In a representative government like that of the United States, our leaders serve as our proxy. Hopefully, if elected, our candidates will make the decisions we would make if we were in their place. Yetmost of us have had the experience of voting for a candidate who disappointed us once elected. After the election of President George W. Bush to a second term, I remember participating in a number of conference calls with conservatives who were privately disappointed in the president’s lack of willingness to enact policies he had championed while running for office. Likewise, many liberals openly voice displeasure with President Barack Obama for taking a more centrist position on some issues as he prepares to run for reelection in 2012.
For Christians who are selecting a candidate, let me suggest four
criteria that may not eliminate but can lessen the possibility of voters’ remorse. The answers to these four questions will help you determine whether a candidate is likely to vote for righteousness or unrighteousness once elected.
Being a Christian does not automatically qualify someone for office. In my opinion some of the weakest presidents we have had were men who claimed to be born-again believers, including two who were Southern Baptists. However, if given a choice between a competent Christian and non-Christian, voting for a Christian candidate is preferable. Earlier I quoted John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, who wrote about the unique privilege God has given us to select our leaders. Jay was unapologetic in suggesting what kind of candidate Christians should prefer:
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
As a coauthor of the Federalist Papers and respected jurist, Chief Justice John Jay was intimately acquainted with Article VI of the United States Constitution, which had been ratified only a few years
before Jay made this statement in a private letter to Jedidiah Morse. The Constitution is clear that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Many times I have had opponents in a debate (even conservatives) label the idea of preferring Christians over non-Christians as “unconstitutional” according to Article VI. However, Jay clearly understood that while government could not impose religious tests for candidates, individuals could and should consider a candidate’s spiritual convictions as a criterion for suitability for office.
Why should we prefer Christian over non-Christian leaders? A Christian leader is more likely to enact godly principles than a non Christian. A non-Christian is certainly capable of embracing biblical
values. For example, there are non-Christian politicians who oppose abortion and support heterosexual marriage for any number of reasons. Perhaps they do so for political expediency or because of the influence of a friend or parent.
But such convictions can quickly change unless they are grounded in a person’s deeper beliefs about God. However, if an elected official really believes that he is accountable to God for the decisions he
makes, he is less likely to allow external pressure to alter his beliefs. As the writer of Proverbs says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).
The value of electing Christian leaders is not limited to the policies he enacts. Christian politicians have the advantage of experiencing God’s leadership in making crucial decisions. For example, one
of the most difficult decisions any president confronts is the decision to go to war against another nation. Such a decision not only affects the military personnel directly involved in the conflict, but it can impact the survival of the entire nation.
Suppose a hostile nation is threatening the security of our country. Would you prefer a president who only looked within himself and to his advisers for guidance? Or would you feel more secure with
a president who sought the best counsel of others but also looked to God for direction? Only Christians can claim the leading of God in making important decisions. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
Christian leaders (with some very notable exceptions) are also more likely to demonstrate the integrity of character that voters generally desire. Their core beliefs serve as a restraint against immorality, corruption, and dereliction of duty. It is popular to argue that a politician’s personal life has no impact on his public service.
Excerpted from Twilight's Last Gleaming: How America's Last Days Can Be Your Best Days by Dr. Robert Jeffress,
Worthy Publishing (www.worthypublishing.com), a division of Worthy Media, Inc., is a privately held company whose mission is helping people experience the heart of God.Worthy is an independent voice in Christian publishing, managing editorial, marketing, publicity, sales and distribution from its home offices in Brentwood, TN. Worthy focuses on a boutique list of new books each year, crossing a broad spectrum on genres, including fiction, Bible study, current events, devotionals, biography, leadership, specialized Bibles, as well as spiritual and personal growth.