But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. (Exodus 18:21, NIV)
Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. (Proverbs 16:12, NIV)
Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure. (Proverbs 20:28, NIV)
Who should you vote for in next year’s elections?
Don’t ask me.
It’s not within my role as a pastor to endorse candidates or parties, so I refuse to do so. I want those who listen to my preaching and teaching to hear about the glories of God, the gospel of Jesus, the life of a believer, and the teachings of the Bible—not my political views.
I know that many pastors (even close friends of mine) endorse candidates and parties, but I do not think it is wise. The words of a pastor in this era of spiritual apathy should be focused on Jesus. When we merge the spiritual-and-the-political (as the evangelical church has done with political conservatives and the mainstream church has done with political progressives) we muddy our message. And a muddied message is powerless.
So I won’t tell you who to vote for. That’s not my role as a pastor. But it is within my role as a pastor to teach the Bible. And the Bible is crystal clear that we should look for leaders (in the church and in government) who are honest and trustworthy, leaders who hate dishonest gain, who detest wrongdoing of all kinds, and who live lives of love and faithfulness. There is no honest way to claim that the Bible teaches anything different.
So in my effort to be Biblical, I know what I’m looking for when it’s time to vote. If a candidate doesn’t consistently tell the truth, I won’t vote for them. If a candidate accepts bribes, I’ll pass them by. If a candidate lives immoral lives and hasn’t repented of it, I will look elsewhere. If a candidate hasn’t lived a life of love and faithfulness, they won’t get my vote. If a candidate doesn’t have integrity in their personal, family, and business lives, I won’t vote to give them even more influence.
I’m not looking for perfection, for that is impossible to find. I am, though, looking for a long-term pattern of honesty, integrity, and righteousness. And if a candidate doesn’t have it, I won’t vote for him or her.
My point is simple. Believers in Jesus are called to look for leaders and candidates who meet the Biblical qualifications for leadership.
Undoubtedly, you have already figured out a real problem in my thinking. Leaders and candidates who meet the qualifications for leadership are hard to find.
That is true, and it’s partially our fault. For many years, Christians have been willing to lower our standards to get someone who shares our political viewpoints even if they don’t have Biblical character. We haven’t cared about their integrity. We haven’t asked if they are honest. We haven’t looked at their personal and family lives. We haven’t evaluated their morality and righteousness. We haven’t asked if they are men and women of love and faithfulness. We’ve only looked at their politics and their platform.
That’s not enough.
If we want to be Biblical, we need to raise our standards. We can’t endorse anyone of any party who isn’t living a life of character, integrity, and honesty. Those are our minimum standards.
In our country today, we have a privilege that Old or New Testament believers didn’t have. We have a privilege that few in today’s world have. We get to choose—by voting—our own leaders. And we shouldn’t compromise on Biblical requirements to do so.
I’m not saying that this will be easy—nothing about living for Jesus is easy. But if we don’t insist on Biblical requirements, we are violating our own principles, and we should never do that for political—or any other—reasons. Look at the Old Testament nations of Israel and Judah. Both countries followed the lead of their kings. When the kings were godly and moral, the nation followed. When the kings lived immoral lives, the nation fell away from God.
I love our country too much to let that happen. And I love God too much to compromise His standards.
That has meant for me that in some elections and for some offices, I couldn’t find anyone on the ballot to vote for. At times, I’ve “written in” a candidate who had no real chance of winning rather than to vote for an unqualified major party candidate. When I shared with a family member some years ago that I wasn’t voting for either X or Y, he told me that I was wasting my vote. I see it differently. I think I would be compromising my faith if I did vote for someone who is Biblically unqualified.
I’ve been told that I’m naïve. That’s true only if the teachings of the Bible are naïve.
God’s word is clear, “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” (Biblical note: This passage in Exodus 18:21 refers to those who were soon called “judges” and who were spiritual, judicial, governmental, and even military leaders. Systems of government have changed, but qualifications have not.)
I trust God and His teaching, so I trust that if we choose Biblical candidates, God will bless our land.
I’ve been told that this kind of candidate doesn’t exist in today’s political climate. If that is true, then our country is in deep trouble no matter who we vote for. But I will do my best to seek out and vote for men and women who fear God and who are trustworthy. As a citizen, it is my responsibility to vote. As a Christian, it is my responsibility to vote for Biblically qualified candidates.
I urge you to do the same.
NOTE: Please do not misunderstand or misquote me. I am not attacking your candidate, your political party, or any particular candidate or party. I’m writing from a Biblical—not political—perspective. I’m encouraging believers to think in Biblical rather than in political terms. I write because I love God and I love my country.