About this time every four years I experience a strange conflict of interests: The Evangelical-guilt, peer-pressured turmoil that is the American voting experience.
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You see, my normal routine is to prayerfully weigh all the positions of each of the candidates. Then, I ask the Holy Spirit if I should participate in my civic duty by voting or by abstaining. This year, as in years past, the Holy Spirit led me to participate by voting.
However, prior to early voting I came across this advertisement in the USA Today. There he stood – Billy Graham – prophetically calling me to let Biblical values drive my vote for the presidency. As I put the newspaper down, I pondered over my Biblical values. I glanced again the candidates and asked the question again. Which candidate do I vote for? The Liberal Protestant? The Mormon? The Small Government Guy Who Doesn’t Have A Legitimate Shot?
I remembered in this moment that voting is a complex process and that I need to respect the act of making a Holy Spirit led decision within that complex process. I respect the fact that there is a checks and balances system to the national government. Furthermore, I am an evangelical Christian who is not selecting a pastor, but rather a civic leader who will enter into a civic system that is in no way constrained by or centered on the bible.
In light of this every-four-year crisis, I want to highlight the approach I often recommend when talking with my congregation about this voting process. I believe that there are four ways for a Bible-centered, born again Christian to approach the complex process of voting:
- The Abstaining From Voting approach. This is the approach that historian and committed Christian Mark Noll applies to the voting process. If a candidate does not have a Christian perspective, broadly speaking, then Noll abstains.
- The Single Issue Voting approach. Take the issue that ranks highest in your priority and vote for that. I think this was the spirit behind what Graham was calling for.
- The Single Party approach. Many who vote are convinced that a political party best represents their Christian values. Thus, they tend to vote straight ticket.
- The Best Overall Platform Voting approach. This approach sees every candidate as a mixed moral bag and someone who will grieve the Lord in any one or two specific areas. The election is reduced to the process of selecting the lesser of two evils.
So voters, if the Holy Spirit leads you to vote today, I encourage you to adopt a Holy Spirit led approach.
- Don’t vote against someone, vote for someone.
- Don’t make your vote a reaction to a previous decision.
- Don’t vote for the trendy pick.
- Don’t vote in rebellion as a way to upset your parents or culture of origin.
- Don’t vote out of peer pressure.
- Don’t vote to please a boss or friend.
- Don’t vote because an actor, sports figure, or cultural thinker told you to.
- Also, consider reading this blog post for further do’s and don’ts.
Vote for the Glory of God. And be at peace with your civic decision.