As I have been watching the presidential primary results, I have some concerns on this Super Tuesday, and those concerns largely pertain to the way evangelicals have been voting. The endorsements of key evangelical leaders seem to be the very antithesis of Bible principle. More than one evangelical leader has stated, “We are electing a president, not a pastor”, as if the same leadership qualities should not characterize both. Perhaps it is best for us to examine what the Bible has to say about government and see how those aspiring to the office measure up.
Government leaders are ministers
As a Baptist, I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. This is not to say, however, that politicians should not represent God. They represent God in the civic realm just as clearly as pastors represent God in the ecclesiastical realm. Paul is emphatic in Romans 13:3 when he states that the politician is “the minister of God.” He serves and represents God just as much as the pastor. To be sure, his realm is different and distinct, but he is God’s agent, for just as surely as God ordained the church, He ordained human government. Government leaders, therefore, lead in a venue created by God and thus serve as God’s representatives.
Government leaders should reflect morality
Peter is clear that the purpose of government is to praise those who do well and punish evildoers (1 Peter 2:14). Paul equally states that government is designed to be a terror to evil works, not to good (Romans 13:3). It appears obvious, then, that government leaders should know the difference between right and wrong and reflect that understanding both in their policy statements and personal deportment. When a life is characterized by obscene behavior and speech, we should not have a problem looking in a different direction.
Government leaders are mentors
Paul suggests that government leaders should provide a motivation to do right. Their leadership is meant to be a deterrent to evil and an incentive to good (Romans 13:4). It stands to reason that moral leaders should be supported both with revenue and respect (Romans 13:7). If, then, you would not even allow a particular politician to watch your children, why would you want him to watch over your country?
Government leaders should be meek
Jesus was very clear that self-aggrandizement characterizes the lost world, but it is not His ordained method of leadership (Matthew 20:25-28). Many evangelicals criticized the political campaign of Mitt Romney because he was a Mormon. But true evangelicals should recognize that humanism is a false religion, not because it worships a false Jesus, but because it worships self. Pompous, authoritarian egotism carries no weight for those who vote from a Biblical perspective. Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), but we seem bent on giving it to those who are the very antithesis of humility.
Government leaders should say what they mean
When some of these politicians die, it will be said, “There lies the body of truth”, for it never came out. Indeed, some of the secular comedians have created clips of some candidates debating with themselves. Their own statements can be put in direct opposition to one another because they flip-flop on a seemingly daily basis. This is not to say that people should never change positions. It is to say that this change should never be done for political expediency. Leaders should not be double-tongued (1 Timothy 3:8). They should mean what they say, and say what they mean. When candidates have treated marriage vows flippantly and financial vows carelessly, we wonder if their word to us means anything. If every man should speak the truth (Ephesians 4:25), then certainly this should be true of those aspiring to political office.
Unfortunately, by the time the primary elections come to Rhode Island on April 26, the candidate for each party may already have been chosen. But I trust that Christians will follow Bible principle and not vote merely for the candidate who seems best to put a “chicken in every pot”, but a candidate who by lip and life extols the virtues of a righteous person.