This is Part II of a three part series, Vote Your Values. Part I: Your Values Matter is here.
A decision to vote according to our Christian values doesn’t mean it’s easy to know who deserves our vote. How are we to know a person’s heart? Does God give us any guidelines on choosing a leader? Absolutely!
How to vote according to the Bible
As we saw in Part I, the Bible tells us how to be good citizens, but that doesn’t help us know who to vote for. For guidance, we turn to the Old Testament books of 1 Samuel and Deuteronomy.
Don’t vote for the best-looking candidate
In 1 Samuel 16, we read the story of the anointing of a young shepherd named David to be the next King over Israel. The Lord sent Samuel to Bethlehem, telling him that He was going to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as king, but Samuel didn’t know which of Jesse’s eight sons the Lord had chosen:
1 Samuel 16:6-7 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Don’t vote for someone based on their looks, the size of their bank account, or their pedigree. It’s not about who is the tallest or which candidate you would most like to have a beer with, as was said of a candidate in the last election. After all, we are not electing a new best friend, but the leader of our country, and of the free world.
We choose leaders from among our own people
When Moses learned that it was time to start delegating some of his leadership duties to others, God gave him some guidelines for choosing the right people.
Deuteronomy 1: 13 “Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”
Moses didn’t choose the leaders for the people. He allowed them to choose their own leaders, as long as they chose from among their own people. They didn’t get to choose foreigners. They also had to choose “wise, understanding and respected men” which excluded the liars, adulterers, thieves, anyone that wasn’t living the stand-up life of an ancient Israelite.
It just seems to make sense that as you elect your judges that will make decisions for you, that you avoid anyone who has lied, cheated, played favorites or had alliances with shady characters. Too often today, we look the other way when someone is caught in a lie, excusing the lie by saying that all politicians are dishonest. It is not too much to expect that our leaders would be held to the same level of trust and honesty that we hold ourselves.
In today’s society, too many of us are not living up to these standards in our own lives. We won’t expect leaders to live up to a higher standard until we choose to live up to that standard. If you want wise, understanding and respected leaders, then be a wise, understanding and respected person yourself and you will have every right to expect the same of anyone who wants your vote.
Vote for a leader that is fair to all and will govern by the rule of law, not by the rules of men. When different rules apply to those with status, power or money, then favoritism rules.
Deuteronomy 1:16-17 And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike…
One of our founding principles is equal protection under the law. When we see laws applied unequally depending on some arbitrary characteristic such as political party or religion, it is time to remove those in power and elect leaders who believe in the rule of law.
Fearless of men
Deuteronomy 1:17b Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God.
We need candidates that honor God and are not afraid of standing up to men. A Christian leader will not be afraid of men and will have the strength to stand up to them for what he knows is right, because he knows that God is his judge, not men.
Deuteronomy 16:19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent.
Be wary of electing those with a history of offering money or favors to get what they want, as well as those who accept such bribes. We think of bribes as being against the law, but in many ways, bribes are written into our political process. We see them as favors and negotiating points when our leaders accept the unacceptable in order to get something they want.
Being able to negotiate successfully is a desirable quality but not when a leader compromises his beliefs or his promises. Be on the lookout for those who get what they want by making deals in secret and cross them off your ballot.
Deuteronomy 17:17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
This is not to say that a person of wealth should never get our vote, but the wealth ought to coincide with a character that is community and family minded. The character of a man providing for a wife and children while living a modest lifestyle is easy to distinguish from the man who lives an ostentatious lifestyle with a trail of wives and broken families behind him.
It is well-known that our senators and legislators in Washington make decisions in the stock market based on information they learn during their legislative activities. For the rest of us, insider trading is against the law, but such advantages are part of the lure that takes a good man to Washington and turns him into a self-serving bureaucrat whose main goal becomes re-election rather than serving the people. His focus is to maintain, and even grow, his power, prestige, and lifestyle, whatever the cost. Growing the size and power of government becomes job-security.
When a political life is a career choice rather than an act of service to your fellow Americans, don’t be surprised at the path it takes. Incumbents have distinct advantage in elections, so it is we, the voters, who allow this to continue. Guard our government against career politicians by establishing term limits. We don’t currently have term limits in congress, but that should not stop us from coming together and voting for new talent from the pool of our upstanding citizens and showing the exit to those who show signs of becoming entrenched in the establishment.
Deuteronomy 17:18-19 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.
Let’s elect leaders who have a Bible of their own…and read it. A man who reads his Bible every day won’t be able to hide it. Bits of scripture will come out of his mouth as easily as talking about the weather. Watch out for the candidate who is not afraid to say that he’s never asked for forgiveness from anyone.
As Christian voters, be careful of electing a leader based on a single issue, but rather review their platforms as a whole to discover their underlying belief system. That said, we do need to hold some values as non-negotiable. Those are the sanctity of life and marriage.If a candidate wants to win the Christian vote, then they must have a track record of protecting unborn children and uphold that marriage was created and defined by God, not government, as between one man and one woman.
Taking these biblical principles into consideration when choosing your elected officials may not tell you who to vote for, but it will help you see who will not win your vote. The goal is not that all Christian voters will unite behind one candidate or cause, but that we get behind people of high character and shared values.
Part III coming soon: The case for small government