Some church members have been duped into believing that Christian principles should be checked at the door of the voting booth. (1) Some have been told that the First Amendment requires this. It does no such thing. All the First Amendment does is to prevent the Federal Government from making laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. In the early proposals of the wording for this amendment, George Mason proposed, “no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.” James Madison proposed, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship nor shall any national religion be established.” Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, who was appointed by James Madison, remarked, “We are not to attribute this [first amendment] prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general…” The House Judicial Committee 1853-1854 commented, “What is an establishment of religion? … Had the people, during the Revolution had a suspicion of an attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect…” The Senate Judiciary concurred saying, “What is meant by the expression? It referred, without a doubt, to the establishment which existed in the mother country… endowment, at public expense, in exclusion of or in preference to any other, by giving to its members exclusive political rights, and by compelling the attendance of those who rejected its communion upon its worship or religious observances.” Again, listen to Justice Story, “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance much less to advance, Mohometanism (sic), or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects.” Folks, the First Amendment has to do with the Federal Government favoring of a religion, not how you vote. (2) Others have been told that article 6 sec. 3 requires that we not use religious tests in selecting a candidate. It reads: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The religious test had to do with the Federal Government’s rules, not the individual voters. Moreover, many states did have requirements such as a belief in God, and a future state of reward and punishment. Yet, some of these same states had a no religious test law also in their constitution (see Tennessee Constitution, Article 8 sec. 2 cf. Article 11 sec. 4). A religious test under consideration is you must be (a Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, etc.) of a certain religious group.
A true Christian should never check his Christianity at the door anywhere. What are some of the issues a Christian should consider when voting?
Guidelines to vote by:
1. Character matters – Exodus 18:21, “Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness [unjust gain ASV] and place such over them to be rulers…” Such was the ruler under the Old Testament.
1 Timothy 3:10 – “Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office…” According to 1 Timothy 3:6, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he falls into condemnation of the devil.” Those New Testament passages are speaking of the qualifications of deacons and elders; But perhaps these principles will help.
2. Respect for God – Leaders of a nation should fear God (Exodus 18:21). They should understand they are accountability before the Almighty. Exodus 23:6-7 warns, “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.” 2 Chronicles 19:6-7 admonishes, “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not a man, but for the Lord… wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you…” Psalm 82 reminds judges that one day they will appear the Judge. Yes, both the small and great are accountable (Revelation 20:12).
3. Desire for truth/discerner of truth – A good leader will not surround himself with sycophants and “yes men” who tell him only what he wants to hear. “Righteous lips are the delight of kinds, and they love him who speaks what is right” (Proverbs 16:13 NKJV). “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:5). Read also Proverbs 26:28; 29:12.
4. Care for poor/weak of society – David desired of Solomon, “He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment… He shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy and break into pieces the oppressor… For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and the needy and save the soul of the needy” (Psalm 72:2, 4, 12, 13). Also read Psalm 82:3-4).
5. Judges should be fair – Psalm 82:2-4 asks, “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and the fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and the needy. Deliver the poor and the needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” Exodus 23:6 admonishes, “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Deuteronomy 16:18-19, “… they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt nor wrest judgment; Thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” Proverbs 31:9 pleads, “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” The Bible has much to say about the work of judges.
Judges are not to show respect of persons (Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:19; 2 Chronicles 19:6-7). This fairness is to work both ways: Neither the rich nor the poor are to be favored (Leviticus 19:15; cf. Exodus 23:3). Note: Some do favor the rich over the poor; and some do favor the poor over the rich.
Judges are to take no bribes or gifts (1 Samuel 8:1-3; 12:3; 2 Chronicles 9:6-7; Isaiah 5:23; 33:14-15; Amos 5:12; Proverbs 17:23). And yes, this principle is still in place (Matt. 7:12 cf. Acts 10:34-35; 1 Peter 1:17).
6. Law makers are to make just laws – Isaiah 10:1-2 pronounces, “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and write grievousness which they prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right of the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!” It is wrong to make laws to legally rob the weak.
Proverbs 29:4 teaches, “The King by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts [take bribes NASB; receives bribes NKJV] overthrow it.” Lawmakers who make laws to receive gifts from special interest groups are in violation of this teaching (cf. Matthew 7:12).
7. Punishment of the wicked – One of government’s primary duties is to protect the innocent. Psalm 101:8; David says: “I will early [morning by morning ASV] destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city…” Proverbs 20:26 NASB, “A wise King winnows the wicked, and drives the threshing wheel over them” (cf. Proverbs 20:8). The New Testament also teaches the authority of governments to punish wrongdoing, even to the point of death (Romans 13:1-4; cf. Acts 26:11).
Governments need to punish criminals. Ecclesiastes 8:11 reads, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
8. It’s not “the economy stupid” – Proverbs 16:8 reads, “Better is a little righteousness than great revenues without right.” The economy boomed under Jeroboam II, yet it doesn’t appear that God was impressed (2 Kings 14:23-29).
I would remind you that Benito Mussolini made the trains run on time. Clearly a Christian should have more under consideration than just the economy. Yes, the economy matters, but it is not the only issue, or even the most important.
Having said this, a good ruler is considerate of economic issues. It was a burdensome tax rate that led to a revolt in the days of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12).
9. Care of creation – Various passages indicate that man should be good stewards of the things of this earth (Deut. 20:19 – 20; 22:6-7; 23:12 – 13; 25:4; Prov. 12:10; Matt. 14:20; 15:37; Mark 6:43; 8:8; Luke 9:17; John 6:12-13).
Remember that according to the Bible: A. Land may be used to build (Jer. 29:5; Matt. 21:33), to cultivate (Genesis 2:5; 3:19; 4:2; Job 1:14; 1 Kings 19:19; Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12; Matthew 13:3ff; James 5:2), and to extract resources (Genesis 21:25ff; Job 3:21; Proverbs 2:4; John 4:6ff). B. Plants may be used for food (Genesis 1:29; 3:2; Deuteronomy 26; Matthew 12:1, 2; 21:19 – 20; Luke 13:6ff; 1 Corinthians 9:7), shade (1 Kings 4:25; Jon. 4:5ff; Micah 4:4), lumber (Deuteronomy 19:5; 1 Kings 5:6; Isaiah 44:14 – 15) and fire (Isaiah 44:14 – 15). C. Animals may be used for food (Genesis 9:3; Luke 11:11 – 12; John 21: 5-6, 9-12; Acts 10:9ff; 1 Timoth 4:1-5), clothing (Genesis 3:21; Job 31:19 – 20; Matthew 3:4), produce – such as eggs, milk and wool (Genesis 18:8; Job 6:6; Proverbs 27:23, 27; Luke 11:11 – 12) work and transportation (Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Kings 19:19; John 12:14, 15; Acts 8:28-31). Man is even allowed to kill animals to protect or defend property or person (Exodus 21:28; 23:29; 1 Samuel 17:34-37; Acts 28:3-5). Numerous passages teach that man is of greater worth than animals (Matthew 6:26; 10:29 – 31; 12:11 – 12; 18:12-14; Luke 13:5 -6; 14:1-5; 15:1-7).
10. Values the sanctity of human life – The Bible uses the same word for what is in the womb and for what is out of the womb (Luke 1:41, 44 cf. 2:12). What is in the womb is called life (Exodus 21:22-25). The fetus possesses all the characteristics of life. Moreover, there is no authority for us to destroy the unborn, scripturally speaking.
This is a great issue of our day. Since Roe v. Wade, 45 million babies have been slaughtered. This number is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming – 24 states!
11. Values the “traditional home” – God designed the home (Genesis 1; 2; Matthew 19: Hebrews 13:4). We should support those who what to see marriage limited to one man and one woman.
There is a vigorous push to change things. Some desire homosexual marriages. If this is allowed, then polygamy must also be logically allowed. Once polygamy is allowed, why not group marriages, as well, be fully recognized and legitimized by the government.
12. Understand that one can legislate morality – the words “You can’t legislate morality” were originally used to mean you can criminalize behavior, but you can’t make a man inwardly moral. For instance, you can criminalize discrimination. But you can’t legislate against a racist heart.
I do agree that man can’t legislate the inward thoughts and feelings. John Quincy Adams, “Human legislators can undertake only to prescribe the actions of men, they acknowledge their inability to govern and direct the sentiments of the heart… It is one of the greatest marks of Divine favor… that the Legislator gave… rules not only of action but for the government of the heart.” Thomas Jefferson, “(Jesus) pushed his scrutinizes into the heart of man, erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountainhead.”
However, listen to Dr. Sterling Lacy, “’Morality’ is defined as the condition of conforming to right principles… to ‘legislate’ means to make laws… What law has ever been erected by any government in the history of man that has not named something wrong and its opposite right… what today’s critics are saying is ‘we don’t want God to have anything to do with today’s morality. We want to determine what is right and wrong. America has become the battle ground between the world’s two oldest religions. The first worships God. The second worships man. It is a question of which religious guidelines will undergird the legislation.”
Now I am certainly not saying that everything that is wrong according to the Bible should be criminalized by man’s laws. But I am saying one can legislate morality. Murder, theft, rape, are all legislated against, and they are moral issues.
13. Party loyalty or Christian principles – A Christian should never be so loyal to a political party that he/she votes the party line regardless of the issues. I am convinced that if Jesus was on one ticket and the devil on the other, some would cast their vote for the devil due to party loyalty. Don’t be like that.
14. Remember that ultimately the best way to change society is not by the vote – it is by Christians quietly working to turn their friends, loved ones, neighbors, and even their enemies to Christ.
I’m afraid that some think that they have defended right simply by voting. Brethren, are we out preaching the message near and far? This needs to be done as well and more so! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if folks were as zealous about teaching the truth, exalting Christ, and winning souls as they were about the political process?
1. “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice: but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
2. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34).
3. The voting process is extremely important. James A. Garfield, “People are responsible for the character of Congress. If that body be ignorant reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities… if the next centennial does not find us a great nation… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” Abraham Lincoln opined, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” Thomas Jefferson mused, “Perhaps this (political) party division is necessary to induce each (party) to watch and relate to the people.” John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said, “The Americans are the first people whom heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government which they should live.” Again, “Providence has given to our people the choice of rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Constitutional signer, Richard Dobbs Spaight said, “I do not suppose an infidel, or any such person, will ever be chosen to any office unless the people themselves be of the same opinion.” James Iredell, Supreme Court justice appointed by George Washington, remarked, “But it is objected that the people of America may perhaps choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans (sic) may be admitted into office… But it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own.” (If they could see what we’ve done now!)
This is a tremendous article that needs to be carefully digested by discerning Christians.
Thanks Bruce, it needs to be carefully digested by undiscerning Christians also!
Great article…. Great timing. We have a lot to think about with so many elections and run-off elections coming up. Now is our opportunity to be heard. W. Hodge