Every election cycle, the same question comes up: Who would Jesus vote for? And its counterpart: Would Jesus even vote at all?
Here’s my commitment to you up front: This post is not a defense of one specific candidate over another. I’m not going to promote my political preference in the name of Christianity or make you feel bad for liking somebody different than me. I simply want us to take a good look at Jesus and allow His life to shape how we engage in the political process.
With that said, I do believe Jesus would vote (and I’ll show you why), and I also believe “earthly” Jesus would have an opinion about the current election if He were physically living in America today. I’ll also show you how to form your own opinion about how to vote well in this current election.
Would Jesus Even Vote?
Many people say Jesus wouldn’t vote because He didn’t seem to care too much about politics. If I’m honest, I can totally see their point. After all, when Pilate questioned Jesus about being the king of the Jews, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (See John 18:36.) Jesus was far more concerned about His Father’s kingdom than He was about the Roman government or an earthly throne in Israel (even though He was a descendent of King David).
I’ve heard some suggest that God really doesn’t care who the president of the United States is because it’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of eternity. On the contrary, I think it’s silly to think that I would care who my kids’ babysitter is but God wouldn’t care who our president is. I’m not a better father than Him. God definitely cares who is in authority over His kids; that’s why He was so involved in the process of setting up kings and dethroning them throughout the Old Testament — even in foreign governments.
I don’t believe Jesus was completely indifferent about politics when He walked this earth. I would argue that He was as politically engaged as possible given (1) the restrictions of living under Roman domination and (2) His prioritization of His mission in the earth. When Jesus talked about taxes, He said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” In other words, honor your responsibility to the State. If Jesus had lived in a democratic republic like we Americans do, He most certainly would have honored His other responsibility to the State by voting.
Since we live in a democratic republic, we have a voice in selecting our leaders and shaping public policy. In a sense, you could say that we are the ones who make the actual political decisions for our country, not an emperor (like Jesus lived under). Our “leaders” are really nothing more than “representatives” who lead on our behalf. The American people are “the boss,” and the politicians are our “employees.” Given that, if the Government is a mess, I’d put the responsibility higher up the chain of management and say it’s our job to fire some bad employees and do better hiring in the future. If Jesus lived in a political environment that placed that kind of responsibility on its citizens, you’d better believe He wouldn’t have shrugged off His responsibility.
Yet many in the Church bow out of the elections because we assume God will put whomever He wants in charge. Consider this: God didn’t want to put a king in charge of Israel, but He allowed it due to the overall will of the people. (See 1 Samuel 8.) In other words, God will allow something contrary to His will in order to discipline us for wanting something contrary to His will. It’s very important that we partner with the Lord and side with His preference for the direction of our particular nation.
Who Would Jesus Vote For?
I think the question of who Jesus would vote for has less to do with a particular candidate and more to do with the issues Jesus would want to uphold and promote. It also has to do with His ideas about who offers the best solutions to the big issues. We all need to think critically and prayerfully about these issues and more:
- I believe Jesus cares about the poor, but would He prefer that such care be the Government’s job (in the name of Caesar/Washington) or the Church’s job (in the name of Jesus)? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about the murder of unborn babies through abortion, but would He consider the ending of it to be something for the Government to legislate or the Church’s love to make obsolete? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about the strength of our military, but would He prefer that its primary job be protecting our national interests or trying to achieve political peace in the world through wars and nation-building? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about immigration policy, but would He prefer that we prioritize the poor in our own country or prioritize refugees from other countries? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about our economy, but would He prefer the solution to be principles of socialism or of free-market capitalism? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about public healthcare, but would He prefer Government-run federalization of healthcare or true, free-market competition across state lines? Or both?
- I believe Jesus cares about foreign policy, but would He prefer isolationism or interventionism? Or both?
If I’m truly honest, I don’t know if I have all the right answers to these questions myself. Personally, I like our Constitution and prefer personal responsibility over Government intervention, but am I right? The best I can do is continue to ask the questions, study the issues, pray, and fulfill my responsibility as an employer of public servants by casting my best vote with a clean conscience. Even if I don’t like the two main candidates from the major parties, it’s better for me to engage in the process by voting for a third-party candidate than to stay home and say nothing at all. If you want the national dialogue to change in a democratic republic, then you’re the one who has to change it.
Keep Your Priorities on the Mission
Remember what I said about the two restrictions on Jesus’ political involvement. The first was that He was as politically involved as possible given the restrictions of living under Roman domination. But the second was that Jesus was as politically engaged as possible given His prioritization of His mission on earth.
Many of my friends would say that I’m very politically engaged. I study the issues and the candidates. I discuss and debate with civility and my best attempt at logic and reason. I don’t just go with whatever or whomever is popular at the moment; I do my homework and make educated decisions to the best of my ability. But my friends would also say that I’m very engaged in the mission. I’m jet-lagged as I write this article because I just flew home from 10 days preaching in underground house-churches, leading people to Jesus, ministering healing, and training ministers in China. I’m leading a church meeting in my home tonight, training believers in Ohio on Sunday, studying Scripture, reading biblical commentaries, loving Jesus, raising my children, loving my wife, and doing my best to serve others in Jesus’ name. If politics ever distracted from that, then I’d be in the wrong. It’s possible to do both.
Many people say they don’t have time to do both. First, let’s compare how much time we both spend entertaining ourselves with television and so forth, and then we can talk about whether or not you have time. I don’t say that to be mean or to minimize the value of recreation (even God rested, and we’re not better than Him!). But I do want us to consider how seriously we take our roles as God’s representatives and stewards in the earth.
As those who are responsible for obeying Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations, are we fulfilling our responsibilities well? And as those responsible for selecting public representatives and shaping public policy by engaging in national politics, are we fulfilling our responsibilities well?
If we will faithfully engage in both responsibilities, prioritizing our heavenly mission, I believe it is possible to see godly leaders and righteous policies in America.
Proverbs 29:2 – “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.”
Who would Jesus vote for? If He lived in a democratic republic like us, I believe He would vote for the person who best aligned with His desire for the people in His nation and who best enabled the Church to fulfill its mission. I believe He would have answers about all the questions I listed above. And I believe He would do His part to dialogue about the issues with others in a respectful manner and in ways that do not distract Him from His mission.
If you live in a nation where you’re allowed to choose your leaders, then you need to fulfill your responsibility and choose well.