I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
It is clear from the Apostle Paul’s writing that we are to pray for all leaders in government. But can we vote for them?
There are no perfect people in this world. As Christians we realize we are all sinners, but sometimes we forget that just because we believe in Christ, it does not make us perfect. We live in a fallen, cracked, mixed up world. It means our choices are between two imperfect options whether we are choosing a mate, a new car, a church, or even a president. Nowhere is this certainty more evident than in American politics. The Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck made this point with his famous saying, “Laws are like sausages: It is better not to see them being made.” Politics and the processes of government are usually ugly affairs that only occasionally produce satisfying results. The start of those processes rarely closely resembles the result.
For Christians in the United States, it is helpful to remember this as the November presidential election approaches. We face a choice between a politically and theologically liberal Christian and a politically conservative Mormon. Those who prefer President Barack Obama, the left-leaning Christian, likely solved their dilemma in the last presidential election. Millions of voters are now confronting a new moral question: “Is there anything wrong with voting for a Mormon President?”
The answer is “No.” In the 2012 election, voting for Governor Mitt Romney—yes, a Mormon former bishop—is certainly a moral option for followers of Jesus Christ. For those who want a pro-life, pro-free market, pro-business, pro-defense, and “America first” champion, Mitt Romney is their man. It is no sin or dishonor of God to vote for him, even though his Latter-day Saint religion is far from orthodox Christianity.
To believe otherwise is to commit to a perfectionism that would make it nearly impossible to live in this world. This demand for a perfect candidate would cause Christians to eliminate most presidential candidates in every election. George Washington was Episcopalian, Abraham Lincoln had no religious affiliation while he was president, John Kennedy was Catholic and Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were outspoken Southern Baptists.
Over a period of 223 years, our nation’s cities and states have been governed by people of many different faiths, including Mormons from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Orrin Hatch, a Mormon, has served this nation as an effective senator and George Romney, Gov. Mitt Romney’s father, was one of the great governors of Michigan. His religion never interfered with governing, but his personal faith did define his strong marriage, family values and personal integrity.
If a candidate must be precisely aligned with our religion before we can vote for him, biblically faithful Christians will not be able to vote for either man in the upcoming election. Nor could they have voted for Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Reagan. Washington and Reagan seldom attended church. Jefferson and Lincoln had disqualifying doubts about who Jesus Christ was. Historically, Christians have voted for candidates of different faiths, including Mormons, based on how they live their lives and how deeply committed they are to upholding the U.S. Constitution.
Remember, God ordained government, and we are not electing a pastor-in-chief, we are electing a commander-in-chief. Christians need to vote responsibly. We have an obligation to be informed about issues and candidates, and then vote for those whose stances most closely align with biblical principles. As voters, we share the responsibility of government and thus share accountability to God for what takes place in our nation. And yes, this may mean that at times we need to vote for a non-Christian, whether it’s a national, state or local race.
There are many Christian brothers and sisters who feel anxiety about whether or not they should support Mitt Romney given that he is a Mormon. While there are major differences in the theology of evangelical Christians and that of Mormons, as well as those who practice the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith, we do share common values that are rooted in Biblical values.
Next Wednesday, after all of the ballots are cast, one of only two men will be the next president of the United States: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Obama’s own record as a senator and now president reveals a man who believes in doctrines that are decidedly antithetical to Christianity and basic conservative morality. And a new documentary, 2016: Obama’s America makes it crystal clear that Obama is also working to remake America into something very different than what our framers designed when they wrote the Constitution. Romney, while far from perfect, has got to win this election if we are going to have any hope of preserving biblical morality or the American dream.
I never look for the best Christian to be president – I look for the one who best reflects a strong moral character, and who is most likely to preserve my rights as a Christian and freedom-loving American.