Mitt Romney and the Evangelical Vote
Barring the unforeseen, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will square off in the November presidential elections. As most of you know, the National Right to Life Committee and Massachusetts Right to Life have both endorsed Romney. His stated positions and track record on the life issues are far superior to those of President Obama. Yes, in recent years Romney has changed his views, but the movement has been in the right direction: towards a higher and higher regard for the sanctity of human life and the need of its protection in law. Hence, the NRLC endorsement.
But there is a problem. All political analysts agree that Romney can win, but that the election will be close. Romney will definitely need every vote he can get. For this reason, pro-life leaders are concerned; concerned that evangelical Christians, uneasy with Romney’s LDS faith, may sit out the election.
Such political passivity could be decisive and catastrophic. Therefore, as a former pastor, bush-league theologian, and long-time pro-lifer, I want to address this issue. In what follows, I am writing especially to my evangelical brothers and sisters. I want to explain why I do not believe it is wrong for an evangelical to vote for an LDS candidate, and why it may well be our duty to do so.
Let me begin at the end: In the end, every Christian must honor the voice of conscience. The apostle wrote, “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” If you sincerely believe that a vote for an LDS candidate is wrong, you cannot vote for him. But again, let me explain, biblically, why I think there is no sin in such a vote.
The crucial text is Romans 13:1-7. Here the apostle explains the purpose of the State. He tells us that earthly rulers—presidents, congressmen, judges, law enforcement personnel—are actually “ministers of God” with a unique calling. No, these ministers are not called to preach their faith or administer sacraments. Rather, they are called to one thing and one thing only: the administration of justice. In order to preserve peace and order in a sinful world, God calls temporal leaders to codify, promulgate, and enforce his moral law, a law that is written on the hearts of all people everywhere, whatever their faith may be.
This is why evangelical Christians living in a democracy may lawfully vote for a man whose faith they do not share. Is the candidate an evangelical Christian, a Roman Catholic, a devout Jew, a B’hai, a Mormon, etc.? No matter. We are not voting for a pastor or a priest. We are simply voting for someone who will faithfully and justly uphold God’s moral law.
Here, then, are the questions I believe evangelical Christians should be asking as the election draws near: Does this candidate follow the Declaration of Independence in acknowledging the existence of a divine Creator and Lawgiver, however well or poorly the candidate might conceive of him? Do his policy positions line up with God’s law as revealed in the Bible? Does he seem to be a person of sound character? Can he be trusted to do what he promises on the campaign trail?
When I examine Governor Romney with these questions in mind, I am comfortable with what I see. Yes, as an evangelical Christian, I wish he understood certain crucial doctrinal matters differently, and to this end I pray for him and his family. But again, at present I see nothing in his worldview or policy positions to disqualify him from public office. Moreover, I also see that Providence is giving me an opportunity to vote for him, and that a failure to do so will only increase the likelihood of another four years under the militantly anti-life Obama administration.
So then, speaking personally, my path is clear. And right up till November I will be praying for all my evangelical brethren that God will make their path clear, as well.