Is Voting for “The Lesser of Two Evils” a Biblical Position for Christians?
Is it appropriate for Christians to vote for the “lesser of two evils” in an election where there is not a good candidate?
I was in a discussion with some friends recently in which the question was raised of who Christians should vote for if the candidate choices were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On one hand, Clinton is pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” and pro- many other things that Christians oppose. She is not a fit candidate for any Christian to support.
But on the other hand is Donald Trump. Trump claims to be a Christian but says he has never asked God for forgiveness and doesn’t need to, he is belligerent, insulting, and proud of his own sins. His brand of “Christian” is false and has the potential to drive people away from Jesus rather than to Him. Overall he is not an expression of Christianity or an example of Christ that a Christian should endorse.
The conversation turned to the idea of voting for the “lesser of two evils” and it was quickly decided that Trump is that choice. This bothered me. I knew I could not vote for Trump just because he was a little less “evil” than Clinton but I wasn’t sure how to articulate why. Then I read an article by Dr. Albert Mohler on the subject and it made perfect sense.
Dr. Mohler reminds us that “unless Jesus of Nazareth is on the ballot, any election forces us to choose the lesser of evils.” Good point. In this life we will constantly face a choosing what is lesser simply because we live in a fallen world filled with sin. Does that justify us in voting for someone that is evil, but only slightly less evil than his opponent? Not so fast. Dr. Mohler makes it perfectly clear where our responsibility lies as Christ-followers:
“In our system, citizen is an office; we too bear responsibility for the actions of the government. Just as the lordship of Christ made demands for public justice on office-holders in the New Testament (Luke 4:15), the same is true for those who rule as citizens…In a democratic republic, the authority over statecraft rests with the people themselves. In the voting booth, we delegate others to swing the sword of public justice on our behalf. If we think of a campaign like a job interview, we cannot ethically contract someone to do evil on our behalf. Can a candidate make promises about issues then do something different in office? Yes. Can a candidate present a sense of good character in public then later be revealed to be a fraud? Sure. The same happens with pastors, spouses, employees, and in virtually every other relationship. But that sense of surprise and disappointment is not the same as knowingly delegating our authority to someone with poor character or wicked public stances. Doing so makes us as voters culpable. Saying, “the alternative would be worse” is no valid excuse…The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).”
Read that paragraph again.
Dr. Mohler perfectly summarizes the biblical position for what it means to be a citizen and vote. We have a responsibility to vote according to our biblical beliefs. For this reason we simply cannot vote for a candidate in whom we find deficiency of character, a lack of respect for others, a lack of civility, or immoral public policy positions. This does not mean we have to agree with the candidate on every issue; I’m not sure that is possible. But it does mean the candidate we vote for must not be obviously “evil.”
In other words, we must evaluate the candidates through a biblical lens. If the candidate espouses a belief that is anti-biblical or un-biblical, we cannot in good conscience support that candidate. So, for example, a candidate that says abortion is acceptable would not be a candidate a Christian can support. A candidate that supports taking from the “rich” and giving to everyone else is not an option either. And a candidate that wants to send foreigners home and keep people out of our country is equally wrong.
As Dr. Mohler stated, we will one day be held accountable for our own evil deeds and also for the evil deeds of others wherein we gave our approval (Rom. 1:32). This includes giving support by electing someone to public office. For this reason Christians need to take very seriously the responsibility of electing a president and the implications of the person we elect.
Someone might say “to be sure no one does anything I disagree with, I simply won’t vote at all.” This position is problematic in that it ignores the responsibility we have as citizens to be an active part in the governance of our country. We have a marvelous gift in our freedom to vote for the people we want to see in office. Refusing to take part in that process is just as troubling as voting for an unfit candidate. It’s one thing, as Dr. Mohler put it, to be disappointed by a candidate that breaks campaign promises and does the opposite of what he/she said they would do as president. It’s another thing entirely to knowingly vote for an unfit candidate or to refuse to vote at all.
I am concerned that Christians will be put in a very difficult position during this election. It appears that we will have to choose between voting for an unfit candidate in Mr. Trump, or voting for a third party candidate or writing in a candidate’s name. The most likely outcome of this scenario is that Mr. Trump would lose and the other candidate would win. Let me be the first to say that such an outcome terrifies me.
But, and this is important, Christians cannot put politics above being faithful to biblical principles; that includes when the outcome is uncertain at best. God is sovereign, He works all things out for our good and His glory. If it is God’s will that we should be given a less than ideal president then so be it. We need to be more concerned with our faithfulness to biblical principles and God’s judgment than what any earthly ruler can do.
Perhaps God’s judgment is on us this very day, and more judgment is to follow. Would God be unjust for judging our country after we have turned our back on Him? We’ve killed millions of unborn and remained silent. We’ve given our blessing to homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” and remained silent. We’re more concerned with our bank account than our culture. There is plenty of reason for God to judge our nation and yet, He has shown great grace to us. But make no mistake, God is just.
So when I step into that ballot box in November I will most definitely vote and will do so with all the weight and seriousness this election brings with it. But I will not vote for Trump (or Clinton or Sanders). I cannot vote for any of these candidates with a clear conscience in keeping with my biblical responsibility. So I am unsure of who I will vote for.