Should a Christian voter in the United States use the Bible to inform our election decisions? The first and obvious answer is “Yes,” but I think there is a pretty important distinction to be aware of first.
In the U.S., we are citizens of a Republic. The people of the Bible were subjects in a monarchy or an oligarchy. There is an enormous difference in worldview between these two realities.
We have an ongoing public conversation in our nation about the role of government in our daily lives. We have reduced the conversation to terms like “less” and “more” or “smaller” and “bigger.” Advocates for “less” or “smaller” government are those who believe that government is over-reaching, over-regulating, and needs to be refocused on a smaller set of priorities.
Here’s what is so amazing - We can actually have this conversation in our country!!! Normal people like you and me,because we are citizens and not subjects, can actually talk together about what our government should be doing, and cast our votes accordingly.
See that? Isn’t that remarkable? Let’s not take it for granted. We can tell our government what we think it should be doing. No one in the Bible or in the Bible’s initial audience would have ever dreamed of telling their governing authorities how “big” government should be! It was the governing authorities who let the people know exactly what the government would be doing at any given time.
At Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” That’s a pretty cool deal if you ask me, and an idea that would have been quite foreign to people we read about in Scripture.
So back to the question: Should a Christian voter in the United States use the Bible to inform our election decisions? Well, yes and no.
It is possible for a Christian in the U.S. to want our society to be more aligned with Scripture (meaning more just, more peaceful, more loving, more like the Kingdom of God) and also think the government is just not the best way to make that happen. That person may vote very differently than a Christian with similar, or even identical desires about our society who does think government is a viable mechanism for making that happen.
In other words, two faithful Christians who each take the Bible seriously and each love Jesus and each think there are some serious injustices in the world that need to be addressed might end up voting for different candidates, or voting differently on various propositions or amendments.
And that’s okay! In fact, it’s really brilliant! Having a wide, diverse array of perspectives among our citizens is a part of what makes our nation go, gives us energy, and keeps us accountable. If we didn’t have it that way, we’d be subjects of a single authority, bound by our coerced allegiance.
What isn’t okay is when we attack as “unfaithful” a perspective that is different than our own or when we arrogantly claim that there’s only one way a follower of Jesus could possibly vote. This is America, and that’s not how we do! Yes, citizenship is messier that subjecthood, but freedom is inherently messy, and just because it’s messy doesn’t mean it has to be ugly.