Published October 18, 2016
"Paul, what are your recommendations for the coming election?"
Wow. I really wish you hadn't asked. This election is unlike any previous one that I can remember. Personally, I cannot fully endorse either candidate for President. But I can offer some guidance, especially through links below to various resources, that tend to make clear the choice we have this year.
Let me begin with two premises:
Neither presidential candidate is perfect. Both are flawed.
Sitting out the election (or voting for a third party candidate, which is essentially the same) is not an option.
First, we must remember that although Christians are not to be "of the world" (John 17:14-16) we most certainly are in it. And if we are to be the "salt and light" of the world (Matthew 5:13-16), then doing nothing not voting, in this case is not an option. It is a gift God has given us through the nation's founding fathers who quite publicly expressed their reliance on the Almighty. But today, if we fail to use such tools available to us to stem the government's secularist and humanist campaign, we forfeit a key part of our possible impact for Christ on society. If we do nothing, we get what we deserve.
To all who have eyes to see, it should be abundantly, undeniably obvious that choices made four and eight years ago have been, shall I simply say as graciously as I can, "very negative" regarding the cause of Christ and Christian morals in American society at large. Something must change.
Various analysts have determined that between 25 and 40 million evangelical Christians sat out the last election and look what we got. (For comparison, in 2012, Obama beat Romney by just 5 million votes.) Billy Graham has said, "It is the duty of every individual Christian at election time to study the issues and candidates and then go to the polls and vote."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council puts it this way: "The choices we have before us in the presidential race are disappointing, but they're a reflection of who we've become as a country. Too many Christians have become comfortable sitting in the safety of the sidelines rather than being in the battle for the heart and soul of America and her future."
If we set aside for a moment the flawed personalities of the two presidential candidates and I know that's virtually impossible but, if we do that, what we have left to consider are (1) the party platforms and (2) actual choices that the presidential candidates have already made (not just promises) choices that could be considered "presidential," not "personal," and predictive of how they would make further choices in office.
So, let's first consider a few differences in the party platforms.
Regarding abortion, the Republican platform is said to include the strongest pro-life language ever: "Proud to be the party that protects human life....and strongly opposes infanticide." The Democrat platform, by contrast, is stronger than ever in its total support for abortion, promising to overturn "federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion." (God will not pardon "the shedding of innocent blood." See 2 Kings 24:3-4, etc.)
Republicans define marriage as the "union of one man and one woman." (Gen. 2:24.) Democrats say anyone has the right to marry anyone, regardless of gender. (Jude 7.)
Republicans say "if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail." Democrats did not address this in their platform. Do they think God is irrelevant?1
Well-known pastor John MacArthur, in describing the 2012 Democrat platform, said, "I was amazed that one of the historic parties in the U.S. adopted the sins of Romans 1 as their platform... Parties that used to differ on economics now differ dramatically on issues that invade the realm of God's law and morality."4 The same applies in 2016.
The U. S. Supreme Court is another critical issue that hangs in the balance. Every major court ruling in recent history that has gone against Christian rights and values has come when liberal justices prevailed. Right now, the court is tied 4-to-4, following the unexpected death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Donald Trump has already released a list of more than a dozen highly-qualified conservative jurists he could nominate individuals who "will respect the Constitution of the United States." Hillary Clinton has not yet provided any names, but promised to pick justices who will uphold abortion "rights" and homosexual "marriage." Not to do so, she says, would "take us backwards." By "backwards," does she mean back to "old-fashioned" Biblical standards?
Supreme Court rulings can impact the nation for generations. Just look at the what Roe v. Wade has done. Your great-great-grandchildren and their beliefs and religious liberties could be adversely impacted by Court rulings handed down in the next few years, should the Lord tarry. As Dr. David Jeremiah notes, "the impact will be most likely felt more because of what happens in the Supreme Court than anything else that happens in the government."2
So what other presidential (not personal) decisions, already made by the two candidates, could shed additional light on the contrast between them? How about the candidates' choices for vice president? Trump has chosen a man, Gov. Mike Pence, who many times has said he is "a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third." He is pro-life and has called for ending taxpayer support for the nation's largest abortion mill, Planned Parenthood. Hillary has chosen Gov. Tim Kaine, who, although calling himself a Catholic, dismisses and ignores his own church's orthodoxy on such issues as abortion (he supports it and, in return, Planned Parenthood heartily endorses him), gay "marriage" (he's all for it), etc.
If we can just look beyond the people at the top of the tickets, such issues and considerations certainly help clarify which party is more deserving of our vote not just for the top spot, but for any of their candidates at all levels who pledge to adhere to platform standards. The differences really are quite clear.
The Presidential Prayer Team, the nation's largest full-time independent prayer ministry, recently summed up the significance of this election in this way: "We are in a spiritual battle for the very life of America. These days were forewarned by founder George Washington, who said when leadership is corrupt, then God and our Constitution are ignored. America is being dismantled piece by piece; dissolving into a mold of liberalism and universalism. The exceptional benefits from God's blessing on America are being minimized, changed, or even given away to other countries."
Author and commentator Eric Metaxas makes no bones about a Christian's responsibility in all this: "Anyone who says they're not going to vote in this election simply doesn't understand what's at stake. It's all hands on deck.' God forbid we should sit this one out."3
These are certainly difficult and frustrating times.
Of course, our hope is and must always be in the Lord, not in any man (or woman). Salvation comes from the Lord, not from any person or party. What's more, Christ could return at any moment and this whole matter would be instantly rendered meaningless. (Wouldn't that be great? That would have my vote!) But we cannot act as if that is definitely going to happen by November 8th. Christians are to "occupy" until the Lord returns, and an occupying force is supposed to have a positive impact on the occupied territory.
Evangelist Alveda King, a niece of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., says, "Vote for the candidate with the greater potential to deliver on issues most closely aligned with our faith and what is good for America. This choice may be uncomfortable. But remember, we're trusting God's wisdom instead of a human candidate. (Proverbs 3:5-8). For me, it's sanctity of human life, procreation, racial justice, economic growth and stability, a positive work ethic, good health, safe borders, domestic harmony, good jobs, sustainable values-based education, family stability, and a God-guided U. S. Supreme Court; all biblical. Even the building of a wall. It's not a first! Ezra and Nehemiah did that."5
Please pray harder than ever regarding this election "pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:18a). But prayer always is followed by an act of obedience obedience reflecting God's will. Be sure to vote for candidates at all levels who will support and not trample the most fundamental Christian values.
1. You can find an excellent issue-by-issue comparison of the Republican and Democrat platforms online here. The contrasts on such issues as healthcare, the LGBT agenda, education, terrorism, etc., are stunning.
2. Decision Magazine, September 2016, p. 11.
3. Ibid, p. 35.
4. From http://politicaloutcast.com/2012/11/irs-surrenders-time-for-churches-to-get-political/
5. Release through Christian Newswire, 8/9/2016.
Note: Here is an excellent list from Dr. Alex McFarland of eight things Christians should consider in this election. Here is another excellent detailed article from a respected pastor which makes the contrasts between candidates abundantly clear from a Christian perspective.
Copyright 2016 Heil Enterprises. All rights reserved.
Return to the Archives Index page for more recent columns.