Fourth in a series on voting, for the people of Pueblo West Baptist Church
From Pastor Tedd Mathis
It’s a humbling thing to consider the matter of voting.
+ If you voted in 2012, you were one of more than 120 million Americans who cast ballots.
+ Seeing the political signs in the front yards of my neighborhood, it appears I’ll be cancelling out their vote and they mine.
+ Even our church family will not likely vote as a solid block. I plan to write in a man’s name for president; I’d guess some church members have a 3rd Party Candidate who will receive their vote; still others will vote for one of the mainline candidates. Some of you may skip the election altogether.
Earlier this year I wrote three essays on voting from what I believe is a biblical, Christ-exalting perspective. You can go to the church website and read them. But I thought I’d give you some glimpse into what has influenced my vote.
What is the end goal of my voting? I believe I’ve sought to honor Christ by reading much and weighing pros and cons and then making my decision (Col. 3:17; Ro, 14:12). What I’ve concluded means I won’t be voting for the Republican or Democrat candidate. I’ll say more about that below, but I’ve never been in this situation before.
If I write in a credible candidate, or vote for a third party candidate, will my vote be wasted? I came to believe it won’t. The Lord knows my motives and thought process. But there is also the fact that when all the votes are tallied and the political statisticians seek to gain some understanding of what we the people were conveying in our vote, mine will at least say something to the main political parties. Their candidates did not gain my trust. But my write-in did. Granted, it will be an anonymous blip in the statistics, but a blip nonetheless.
From another angle: Indifference and/or American pragmatism would have us not voting at all, or scanning the latest polls as to how to vote. After all, wouldn’t the only non-wasted vote be for the winner? But the believer is called to live by faith in what he has become convinced of in the Scriptures (II Tim. 3:13-17). JC Ryle wrote, ‘A man born again does not make the world’s opinions his rule of right and wrong.’ I concluded I should vote from conviction not expediency.
What should be my primary criteria? I weighted my decision on what’s already been demonstrated, not what the candidates promise they’ll do in the future. This is based in Psalm 146:3 – Do not put your trust in princes… who cannot save (see also Pr. 16:9; James 4:13-15).
When I say ‘what’s already been demonstrated,’ I’m referring to the moral or ethical character the candidate has demonstrated. I get this from Pr. 16:1; 17:7; 29:2; 29:12. Some argue that character should take a back seat to leadership ability, after all, we’re not electing a pastor. But we’re talking about the highest office in the land – the most visible representative of our nation to ourselves, our children and to the world. I’m sticking with character – how the candidates have conducted themselves morally over time. Neither Trump nor Clinton gained my trust; In fact, I believe both have shown great moral bankruptcy and have no business being in any public office. I’ve heard the argument that other presidents were far from perfect. That’s true. So why would anyone want a more debauched and deceitful president than we’ve had in the past? Go back and read the Proverbs listed above; God Himself says the moral character of a leader influences those whom he leads.
How much stock should we put in promises? (Pr. 21:1) There have been some who have argued we must vote for a particular candidate because it’s highly likely the next president will appoint several Supreme Court justices. The dream of many citizens is to severely curtail or reverse laws relating to abortion and same sex marriage while the goal of others is to keep those laws in place. Candidates know this and make promises accordingly as to whom they would nominate to the court.
Here’s an illustration of what cannot be seen or determined about the future by the election of a president. Back in the 1980s a good number of people voted for Ronald Reagan on the basis of his conservative positions. He too was in a position of, if elected, nominating Supreme Court justices. That happened: Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the court in 1987. Jump ahead to June 26, 2015; it was ‘conservative’ Justice Kennedy who authored the majority ruling in the decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, which holds that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry nationwide.
Similarly: In 1992, the Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Three justices appointed by Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the opinion. Do not put your trust in princes…
Will my vote restrict me? There is no politician or political entity that should assume they’re guaranteed my vote. More importantly, by voting for someone I have no qualms about, my conscience is clear to speak with conviction to people of all political bents. But for me to knowingly vote for a bragging adulterer or serial liar for president and then turn around and urge my neighbors to repent of their sins smacks of unholy pragmatism (If you promise to do something ‘good’ for us Christians in the future, I’ll vote for you and overlook your unrepentant sin today).
Will I live by faith or promote fear? I rest in the wonderful truth that come Wednesday, November 9, the Lord Jesus Christ will remain in authority over all things (Eph. 1:20-23). Do you know how many times in the past 200 years professing Christians have warned about the epic catastrophe that will occur should the ‘bad guy’ get elected? (See the church website for an excellent article about this). Tragically, many pastors have made a name for themselves pronouncing specific results for our nation, only to adulterate the Gospel by demeaning the Lord who is summing up all things according to the will of God (Eph. 1:9-10; 20-23).
In conclusion, my encouragement is for us all to vote according to our Bible-soaked consciences and hope in the God who is sovereign over all things (Is. 40:12-17; 46:8-11). Here’s one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Judgment severe was coming to Judah, and godly Habakkuk knew it and knew he would have to go through it with his nation. Yet here’s what he wrote:
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. – Hab. 3:16-19