- October 29, 2008
As the pastor of a large church, one question I hear a lot is some version of the following: “I’m a Christian. How should I vote in the presidential election?”
“I like some things about Barack Obama, and I like some things about John McCain,” they tell me. “Is God a Republican or a Democrat? What does he think about politics?”
Other people even wonder if we should be talking about the subject in church. I’m a pastor, not a politician, but I do know this: God’s involvement with politics and government is inescapable—even from a casual reading of the Bible.
Two books, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, cover the rule and reign of government leaders. Nehe-miah rebuilt communities with government support. Daniel rose high in the governments of Babylon and Persia. John the Baptist interacted with Herod. Jesus navigated political tensions with Pilate. The Bible is full of politics.
Yet when people talk about elections, candidates, parties and platforms, it’s amazing how theology either doesn’t come up at all or is the last thing mentioned. God’s relationship to the election rarely is discussed, and when it is, it’s on the margins of conversations. People will talk about racial preferences, they’ll talk about certain issues, and they may mention God’s name every now and then.
But God is more involved in this election than people think. The Bible says that God raises up kings and puts them down. Proverbs tells us the “king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. ... He turns it wherever he wants.”
So the question is not, “Do religion and politics mix?” but rather, “How should religion and politics mix?”
Most African-American Christians vote Democratic. They believe the Democratic Party is more sensitive to the social and justice needs of minorities, the poor and the disenfranchised.
Most white Christians, meanwhile, vote Republican. They believe the Republican Party is committed to the moral issues of the day—abortion, gay rights and the redefinition of the family.
But God is not a Republican, nor a Democrat.
In fact, God is the consummate independent. So it’s not my job to tell Christians whom to vote for, but it is my job to tell Christians how to vote.
They should vote for the candidate, the platform and the party that is going to best represent the values of the kingdom of God. It’s as simple as that, and as complicated as that. Neither party fully represents those kingdom values—I can show you pluses and minuses in both parties—so Christians shouldn’t fully give themselves to either party.
But because God is involved politically, we must choose. And since neither party fully represents the interests of the kingdom of God, you are free to choose based on your opinion.
That’s why people have to decide for themselves. That’s why I can’t say folks should vote for Obama or McCain because no one person, no one party, no one platform, fully reflects the values of the kingdom of God.
Our God is not the God of Democrats, nor is he the God of Republicans. He did not come to take sides; he came to take over.
Tony Evans is senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and the president of The Urban Alternative, his national ministry. His column was distributed by Religion News Service.