What Would Grandpa Say?
editor's note: Published in the October 2014 issue of Think
magazine, used by authors permission.]
The Righteous Decision
by Jim Mettenbrink
ever a time when it is right to support unrighteousness? In 2014,
I watched a discussion regarding the question, Is there absolute
moral law? The considerations were moral relativism vs moral
absolutism. One panelist made the point that there are very few pure
moral relativists and moral absolutists. Rather, most folks live as
moral compartmentalists, meaning that in some parts of life they are moral
absolutists and in other parts they compromise and are relativists. On
occasion, Christians might, wittingly or unwittingly, compartmentalize parts
of their life.
For example, an absolute moral is murder which
is always wrong. So is breaking the speed limit, yet because the patrolman
might, allowing for speedometer error, let a person go a couple miles faster.
Because of this allowance, some folks rationalize going over the speed
limit 3-4 MPH is OK. However the speed limit is still absolute, established
by law. This persons rationalization that he can speed is attempting
to justify an imagined gray area between right and wrong amorality.
Has the person sinned in such compromise? Indeed!
Perhaps there is no greater wide-spread compartmentalizing
of morals than in elections. The oft stated remark is that voters
vote their wallet, meaning supporting the candidate who promises to give
them the best financial advantage via their legislation. The candidates
appeal is to covetousness and greed! How often do folks compromise
their moral principles by compartmentalizing their vote, rationalizing this
is just part of life? What must be the Christians attitude?
Further, oft heard is voters plea of
voting for the lesser of two evils. This is acknowledging
both choices as evil. Is this the right approach for Christians in
voting? Shouldnt we strive to vote righteous folks, rather than
a lesser evil, into government?
Nearly 40 years ago, while visiting my parents,
I was invited to a county Republican party breakfast, at which the US congressman,
then candidate for governor, spoke. In his remarks he criticized the
incumbent, citing the number of state employees had increased by umpty-ump
percent during his tenure. Following his speech he entertained questions.
To make sure the whole truth was on the table, I asked, Wasnt
the majority of the new state employees the result of federal programs mandated
by the congress of which you are a member? In his stumbling,
he finally admitted that was true. After my second embarrassing, clearing
the fog, question, he no longer acknowledged my presence. After the
gathering, we chatted privately in the corner. I wanted to know his
stance on abortion. He was adamantly against it. He never compromised
that moral position when he became governor.
Indeed, it is very difficult to make the right,
yea righteous, decision when exercising this precious
American right and responsibility to vote. The point is, Christians
must realize all are sinful men and politicians tend to tell half truths
to seduce your vote. It is our responsibility to know as much as possible
about candidates so we can elect righteous representatives.
It has been said the US constitution was a
divinely inspired document, the likes of which the world had never seen.
To say it is inspired by God is a huge stretch to say the least, but
it was written by men who had a deep reverence for God and acknowledged
His hand in the affairs of nations.
Fundamentally, they recognized the sinfulness
of mankind, i.e., everyone sins. Americas founding forefathers
knew that even men who reverenced God as the Sovereign, are tempted and
frequently give in to temptations, if not in fact, they are governed by
greed and the thirst for power the outward expression of the demon
The forefathers must have known the ages-old
adage that men seek wealth, power and fame, and usually
they are sought in that order. Thus, they wanted to avoid the likes
of Britains King Georges tyranny which the 13 colonies had experienced
power without restraint.
The three branches of government are graciously
called a system of checks and balances, but in reality it is
an implicit admission that men, even a group of men, can not be trusted
to exercise power without the temptation to be tyrannical. The founders
sought what could be termed a governmental foundation of righteousness.
That Gods principles were known and revered by the forefathers
is evident. Samuel Adams, known as the Father of the American Revolution,
wrote, Divine Revelation assures us that Righteousness exalteth a nation. Communities are dealt with in this
world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes
them according to their general character...Public liberty will not long
survive the total extinction of morals
(April 30, 1776). This attitude was evident two years earlier
(September 6, 1774), when the Continental Congress met. Adams
proposed that the congress open each session with prayer to God.
Some 75 years later, a gospel preacher named
Alexander Campbell was invited to preach to both houses of congress on June
2, 1850. He preached for one and half hours on Gods love (John
3:16-17). Later that afternoon, he spoke to the small Church of
Christ meeting in the upper room of a Christians home, being also
attended by three congressmen. In late 1852, he was asked to speak
to the Missouri state legislature on the Evidences of the Christian
Religion. Although there are hundreds of Americas
forefathers quotes focusing on God, these few indicate their strong
desire to be right with God. That a man could preach to any congress,
let alone the joint assembly of both houses of the US congress, reflects
the sense of righteousness and the desire for its prevalence in the governance
of this fledgling nation, the United States of America.
Further, they understood that God is involved
in the affairs of nations. In his address to the Continental Congress
(June 28, 1787), Benjamin Franklin proclaimed, I have lived,
Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see
of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. Job
answering his critics, acknowledged, that God ...makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges
nations, and guides them.
(Job 12:23; cf Isaiah 26:15). And the prophet Daniels
interpretation of Nebuchadnezzars dream emphasized Gods role
in the nations ...the
Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. (Daniel 4:32). Ultimately, God
chooses who rules or governs a people. Knowing this, how should a
When the United States was just 50 years old,
Noah Webster wrote to a young man instructing him of his citizen responsibility
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public
officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose
for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation
of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty;
if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office,
the government will soon be corrupted;...If a republican government fails
to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens
neglect the Divine commands and elect bad men to make and administer the
laws. (Letters to a Young Gentleman, 1823).
The import is that God wants us to vote for
men who revere Him. We might ask, Where is the biblical command
to vote for such honorable men? There is no direct command,
but Jesus taught the principle that we must be righteous and support righteousness
seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,....(Matthew 6:33).
Webster continued his instruction to the young
man, When a citizen gives his suffrage [his vote] to a man
of known immorality, he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own
interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.
Additionally, he also betrays Gods instruction to us as Christians.
How should we as Christians vote? Vote
for the most moral candidate! But what if both candidates support
immorality? Personally, I do not vote for either, but rather trust
Gods injunction to support righteousness. Perhaps this is un-American,
but I know it is not against God (Acts 5:29). Is there anytime
at which a Christian can oppose Gods standards of righteousness (Matthew
12:30)? How can a Christian vote for a candidate who supports
abortion, the murder of the unborn or the day-old child, who supports homosexuality
in any way (the destroyer of Gods ordained stable society),
gambling, narcotics and all the moral vices ad infinitum? Can a Christian
support a candidate who would erode or denigrate Christianity? When
can a Christian support sin and claim to be faithful to God? Paul
stated, folks who support those who walk in sin are also condemned (Romans
In 2014, as we were opening the Church of
Christ booth at the state fair, a man approached and introduced himself
as a candidate for the US senate. He expressed his appreciation for
our booth and the work in spreading the gospel and standing for Gods
standard of morality. In discussion with him for about 15 minutes,
he wondered how elected officials who believe in Jesus could forget their
faith when they go to Washington. We discussed homosexuality and abortion
as national destroyers. He promised that if elected he would not set
aside Gods righteousness in any way. When I mentioned the threat
of Islam, he took a step back, laid his arm on the counter and looked down,
and in a pondering tone said, God help us. That
encounter was like reading the quotes of the nations forefathers about the
necessity of righteousness in life and government.
Christians must vote for righteousness. God
told us He will appoint rulers whom He will, and for His purposes. However,
He expects Christians to be righteous in every respect. The wise man
exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people
During his hearing before Felix, the Roman
Governor of Judea, the apostle Paul reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and
the judgment to come. (Acts
24:25) Righteousness was at the top of the list! When the righteous are in authority,
the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan (Proverbs 29:2). Grandpa says,
Be true to yourself, but first be true to the Lord vote righteousness...only.