By Jacob Hicks
Faculty, College of Theology
How should Christians vote in the upcoming midterm elections? Is there one “Christian” way to vote? What responsibilities do Christians owe the state if we’re just strangers and aliens on earth anyways?
Your questions are timely considering that we have only one week until the midterm elections which are on Tuesday, November 6. Americans will cast their vote for U.S. Senators, House members and governors, as well as various lower-profile state and local officials. Some people are already participating in early voting.
Before addressing the first two questions, which are more narrowly-focused, answering the final question first will provide a much-needed foundation. Theophilus, you are correct in pointing out that Christians are strangers and aliens in this world (1 Peter 2:11). Like our forefathers and foremothers of the faith, we live in this world with all its accompanying struggles and suffering but long for a heavenly homeland (Hebrews 11:13-16). Paul even writes that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). One day, we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). What a hope!
But for the time being, we have work to do while on earth. God has many purposes for his children, but some of those purposes (and possibly among the most overlooked ones) concern what responsibilities we have to the state. When Paul wrote Romans 13:1-7 in the first century A.D, he lived under the rule of the oppressive Roman Empire. Still, he urged his readers to obey governing authorities, to do good to make the rulers’ jobs easier, avoid evil to prevent leaders from having to punish them with their God-given power, pay taxes and honor and fear leaders. Scriptures such as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 and others urge us to pray for our leaders as well. A surprisingly large amount of our time and energy is spent on matters relating to the state. Though Scripture does not explicitly say anything about Christians voting, our republican form of government functions best when its citizens actively take part in the voting process.
Thus, it is critical that Christians choose the best candidates possible to lead the various levels of our government. It is no secret that we live in polarizing and confusing times. Democrats and Republicans are fighting feverishly for control of the government. Everyone has strong opinions on President Donald Trump, for or against. Abortion, immigration and health care are just a few of many hot-button issues that voters have to weigh during this election cycle. Yet despite the trying times we find ourselves in, let us remember that God is sovereign (Psalm 24:1-2, 97:9, 135:6; Colossians 1:17). He is still in control over the U.S., the earth and the entire universe no matter what and will appoint or allow to be elected whomever he sees fit.
We should also do well to remember that God is not a Democrat or Republican. Our two political parties are man-made institutions that seek to marshal their respective groups of like-minded voters to vote for members of their team. Parties have their own interests and goals that they try to achieve, which are not often God’s ends. In contrast to political parties, the universal Church is an organization, a living body, instituted by God to conduct the work of his Kingdom on earth and is not bound by national borders or party platforms (Ephesians 1:18-23).
This Kingdom work includes sharing the gospel with those near and far; loving all people regardless of race, nationality and gender; and serving the needy and defenseless, whether that is the unborn, the aged, people with disabilities, the poor, widows, orphans or immigrants. The mission of the Church does not fit neatly into political party lines.
There is no one “Christian” way to vote other than voting for candidates who most effectively allow for the Church to freely accomplish its work for King Jesus and who best uphold the biblical principles of peace, justice, service and freedom for all of its citizens.
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