By Elizabeth Prata
It feels like God is definitely putting us to the test these days, doesn’t it?! At least it does to me- politically, economically, spiritually…even physically. I feel surrounded!
We want to do the right thing as a citizen of the USA but ultimately we want to do the right thing even more by our Lord & Savior as citizens of heaven.
The first Presidential election in which I ever voted, was in 1980 as an unsaved 19 year old. I was scared of Reagan, disillusioned with Carter (the Iran hostage situation etc.) so I voted for Independent John Anderson. I’ve always liked third party or outsiders-from-Washington, and these days even more so as the two main parties over the decades have gotten less stark in what they stand for.
The election cycles were more staid and issues-driven back then. Mainstream journalists didn’t seek the more salacious aspects of a person’s life as vigorously as they do today, but morality was always a part of the national discussion. I remember Jimmy Carter saying in his 1976 Presidential campaign, in an interview in Playboy magazine no less, that he had committed adultery in his heart many times.
It was portentous, because first, Carter was being made out to be some kind of moral example when he obviously wasn’t, and second, “As the New York Times editorialized that the erosion of ‘the legitimate boundaries of [politicians’] private lives and intimate feelings’ had begun.”
Personally, I gave up looking at our Presidential candidates as moral men after the national debacle of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office antics. I was still unsaved then, but I was still disgusted with the situation. The antics led to an impeachment, not over his sexual peccadilloes while ‘on duty’, but because when questioned, Clinton had lied under oath and obstructed justice. One sin leads to another. A huge erosion began after that. I remember being furious about the lying under oath issue and I was right to be angry, as time has shown. Once the legal structure was compromised at the highest level by the highest officer, the rest began to crumble fast.
Let’s go to the Bible.
I think it’s instructive to look at why God originally instituted judges, kings and leaders (such as presidents). This excerpt is from RC Sproul at Ligonier:
The biblical concept of authority is hierarchical. At the top of the hierarchy is God. All authority rests ultimately in God, and there is no authority invested in any institution or in any person except through the delegation of that authority from God. Any authority that I have in any area of my life is a derived, appointed, and delegated authority. It is not intrinsic but extrinsic. It is given ultimately by the One who has inherent authority. Within this hierarchy structure, God the Father gives all authority on heaven and earth to Christ, His Son (Matt. 28:18). God has enthroned Christ as the King of kings. So if Christ is the prime minister of the universe, it means that all the kings of this world have a King who reigns over them and that all the earthly lords have a superior Lord to whom they are accountable.The Origin and Function of Government Under God
Jesus told Pilate, who was a governing authority,
Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:11a.
So, understand that biblically all government is part of a hierarchical structure with God at the top, whether the government knows it or not!, John MacArthur has spoken of the purpose of government,
The Bible “identifies government as an institution established by God in all its forms for the punishment of those who do evil and for the protection of those who do good. Our responsibility is to submit and pay our taxes.”Government in Biblical Perspective
In this other sermon he said-
Now that basic morality may find itself eroding over a period of time, as we see it even in our own society today. But nonetheless, there are some bottom-line principles of good and evil that all society recognizes, regarding the preservation of life and property. And society recognizes that they are absolutely essential for any kind of quality of living.The Christian’s Responsibility to Government
So government’s job under God is to protect the good and punish evildoers. Government also exists to restrain evil. The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit in believers to restrain evil, and the family to restrain evil, and government to restrain evil. Restraining evil is one of the government’s main jobs.
If you want to drill down to the basics of the matter of the 2020 Presidential election, we know at this point it’s a choice between two non-saved (and thus, immoral, men). Since neither are saved we can’t expect them to be moral. But are they equally immoral?
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:12 what have we to do with judging outsiders [of the church]? We judge those inside. Ecclesiastical authority, creeds, rules etc don’t reach them. In other words, we can’t judge them by the moral standards God has illuminated to His believers. He will judge the immoral. Trying to apply moral standards to men who aren’t saved and are at enmity with God is futile, in my opinion.
So what I do in my own process, is I examine the candidates’ government experience, the results of their tenure, and the policy stances of the men. After that, I look at which man is the least worst morally? Which man violates my conscience the least? I’m not advocating for everyone coming to a conclusion this way, it’s just my method I do personally.
For example, I could never vote for someone who advocates for abortion and would use his position to destroy babies. That is DOING evil, not protecting from evil. According to the National Right to Life Committee, this news story from a week ago, Trump (and Pence too) have repeatedly fought to protect babies from abortion, while Biden this past June announced support for abortion “under any circumstance.”
Part of the reader’s question was about Trump’s stance on LGBT/homosexual issues. President Trump now and before he was president has indeed supported the homosexual agenda. According to a recent USA Today report, Trump has long been an ally to the homosexual agenda.
But “Pink News” also wrote strongly against Trump because he recently enacted a ban on transgender people serving in the military. His Administration has also defined “sex discrimination” as only applying when someone faces discrimination for being female or male, and does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
So while Trump is pro-gay, he is not a proponent of policies that support gender dysphoria, trans folk, or issues involving changed biology.
Since government’s job is protection, I look at the candidates’ relationship with Law Enforcement and the Military. Does the candidate respect the boundaries of the law, and is he likely to utilize the mechanism for such protection (police, National Guard, military) for their intended goal of quelling chaos, protecting the people/nation, and upholding laws? That question is especially relevant in these days of ongoing riots.
In order to come to a settled conclusion, you could pursue any or all moral issues that weigh on your conscience of who would most protect life and property and restrain evil, or you could investigate solely the specific moral issues that particularly burden you, or you could just decide not to vote, if your conscience would be disrupted and won’t settle.
I’d say, mainly vote your conscience for the least worst, unless you believe the candidate is truly a Christian, then the choice is clear. I believe Pence is a true Christian, and I’d rather have him second in line than Kamala Harris, who, given Biden’s dementia, is actually FIRST in line! The Vice-Presidential choice factors into the equation, too. Nine Vice-Presidents went on to become President during the President’ tenure, 8 due to death and one due to resignation. That’s 20% of the time in our history the VP became went from behind the scenes to most important man in the world in one moment.
One rabbit trail: For people who say they vote for a third party candidate is wasting a vote: that’s pragmatism. It isn’t wasted before the Lord if I voted my conscience. He doesn’t consider an upheld conscience wasted. If it was for His glory, it is not wasted.
I believe it is up to us to decide which candidate in one’s view would Ultimately be more likely to restrain evil, and preserve life and property.
Here are some additional resources:
How Would Spurgeon Vote? from Spurgeon.org
Alistair Begg on Voting from Truth for Life
Various theologians answering this question, including Steve Lawson: May Christians vote for someone who denies the Trinity?