Mailbag, Politics

The Mailbag: How Should Christians Vote?

Originally published November 5, 2018

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3, is election day in the United States. How should Christians vote?

Voting is a privilege, and, for U.S. citizens, a right. I encourage you to use your vote as a godly influence by voting according to biblical principles. My answer to today’s Mailbag question is adapted from my 2008 article, How Should Christians Vote?

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Tomorrow is election day. How can we steward our vote in a godly way?

First things first. Christians, especially Christian women, should vote. Not voting would not only be an insult to the sacrifice of the dedicated men and women who have given their lives in the cause of freedom and suffrage over the years that we might have the luxury of having a voice in our governance, but voting is a gift from God. Should we treat this gift lightly by failing to exercise it?

If you have never had the opportunity to visit a country, such as those in the Middle East, in which basic freedoms and women’s rights are limited if in existence at all, I urge you to do so if at all possible. After I returned to the U.S. from a visit to the Middle East a few years ago, I realized just how much we take for granted what an enormous blessing it is that God has seen fit to place us in a land of liberty, abundance, and opportunity. When I vote, I see it as a way of returning thanks to God for the gift of freedom, and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our liberties.

For whom should Christians vote? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whatever we do, we should do all things for the glory of God. “Whatever” and “all things” includes voting. Christians should vote for the person they believe will bring the most glory to God. Considering the candidate options with which we’re often presented, this, at times, seems an impossible task.

How do we know which candidate to vote for? Like all other decisions in a Christian’s life, this one should be governed by God’s leading through prayer and Biblical principles. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) to make a Godly decision.

Study the candidate’s platform and where he stands on each issue. Is he a proponent of anything that clearly conflicts with Scripture? Would he push to legalize or undergird things God calls sin such as abortion or sexual perversion? Does he support the persecution of Christians – denying us freedom of speech or assembly, and taking away the rights of Christians to run their businesses according to biblical principles?  Can we, as Christians– whose goal in life is supposed to be turning from sin and pursuing holiness – knowingly and intentionally disregard the fact that a candidate would stand in favor of sin rather than fighting against it, and give him our support?

Sometimes we lean towards voting for the candidate who would benefit us the most, personally. Perhaps he has promised a tax cut for our particular bracket, or said he would improve the roads we use for traveling to work. In and of themselves, those are good things, but does his platform also include favoring things which would hurt others or be detrimental to the fabric of our society in general? In other words, should a Christian vote for something or someone who will benefit herself at the expense of harming others?

I don’t believe we can do that and remain true to Biblical principles such as:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; Romans 15:1-3a

The Bible calls us to the mindset and heart attitude of placing others ahead of ourselves, laying down our lives for others, and doing what’s best for others before we consider what’s best for ourselves.

The question of a candidate’s character is another issue for Christians to consider. Some Christians consider sitting out an election or voting for a third party candidate who has little to no chance of being elected because one of the two major candidates stands for ungodly policies while the candidate whose policies more closely align with biblical principles is a person of questionable character.

I completely understand this dilemma, and if you are strongly convicted that you should either not vote, or vote for a third party candidate, then you should certainly not violate your conscience. That being said, your conscience should be molded primarily by Scripture, but also by reasoning. If I might offer a few thoughts for your consideration:

  • Could you possibly cast a ballot for the major candidate of poor character with the perspective that you are not voting for him, but that you are voting against the major candidate with ungodly policies? Or, could you go into the voting booth with the mindset that you are voting for policies, not a person?
  • Voting for a particular candidate does not mean, even in God’s eyes, that you agree with or endorse any sinful actions he has committed in the past in his personal life. You are hiring him to do a (secular) job. If you were interviewing someone to clean your house and you found out that, in the past, she had had an affair and divorced her husband, would hiring her mean that you approve of her past sin?
  • Consider the fact that the “moral” politicians of yesteryear may have been, in actuality, just as immoral as the “immoral” candidate currently on the ballot, but because the media and historians were more discreet and protective of politicians’ privacy back then, you just don’t know about their moral failings. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of politicians are/have been unsaved (just like the vast majority of people, period, are unsaved), and sinners gonna sin, even if you don’t know about it. You will never have the opportunity to vote for someone who isn’t a sinner. Every candidate has sinned in the past and will sin once in office.

As is frequently the case these days, the person we vote for, believing he will make the most Christ-like decisions, loses the election. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually pretty disappointed when this happens.

I try to keep it in perspective, though. It’s within the realm of possibility that the person who won the election will get radically saved after taking office and make even more Godly decisions than the other candidate would have made. It’s also possible that he will unintentionally make the decisions God wants him to make for other reasons, such as political expediency or pleasing a particular special interest group. The Bible says in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Not only should we pray before we vote, but we have a Biblical mandate to pray for the winner after the election is over:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4

Above all, we must remember that, while this election and future elections may determine who will sit in the White House, the Congress, or the State House, they do not, nor will they ever, determine who sits on the throne of the universe as King.

Please steward your vote in a godly way. Research the candidates, the issues, and the Scriptures, and vote for the people and proposals that are most aligned with biblical principles.

Additional Resources

Election 2020 – How Can Christians Vote Biblically? at A Word Fitly Spoken

The Mormon Moment: Can Christians Biblically Vote for a Mormon? (Depending on the candidates in your district, you may find the principles in this article from the 2012 Presidential election to be helpful.)

Does God expect Christians to vote? at Got Questions

Since God is totally sovereign over world leaders and events, why should we vote or be involved in politics? by John MacArthur

Christians and Politics: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 by John MacArthur

Principles for Voting by R.C. Sproul

Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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