You Will Vote for a Sinner
October 15, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
I don’t like election seasons. The rhetoric is filled with everything that Paul calls believers to put away: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice (Eph. 4:31). Political tensions seem to be a breeding ground for the works of the flesh: rivalries, dissensions, divisions (Gal. 5:19-20). Even Christians seem to forget that we are called to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). And then there is the anxiety that is enflamed by the rhetoric we hear around the election. That which is a blessing to our nation, the process of democracy, becomes a source of turmoil.
In spite of the fact that I dislike the election season, I do plan to vote, and I encourage you to vote. We have the privilege to use our votes to allow biblical values to shape and influence our nation, even if we find ourselves increasingly in the minority. As you go to the voting booth, let me encourage you to keep in mind the following:
- Every Candidate is a Sinner. Has been and will continue to be. So be humble about your choice. In our current environment, the media puts a magnifying glass on every flaw of each candidate (of course, according to their biases). As Christians we know better. One candidate is not the devil incarnate. Another candidate is not the messiah. Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses. To some extent, every candidate will have positions that line up with biblical values. And, to some extent, every candidate will have positions that are in opposition to biblical values. And, on some issues, there is more than one political position that lines up with biblical values.
At the end of the day you will vote for a flawed candidate, and your brothers and sisters at church will vote for flawed candidates. Let’s vote as Christians who allow biblical values to shape our choice and recognize 1. We have no messiah on Capitol Hill; and 2. Other believers, striving to vote according to biblical values, may vote differently than us; let’s be humble, while being gracious and respectful of one another.
- Do Not Confuse the Mission of the Church with the Mission of the State. In short, the mission of the church is to go and make disciples of all the nations (cf. Matt. 28:19). The State has a different mission. The Westminster Confession of Faith spells this out, reflecting on Romans 13: “God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers” (WCF XXIII.1). Therefore, with different missions, how the Church should respond to specific situations often is different from how the State should respond. Do not expect the State to fulfill the mission of the Church. Do not expect the Church to fulfill the mission of the State.
- Your Vote is Not Enough. It is good to allow the first and second greatest commandments to influence your vote (love God…love your neighbor). But your vote does not fulfill your duty to love God and love your neighbor. For many issues that have become political, there are actions we can do beyond the vote. Serving, volunteering, giving, learning, and speaking up are all avenues we can pursue in order to love our neighbor as ourselves. If you care about certain issues, vote according to biblical values and then do something about it.
- The Course of Human History and of the Church will not Be Determined by One Election. We have heard the rhetoric that this is the most important election in the history of the US. That is an exaggeration. Each election is important, but no single election determines the future for our nation or for the church. The trajectory of our nation is a culmination of the votes of the people, policies of elected officials, and decisions handed down by the courts. A single election will not change everything.
Thankfully, the trajectory of the nation also is in the hands of a sovereign God. This is comforting, even if God allows our nation to follow a path away from his revealed will. “God makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23). This doesn’t mean we become defeatists and disengage from the process. But we do not place our hope in the United States of America. Our hope is in God, who has promised good for his people, to sustain them no matter the circumstances in which they find themselves. Do not fret over this election. When we do that, we can become hostile with those who disagree with us.