How Should Christians Vote?


How Should Christians Vote?
Un-Christian Coalition
Godly Government
The Prophets of Situational Morality
Police Shootings


It’s How You Play the Game


The actual moment that it happened is hard to pinpoint.  For some, I suppose it was a long and drawn out process.  Familiar landmarks were removed so stealthily that they were nearly forgotten by the time they finally disappeared from the landscape.  For others, I suppose it was like a seamless and swift changing of the guard.   As if on queue, a second nature marched forward to assert itself so confidently that most would think our present state of mind is not much different than our previous one.  Either way, the event did not take place in some darkened closet or in some musty basement, but out in the open, in full public view and cheered over by our leaders.  In a fundamental way, we took that which once attracted the pointer on our moral compass and exchanged it for something that pulls towards a different direction.  As a result, the paths we are willing to follow and the manner in which we make our decisions on daily issues are dramatically different from what role models of the past typify. 


Whenever I remember a certain proverb that I learned as a child, I am reminded of the change in values our society has undergone.  My dad, wanting to instill in me a sense of competition and integrity, enrolled me in children’s football and baseball leagues.  I suppose that sports are as good as any playing field for instilling character into a child.  After all, sporting events have long been seen as a stage to say something about who we are as individuals and as a people.  This message declaring who we are is often expressed as team rivalry – a competition that can go beyond the outer limits of a community to transcend the boarders of nations.  Even in ancient times, champions from opposing armies would compete and the winning side won the spoils of war, thus avoiding massive bloodshed between the armies.  It was from this kind of noble arena where a code of conduct was emphasized that I was taught, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s the way you play the game that’s really important.” 


Nobody wants to lose a game, especially when the stakes are high.  But coaches of yesteryear tried to instill in young men something that was greater than the game itself.  By nature, sporting events are transient, temporal, and ephemeral.  There will be winners and losers that make headlines, yet their moment in the limelight does not last forever.  Their fame will be dimmed by time, but there is something much more substantive and enduring that will outlast the cheer of the crowds: it’s the way they played the game.  Simply put, there is no lasting glory in being on the winning side if we compromised our integrity to get there.  The Apostle Paul said it another way, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2Tim 2:5).


 What does the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s the way you play the game that’s important,” really mean?  In one aspect, it means that even when you make your best effort to win, reaching a game’s objective is supposed to be secondary to abiding by the rules.  For a Christian, the standard of conduct and integrity is Jesus Christ.  His absolute moral values should dictate our moral values and we should cling to them without compromise.  Our lives should be guided by His moral compass regardless of the situation or consequences we are facing.  He will not change His mind on moral issues to suit the present situation or as a strategy to gain favor with the public: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb 13:8).


Winning is not everything and not abiding by the rules to win is cheating.  We should not commit fraud or steal in order to get ahead.  Neither should we condone murder to save lives, nor compromise moral dictates to avoid defeat or to win favor in politics.  In contrast, heroes in the bible did not always win every confrontation and they were not always popular in public opinion polls.  In fact, some lost their lives for not bending to public opinion; yet even after thousands of years, the martyrs the world like to label as being losers are considered biblical heroes because of the way they played the game of life.  They attained a glory that outlasts their defeat. 


Somehow the notion that “it’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s the way you play the game that’s really important,” has slipped the grasp of our societal conscience and we now embrace a “winning is everything” mentality.  Somehow we failed to pass on the understanding that “a just and honorable means can outshine any ending.”   Instead, we now run our race carrying a baton etched with the slogan, “the end justifies the means.”  This winning is everything mindset has unfortunately permeated every branch of Christian witness, especially when it comes to the games we play in the public square.


When it came to the public, King Saul feared men more than he feared God.  Saul thought he had to do something, anything, even it was wrong, because of what he thought the political fall out might otherwise be (1 Samuel 15:13-24).  To Saul, simply standing on a command from God was too much to ask if it might mean political suicide.  Because he wanted to win above all else, he believed that the end justified the means; so much so that he told the prophet Samuel that he had obeyed God.  Too bad we didn’t glean from Saul’s mistake and learn that obedience is better than sacrifice, or to put it another way, that the end or goal does not justify the means.  Likewise, Judas Iscariot found Jesus’ principles beneficial, until he realized that abiding by them appeared to only destine him to be ostracized from having a say in the political future of his nation.  Too bad we didn’t learn from his mistake: a man cannot serve two masters.  Instead, in hopes of being good Americans, most Christians have followed the example of the Pharisees: out of fear of what the opposing political powers might do, they ignored the plight of the innocent to vote for a wicked man, Barabbas, for the so-called greater good and to secure their place in national politics (John 11:48; 18:40).


Today’s Christianity is marked by voting for a wicked man instead of supporting a godly man who faces being crucified at the polls.    This is because we have been taught that ultimate political victory excuses a lack of moral clarity if it yields the numbers we need to sustain political influence.  Unfortunately, to trust in political power instead of God opens us to rebuke.  For example, Pontius Pilate was a man that kept a close eye on his political scorecard and he took great stock in numbers.  Pilate’s power to rule was backed by the mighty legions of Rome, validated by the Emperor, and manifested in the streets by hoards of Roman soldiers under his command.  In hopes of winning a confrontation, Pilate flaunted this political clout when he sparred with Jesus of Nazareth.  Christ curtly responded, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11a).  What part of Jesus’ reply do we not understand?  Regardless how much we may pride ourselves into thinking we are responsible for attaining political power over the opposition, as with Pilate, it is God and not us that has the final say on who will lead a government.  When Christians are double minded as we are today, we can expect to eventually be given a leader that is evil but is at least consistent in his worldview and faithfulness to a false god. 


Have you ever played a game without knowing the rules of the game as well as you should have?  It is much easier to run out of bounds on a playing field if you do not know which lines you are not supposed to cross.  When it comes to nominating someone who will influence how civil government will regard moral issues, most Christians simply do not know the rules or boundaries that should never be crossed.  According to Moses, certain criteria had to be met before selection to public office: the capable candidate must be a God-fearing man hating covetousness and showing an aptitude towards prudence and wisdom (Exodus 18:21).  These traits are always points to consider when evaluating someone for a position that will influence morality and judgment over others. 


 Paul added clarity to these rules in First Timothy 3:1-11, where he uses the principles to enumerate the qualifications of a church leader.  These qualities are indicative of any mature believer and, excluding the requirement to be a man seeking an office, are qualities that all Christians are expected to eventually achieve.  Such earmarks of moral and mental qualities are to be the reputation of any candidate that believers propose for appointment to an office involving moral leadership.  Paul also issued a warning regarding placing zealous Christians into office, stating that the believer should not be a novice because the devil will use their lack of maturity to compromise biblical principles (i.e. by endorsing unbiblical legislation). 


When it comes to rules in the game of life, God shows great latitude covering issues of property and policies.  For example, though government ownership of all private property is something the bible teaches against, Joseph was not condemned for the socialist program that he started or the government handouts he gave his relatives (Gen 47:13-26).  Joseph also instituted a twenty percent income tax law without being accused of stealing from the poor to give to the rich.   However, God takes great exceptions to violations against issues of personhood.  For example, the intentional shedding of innocent blood, the taking of someone else’s spouse, or the abandonment of marriage as being only between a male and female are things that God has always condemned and has never given any leeway over.  Unfortunately, as if there are no solid boundaries that should not be crossed, we have flipped-flopped these rules to tolerate and endorse people who condone violations of personhood issues.  When voters excuse such behavior by saying, “There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate,” they are really admitting that they do not know the rules of the game as well as they should.


We would like to think we model ourselves after the bible heroes of old.  We may even consider ourselves willing to stand firm on God’s Word right up to a bitter end.  But in the public arena, we are moved more profoundly by the flag than by the cross.  Place a voting booth in front of us and our true nature bows to the situation.  Why are our morals swayed so easily?  For much the same reason an Olympic athlete might take an illegal steroid before competition.  Even though the athlete knows his act goes against the rules, he nonetheless justifies his behavior upon the noble goal of winning.  Likewise, winning a political race has become everything to us.  We excuse ourselves because we think the end justifies the means: we certainly do not want the other political party to win, because that would be a far worse fate to us than a Christian compromising his loyalty to the unbending moral character of Christ.  We even comfort ourselves to the point that we begin to believe that choosing a lesser evil is somehow not choosing evil at all if our stated goal can be attained through it.


One anti-Christ may seem better than another, but Christians should never campaign for an antichrist to take the reigns of moral leadership regardless of the alternatives (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 1:7).   For example, we should not sacrifice pre-born children for a candidate willing to allow some abortions even though he promises to make life better for the rest of us.  Instead, Christians would do well to adopt a voter’s guide approved by Jesus:  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (i.e. good economy, good public policies, good housing market, et cetera) shall be added unto you.”  


In most wars, it is the outcome of each battle that will ultimately determine the victor.  Lose one battle too many and you will lose the war.  However, this is not true for spiritual warfare.  The victory of our spiritual war has already been assured by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.  Whether we win or lose the battle at hand, it won’t change the outcome of the war.  We are more than conquerors in Christ.  In contrast, we cheat ourselves out of a crown whenever we compromise our moral integrity in hopes of winning a battle – a fate even more shameful when we also end up losing a battle despite our chicanery and moral compromise.


Will God hold us accountable for what opposing teams do after we have stood firmly upon absolute moral principles?  No!  God cannot blame anyone for standing upon His moral character.  For example, study the book of Esther and watch how Mordecai played the cards dealt to him.  The whole book is something of a paradox since Mordecai helped save his people from a threat that might not have taken root if it had not first been for him stubbornly fearing God more than man!   It was Mordecai’s refusal to bow to political pressure that caused Haman to target the Jews for annihilation (Esther 3:1-6).  However, both Mordecai and Esther chose an allegiance to God to protect the innocent above their own self interests, to fear God more than they feared man, and such led to the salvation of their people (Esther 2:21-23, 4:16).   


Regardless the possible outcome, Esther laid down her cards and said, “If I perish, I perish,” but today we fold our hands out of fear of what men can do to us.  If the book of Esther ended differently by seeing all the Jews slaughtered, would it have then been wrong for Mordecai to have caused the initial offense by not bowing to political pressure or wrong for Esther to make a politically charged statement for God?  No, since God’s sense of right and wrong is independent of the situation or immediate outcome.  Our obligation to be faithful witnesses of God remains the same regardless of the type of government we find ourselves a part of.


In contrast, do today’s national Christian leaders run the race knowing that it’s the way you play the game that’s most important?  No, they play using the end justify the means strategy.  For example, in the 2008 Presidential election campaigns, Pat Robertson gave glowing approval to pro-abortionist Rudi Giuliani.  The president of Bob Jones University gave raving endorsements to Mitt Romney even though Romney created a law providing government money for abortions and forced gay marriages upon Massachusetts while he was governor.  A complete list of national religious leaders who also gave approving nods to the wicked would be a long one.


Though James Dobson promised never to support anyone willing to allow one child to be murdered by abortion, he felt good about publically endorsing John McCain and Sarah Palin.  Both McCain and Palin agreed that there should be exceptions to allow the choice to intentionally kill pre-born children and that states should decide the matter (Prior to Roe vs. Wade, 19 states already permitted abortion on demand).  Dr. Dobson’s change of heart regarding his vow did not take place in some darkened closet or in some musty basement, but out in the open, in full public view and was cheered over by our leaders.  Instead of defending the innocent in all states, their warped moral compass would have had Mordecai and Queen Esther campaigning King Ahasuerus for a federal decree so that each state province would decide for themselves whether innocent Jews could be killed without legal repercussions, (cf. Esther 8:5).  This is the kind of moral ambiguity that comes when the end justifies the means.


What is more dangerous: a wolf that can plainly be seen by the sheep or a wolf that has convinced the sheepfold that he is merely an odd looking sheep?  It is the wolf in sheep’s clothing that will prove the most treacherous to the flock.  Because so many national Christian leaders operate under “the end justifies the means” worldview, they will ignore a sheep that has little chance of winning in favor for a wolf in sheep’s clothing that appears to have the makings of a winner.  This desire to win is often so strong that they do not scrutinize the positive claims made about their candidate’s past deeds or alleged pro-life voting record.  To examine such would conflict with their overwhelming desire to be on the winning team. 


There were at least one or two presidential candidates in 2008 that stood on firm morals and did not compromise when it came to personhood issues.  There may have been more, but it is hard to tell since the major parties ignored them, the news media was virtually silent about them, and key Christian ministries would not even give them an honorable mention. 


So, the next time someone takes you out to the ballpark, look for that ancient signpost that reads, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s the way you play the game that’s really important.”  If you don’t find it, then put one up yourself.  While you are at it, take a moment to teach the next generation that moral integrity is far more important and eternal than winning a game or taking first place in a race.  They may look at you as being an old-fashioned loser, but since they are going to play the game of life anyway, you might as well show them how to play it right.  After all, how we play the game says a lot about who we are.   



Home | How Should Christians Vote? | Un-Christian Coalition | Godly Government | The Prophets of Situational Morality | Police Shootings