When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan~ Proverbs 29:2 ESV
Our country has come to a place the founding fathers never imagined in their darkest of dreams. Unless the political winds shift quickly, this presidential election will likely be the strangest in our history. Bernie Sanders, self-confessed socialist/communist; and Donald Trump, reality television star/wealthy mogul, will be going toe-to-toe for the most powerful job in the world: President of the United States of America.
Take a moment and let those words sink in. It’s unlikely either outcome will be pretty and neither can happen without the support of Christians.
Our first option is the Senator who clearly lacks even a rudimentary understanding of how large economies work. Bernie’s fondest wish is to raise the tax rate on EVERYONE. We are told there is no need to worry because Bernie will reallocate all resources collected in a more “objective” and “equitable” fashion. Under his leadership the same government that is incapable of providing adequate medical care for military veterans (a relatively small percentage of the population) will be deciding who gets how much of pretty much everything.
The alternative will be Trump, a full-grown adult with the temperament of a toddler. Donald was busy this week. He vowed to sue one of his rivals for producing a negative ad consisting entirely of video clips of his past statements. A day later he called the Pope “disgraceful” and said he was “going down” for criticizing his views on immigration. Trump stated repeatedly this week that he believes spiritual leaders do not have the right to criticize or correct what people believe. If that statement does not scare you, you have literally dismissed all rational thought.
Many Christians intend to or have already voted for one of these two men. Many believe for whatever reason, that it is wrong to choose not to vote for anyone based on Christian principles. They have decided that Christian values should be consigned entirely to the private sphere of life. Those who support this view inevitably quote Luke 20:25 to justify their belief:
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s~ Jesus
Context is key here. Jesus was not telling His followers they should never use biblical standards when considering a political issue or candidate. I suspect Jesus would have thought the idea that anyone should not apply biblical standards to any subject absurd.
The question at hand in this passage was whether or not Jews were obligated to pay taxes to the Roman government. Period. Jesus was not telling his followers to abandon reason, so they could vote for some yahoo completely lacking in decency or sense just because they promise something the voter wants.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells his followers to love God with their intellect as well as their emotions. For that reason it is critical that Christians contemplate the character and conduct of a candidate when they consider whom to vote for. Anyone who promises to do a good thing that is not achievable or sustainable from a fiscal perspective is either dangerously ignorant or deliberately dishonest. He’s as bad as Trump who proudly tells the press he could shoot someone on the street and people would and should still follow him. Both should be rejected on the basis of character.
It is critical we remember God promises that ALL people (Christian and non-Christian) will give account for all their choices, including those made in the voting booth (Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13).
It’s time for Christians to get a firm grip on their feelings and stop wishing for more of the immediate change that helped propel us into this mess. We must accept the fact that the right candidate is not the person who proudly spouts vile, sinful things we sometimes think and shouldn’t. Nor is it the candidate who makes promises he cannot deliver without taking significant resources from the people who actually worked for those resources.
The right man or woman is the person with enough humility to admit that the problems we have are too big for one person to fix alone. A true leader will be courageous enough to remind us that we all bear some responsibility for the mess we’re in, rather than tell us what our itching ears long to hear (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)