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We’re in quite the season, aren’t we? I know that most of us feel the political tension and feel the weight of the decisions in which we’re called to participate. As we all look for good information regarding candidates and issues, several folks have reached out with questions about everything from amendments to judges to the presidential race. So, here’s what I hope will be an encouragement, a help and perhaps a challenge in this election season. Folks, if you’re a Christian, this doesn’t have to be stressful.
1. We vote according to biblical principle
2. We trust in a sovereign God who raises up and puts down both kings and nations to accomplish HIS good plan.
As John Quincy Adams so succinctly put it, “duty is ours, results are His.”
Of course for many of us, the confusion is over the MANY decisions that we’re called to make in this moment. Some of that is exactly the problem; there are decisions that are put before the electorate that really shouldn’t be….but that’s a class for another day : )
Nevertheless, here we are, with ballot in hand and in need of solid guidance. I have a valuable source. If you need help in voting on whether to retain judges, Florida Family Policy Council has done extensive research and provides an endorsement guide HERE. They’ve done the same for US House, Florida Senate and House AND the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. As to the amendments, I TOTALLY agree with the FFPC positions but if you’d like further explanation on any of those positions, please be in touch! There are very good, principled reasons to vote as they suggest.
Now, if it’s the presidential choice that has you flustered, well don’t be. Let me tackle head-on the first objection that I’ve been hearing.
Does Donald Trump’s character disqualify him? Many of you have taken classes with me and you’ll recall the Hugo Grotius quote that we discuss that talks about qualities of leaders…. It starts with “a man knows not how to rule a kingdom unless he knows how to manage a province. . .all the way down to his family . . .and ultimately that a man should be ruled by reason, with reason ruled by God and obedient to Him.” Clearly, this is the ideal for which we should strive…levels of proven leadership built on a foundation of self-government. The character of our leaders DOES matter and we should seek out the best candidates possible. Now, I’d like to offer three thoughts on that front:
First, I agree with noted seminary professor and author Wayne Grudem that the president is sometimes “egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas … that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him.” (Grudem’s Letter to an Anti-Trump Christian Friend). Of course, none of these are preferred qualities in a leader. But they’re not disqualifying factors either.
At the same time, our alternative, the former Vice President, has been repeatedly linked to international corruption endangering the safety of the nation, been plausibly accused of gross sexual misconduct, has maintained friendships with avowed racists and himself made offensive statements to and about the black community.
Quite frankly, this is an indictment of US. In a republic, the representatives of the people are a reflection of them. Christians have largely abandoned their duties on the field of civil government; it is no wonder that the character of our candidates is not what we’d desire. Moving forward, it’s time to educate ourselves and re-engage!
Second, actions and policies DO matter and we DO have to choose. We are stewarding a vote for a “package deal” – a leader and the policies that come with him. Incredibly anti-biblical and destructive policies are what disqualify a candidate, while historic advancements in policies and positions consistent with the biblical view of civil government are the strongest endorsement for a candidate and reveal that candidate’s most closely held values.
Third, voting “third party” or not at all is - in this “every vote counts”- scenario, a vote for something. I hope you’ll hear me out and allow me to make the case for truly honoring God with your vote.
So again, we are to vote according to biblical principle. Our biggest problem is that we don’t actually know the biblical principles that should guide our decision. Folks, this is not an emotional decision. It’s not a popularity contest; it’s not about who supposedly has “empathy” and it’s not about – as the media often asks “who you’d like to have a beer with.” As Christians we are called to vote according to God’s guidelines for civil government, so let me try to quickly lay out a few:
1. Civil Government has a limited jurisdiction according to Scripture. It is created by the people, accountable to the people and to serve the people by upholding righteous law and protecting its citizens and their lives, liberty and property from violence either foreign or domestic. Protection and justice under law - that’s it.
One of the primary principles that I teach (and had to learn myself) is that God ordained four legitimate spheres of government that are each sovereign in their own right, each with unique authorities and responsibilities: the individual, the family, the church and the civil sphere. When the spheres are functioning as they should – liberty is the result. When one transgresses into the jurisdiction of another, liberty is lost.
One of the miracles of America was the establishment of a system of civil government designed to be LIMITED in its function in order to protect the functioning of the other vital spheres ….. healthcare, welfare, housing, education – none of those things properly belong in the civil sphere. They belong to individuals, families, and churches. The more that we ask civil govt to do in that regard, the more liberty will be lost and the more a secular standard shaped by whoever’s in charge at the moment will influence all of those areas – it’s disastrous! As Christians, we should be working to restore the rights and responsibilities of individual, family and church. So the first question should be: Which candidate or party will move us towards more independence from civil government and the restoration of local church, family and individual authority over healthcare, education, and the like and which candidate has embraced a massive and dangerous expansion of the role of civil government?
2. Civil government is to protect property. As I mentioned, the role of CIVIL government is the protection of God-given, inalienable rights. Our founders defined those as life, liberty and property. Now, I know the term “property” today sounds “strange” to our ears but it shouldn’t. It is VITAL and BIBLICAL and NECESSARY in order for the individual, family and church to meet their biblical responsibilities. We must have property in order to care for the needy, to provide for our own families, to tithe to our church. We will give an answer as to how we’ve stewarded the property for which we have labored. So we must ask next: Which candidate is promoting ideas that strengthen your ability to steward your own property by taking less (maintaining tax cuts)? Which candidate is focused on reducing inappropriate overregulation of business?
3. Civil government is not to steal. Controlling your OWN property (biblical idea) is entirely different than choosing a candidate who is focused on GIVING you “free stuff” or penalizing the “rich” in order to benefit the “common good.” That’s not biblical – that’s socialism . . . and, at bottom, it’s covetousness and theft. This may sound harsh, but it’s a truth we have to understand. The civil government is the only sphere to which God has given the power of the sword. That’s why it MUST be restricted to the functions which require the sword: upholding the law and protecting the people. Period.
When it exceeds its sphere and balloons into programs to encourage “free college” or “free healthcare” or anything else, it becomes an existential threat because it’s now using the sword for wrong purposes. Follow me here: Civil Government produces NOTHING. Property is labored for and produced by individuals and families. Civil government only has what it takes from those spheres. . . and it’s entitled to take a small amount in order to properly execute its limited duties. But beyond that, when we use our vote to ask civil government to provide “free” anything, while we haven’t “technically” gone to the “nicer” subdivision around the corner and held our neighbors at gunpoint until they delivered college tuition money, in “practice” we’ve done exactly that - but used the civil government’s “sword” to do it for us. This is covetousness and theft - breaking the 8th and 10th commandments. As you consider your vote, our third question should be: which candidate is promising “free stuff” at the expense of others?
4. Civil government is to protect the church, not tyrannize it. It has been the mark of every totalitarian regime in history that Christ’s church is persecuted while it has been the incredible distinction of America to establish, for the first time in history, the protection of religious expression. I fear, having grown up with this unique liberty, generations of Americans now take it for granted. In recent years, however, Christian beliefs have come under increasing and rapidly escalating attacks with pastors pressured to be silent on biblical sexuality, family structure, and the protection of the unborn. Both faith-based organizations and faithful Christians have been sued over their refusal to compromise conscience. In recent months, while Governor DeSantis never shut Florida churches down, remember how close we came to having a different leader in place who would likely have handled things differently. In MANY cities and states around the country, churches and synagogues have been intensely targeted….It’s no secret that these have been Democrat – controlled states and cities like New York, California, Illinois, Maine and Wisconsin…all prominent problem areas.
In Chicago, the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church has experienced targeted discrimination at the hands of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor J.B. Pritzker. The story of God’s providence in their defense is remarkable. But this case will now become the very first “church restrictions case” to go before the Supreme Court for a full review.
According to Liberty Counsel, who will argue this case, it is among the most important they’ve every tried. “A Supreme Court ruling would determine whether religious freedom will remain FREE in America. Should this case go the wrong way, Ceausescu-like socialist tyrants in the United States will be able to shutter churches and silence Christians any time they please. America's religious freedom is on the line and we cannot afford to lose.” So fourth, as you consider your presidential vote, which candidate/party supports religious freedom and originalist judges and which candidate/party repeatedly seeks to suppress Christianity and its beliefs?
5. Communism, socialism and the methodologies they employ are deceptive, evil, anti-biblical and have resulted in more than 150 million deaths in the last century. Those are strong words for “just another approach to government” right? But true socialism, true totalitarian communism as is being advocated today is far from “just another government option” and, unbelievably, has crept deceptively into every part of our culture through the intentional efforts of cultural Marxists. It is an existential threat. It is evident in “cancel” culture, high-pressure political correctness, the redefining of words and human biology and the undermining of the “rule of law” that gives stability to our society. It is evident in the lawlessness that we’ve witnessed in our streets. I know we’d all like to just forget, imagine that it was “one off” and get back to our lives, but we do so at our peril.
In Marxist/communist ideology, conflict and violent clashes are necessary for progress. Anarchy and lawlessness – while not tolerated long term in a totalitarian regime- are strategies deployed to destabilize a culture and justify abandoning the founding principles in favor of a “brave new world.” Communist causes are couched in emotional terms which Christians are often confused by…Black lives matter… anti-fascism….empathy... Who wouldn’t support such noble ideas? Do not be fooled. These slogans cloak an intolerant, anti-liberty, evil ideology. The enemy is at the gates, folks, and they’re not hiding it. BLM has told you – it was posted on their website until recently- that their desire is to break down the traditional nuclear family and biblical sexuality. Antifa openly advocates for anarchy AND communism (there’s a method to that madness, remember). We’ve moved from “just tolerate this anti-biblical belief” to “just provide equality for this anti-biblical belief” to “you must applaud this anti-biblical belief.” Kneel. Say the name. Using the term “Sexual preference” rather than “orientation” is hate speech. Please don’t forget the very recent displays of this madness that we saw for months on end. Which party is embraced by these movements? Which party is opposed by them?
6. Finally, and most importantly, the highest duty of civil government is to protect life. There is a clear division between parties and presidential candidates on this decisive issue and a spiritual battle rages in our country on this front. This is really all you need to know. So sixth, which candidate and party consistently protects and fights for the unborn and which consistently fights for the opportunity to kill a baby up until the very moment of birth?
The reality of this horror makes it hard for me to even type the words. This one’s an absolute “no-brainer” and yet there are Christian leaders who have proposed that the more important considerations are “Democratic proposals that would significantly alleviate that financial burden: accessible health services for all citizens, affordable childcare, (and) a minimum wage that lifts workers out of poverty” (Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden). These are NOT biblical civil government roles….rather it’s the advancement of a socialist agenda under the guise of “Christian compassion” and at the expense of standing for life! We are taken in because we don’t know the proper role of civil government and are deceived into voting for policies that will actually bring both judgment and destruction. When church leaders actively INVITE civil government to take over what should be areas of authority and responsibility for families, individual and churches, they have -knowingly or not - abandoned the proper stewardship of the church and have become false shepherds….leading their people into bondage under what will be a socialized and secularized civil government devoid of any godly standard.
I’m reminded of Paul’s warning to the Colossians: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception……according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Isn’t that amazing. We easily forget that philosophy matters…ideas matter…because ideas shape thinking which shape policies which shape actions which shape lives. Ideas have consequences and wrong ideas can have deadly ones.
The founders of this country regularly spoke of the fact that “resistance to tyrants was obedience to God.” In fact, it was suggested as our national motto. The reasoning was that Man had been given by his Creator unalienable rights which are accompanied by corresponding duties. To not act or vote in defense of God-given rights of life, liberty and property would be disloyalty to God. To choose tyrannical and unbiblical ideas which would result in the abuse of those gifts would be an act of disloyalty to the King of kings, who calls us to steward all that He has entrusted to us for His glory and to pass those liberties on untarnished to posterity.
So remember, it’s not a popularity contest; it’s not about who supposedly has “empathy” and it’s not about “who you’d like to have a beer with.” We (#1) do our duty to vote according to biblical principle and then, on November 3rd and always, we (#2) remember that we trust in a sovereign God who raises up and puts down both kings and nations to accomplish HIS good plan.
“Duty is ours, results are His.”