This past week, we went to the polls once again to cast a vote for our choice for political leadership in offices at the federal, state and county levels.
Some of us went to bed Tuesday night or woke up Wednesday morning elated that our candidates of choice won, or bummed out because our candidate didn’t win, or more likely a combination of both.
For each of us, our goal is to vote for the person who’s platform and promises are most aligned with our hopes and views of the world.
For those of us who are Christians, those hopes and worldviews are shaped by what we believe the God of the Bible expects of us. In other words, ideally we hope to vote for candidates who are like-minded Christians. But what does that look like?
In conversations with friends and acquaintances in person and on social media, I’ve heard Christians say they could never vote for a Democrat because Democrats typically support abortion and oppress religious beliefs.
I’ve also heard other Christians say they refuse to support Republicans because the leader of the party, President Trump, lies incessantly, spouts hateful rhetoric and implements policies that negatively impact minorities.
Based on this week’s election returns, those stances on both sides weren’t just hyperbole. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, 65 percent of Alabama’s electorate voted a straight-party ticket on Tuesday -- 59 percent of those voters cast a ballot for all Republicans and 41 percent filled in the bubble indicating a vote for all Democrats.
That means, for those straight-party voters, there was no consideration given to the qualifications, views, backgrounds or campaigns of the individuals in each race. The candidate’s political affiliation was not just a determining factor, it was the only factor.
For voters embroiled in the political divide that has come to identify America, that approach might be perfectly fine, as they blindly align themselves with the party they think has the answers to what ails us. But for Christians, our allegiance should be to the Savior, not to any social system.
When we vote, we should employ discernment, examine each candidate carefully, research what they say against what they’ve done in the past, measure them against biblical standards, and weigh how their negatives will reflect on the image of Christ.
In many cases, the best candidate is not one that’s on the ballot. When that happens, I don’t hesitate to write-in a candidate I can support -- not because of their political party, but because of my duty as a Christian to vote for candidates who don’t grieve my conscience toward God.
Politics has clearly divided the country. It should not divide the body of Christ.
No candidate and no party is 100 percent aligned with biblical standards of righteousness. They’re all fallen and flawed, just like the rest of us.
We should remember that when we vote, but we should also remember it when we interact in person and on social media with other Christians who might vote differently from us.
I’ve heard some Christians say that anyone who voted for Trump must be racist. I’ve also heard other Christians say that anyone who votes for any Democrat is not a true Christian.
At the end of the day, we should judge each other they way we want others to judge us.
A common 17th century quotation offers Christians guidance involving those things that have to do with how our beliefs guide our actions: In essential things, unity. In non-essential things, liberty. In all things, charity.
Anthony Cook is executive editor of Consolidated Publishing and pastor of Christian Fellowship Bible Church in Anniston. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.