I hear the lament often from conservative Christians as I travel the country: “How can I vote for either of these candidates with a clear conscience?”
Increasingly, many Christians are choosing the stay-at-home option (or throw away their vote with a write-in candidate option) as a way to maintain their integrity.
Frankly, I understand the appeal of such a choice. Not voting allows Christians to avoid both having to make a difficult choice or defending an unpopular choice to disapproving friends or family members. And let's face it, playing the “conscience card” allows someone to feel holier than other Christians who sully themselves by getting involved in the political process.
However, I believe there are three reasons why not voting is not an option for truly conscientious Christians:
1. Voting is a God-given privilege and responsibility. Many times I’m challenged by Christians who wonder why I am involved in politics. “After all, didn’t the apostle Paul instruct believers to simply ‘pray for kings and all those who are in authority’?” But remember, in biblical times citizens of Israel or Rome did not have the option of doing anything about governmental leaders except to pray for them. You didn’t get to vote for the king or for the emperor!
But as John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and co-author of The Federalist Papers said, “[God] has given to our people the choice of their rulers . . . of our Christian nation.”
Every time we go into the voting booth we are choosing the moral and spiritual direction of our nation. That is a privilege and responsibility that should not be abdicated.
2. Voting Is A Primary Way For Christians To Stop Evil. Imagine you saw an elderly woman being assaulted by a mugger and you had the ability to stop the assault, but walked away. Although you might not be legally culpable for the attack, you would be morally culpable.
Every year more the one million of the most defenseless in our society—the unborn—are being murdered through abortion. Since the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) more than 50 million children have been killed.
Donald Trump has pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who will either overturn Roe v. Wade or at least curtail late-time abortions including the horrific practice of partial birth abortion.
In the last presidential debate, Trump articulated the clearest defense of the pro-life position of any Republican presidential nominee in history including Romney, McCain, either of the Bushes, or Ronald Reagan.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton has pledged to nominate justices who will uphold Roe v. Wade. Additionally, she refuses to place any restrictions on abortion, regardless of reason for or the timing of the abortion.
Abortion is not the only issue that should be of concern to conscientious Christians. Over the last eight years, the Obama administration has launched an all-out attack on religious liberty in America by suing the Little Sisters of the Poor Catholic charity, forcing Christians schools to allow men in women’s locker rooms under Title IX requirements for transgender rights, and being a willing accomplice in bankrupting Christians who try to exercise their faith through their businesses.
This war against religious liberty will only escalate under Hillary Clinton who is resolved to nominate Supreme Court justices, as well as dozens of federal judges with lifetime appointments, who embrace an expansionist view of the Constitution and will force the secular progressive agenda down the throats of Americans. Remember, the next president will serve only 4 or 8 years, but these justices and judges will impact our nation for decades.
3. Voting is about endorsing policies, not personalities. Ronald Reagan was a known womanizer during his days in Hollywood and would be the first divorced president in history. Yet, in 1980 evangelicals overwhelming supported Reagan over a Baptist Sunday School teacher named Jimmy Carter who was faithfully married to one woman.
By supporting Reagan, evangelicals were not supporting womanizing or divorce, but they were endorsing Reagan’s policies.
I’ve been amazed at the number of conservative Christians who have developed a case of selective amnesia when it comes to their support of previous candidates with imperfect pasts, whether it be Reagan, McCain, Bush, Gingrich, or a host of others.
There are no perfect politicians—just as there are no perfect pastors or voters. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. But the fallibility of both candidates in this election—as in every election—is no excuse for not voting.
I will be the first to admit that the sanctity of life and the preservation of religious freedom are not even among the top ten concerns of most voters. But those issues should be of primary importance to those who call themselves Christians.
That is why I’m voting on November 8. My conscience won’t allow me to do otherwise.
Dr. Robert Jeffress is a Fox News Contributor and pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. His daily radio program "Pathway to Victory" is heard on 760 stations nationwide. He is the author of 20 books including, "How Can I Know: Answers to Life's 7 Most Important Questions."