WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–My Sunday School teacher is facing a dilemma.
Because of his occupation, Mark is required to be a dues-paying member of a particular organization. This organization has strongly encouraged its members to vote for a particular candidate because that candidate’s economic agenda will most benefit the membership of this organization.
Without mentioning any candidates by name, Mark told our class that he was in a tough spot because his Christian values would not allow him to vote for the candidate his co-workers favored.
Mark believes another candidate better represents his Judeo-Christian worldview and traditional family values. He realizes that if the latter candidate is elected, however, it could have a negative impact on his financial situation.
Nevertheless, Mark has weighed his options and has chosen to vote his values.
This summer, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention launched an online initiative called iVoteValues.com. The purpose of the website is to encourage voters, especially Christian voters, to allow their Christian values to guide their choices in the 2004 general election. The ERLC recognizes that America is in the midst of a culture war, and politics is one of the chief fronts in which this war is being fought. That’s why the ERLC is encouraging conservative Christians to vote their Christian values.
The fact is, everyone — Christian or not — votes according to their values.
Some people cast their votes primarily for economic reasons. These individuals value prosperity above all else. This principle applies across the board as other people vote primarily for educational reasons, security reasons, organizational reasons or age reasons. All of these are valid concerns, and all of them may play a role in how one decides to vote.
The question is not the validity of these values; rather, the question is whether these values should be the decisive criteria a Christian uses at the voting booth.
Ultimately, the above values are secondary issues in a thoroughgoing Christian worldview.
In Christianity, our values are grounded in our theology. This means our values must be drawn from the Bible, which is sufficient to both inform our beliefs and guide us in the political process.
The Bible teaches that God is the sovereign creator of the universe; life begins at conception; every person is created in the image of God; each individual is unique; men and women are equal yet different; marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman for life; all people are fallen sinners; Christ died for the sins of humanity; Christ will one day return to earth to judge all people; and all of the created order will one day be finally redeemed to a state of eternal glory. These are the basics of the Christian worldview, and it is from these great truths of God’s Word that Christians are to derive their values.
As Christians draw on the Bible for their values, their voting will be impacted. The Bible has much to say about how Christians ought to vote in such matters as the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage, the dignity of every individual and the role of the church in society. Though perhaps not as explicitly, the Bible informs how we may vote concerning matters of national security, economics, education and the care of those who cannot care for themselves. Thoughtful Christians will evaluate the agendas (values) of every political candidate, from the presidential race to the local county commission. Then Christians will vote their values.
Christians are not so naive as to believe that the fate of the world hangs upon an election cycle — the future of the world has already been decided. Christians do not believe that any lasting peace, prosperity, security or salvation can be guaranteed by electing any individual to public office.
But conscientious Christians understand that though the return of Christ is the only ultimate solution for the troubles of this world, elections do matter in the ongoing battle for the soul of America. That’s why we vote our values.
Nathan Finn is a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.