Summary: God is ultimately in control over who is elected and how they govern. Therefore, we can look to Him for the security and welfare of our nation.
As you all know, on November 7th millions of people will be going to the polls to elect a new President. And so, this excruciatingly long process, these seemingly endless political campaigns, will finally be over. No more debates, no more ‘attack ads’, no more speculation over vice-presidential picks, no more appearances on ‘Letterman’ or ‘Oprah’ or ‘Regis’ or ‘Rosie O’Donnell, no more speeches, no more campaign rallies, no more conventions. It will all be just be a fading memory.
In just two days, we’ll cast our ballots, the election officials will count them up, and we’ll be done. We will have decided, as a nation, which of these two men will become the leader of the free world, perhaps the most powerful human being on the planet, and which of them will become a footnote in the history books, the answer to a question on ‘Jeopardy’.
Probably most of you are planning to cast a ballot on Tuesday. You may still be uncertain who to vote for. Or, you may have decided, but you may have made the wrong decision. So let me tell you how you should vote. I’d been hoping that Larry King would ask me to come on his show to reveal my endorsement, as he did with Ross Perot, but the call hasn’t come yet. So, I’ll just share it with you. After all, what’s a pastor for, if not to help people with decisions like this? Here it is: when you go to the polls on Tuesday, I urge every one of you to vote for – George Gore. I mean Al Bush. Did I say Bush? I meant Ralph Buchanan.
No, I’m not going to issue an endorsement [although many ministers have done so, at least implicitly – amazing how God could be on both sides like that]. I’m not going to do it because it would have several bad effects. It would render your financial contributions non-tax-exempt. It would make probably half of you mad at me. [Not that I’m opposed to that on principle, I’d just rather save it for something really important]. But the most important reason that I am not endorsing a Presidential candidate, and will never endorse any candidate for public office from the pulpit, is that it would be wrong. It would be an abuse of my position, it would be an illegitimate exercise of spiritual authority.
Because it would imply that there is only one possible “Christian” choice; that the question of who should be our next President has only one right answer for a believer in Christ. It would say that to vote for one of these men is an act of faithfulness and obedience and devotion to Christ, while a vote for the other is a sin. And that’s just not true. A Christian, in good conscience and for good Biblical reasons, could vote for either Al Gore or George Bush (or for Nader or Buchanan, for that matter).
I’m not saying there are no differences. There are deep philosophical and personal differences among the candidates. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter who is elected. It matters tremendously to our country, and to the world, who the President is. And I won’t pretend that I don’t have strong personal feelings on the matter. But it would be wrong for me, or anyone, to say that my preferences are necessarily God’s preferences, and that therefore if you’re a Christian you should vote like me.
So you can make a case for your guy, from a political point of view, or a moral point of view, or a social, or historical, or a theological, or Biblical point of view who you think would better serve the office. Talk about Medicare, or supreme court appointments, or character, or Social Security, or tax policy, or prescription drugs, or military preparedness, or Buddhist temple fundraisers. Just don’t claim that there is only one “Christian” way to vote.
All right, if I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, what am I going to do? I’m going to give you two principles to help you think about this whole process in a Christian way, to help give you a Biblical view of government and politics. Then you’ll be better equipped, not just to vote in this election, but to live as both disciples of Christ and citizens of this nation.
God is in control of governments and governors
Here’s the first point: God is in control of both the government and the governors.
As you look at our Federal government with its huge bureaucracy, sometimes it’s hard to believe that anyone is in control. For instance, did you know that part of your taxes go to support the 548 members of the Panama Canal Commission? (http://www.opm.gov/feddata/demograp/table1mw.pdf) Didn’t we give that canal back to Panama? You’ve probably heard of the Environmental Protection Agency (19,187 employees) or the Small Business Administration (4,536). But did you know you were also paying the salaries of the 51 federal employees of the “American Battle Monuments Commission” or the 25 members of the “John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board”? Or the 1,367 employees of the National Cemetery System?