Presidents and Principles: Voting Your Conscience This Election

Are you voting this November?  Many voters, especially Christian voters, seem more reluctant this year to cast a vote for either party.  Many people are understandably lacking passion this election season, but the stakes could not be higher in our country.  The Democrats have nominated a candidate that is prepared to challenge our Constitutional rights and liberties while the Republicans have selected a brash, anti-politician business mogul that doesn’t appear to represent “true conservatives.”  Christians want to “vote their conscience” and avoid choosing the lesser of two evils.  Some opt to vote for a third party candidate while others will sit at home.  As Christians and Patriots, I submit that it is our biblical responsibility to not only vote, but to vote for the candidate that has the most viable chance to preserve the principles that have secured our liberties for over two centuries.  Just like other Christians, I want to vote my conscience while understanding no one will match up exactly with my convictions and perspectives.

For some voters, the Republican nominee may not be the one you hoped would win. I get it…Trump was not the first choice for many, and as Christians we wonder if he really represents our interests. More importantly, we want to protect our conscience, vote our values, and defend our choice for the next President of the United States.  My first choice was Ted Cruz. I voted for him in the primaries because I thought his strong stand on the constitutional law, experience as a lawyer, and Christian values made him a strong candidate.  Frankly, Trump doesn’t have these credentials. Can he still be the best choice for Christians or should we should a different course of action?

First, we must clear up a few issues that could cloud our judgement.

A word to third-party voters: For those seeking to choose to reject the “two evils” from the primary parties, have you considered the possibility that your dark horse candidate is also “evil”? Why isn’t the 3rd party candidate not a 3rd of three evils? The argument is naïve, in my opinion. Rarely do you hear someone say “I can’t vote for the far-left, liberal choice, therefore I will vote 3rd party.” Typically, those who seek out the 3rd party candidate do so because the “conservative” candidate isn’t conservative enough. Telling us that we are choosing the lesser of two evils is quite something.  There is too much on the line in this election to brush off a presidential candidacy with clichés. The two party political system is critical to our elections, and the other candidates had their opportunity.  It now remains with voters to choose the best candidate from the two parties who will best lead the Nation in the right direction.

Furthermore, 3rd party advocates imply that their candidate perfectly aligns with their point of view, which leads me to my next point.

A word to conscience-voters: None of the political candidates will perfectly align with your biblical and political worldview.  When you find the candidate that you totally align with, then it will probably be your name on the ballot.  Until then, I remain skeptical that there will not be some major point at which your conscience will be violated by your chosen candidate. In the world of ethics you must consider “prima facie” values.  Two equal yet competing principles are not always evenly applied in a given situation.  As Christians this challenges our thinking because we always want to be able to clearly apply a verse or two of Scripture in any situation. However, it is not uncommon to face situations where two principles compete but only one wins the day.  For example, Christians agree that it is wrong to steal, but some acquiesce if someone is stealing food in order to stay alive.  In a prima facie debate you must determine which principle wins: justice or preserving life.

Similar principles apply in this election.  You may not like the nominee but you still would like to vote.  No matter who you vote for you must reconcile the fact that you have to settle for someone who doesn’t holistically represent your values.  Can you defend your complete rejection of someone who could still represent some or even most of your views, especially if that candidate stands in stark contrast to the competition?  Vote your conscience, sure, but you must also consider your values that can be promoted and help to put America on a path to remain dedicated to the principles that made us free in the first place.

A word to the stay-at-homers: In keeping with the discussion on prima facie judgements, you must consider if you can justify your abstinence from fulfilling your civic duty and refusing to vote.  When it comes to our conscience we want to somehow absolve ourselves from any connection or tacit approval of wrong-doing by the official for whom we voted.  We have a unique opportunity in America to have a say in the direction of our government, an opportunity not afforded to many across the world. To fail at this point of freedom is to neglect the vision of democracy “by the people.” God has enabled His people to know wisdom and to use it discerningly. Who better to sway an election than God’s people? How much is lost when they let their voice remain silent?

As I attempted to reconcile my Bible with my ballot, I’ve had to arrive at some conclusions to help me prepare for this election.

As a Christian, I should strive to be as objective as the biblical truth that I love and claim.

For the word of the LORD is right;
And all his works are done in truth.
Psalm 33:4

I understand that I have my fair share of cultural baggage that biases my views. As I look at the presidency, I can’t say I agree with a vast majority of President Obama’s policies, but I don’t disagree with everything he has done. I have commended him on some of his decisions. I imagine the same will be true of my assessments of the next president.  I cannot predict with certainty that Trump will meet the fullness of our expectations for a president, but I am more willing to take my chances on his stated positions more so than Clinton, with whom I agree on very little. Trump has a vision of a great America that better uplifts an America I am proud to serve. Clinton has a radically different view of America contrary to both my biblical and American worldview.

As a Christian, I must recognize that corruption in government exists despite best efforts to the contrary. 

If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
Ecclesiastes 5:8

The President, while powerful, is only one man. Even the wisest rulers can only do so much to stop corruption. Solomon lamented in Ecclesiastes that he could not stop corruption in his own government, and he was the king! Some policies such as abortion, homosexual marriage, euthanasia and assisted suicide and other problems among the most recent issues with police brutality, domestic terror, class warfare, race relations, and many other important issues will continue to be debated no matter who is elected. As a Christian I am committed to the advocacy of biblical morality and ethics in our society across these prevailing issues. These problems likely won’t get settled at the federal level, and some fall into the hands of state and local governments.  I am still dedicated to the belief that the ultimate authority is Christ, and when I have the opportunity to help people receive Him they can reconcile their whole lives around that relationship…and that is the best way to see progress in the key issues of our society irrespective of the presidency.

As a Christian, I recognize that all people are held responsible for their actions, including national leaders. 

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13
Expansive accounts of divine accountability are found throughout the Bible.  As I read the records of Kings and Chronicles I see two parties always held accountable for their actions.  Those books clearly reveal the positive and negative actions of the Kings and the people.  God held the King responsible for his actions, and His judgments against the people are clearly explained as well.  While Israel didn’t get to have an election, they did have the Scripture and had to make the best out of life despite poor (and, at times, wicked) leadership. As voters, we get one “swing of the bat” in the election, and then we must live our lives in light of the Gospel regardless of the election’s outcome.  I am choosing now to be salt and light and preach Christ and promote Christian ethics regardless of what happens in November.

As a Christian, I want to keep my God-ordained and Constitutionally-protected rights. 

Even every one that is called by my name:
For as I have created him for my glory,
I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Isaiah 43:7
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Declaration of Independence

The sacred truths of Scripture were wisely infused into the fabric of our nation. While Trump may not be a Biblicist, there are issues that I think he will pay attention to that will help our country to remain dedicated to the vision of our founders. He has a strong stand on capitalism and private enterprise. He could help correct the tax code and enhance fair trade. He has a strong stand on the rule of law as evidenced in his stand against illegal immigration. He wants to protect 2nd amendment rights. He is supportive of the military and wants to fix the problems that veterans are experiencing at the VA. I do not think he is a Christian, but I don’t think he will subvert 1st amendment rights. I don’t think he has all the answers, and his stances on some social issues are fuzzy.  I’m not looking for perfection, but I don’t think he makes himself out to be a political savior (like we saw 8 years ago). I am not here to champion Trump, but I think he is a more viable candidate that can accomplish some things that will benefit the country more so than the policies advocated by the democratic platform.

My values, convictions, and Christian identity are integral to who I am as a man, husband, father, and minister.  It is time for Christians to search the Scriptures and their souls to determine their core principles and to weigh their choices in this election.  Dig deeper and compel yourself to reconcile your biblical convictions with the candidates. Consider potential and desirable political policies and practices.  Like you, I have some strong beliefs about many issues, but I know not all of them will be represented in any candidate.  I encourage each Christian to research the candidates’ positions and search your conscience.  Determine what are the most important concerns and then advocate heartily for them.  Become the champion of your convictions.  As a Christian and Patriot, I also challenge you to cast a vote that keeps the best interests of our national values: a peaceful democracy where the citizenship is free to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s time to make a vote that will steer the course of the future by choosing the candidate that will most likely lead the nation in the best direction.

We face hard decisions in the days ahead, but may God bless us as we seek to make America a land of blessing.

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