The general election of 2004 is just a few weeks away and the media of full of debates, polls and politics. How should a person decide who to vote for? Some people will vote for who they thought “won” the debates. Others will vote for who they think appears more presidential. Yet others will vote for the challenger because they want to see change. Still others will vote for the incumbent because they do not want to see change. I think that the Bible gives a better way on how to decide who to vote for.
If we look at how God says a leader should be chosen, it will show us the characteristics to look for in a leader, whether a President, a Senator or some other official. The classic example is found in 1 Samuel 16, where God chooses a leader for Israel through the prophet Samuel. The instructions that God gave to Samuel are found in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Bottom line, pick a leader based on heart characteristics, like character and values, rather than external factors.
Let’s move right to 2004 and ask how we are to determine the character, the heart characteristics of a candidate. The character of a man will determine his future effectiveness as a leader, not his good intentions or promises. Character is best judged by past experiences. 1 Timothy 3:10 says that “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” I have taken courses on best practices for job interviews and they agree. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. Don’t ask the applicants about what they plan to do, ask them about what they have done in the past. And so, we should judge presidential candidates the same way. Their past record gives the best indication of what they will do in the future, it shows the direction of their hearts. Therefore, choose the candidate whose plans are simply an extension of their past experience. If the candidate makes promises, but does not root them in his past performance or voting record, he has no credibility.
Leadership is to be based on principle and values, not on simply doing what the poll of the day indicates. A leader leads, he molds public opinion, rather than simply following public opinion.
The Bible indicates that God has designed three major institutions in society: government, the church and the family. The best candidate will understand the balance between these three institutions and see how each has a role to play in society.
A candidate’s stand on the issues and past record must be analyzed with respect to biblical values and teaching. A claim to be a Christian or to have a relationship with God should not be deemed credible if the record does not indicate the candidate has a biblical worldview. The stand of national level candidates on many issues can be found on many news websites, as well as others like, www.ivotevalues.org.
Not all issues are of equal importance to those who desire to vote based on biblical values. As important as issues like the economy, taxes, health care or terroism are, the way to assess the best candidate to deal with them is to look at a small set of non-negotiable issues. These issues have crystal clear answers in the Bible and most candidates have clear positions on them. If a candidate’s stand on these issues is correct, the rest of their positions will tend to reflect a biblical worldview. If the candidate’s view on these issues is incorrect, the rest of their positions will tend to reflect a non-biblical worldview.
Here are the non-negotiable issues, agreed on by every believer who knows and lives by the Bible:
- Protection of human life is a responsibility of government. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception and so abortion must be opposed in every way possible. The choice to kill one’s own child is barbaric. Life continues until God takes it and so euthanasia, the active termination of life must be opposed in every way possible.
- Issues in bioethics are not difficult to understand if one is guided by biblical principles. Embryonic stem cell research results in the mutilation and death of unborn children and must be opposed. Adult and other stem cell sources pose no ethical problems. Human cloning is an attempt to play God by manipulating the creation of life and must be opposed.
- Marriage is held with high esteem in the Bible and provides the basic unit of society. From the beginning, marriage has been between one man and one woman. Society and government must encourage marriage and oppose anything destructive to it. Same-sex marriage must be opposed, in particular for the damage that it would do to future generations of children as well as society.
In the past, it may have been difficult to tell where candidates stood on these issues, but no more, especially at the national level. The major parties have taken stands on many of these issues and discussed them in their party platforms. Most candidates support their parties’ platforms on these issues, but there are exceptions, particularly at the state and local levels. Find out the candidates’ stances on these issues. Vote for the candidates who best support these non-negotiable values.
It doesn’t matter if your family has traditionally voted for one party for years, the times have changed, believers must do the right thing today. Don’t vote for the candidate that you think will put the most money in your pocket, vote for the candidate that follows godly values. When you do the right thing as a believer by voting according to biblical values, not your pocketbook, it will lead to blessing on your family and the nation. It is sad that in a day when the choice of president is a black and white issue for believers, the country is almost evenly divided. Either half of the country is completely ignorant of what is at stake or they are willingly choosing the wrong rather than the right. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, you and your family will be blessed if you vote your values as believers.
NLT Proverbs 14:34 Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.