By Jayson Bronkhorst
Amongst all the political banter crowding our news feeds, something that has seriously bothered me is the myth that there is a "Christian" choice this election.
"If you're a Christian, I don't know how you can vote for _____."
This implies that as Christians, there is only one correct choice for us to vote for, which is simply not true.
Seeing as this is a lucrative topic, I want to clarify a few things before continuing:
There's no such thing as the "Christian candidate." There are a few reasons for this, per the clickbait title...
1. There are too many viewpoints
There are a million different perspectives for every political stance and candidate, each of which can be disproved by one or more of the million viewpoints in favor of an opposing candidate. Some candidates even agree on certain points despite identifying as opposite parties. A great example of an issue that is often make-or-break for many conservative people I know is the pro-life factor. Some stand next to the Republican Party solely voting on the issue of abortion (though there are usually other reasons as well). But this can be quickly broken down and turned around in favor of the opposition.
Why the numbers tell this story is an entirely different conversation, but if nothing else it shows that voting based on where a candidate stands on an issue is not just useless but sometimes also counter-productive. Not to mention the fact that candidates often change their minds on several issues throughout their political career. If our goal as Christians is to be like Jesus (it should be), then we cannot merely stand upon what candidates say they agree with or what they say they will do. More research needs to be done on causes and effects, environments, and people groups; just as Jesus' ministry was multi-faceted, inclusive of everyone and every issue, so Christians should be also.
The answer I came to for this one was nobody. In Deuteronomy 7 we get a glimpse of God's ideal nation, as he speaks sternly to Israel. He warns them several times not to get involved with other peoples, to obey all the laws and commandments, and to have complete faith in him. But then we get an idea of the love that he truly has for the nation:
"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession" (Deut 7:6).
Israel was God's chosen nation, designed to center around worshiping and following God. They had prophets and leaders, but even then they were not obeying the prophet or leader; they were obeying God. All that changes in 1 Samuel 8.
"But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights" (1 Sam 8:7-9).
Samuel goes on to give in-depth details of what a king will entail: drafting for the army, taking some of their crops, enslaving some to work for him, taking a regular tithe for his staff, relinquishing cattle... Basically, Samuel is saying 'look guys, you really don't want to do this.'
"But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We wanta king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king” (1 Sam 8:19-22).
Israel didn't even HAVE an earthly king until they begged for one, at which point God finally relents, I imagine with a deep, knowing sigh: "Listen to them and give them a king." Now, by no means am I saying you should not vote. I strongly believe God gave us brains and logical thinking skills to make our own decisions. Whether or not you vote, and who you vote for, is completely your prerogative. It just can get complicated because the conversation here covers multiple dimensions; God is our Lord, not a human. Simply put, his intentions for Israel are the same as now: that our hope lies in him.
3. Nobody is perfect (or worthy)
This point feeds off of the previous, as we take a look at the first ever king of Israel, King Saul. When Saul was anointed, even though God did it reluctantly, 1 Samuel 10 says that "God changed Saul's heart." Saul was the dark horse, the underdog of his family and generation, that God decided to use in a mighty way. Such are the ways of God.
And God did use him in a mighty way... until Saul went off the deep end. It got to the point where God straight up told Samuel in 1 Samuel 15 "I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions."
And it all started with Saul. Were there good kings after Saul? Absolutely. King David, arguably the greatest and most God-fearing king, the king "after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22), was anointed just after Saul. Part of the reason Saul went crazy is because Saul grew increasingly scared of David as he saw God's anointing on David's life instead of his own. In the midst of Saul, David, and these countless other kings listed throughout the Bible we have to remember something crucial:
Saul was God's anointed.
Acts 13:21, when remembering this time in biblical history, says that God "gave them Saul." That being said, there is a bold claim to be made:
We cannot judge a royal (read: presidential) candidate's leadership eligibility based on their character. There are many passages in the Bible in books such as Timothy and Titus where it mentions that Christians and leaders in the church specifically should live "above reproach," but there is never specific mention of royal character. Something crucial the Bible does mention, though, is to offer prayers and intercede "for kings and all those in authority" (1 Tim 2:2).
Now, obviously we should always use our heads and be mindful, especially of people around us. Proverbs warns of this several times: "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (13:20). This is the same topic, but in a different light. This is the conversation of who can God use to accomplish his plan? What is God's plan?
Anybody can of course be used by God, as we see time and time again, but we don't know God's plan. The key here is that we do know that earthly kingship was never part of God's plan, just as America was never a "Christian nation." And whether or not our pledge of allegiance contains the words "under God" makes no difference on our peoples' eternal salvation. Nobody will ever be qualified enough to take the reins of a country.
Jesus made it so simple... didn't he? (Matthew 22). We can't let earthly kings get in the way. This November, no matter who you vote for or if you vote at all, you can make the choice to act towards everyone around you as you would want to be acted towards yourself.
And really, truly, stop and think about what that means.