Super Tuesday is upon us. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably on the verge of a panic attack from all of the political polls, commercials, and articles. Some people claim the earth will come to an end, if you don’t vote for their candidate. Others claim that the earth could be made new, if you vote for their candidate. But most commentators are somewhere in between.
For the first time, I find myself not only in the position of a voter, but as a pastor. And I’m a pastor of a church filled each week with people holding all sorts of political views. Some of them follow the political developments hourly, while others just found out today that they need to vote tomorrow. Some are mature believers, while others aren’t believers at all. As a pastor I’ve had a good number of folks ask me how to approach this presidential race. It’s an important question. Here are 8 recommendations for Christians to consider this Super Tuesday.
Remember Our God – The Bible says our God is in the heavens and he does whatever he pleases (Ps. 115:3). Because he’s all-powerful, we don’t have to worry about someone overpowering him and his purposes. Because he’s loving, we don’t need to question whether he wants to do what’s best for his people. Because he’s all-knowing, we don’t need to question the decisions he makes. Our God is not shaken by the current political realities, so neither should we. If we trust him with whatever future we face, we can have peace in the present. If we don’t, we won’t. Remember the God who does whatever he pleases. Remember his personal love for you in Christ. Walk peacefully with the Prince of Peace this political season to whatever future he, in his wisdom, orchestrates.
Remember Our Mission – God’s sovereignty doesn’t remove serious, human responsibility. Yes, we walk peacefully, as we trust in his providence; but we also walk purposefully. You exist to bring glory to God in everything you do (1 Cor 10:31). You exist to advance the gospel saturated, kingdom of Christ. As a citizen of Christ’s kingdom and the United States of America, you have a dual citizenship. Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom informs our citizenship in the USA. As an ambassador for Christ in a democratic republic, we have a responsibility to engage politically (Rom 13:1-7). Engaging responsibly means that we try to make decisions that are pleasing to Jesus, not a political party. While political parties and policies can do some good, they’ll never save America. Only Jesus can. Remember our mission.
Pray Through The Complexity – If we buy into the first two points, it doesn’t make everything else easy. Easier, yes, but not easy. We can remember our God and our mission, and still struggle to know exactly how to vote. That’s why it’s so important to prayerfully consider our voting responsibility. Prayer is not included here just because I’m a pastor. It’s included because the biblical evidence is clear: God uses the prayers of his people to give them what they would not have otherwise—whether that is peace, wisdom, conversions, or something else. Let’s not be a people who look back on this political season with the sense that we lacked wisdom in our political engagement because we failed to ask for it. Ask God to give you wisdom, to give the candidates wisdom, and walk in his ways.
Think Biblically – If we call ourselves Christians, then we should probably know what Christ’s word says on the issues that politicians are talking about. We all know that just because you own a Bible, doesn’t mean you’ve read it. If you have read it, you know that some portions of Scripture are clearer than others. The Bible’s clear that God creates life in the womb. So it’s easy to know that we should support pro-life policies. The Bible is also clear that we should care for the poor. Unlike the abortion issue, that policy choice isn’t as clear. People who agree that we need to care for the poor will often disagree on the best policy to do that. And on and on you go. While complete agreement is impossible, I’m praying that Christians have biblical reasons for supporting their particular candidate.
Understand The Rules – Compromise is the name of the game in a democratic republic. It’s not in Christ’s kingdom. One big difference between the advancement of Christ’s kingdom and the American Political landscape is the former advances through a lack of compromise and the latter advances through political compromise. That means you need to understand you aren’t voting for a savior, we already have one. But we are voting for a man or woman who will do the “best” job. You don’t have to be a believer to get a believer’s vote. But we sure want to get a president that is most in line with what the Bible says matters. While compromise is to be expected, there are some issues that our candidates must be immovable.
Focus Primarily On Policies, But Not Exclusively – The ideas and policies that a politician has are more important than his or her personality. That’s why it is important to do your best to avoid personal attacks and ad hominem arguments, focusing on the substance of what is being said, instead. Just because someone is a great guy or gal, doesn’t mean his or her idea is great. Or, conversely, just because someone is a bad guy, doesn’t mean their idea is bad. Focus more on what is being said than on who is saying it. But don’t focus exclusively on what is being said. You do need to pay attention to the character of the person saying it. While every politician I’m aware of has failed to do something they’ve said they would do, not every mistake made by a politician is created equal in act, number, and/or seriousness. Spend most of your time thinking through the policy proposals of the politicians from a biblical worldview, but not all of it. Remember to focus on their character as well. The lower the character of the politician, the lower the chances they’ll deliver what they’ve promised.
Remember Your Audience(s) – We’ve all seen the scene. The parents are in a screaming match until they turn and see that their child has been standing in the doorway the whole time. They feel awful. And off they go to try to manage the damage. Unfortunately, in our social media world, we are all in a similar situation. We all have more than one audience listening at a time, whether we realize it or not. So let me encourage you to speak in a way that is appropriate to all of them, especially the audience that Jesus came to seek and to save. If you’re not careful, a step forward in your social circles may be five steps back in the kingdom of Christ. We should disagree without being disagreeable. We should share our convictions kindly. We should leave room for disagreement. Make no mistake, you can win a political argument and still lose. In a social media world, remember your audiences.
Remember Grace – These are complicated times and we are broken people. We’ll all fail in some way—whether we know it or not. Let’s lean into the grace of God available to us in Christ. Let’s extend that grace to others. And let’s do our best to bring him glory this political season.