Over the next two weeks Americans will cast their ballots to determine who shall be the President of the United States, and Utahns will elect their next governor. Other races will be determined, as will numerous ballot issues. We have seen and heard numerous campaign ads. We are being encouraged, and even admonished, to vote for certain candidates, take certain positions on various issues. You may have already decided which boxes to check on your ballot. You may still be considering your options. As Americans, we have an opportunity not all other nations’ citizens have: we get to have a say in who will serve us as our duly elected leaders.
Not all countries have representative or constitutional republics as the United States has; different countries have different forms of government. Even in the Bible the people of God lived under different forms of government at different times. God never said, “Thou shalt have this or that form of government.” He did have judges and kings rule over His people, but He never commanded that each nation adhere to a specific way to govern its citizens. Our nation’s founding fathers determined the form that would best serve us is the representative republic, as stated in the Constitution and its subsequent amendments.
As Americans and as Utahns, we are privileged to be allowed and able to vote for the leaders we want to govern and serve us. As Christians, we also have a duty to vote for those candidates and issues that are supported by the Bible. That said, as a Lutheran pastor I am not telling you (nor will I tell you) which candidates to support. I do not preach politics from the pulpit, nor do I teach it in Bible class. But I do not hesitate to speak to moral issues, such as abortion, family, and end-of-life issues (we are pro-life and pro-family), to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. It behooves us to elect those candidates who will fight to protect the unborn, preserve the sanctity of marriage and of the family unit, and provide for those nearing life’s end.
We may disagree on other issues, but it is crucial for us to remember and support what God says to us in His Word, especially those matters addressed in the preceding paragraph. Life is a gift from God, begun and ended by Him, not by human beings, not by policies, not by the devil himself. God tells us in Holy Scripture how highly He views human life, the crown of His creation. He says in the Ten Commandments, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God speaks very clearly about the sanctity of human life. He said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…” (Jeremiah 1:5), and the Psalmist writes, “You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). In Mark 10, Jesus invites the little children to come to Him, and “He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). In fact, near the end of the first century a document called the Didache (pronounced did-ah-KAY), Greek for “teaching,” was published as the teaching of the Apostles. In it we find: “You shall not murder a child, whether it be born or unborn” (Didache 2:2).
Regarding the family, Jesus emphasizes His intent of marriage. He quotes from Genesis 2 as He says, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). Saint Paul also says of the family, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4). And with respect to those living in the twilight of their years, God says, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22); and St. Paul writes, “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Above all, we must pray for our rulers and leaders, whether we voted for them or not, regardless of party affiliation, that they would govern, legislate, and judge in God-pleasing ways. Paul exhorts us thus: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Mark Schlamann is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Tooele.