We’ve already looked at the question, “What is a ‘Christian’ candidate?” But what are we as
voters to do in those election races where none of the candidates are

Being a Christian means that you have accepted God’s agenda: “Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew
6:10). So if there are no Christians to vote for, doesn’t that mean that
God’s agenda can’t move forward, and we don’t need to bother with the
I think this is the area where Christians most often fail, and fail
badly. These failures fall into three broad areas. Let’s take a look at
each of them in turn.

If pollsters are to be believed, about half the Christians in America
never bother to vote. We know this because they are not registered to
vote. When Jesus told the parable of the talents — He specifically
condemned the man to whom he had given a talent — but who buried it in
the ground for safekeeping (Matthew 25:14-30). Voting means having a
voice in the direction of our government. It is a talent that God
expects us to use wisely, to bring honor and glory to Him.

Suppose that God encourages Mrs. Smith, a Christian who would like to
protect the rights of homeschoolers, to run for the board of education
in your community. God also encourages you to register to vote —
perhaps through the wise counsel of your pastor — but you decide not to
Mrs. Smith loses in the election because Christians failed to register
and vote for her. The bulk of those who were registered did not concern
themselves with the local election, because they were homeschooling
their children.

The new board of education later passes an ordinance restricting
homeschooling in your community, by a vote of 4-3. It was precisely the
issue Mrs. Smith had campaigned against. Your community’s prosecuting
attorney now demands that the young homeschooling mother who is your
neighbor must comply with the ordinance and send her children to public
school for the required time each day — or he will be forced to bring
charges against her in court under the new ordinance. What do you think
Jesus will say to those Christians who buried their vote under the
church parking lot?

Oftentimes, though, the world we live in and the elections we are
called to vote in present no clear choice for the Christian voter. Both
candidates, let us say, have pledged to keep abortion “safe and legal”
(at least for the mother). But Mr. Jones, a candidate for your state
legislature, is upset with the falling test scores of schoolchildren in
your state. He supports changes in the law that would enable vouchers
for low-income children, whose parents can’t afford to send them to
private schools.

Ms. Henly, his opponent, expresses hostility to the idea of vouchers,
because some of the private schools are religious. She insists that more
money must be spent on the public schools — even though test scores
have declined three out of the past three years in those schools,
despite increasing budgets. The city you live in has one Jewish school,
three Catholic schools, but no protestant schools. You are a Baptist
with two children, a 5- and 7-year-old. Does it matter which candidate
you vote for — or even if you vote?

Jesus frequently called his followers to move beyond their comfort
zone. He still does. The world — and political campaigners — expect us
to do what is in our own narrow self-interest. They bank on it. But
Jesus tells us, “it shall not be so among you … (as it is with the
rest of the world caught up in its own importance)” (Matthew 20:25-28).

During his ministry, Jesus placed a high value on children. As a
Christian, you believe that low-income parents should have a choice
about whether they send their children to public schools with dwindling
test scores — or private schools with higher test scores and better
college prospects. And you further decide that Ms. Henly is hypocritical
for demanding choice in abortion — but denying choice in education. You
vote for Mr. Jones — even though you detest his stand on abortion.

Mr. Jones is elected to the state legislature and is successful in
changing the state law to permit a pilot voucher project. Next year the
leadership from your church announces that they are joining with several
other protestant churches in your community and building an elementary
school, because of the demand from neighborhood low-income parents who
want to send their children to a private, Christian school. The public
school system in your community is forced to close down its worst
school, because children who would have been required to attend there
were able to go elsewhere. Children everywhere in the state benefited
because you voted, even though there was no visible benefit to you. God
took the talent you invested — exercising your vote in a Christian
manner — and multiplied it, benefiting parents and children all over
your state.

Sometimes we face another difficult choice as Christian voters: an
excellent Christian candidate, but one running on a minor party ticket
and never polling over five percent of the vote. He has two opponents:
Mr. May, and Mr. Will. Both are pro-abortion, although Mr. May has
indicated some concerns about late-term abortions. Mr. Will made his
name running an unsuccessful initiative in your state to introduce
physician-assisted suicide. He is intent upon advancing that agenda as a
representative. Mr. May has said that he supports increased hospice care
and appropriate pain medications, but does not believe that physicians
should be killing people. Both Mr. May and Mr. Will are polling 37
percent of the vote. It is clear that the excellent Christian candidate
is pulling his support from the same people who might otherwise vote for
Mr. May. You decide to vote for the candidate who embodies nearly all
your principles — but he gets only six percent of the vote. Mr. Will
squeaks by, and his first act is to sponsor euthanasia legislation. Did
you do the right thing in voting your conscience? Only God knows. But in
the meantime, you sacrificed a candidate who may have helped to limit
partial birth abortions, and who was opposed to euthanasia. Which vote
most clearly advanced God’s agenda?

Does this mean God is dependent on the political process to achieve
his will? No. God is dependent upon no one. But for reasons He alone
knows, God has made us dependent upon the political process to create a
climate where His agenda of love and care for all people in this world
can be
made plain. Considering who He is, we do well to honor his pleasure for
the time we have left. The best way to get in touch with God’s agenda
for this and any other election is to ask Him. We do that through
prayer. James, Jesus’ half brother, tells us that “If any of you lack
wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). I can’t think of
a better adviser. Can you?

(Note: Those who would like to explore these ideas in more depth may
want to pick up a copy of Dr. Ken Wilson’s new book, “The Moral Mandate
to Vote: God’s Priorities in Government,” published by Huntington House
Publishers. If you don’t have time to read the whole book before the
election, start midway through at Chapter 13, “Voting: God’s priority.”)

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