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Principles and Pharisees

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The choices for President in this year’s election are not cause for rejoicing if you are a Bible-believing Christian. But if we are honest we’d have to admit that in most presidential elections, particularly in recent years, the choices have never been such as to make the decision easy, if the character of the one you intend to vote for is a matter of concern to you.

The reality is that we have a civic, moral, and Christian responsibility to vote. If you are a citizen of these United States then you have both the privilege of voting and the responsibility of voting. The constitution begins with, “We the People,” making all of us responsible. Citizens who choose not to involve themselves in the electoral process diminish our nation and are wasting their opportunity to represent the Lord Jesus Christ.

We owe it to future generations to make our area of the world a better place for those who come behind us. One of the things that has made America the greatest nation on earth, both historically and currently, is that our ancestors were willing to literally give their lives to leave their nation a better place. I have seen many of the U.S. national cemeteries around the world and I have often been overwhelmed at the sacrifice of so many who gave their lives to protect our freedoms.

For the Christian our civic responsibility is a matter of obedience to God. The Bible is replete with instructions on being good citizens (cf. Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). Let us not doubt that voting and participating in the political process is a part of our Christian responsibility, which brings me to the point of this commentary.

There are many well-meaning and faithful Christians who have been championing the “principles” card when it comes to voting. It seems that if there is any character flaw in a candidate you should not vote for them as it would break your adherence to the principles of your avowed faith. I have another view and believe that the “principles” argument is flawed, to the point of being Pharisaical.

If principles are the issue, as alleged by many Christian leaders these days, then I want to ask where were these same principles in 2012 or 2008? I dare say that many, likely most, of those telling us we should not vote for Donald Trump on principle are they who voted for Mitt Romney and John McCain in previous elections. Where were their principles then? If a person voted for either Romney or McCain and now say they cannot vote for Trump on the basis of principle then one of two things has happened. Either they have only recently embraced their Christian principles or they have become hypocrites. 

I already can hear the argument being fired back. “I don’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils.” Actually you do! If you don’t, you will get the greater of two evils. And as such, you will be disqualified from complaining about it because it will be partly your fault. There is no scripture that promises our choices will always be clearly defined as being between good and evil. Sometimes we must choose between good and best.

As an evangelist I sometimes get two invitations to preach on a given date. Both represent “good” opportunities. But I can’t say, “Well, I just won’t preach anywhere since to do one would ignore the other.” Sometimes the choice is simple, sometimes more difficult, nonetheless a choice must be made. 

On the negative side we are often faced with the “lesser of two evils” dilemma. When you doctor says chemotherapy will make you very sick but without it you will die you are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. No one says it’s an easy choice. For most in that situation the choice to have a longer life, though not guaranteed, is the lesser evil. If they don’t take the remedy offered, in spite of its serious negative side effects, they will surely die. To say, based on some perceived Christian principle, that you do not have to choose the lesser of two evils is intellectually dishonest. Not to choose is to choose.

As we apply this to the current election the problem is clear. You know the platforms of the two parties. You know what the Democrats will do. There is some validity to the argument that you don’t fully know what the Republican candidate will do if he gets in office, but you know what Clinton will do. I have a very dear friend in Congress. He has worked tirelessly to get legislation passed in numerous areas that would benefit conservative causes, protect life and religious liberty. Some of those bills have made it through the Senate to the President’s desk. Each has been vetoed.

If Clinton is elected those bills will continue to be vetoed. Life and religious liberty will remain under attack. On the other hand, if the Republican candidate is elected some of those bills will get signed into law; and perhaps all of them will! 

Of course, there is the concern for seats on the Supreme Court which should make your choice relatively easy to make. You know that the greater evil in that case is Clinton. She will appoint the most liberal justices to the court and that may be a blow that our nation cannot overcome. Not voting, or writing in a name, is to waste your opportunity to impact the nation for good for decades to come.

Yes, I understand that regardless of the result of the election God is still sovereign and in control of all things. Quite honestly, it’s amazing how many “principled Christian leaders” have become fans of the great sovereignty of God all of a sudden, albeit on this one issue alone. But when you stand before God will you blame God for the condition our nation found itself in, suggesting that it was so because He in His sovereignty chose that for our nation? Or will God question you as to why you did so little to stop the decay and moral failure of our nation?

I believe that we will be held accountable for our actions, for our principles, and how we apply them to our citizenship. I have a strong biblical feeling that God will be the One asking the questions (cf. Ezek. 20:3, 31; Rom. 3:19-20). 

In consequence of that I am voting for the platform and the candidate of the party most in line with what God would want for our nation. I think Dr. Robert Jeffress was right in this regard, when he said, “We are not electing a Pastor in Chief.” Dr. Jeffress has been criticized for this remark but he is correct. The statement doesn’t mean we should not be concerned about righteousness or the lack thereof in our leaders. It means that when we have the opportunity to impact who our governmental leaders will be we must do so with great objectivity and wisdom regarding the times. 

The Bible speaks of a group of men who understood their times. They were known as, “the Sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32). In their case what they knew was that David should be King of Israel. My prayer is that God would raise up such men and women today: intelligent, understanding, astute in political affairs, and wise in the way of faith. Such men and women will know how to vote and impact their nation for the cause of Christ.

Donald Trump, election 2016, Hillary Clinton, presidential election, vote

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