Election Under God (Oct 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Edward Fudge

The presidential election is barely two months away here in the U.S., and the American quadrennial countdown has begun. Thoughtful Christians ponder many issues–and often reach contrary conclusions. What biblical wisdom, several gracEmail subscribers ask, can help us walk through the elective process with a heavenly perspective in mind?

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We who live in democratic countries can begin by giving thanks. Millions of our fellow-humans, including some gracEmail readers, have never participated in a referendum to select their own government’s leaders. Our democratic republic has its weaknesses, of course–generally arising from government “by the people”–ironically also its greatest strength–but it still outperforms every other form of government presently known.

As we watch the televised speeches from the nominating conventions of the two major parties, we can expect to hear rhetoric that is artfully constructed, attractively embodied, and meticulously designed to move the multitudes–drawing on every human virtue, ideal and aspiration. These speakers are not hypocrites, and neither are they angels. Like us, they are simply people–mixtures of motives good and bad, selfish and altruistic, holy and profane. No political act or agenda, no platform or program, is totally pure in purpose, and sinful citizens will manipulate it all for improper ends so far as power and opportunity permit.<br><br>Amidst the ambiguities, it is comforting to remember the certainties. The Bible assures us that God ultimately presides over all the nations. Earthly rulers govern at his pleasure and finally are accountable to him (John 19:10-11; Daniel 4:17). It makes no difference whether rulers are despotic or democratic, believers pray for them all–not as an end within itself, but for the welfare of all God’s people and for the increase of God’s inevitably encroaching kingdom (1 Timothy 2:1-4; Matthew 6:10; Jeremiah 29:4-7). That kingdom, we can boldly proclaim, does not depend on a majority, or on the good will of a favored few, either for its agenda or for its final success (Daniel 7:27; Revelation 11:14-16).

The article above was originally published at http://www.edwardfudge.com/gracemails/electionundergod.html

Voting One’s Conscience

An American husband and wife who are gracEmail subscribers ask if they must vote for a particular political candidate and his party in order to be “good” Christians. Another subscriber, who is a pastor, asks how morality should affect our voting as Christians.

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Over the years, I have voted for Democrats, Independents, Republicans and Libertarians. That said, I must add that a Christian has no obligation to support any particular political candidate or party, since all parties and all candidates are human, fallible, morally mixed and at best align themselves only partially with God’s biblically-revealed principles. That means we must seek to choose between less-than-perfect options and there is more than one way to assess which option is better and which is worse.

For example, my pro-life conviction is repulsed by widespread Democratic endorsement of abortion, but it also draws back from the apparent indifference of this Republican administration to the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqi women and children by U.S. bombs and other weaponry. The pro-gay agenda of many Democrats directly conflicts with biblical teaching regarding sexual morality, but the Republican tendency always to support big business at the expense of the individual conflicts with biblical teaching regarding concern for the poor, the vulnerable and the helpless. God expects humans to exercise stewardship over our planet, which excludes worshiping it on the one hand or recklessly destroying and polluting it on the other hand.

In the end, we do the best we can, knowing that all human decisions are less than perfect and probably also tinged with sin. Yet we choose, and choose we must, with final assurance that God is in control of our nation and the whole world. The same God has been working his own good purposes through the mixed choices of fallen humans ever since our first ancestral couple made their fateful decision in Eden and the shadows of ethical ambiguity began to dim our human perception to the pure brightness of absolute moral light.

This article was originally published at http://www.edwardfudge.com/gracemails/voting_conscience.html

Election Day 2008, U.S.A.
This Tuesday, November 4, 2008, millions of Americans will go to the polls and register their choices for President and Vice-President. For the first time ever, voters will choose between two sitting U.S. Senators for President, neither of whom was born within the continental United States. A number of gracEmail subscribers have asked my political opinions; others have kindly sent me theirs. And several, from both ends of the political spectrum, are so confident of God’s will that there is nothing left to discuss.

Today, most Christians in the USA consider voting to be a moral duty, unaware that notable believers from Tertullian (2nd century) to David Lipscomb (20th century) have taught that Christians ought to have no part in earthly government whatsoever. My own father held that view, which I respect but do not share. On the other hand, my father’s father, an Alabama sharecropper, was almost a Yellow Dog Democrat (one who would vote for a yellow dog if it ran on the Democratic ticket). Almost — but not quite. In 1928, faced with the choice between presidential candidates Herbert Hoover (Republican) and Al Smith (Democrat, but also Roman Catholic), his other prejudices prevailed and he stayed home altogether.

As this Election Day approaches, room does remain for careful thought. We had as well acknowledge it — millions of intelligent, conscientious Christians throughout the United States will pray for divine wisdom this Tuesday, search their hearts for God’s will, then mark their ballots in opposing columns. These thoughtful believers all understand the need to make judgments informed by scriptural principles. The fact is that when they read the Bible, different things stand out. No political party or candidate measures up to all of God’s standards. Every political option is less than perfect. Because believers prioritize differently those biblical principles they share in common, and because they relegate biblical duties differently as between the individual and the state, whenever these believers attempt to discuss specifics, they usually talk past each other.

But there are some matters on which we can all agree. God rules the world, and — whether through our vote or in spite of it — governments rise and fall as he ordains (Daniel 4:32; Romans 13:1-2). Regardless of our political opinions, as believers we are commanded to pay our taxes, to render honor to those holding office (Romans 13:6-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17) and to pray for all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4). It is wrong to speak evil of rulers (2 Peter 2:9-10). Any nation that fears the Lord will reap blessing, and any country that ignores or defies God will pay a price (Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 2:1-12; Revelation 18:1-24). And, when all is said and done, our citizenship is in heaven — wherever and whenever we happen to live on this earth (Philippians 3:20-21; <Acts 17:24-27).

This article was originally published at http://www.edwardfudge.com/gracemails/election_day_USA.html

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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