiritual maturity are so much more important than an individual’s political leanings. Church leaders shouldn’t get ‘sidetracked’ or ‘divided’ by lesser matters. Nationalism should always be lower on our list of priorities than following Jesus and living like he did. But that’s not to suggest that doing our civic duty (paying taxes, casting votes, serving our community, and praying for our elected leaders-read Romans 13:1-7) ‘isn’t’ a legitimate part of our walk of faith. It definitely is!
We should be praying for our nation and for the various candidates during this presidential election. And we should be engaged politically and cast our vote. But who should we vote for? Well, I don’t endorse candidates as the Senior Minister of Bethany Christian Church. God has called me to lead this church family and reach out to our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to try and sway votes. But since being engaged in our community is a legitimate part of our faith in Jesus, I want to share with you, in as non-partisan a way as possible, principles that can guide followers of Jesus Christ in casting our votes.
A candidate’s expression of faith is important. We are not electing a ‘Pastor-in-Chief’, but knowing that the individual who occupies the Oval Office shares our biblical faith gives us some insight as to how they will make decisions. Marco Rubio shared his faith during a recent debate and he expressed a clear declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the highlight of that debate for me!
A candidate’s stand on the issue of life is, also, vital. Ted Cruz has been unashamedly pro-life in his campaigning. It is hard for me to understand how Christians support candidates who do not oppose abortion. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses challenged the Israelites, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” The Bible clearly commends candidates who are pro-life.
It is important that a candidate care about all Americans. Hillary Clinton has been strident in reaching out to the homosexual community. She clearly wants the ‘GLBT’ community to know that she will pursue justice on their behalf. While it is not consistent for committed believers in Jesus to embrace sin/rebellion against God, we are called to love all people….even those with whom we disagree. As Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…!” (John 3:16a)
A candidate for president needs to show concern for the hurting and poor of this nation. James 1:27 reminds us that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” Bernie Sanders whole campaign has been built on trying to ‘level the playing field’ and help all Americans to share in our nation’s prosperity. One may question whether or not socialism is the best way to pursue that objective, but Mr. Sanders’ heart is in the right place.
A candidate must be concerned with the defense of our nation. The Tabernacle had a fence around it. Jerusalem was protected by a wall. Donald Trump has said he will build a wall on the Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration and that he will uphold our immigration laws. That is a valid concern for US, Christian citizens to consider.
A candidate must be a man or woman of integrity. Someone we can count on to tell us the truth no matter how hard it is to hear! Proverbs 12:19 reads, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Dr. Ben Carson is a man of strong character, full of integrity, who has spent a lifetime bringing healing to children in need. He is definitely a candidate who will tell us the truth.
Finally, look at a candidate’s track record. Has she or he done what they are claiming they will do? If a candidate hasn’t done, in the past, what he or she is promising to do in the future how do you know if she or he will be able to fulfill their promises? John Kasich has done (in Washington DC and Ohio) what he claims he will do as president of the US.
I have a couple of candidates for whom I am considering casting my vote. I am praying for wisdom for myself, for our church, for the state of Georgia, and for our nation in terms of making a good choice. No matter who you vote for, I love you and am glad you are a member of our church family! I hope you are joining me in prayer and civic service….remembering what God said to us through his Word recently, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)