The first votes of the 2016 presidential election are being cast today in Iowa, but with ten months to go until the general election, a lot of my fellow evangelicals are already frustrated with this campaign.
I get that. Every election season brings with it the highs and lows that come with passionate, democratic discourse. There’s no mistaking, though, that this one feels different.
It’s not just that “this is the most important election in American history” (don’t we always hear that?). Instead, you can sense it in the air and on the airwaves: this time it’s more serious, more consequential. Much is at stake during the term of our next president.
So, amid the rancor and the discord, the partisan name-calling and political infighting, what is a faithful Christian to do? It’s tempting to say we should just distance ourselves from politics altogether—to avoid the mud and muck and keep our eyes solely focused on matters of the church.
The thing is, for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, avoiding politics can’t be an option. I submit to you that while it’s okay to be fed up, it’s not okay to sit out. And, in fact, participating in the electoral process is exactly the sort of cultural engagement we’re called to by our faith. This is part of what Jesus meant when he told us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
Think about what our country would look like today if all 60 million U.S. evangelicals showed up to vote this year… To put that number in context, President Barack Obama only earned 65 million votes in total in 2012. Mitt Romney received just over 60 million that same year, while John McCain didn’t even receive 60 million votes four years prior.
If every eligible evangelical voter would cast a ballot in each of our local, state, and federal elections, will the United States be a better place? I’m convinced that it would.
Think about an America where 60 million Jesus-loving, God-fearing men and women stepped into their voting booths this election season—not with the intention of electing a “Christian president” but with the intention of faithfully living out biblical values in the public square.
I understand that we Christians are by no means monolithic in our politics. We are, however, generally unified in our values. Regardless of which candidates we support, we can all agree that there needs to be more truth in the public square.
The Christian worldview gives us a valuable perspective on important questions related to helping the poor, maximizing individual freedoms, dignifying life, strengthening families, protecting the unborn, and guarding religious freedom.
Without our votes, that voice is absent.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, the only label I wear in and out of election season is that of a “Christian.” I understand that my primary allegiance isn’t to political ideology but to Jesus Christ himself an to the Bible as God’s final authority.
And, it’s because of this belief that my faith supersedes and informs my politics. While we’re not electing a pastor to govern America - we are not a theocracy - biblical faith does not distance itself from political action but rather requires it.
When we’ve done our part, when we’ve prayed for the Lord’s will, when the votes have been tallied, we no longer have frustration but peace, knowing that our God is sovereign over all affairs and we did our part.
Make no mistake, evangelicals have the ability to determine the course of America’s future, one vote at a time.