Faithful Politics

Being faithful with our politics, not political with our faith.

The Crossroads: What’s the Most Important Election Issue?

The Crossroads is a biweekly installment where Christians of differing perspectives have an opportunity to voice their respective opinions on an issue.  In the spirit of promoting edifying dialogue within the Body of Christ we encourage you to add your voice to the discussion.  May our conversation be uplifting for the Church and point us all to a more clear understanding of our Savior.

What's the Most Important Voting Issue?

Question: What Is the Most Important Issue in Voting?

Abortion Is a Necessary Condition – Justin Taylor

This is a tough question because it can be answered from numerous angles, depending on the election (national, state, local), the candidates available, and the cultural situation. And even to answer it is to be accused of being a one-issue voter.

If I’m allowed to “cheat” just a tad, I want to wave the flag for at least ”one of the most important issues” in voting for a candidate: Where does he or she stand on abortion?

It’s helpful on an issue like this to distinguish between sufficient conditions and necessary conditions. A “necessary condition” means that something is required, but it’s not a “sufficient condition.” Oxygen is a ”necessary condition” for a fire (no oxygen, no fire) but it’s obviously not sufficient (or else you’d have fire every time there is oxygen!).

In my view, being pro-life cannot be a “sufficient condition” to receive my vote. One could have the right view of abortion and have terrible views on other important subjects. But unless we are in a position requiring us to choose between two pro-choice candidates, I think it is a good, reasonable criteria that the candidate be pro-life. I know that many think voting for pro-life candidates is simply a way that Republicans keep evangelicals “on the hook”‹and there may be some truth to that. But at the same time, it’s important to remember that pro-life legislation really does make a difference.

Abortion is not the only social issue of our day. But it is the most wicked. It marks a society that privileges the strong over the weak. It is the great Civil Rights issue of our day; the frontline for the battle for social justice. The issues are relatively clear, not complex. Some in my generation have experienced “fetus fatigue,” but I hope more and more will rise up to say that defending the weakest, most defenseless members of the human race is a really important issue in voting today.

- Justin Taylor blogs for the Gospel Coalition under the title Between Two Worlds.


No Issue Is the Most Important Issue – Rocky Munoz

D. A. Carson once wrote, “If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician.” But, contrary to what some may think, God didn’t send us a politician.  He sent us a Savior. As Christ-followers, we should never make Jesus into a political figure. Jesus himself avoided weighing in on the political issues of his day.  In fact, the only time that the Gospels ever record him answering a political question is when he says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesars; and to God the things that are God’s” (cf. Mt 22:15-21).  I am once again amazed at how much that sounds like separation of church and state.

Our job as Christians is to bring the Kingdom of God to the world around us. Bear in mind, however, that political power was never Jesus’ game plan. In fact, that was one of the temptations that he denied (Lk 4:5-8).  Think about it ­ how many people are going to fall in love with Jesus just because we put a Christian in office, outlaw abortion, and make it impossible for gays to get married?  My guess is none.  All too often believers get suckered into voting for a politician just because they claim Christianity. Seriously, it’s not like putting their faith in Jesus in any way makes a political candidate more qualified than the next guy to handle a nation’s economy or domestic and international affairs.  All in all, during the elections Christians should focus on not bringing Christ into the political arena.  He never put himself there, and we shouldn’t either.

- Rocky Munoz is a youth pastor who currently resides in Colorado Springs.


Everything Rests on Economics – Chip Bishop

When considering support for a politician, many components ought to be taken into account – like background, record, statements, worldview, incentives, and others.  Additionally, it would seem inadequate to pick a single issue to employ as a decision making metric.  However, I will make the case that a politician’s stance on economics is the most foundational block to consider.

In an age of prosperity when needs are relatively easy to meet and major threats are rare, the popular mentality toward government has shifted to what the government can offer rather than what it can protect.  This is a dereliction not only of a Constitutional view of government, but also the biblical view of civil society.  Independent enterprise is pivotal in running an effective system and fostering responsibility, which is necessary to build economic well-being as well as a functioning church and spiritual relationship.  View any Biblical passage on the Master and his workers to see this (Matt. 20, Matt. 25, Luke. 19, etc.).

Furthermore, while government is not intended to build society through services (view Samuel’s stark warning on what an earthly government would do to society, for example), support of a free economic system ultimately leads to the same goal.  (If you’re wondering, Can a Christian be Capitalist?, see my argument here.)  Those economies most free enjoy longer and higher quality of life, lower infant mortality, and better medicine, among many other benefits.  Thus, it can be said that one’s stance on economic policy determines whether or not he or she is pro-life, in an unconventional but by no means unimportant definition of the term.

Many Christians have a tendency to favor a more socially active government, as that seems like an easy fix to national woes.  But this, as I’ve mentioned before, is an abdication of one’s Christian duty to address these problems via the church.  The government is the mechanism to support respectful interactions that occur in a free market system – the foundation upon which all else is built – and everything else naturally follows.  A politician’s stance on economics, then, ought to be the primary aspect Christians consider in elections.

Chip is a regular contributor to FaithfulPolitics.org and works at a think tank in Washington, D.C.


*Organizational affiliations are for identification purposes only.  The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the organization or of FaithfulPolitics.org.


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8 Comments

  1. Justin Taylor and Chip. Bishop both make excellent points…. “the popular mentality toward government has shifted to what the government can offer rather than what it can protect.”
    I agree with Taylor…It’s a necessary condition. Then my question for the politician is “do you favors the taking of the fruits of one’s labor to giving it to someone else, who did not earn it? Or setting up regulations to favor particular people or businesses?” The unfortunate honest answer to that is yes.

  2. @ Rocky Munoz,

    Of course politics are not our greatest need. But that does not mean God does not care about politics. And it surely does not mean we should not care about politics.

    And of course we should not simply vote for a candidate because he claims to be a Christian. But there are issues that have a biblical (and therefore “Christian”) stance. The Bible speaks to all of life, and even if it does not speak directly to an issue, it does set forth principles to evaluate that political issue.

    I’m sorry Rocky, but the point of Christians being involved in politics isn’t so people can “fall in love with Jesus.” You may want to leave Christ out of the political arena, saying that “He never put himself there.” But Christ did put Himself there, for He reigns in every aspect of life. All of this world is Christ’s kingdom. And you are sinning against God if you leave Him out of your political decisions.

    Zach Garris

    • Zach,

      I agree for the most part with your comment, with one minor exception. I, in fact, DO believe that we can make people “fall in love with Jesus” by our political engagement. If we enter the public square guided by love and full of the grace of God I think the world could see a glimpse of Jesus that they wouldn’t see anywhere else. Tragically, too often our engagement is only guided by self-interest and ends up putting people off. But if we are guided by Scripture, our politics can have an evangelistic impact.

    • Zach,

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say that our faith should not affect how we vote or think about politics. Of course, our convictions will determine our politics. My caution is against using the actual name of Christ in our attempts to rule the political arena. And that is what political parties try to do (Christian or not) – rule. The thing is that Jesus never taught us to rule others. It was always about placing ourselves under others in service. When we slap Jesus on the front of our campaigns and use his name like a slogan, we are doing no better than Constantine or Charlemagne did when they put crosses on their shields and rode into battle conquering people “in the name of God.” God is not a republican or a democrat (or any other political party), so we should in no way try to construe Him as being in favor of one over the other.

      To Kolburt – I’m open to the idea of people falling in love with Jesus because of our politics; I’m just skeptical of it because I’ve never seen Christianity gain political power and come out looking anything like Jesus.

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