Tomorrow Americans will go to the polls and vote for the next president of the United States. On what basis should we make our decision? Should a candidate's religious faith-or lack of faith-have an impact on whom we vote for?
I'd like to share with you the views of two of the twentieth century's greatest religious figures: Chuck Colson and Billy Graham.
Chuck felt very strongly about the duty of Christians to vote-and to vote for the best qualified candidate no matter what his personal religious convictions. He considered voting a spiritual duty. On BreakPoint, Chuck noted that as voters, we are to choose the most competent people to be God's magistrates to do justice, restrain evil, and preserve order. He pointed to Exodus 18, where Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, told him to select men of good moral character who were competent to help judge the people.
Chuck also quoted Martin Luther, who reportedly said he would rather be judged by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian. He meant that he'd prefer to choose the best qualified leader available than vote for someone less qualified who happened to share his religious beliefs. We do this in other areas of our life all the time. For instance, if you needed to undergo brain surgery, would you choose a Christian surgeon, or the best surgeon available no matter what his beliefs?
Billy Graham also has strong views about voting for the best candidate no matter what his private beliefs are. A few days ago, the Rev. Graham took out newspaper ads in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch urging people to vote for candidates who supported biblical teaching on some of the great moral issues of the day.
As Graham put it, "We are at a crossroads, and there are profound moral issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms."
Some commentators criticized Graham for mixing in partisan politics. But is that really what he was doing?
Dr. Timothy George, Chairman of the Board of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, does not think so. In an essay he published at the Christian Post, George points out that Graham, who will turn 94 in a few days, is nearing the end of his life-which means his words "have a certain gravity" that we should respectfully listen to.
Second, George says, "Graham reveals in his words a deep love for his country. Jesus (and Jeremiah before him) loved Jerusalem and wept over it. There are some tears in Billy Graham's lament about the turning point we face in our American republic today."
And third, Graham-as Chuck did in the Manhattan Declaration-asks Christians to "take a stand on three nonnegotiable commitments of the Christian worldview: the sacredness of every human life . . . the dignity of marriage as God intended it to be . . . and religious freedom."
And I agree.
We need to pray about who is best qualified to lead our country, in Congress and in the White House. And then, when we go to the polls on Tuesday, we must do our best to choose the candidates who will best fulfill biblical commands for leadership: men and women of good character who are committed to preserving order and promoting justice for all.