by Adam McIntosh
“At this very moment, the fate of America hangs in the balance. Re-electing President Obama will result in the destruction of America as we know it. It will lead to the Islamic takeover of our western heritage. Mitt Romney, however, loves America and knows it is the hope of the earth. He alone can save us from Obama’s agenda of ushering in the apocalypse. Cast your vote for Romney this Tuesday and be amazed at the marvelous deeds he will accomplish. A vote for Romney is a vote for all that is holy and righteous in this land.”
Sounds like a pro-Romney argument you’ve heard recently, right? It’s my amateur attempt at writing an attack ad, but I think I captured the overall perspective of those who insist you must vote for Romney if you wish to be a decent American, and a decent Christian. It seems that we are always on the brink of impending doom if we don’t vote for the Republican nominee. Obama is the great enemy and Romney is our coming savior.
Our Democrat friends aren’t immune to this way of thinking, either. They buy into messianic scenarios just as easily. In 2008, it was proclaimed that Obama would establish peace in the world and usher in a much needed era of war-ending, civil-rights-protecting, transparent government. Today, we’re hearing that Romney will overturn Roe v. Wade, ban gay marriage and let sick people just die, along with hurricane victims. Obama is the champion we must vote for and Romney is the terrifying adversary.
This apocalyptic mindset is borderline idolatrous. Both parties repeat the same rhetoric and propaganda each cycle, regardless of who the candidates are. Every four years, it’s the end of the world again – except that it’s not. Jesus the Christ is ruler of the universe, not Romney or Obama. He is reigning from his throne working all things according to the counsel of his will and for our good (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28). We shouldn’t worry about political scare tactics; the only thing we have to fear is God himself. The cosmos will not blow up if the “wrong guy” is elected. In fact, all leaders are given authority by God (John 19:11; Rom. 13:1). As hard as it is to believe, God planned for Barack Obama to be president. Same with George W. Bush and those before him. But this doesn’t mean that all leaders are justified in their actions. God often raises up tyrannical leaders as an act of judgment (1 Sam. 8:1-22). What it does mean is that God uses our voting strategies to bring about his will. Regardless of who is elected on Tuesday, the President of Presidents will still be seated on his heavenly throne.
In his providence, Christ has placed Americans in a nation where voting is an option (not a mandate) and where multiple candidates can be on the ballot. There is no law, biblical or constitutional, that says we must vote. Nor is there a law that says we must vote for one particular candidate. Next time someone tries to guilt-trip you into voting or voting for a particular candidate – with the implication that you are an irresponsible citizen if you don’t – simply smile and say, “Chill out! Jesus is in control.”
Yet, we certainly do have responsibilities when it comes to electing our leaders. We are instructed to pray for them (1 Tim. 2:1-2) and to obey them as long as it doesn’t necessitate disobeying God (Acts 5:27–29; Rom. 13:2-5). We should also use wisdom in our voting strategies. We are supposed to proclaim the lordship of Christ in all areas of life, including politics. This means that we can’t make apathetic or uninformed decisions. But it’s precisely because Jesus is Lord that we aren’t obligated to vote a particular way. We don’t know the future and he has not told us which candidate he plans to elect. As has been previously argued, there are valid points made for each voting strategy. The question to ask yourself is,“which result would best further the kingdom?” Christians won’t always agree on the answer to that. We won’t know God’s answer to that until Tuesday night.