Does the Bible tell us who we should vote for? No. The Bible doesn’t include a Book of Elections that tells us which candidates to vote for. Since I wish it did, I have thought about writing a Book of Elections, but the Lord has yet to give me the divine inspiration I would need to write such a book.
Does the Bible tell us anything about how we should govern ourselves? Yes. Does it tell us how to vote? Well, we can turn to the Bible for guidance. Consider the meaning of politics, including the origin of the word.
politics (n.)1520s, “science of government,” from politic (adj.), modeled on Aristotle’s ta politika “affairs of state,” the name of his book on governing and governments, which was in English mid-15c. as “Polettiques.” Also see -ics.
Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men’s view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758-1808)]
Meaning “a person’s political allegiances or opinions” is from 1769.
Note two things from above.
- Aristotle referred to politics as a science. When we establish a subject as science, we do so because we have ascertained certain principles that are useful to teach and learn.
- Fisher Ames refers to politics as the application of wisdom, observing that politics is not based upon fixed principles. He says politics is not properly a science.
Is there a conflict between Aristotle’s observation that politics is a science and Ames observation that politics cannot possess fixed principles? Perhaps not. What Ames was probably observing is the difficulty of learning wisdom and applying that wisdom to our daily lives, especially with respect to something as complex as politics.
So, what does the Bible have to offer with respect to politics?
- We refer to the first five books of the Old Testament as the Mosaic Code. Israel used these books as their legal code.
- Many of the books in the Old Testament describe the history of Israel. That history often focuses upon Israel governed itself. It is not always clear what the Israelites did right and what they did wrong. Sometimes God presents us with the history and leaves it for us to contemplate the matter.
- Several books in the the Old Testament specifically address the subject of wisdom. These books help us understand the nature of wisdom. These books include Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Solomon.
- The New Testament focuses on the teachings of Jesus and His Kingdom. Since Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world, many argue the New Testament has nothing to say about government. However, we should not miss the obvious. The Roman Empire crucified Jesus for a political crime. Consider the charge against Him, the charge they posted on His cross.
Luke 23:38 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Jesus commanded us to put God first. That put Jesus, His apostles, and all those who proclaim Jesus Christ as their Savior in direct conflict with the Jewish Sanhedrin and the Roman Empire. The members of the Jewish Sanhedrin saw Jesus as a threat to their power. The empire demanded that everyone worship the Emperor of the Roman Empire as their god.
Ever since Jesus rose from the dead and gave His disciples The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), Christians have constantly struggled to reconcile Jesus’ commands with the demands of government. In the United States, this struggle led to a belief in God-given, unalienable rights (see the Declaration of Independence) and Christian support for freedom of religion, in particular the First Amendment to our Constitution.
Whereas most peoples throughout history have allowed their governing class to rule over their hearts and souls, Christians declare that God is our Master, that we must obey God before we obey man. When he and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin, here is how Peter answered.
Acts 5:27-32 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
As Christians, we must strive for a government which does not interfere with either own our God-given rights or the God-given rights of our neighbors. We must strive for a government that allows us to put God first, not a man or an idol.