Provocative even. Possibly even downright offensive.
It's a statement I really shouldn't make. It's the kind of statement that can't be proven, that has no Biblical basis, and inflicts more damage than any good it can do.
And yet, it's likely been made in many churches this morning. Churches of a certain persuasion, with specific demographics. Probably among many Christians this week and in the weeks and months leading up to the election. I know, I've seen it.
It's just been phrased a little differently.
"You can't be a Christian and vote Democrat."
"Good Christians vote Republican."
"How can you vote Democrat as a Christian?"
"The Republican Party has a Christian platform."
The statement I made in the title is no different than any of those statements above. Each presumes that one party has a monopoly on God, which cannot be true.
Jamie and I have been going through a Tony Evans series in the past few weeks entitled How Christians Should Vote, and it has been really eye opening. The most profound realization that I have had in this whole process is that there will be Christians who vote Republican in this election and there will be Christians who vote Democratic in this election, and BOTH will be voting godly, so long as they are voting in prayer and in support of the policies that God has put at the forefront of their personality.
This can happen because there is no one perfect candidate or party - i.e. there is no Biblical party. Both Democrats and Republicans are a mixture of good and bad. Divine and profane. Just like humanity.
And the truth is, we need BOTH parties. Because each focuses on different aspects of the Gospel message.
Republicans stand for policies that are praiseworthy - protection of the unborn, preservation of Christian values and protection of Christian religious freedom, etc. Democrats also stand for policies that are praiseworthy - a push for social justice, for racial equality, for gender equality, for improved socio-economic conditions. Both parties also have deplorable practices. In our liberty, Christians have different causes that are placed on our consciences to champion. This can push us to one party or the other, depending on what has been laid on our hearts.
We also must recognize that there is no ranking of sins. All sins are equally grievous to God. All sins equally separate us from God. All sin leads to death. Republicans often are single issue voters with abortion being the one issue they elevate above all others, as if it is the most important national sin to address. Democrats equally can focus on injustice as the number one national sin. Focus on either to the exclusion of all others leads to none of them being adequately addressed - we become too divided, too tribal, too fractured to actually get anything accomplished.
Where Christians vote ungodly is when they adhere to party alliances above all else. Where they believe that one party has a monopoly on righteous policy. Where they demonize the other party as being impossibly disconnected from God. Where they doubt the faith and salvation of people who vote for the other party. (After all, why should we take Trump's word that he is a Christian, but doubt Kamala Harris.)
Evan's point is that we've gotten led astray by continuing to view this as a two-party situation. Us versus them. Democrats versus Republicans. As if one party will be right and the other party will be wrong. As if being right is what matters above all else.
We forget, God does not ride the back of elephants or donkeys, as Dr. Evans would put it.
Evans compares it to viewing only two teams on a football team and forgetting that there is a third group out there - the referees. Christians are supposed to be referees. Calling penalties and fouls as we see them, upholding and confirming legitimate plays. We cannot side with either team on the field, but most remain impartial, aligning with a higher governing authority.
Too many Christians have decided to forsake being referees and have put on the jersey of the Republican party. You can see this in the number of pastor's who give outright endorsements. Who have nationalistic services. Who make statements like the one above, like Christians can only vote Republican because theirs is the only Biblical platform.
When we do this, we lose our authority to call out penalties on either side. We've shown partiality and corrupted the whole game.
If you need an example, I offer Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in his endorsement of Trump. His individual choice to vote for Trump is not problematic. Nor is any individual Christian's. Where I take serious issue is how he spends the entirety of his article outlining how voting for Trump, voting Republican, is the only correct Biblical worldview.
To get there, he has to conveniently side-step his hypocrisy from his comments in 2016, where he said he would not vote for Trump and said if he did, he would have to apologize to President Bill Clinton for his comments during the Monica Lewinsky affair. He said then that character in a president matters, but now he is having to contextualize that statement. So, he's voting for Trump and of course, not apologizing to Bill Clinton.
He also has to side-step the large constituencies of Christians that he knows historically disagree with him, particularly Black churches and Christians. For context, 81% of white evangelicals vote Republican. 80% of Black Christians vote Democrat. Consistently. So if there is just one correct way to vote Biblically, there are a lot of people in trouble. Mohler comes close to recognizing this paradox in two separate passages."I agree that there are many other issues that press on the Christian conscience—questions of economic policy and foreign affairs and energy and the stewardship of the earth. The searing pain of racial injustice and the unraveling of our social fabric demand Christian response and urgency. Christians must be concerned about questions of immigration policy and refugees—and these issues defy the simplifications of the sound-bite and tweet culture."
I also recognize that I know brothers and sisters in Christ who see this differently. The vast majority of Black voters in America vote regularly and predictably for the Democratic ticket, and have since 1960. Like the pattern of white evangelical voting, this is not a surprise. There are long historical reasons why both are so. With my black brothers and sisters, I make my best case for how I see the issues. (emphasis mine) They have every right to do the same. We each have a vote. Both of us will answer to God for that vote. We earnestly seek to persuade the other. We will likely vote differently in the end. We remain brothers and sisters in Christ."