We are only about two weeks from the presidential election. While I strongly believe that how any citizen votes is a private matter between them, their conscience, and (if they profess to be Christian) God, I cannot help but take note of a good deal of moral confusion concerning what Christian principles require of us in making a decision on how to exercise our freedom to vote.
The first thing I have to stress is that in the United States of America (at least), your vote is private. No one has the ability to compel you to disclose anywhere, at any time, how you voted. So if you are Christian, how you vote in this election is really a matter only between you and your faith.
That said, there is a necessary distinction between how you privately exercise your privilege to vote, and how you urge others (publicly or privately) to exercise that right.
If, for example, you choose to speak out and advocate how others should vote, then you are under a moral (Christian) obligation not to mislead or deceive. You cannot urge others to vote for Candidate A on certain grounds, and then privately vote for Candidate B on different grounds (such as that while Candidate B is less desirable, he has promised you a position in his government if he gets elected).
Thus, faced with the execrable choice we have in this presidential election, absolutely no one could fault you if you choose to vote in private for some minority candidate who has none of the moral deficiencies of the candidates advanced by the Republican or the Democratic parties. By voting in secret for the candidate whom you truly believe to be best qualified for the position, you are doing your duty as an informed citizen, and no one can blame you for doing that.
But once you take it upon yourself to advocate how others should vote in this election, you have a far greater responsibility: you must be true to the principles you espouse, even though your individual vote still by law remains secret, and cannot be disclosed for any reason. The accountability here required of you is that of Christianity itself, since even if no one else knows, God knows how you voted, in relation to how you told others to vote.
With those principles laid down, let us see how a Christian might propose to deal with the quandary of whom to vote for in the current presidential election.
Perhaps the first principle a Christian ought to apply is this: Judge not, lest ye be judged. A Christian has no business comparing himself to a candidate, and voting according to whether he considers the candidate inferior (or superior) to himself. Candidates must be evaluated on their own merits as to their abilities to lead our country; let God decide which ones are morally fit. (Needless to say, a lack of morals has not in the past operated to keep candidates from being elected President.)
The second Christian principle would be this: Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Although I have said many times that this election is in God's hands, and that this country is under His judgment, that does not mean a Christian should decline to vote. It is every citizen's duty to vote. And as I just noted, citizens must exercise their vote based on criteria that evaluate the candidates according to their abilities to lead this country for the next four years -- not on whether a candidate is of a given sex, or race, or religion.
Those are the basic Christian principles that apply to voting for President in this election. But they are necessarily general; what is lacking is an application of them to specific facts and circumstances.
If, for example, you reside in a State such as I do, which is overwhelmingly predicted to go for one of the two major candidates, you have a light burden, because the State's total vote is out of your hands. You are free to vote your conscience, and leave the outcome to God's providence.
But if you are in one of the States expected to be more closely contested (and you should know by now if you are), then your vote will count for much more. You should analyze the candidates carefully, using the criteria mentioned earlier: what are the candidates' agendas? Their legislative proposals? Their proposed appointees to the Supreme Court, and to their Cabinet? How well can they be expected to deal with the Congress that is likely to be elected? Will they support a more balanced budget? How well can they be expected to deal with various foreign leaders? If an armed conflict breaks out somewhere in the world, how are they most likely to respond, and will that be good for America?
It might help you to set up a checklist of all the appropriate criteria you can think of, and then systematically and objectively rate the candidates you are considering using those criteria. I use the word "objectively" advisedly -- considerations of political correctness have no place in your decision.
That is enough for this first post. In my follow-up, I will go through more of the technical details of the Electoral College and how various State-by-State results might affect the outcome of the race -- and consequently, how Christians in certain States may choose to vote.