Next Tuesday, November 4, 2014, will be Election Day in the United States. Although there are many local and state-wide offices being contested, for many, the election for the new Senate is drawing the most attention. My friends who live in states where there are hotly-contested senatorial elections, such as in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky, are overwhelmed with the number of political advertisements they face daily. The cost of these campaigns will ultimately be in the billions of dollars, and yesterday, Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) literally “begged” me to send money. He wrote, “I’m begging for your help to close the [financial] gap IMMEDIATELY.” (Emphasis in the original.)
I recently read an excerpt from Rev. Israel Evans’ 1791 sermon that was delivered to the Grand Court of New Hampshire (the State’s House and Senate). You can read his sermon in a two-volume jewel of a book compiled by Ellis Sandoz, entitled Political Sermons of the Founding Era: 1730-1805, available here. Rev. Evans preached the following in his sermon:
Religious liberty is a divine right, immediately derived from the Supreme Being, without the intervention of any created authority. It is the natural privilege of worshipping God in that manner which, according to the judgment of men, is most agreeable and pleasing to the divine character. As the conscience of man is the image and representative of God in the human soul; so to him alone it is responsible. In justice, therefore, the feelings and sentiments of conscience, and the moral practice of religion, must be independent of all finite beings. Nor hath the all-wise Creator invested any order of men with the right of judging for their fellow-creatures in the great concerns of religion.
As Christian citizens, we have a particular and shared responsibility in our modern American republic. Consistent with being “salt” and “light,” Christians must choose our national and local leaders with values and integrity consistent with God’s Holy Word. On some occasions, electoral races involve candidates of high quality and high integrity. The candidates conduct a tough but fair campaign about the issues. Voters in those electoral races, although they may have a difficult choice, can know that no matter who is elected they will be well represented by someone who won’t embarrass their community. Sadly, such is not always so. Our founders fought and died to establish and preserve our liberties, including the freedom to choose our own leaders. However, the Church has had a poor voting record. It may be due to apathy or sad ignorance, or perhaps a lack of gratitude for the privilege that Christians have been given by God for the privilege to live as citizens in this country. Yet when we have the opportunity to help guide our nation by selecting men and women of righteousness, many Christians do not vote. I was always deeply troubled by the fact, for instance, that of the more than 80 million American evangelicals eligible to vote in 2012, fewer than 32 million actually voted. I believe that Christians fail to love our neighbors and our nation when we fail to vote, and then we fail our neighbors when we do not vote for men and women who will uphold righteous and just laws. This coming Tuesday, I urge my readers to prayerfully and thoughtfully study the issues and to vote for the best candidate. I remind you that all candidates are flawed men and women, but as we learn in Exodus 18:21, we must use our vote to elect “capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.” Amen!