If you haven’t heard, there’s a presidential election coming up.  In case you were wondering, not every American is thrilled concerning the slate of candidates.  Whether your beef is with deleted emails, recorded conversations, the first spouse options, Aleppo ignorance, Supreme court justices, Benghazi, the Apprentice, what they stand for, or what they stand against, we got a situation on our hands.

As an evangelical, this election has had its fair share of controversy among leading voices:

  • Russell Moore and many like him have called for Christians to vote for a 3rd party candidate rather than the lesser of two evils.
  • Robert Jeffress has been relentless supporting Trump and having to cover his bases by claiming he is not electing a Sunday school teacher.
  • Jerry Falwell Jr.’s obsession with Trump has divided Liberty University.
  • Wayne Grudem keeps reversing his stance on supporting Trump.
  • Paige Patterson is voting based on what he doesn’t know about Trump in comparison to what he is sure of regarding Clinton.
  • One group of evangelicals can’t seem to vote for Clinton due to her aggressive stances against clear biblical teaching.
  • Another group of evangelicals can’t seem to vote for Trump due to moral behavior and unclear positions.

This election has shown the divide between those who perceive themselves as a citizen primarily of an American democracy or a heavenly kingdom.

What is an evangelical to do?  I can’t tell you who you should vote for, but I would like you to consider these suggestions:

#1. Decide to Vote

Even if you aren’t spellbound with any candidate, you still have an opportunity to vote and that is a good thing.  Can you imagine a Christian in another place or another time who lived under tyrannical times and comprehending that you had the ability to have a say so in the election of your next leader and yet you stayed home in objection?  The next president will make significant calls concerning religious liberty and judicial morality.  It doesn’t really help to abstain from voting and then bemoan the outcome.  Government is established by God (Rom. 13:1; Tit. 3:1), and so it makes sense to be a part of the processes that are setup while we have the opportunity.

#2. Pray Through the Issues

Study and pray.  Know what is at stake.

Like it or not, we all vote for a person and not a party.

You may say you are voting for a party, but you are electing a person into an office.  So look at each person and what he or she supports.  Think critically.  Pray strategically.  Seek to honor God with the gift of your vote.  If you are discouraged with the caliber of candidates, then pray through those feelings.  You might find yourself praying for the hearts of Americans that have created this unique election with our ever-increasing polarization by our inconsistent political and personal stances.

#3. Close the Curtain

When you have worked through your issues and made a selection, close the curtain and vote.  For all of the benefits of social media, the system has really clouded the political process and upgraded the degrading rhetoric between citizens.  If you want to publicly support a candidate, have it.  If you want to remain quiet, that’s your choice.  Social media has a way of making the quietest of people in person to be some of the loudest online.  Be careful if and how you debate.  In an attempt of winning an argument, you can lose an audience.

The beauty of the system is that you can be a closet supporter of someone and everyone doesn’t have to know who you have chosen.  Well, one person does…

#4. Vote Coram Deo

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that means “in the presence of God.”  The theological implications is that all of life is lived where God can see it.  While no one else can see who you vote for in the election, never forget that God can see your ballot.  Vote with prayerful conviction that allows you to rest in that.

Your goal in the presidential election should be to vote with a closed curtain and a clear conscience.

If you have a certain stance that directs your vote or if you have a certain issue that you hold dear, vote and vote in confidence that God sees your selection but more importantly, he knows your heart.  If you have godly motivations for your selection, then trust God’s discernment and trust the process.

Make a wise decision and trust God with the results (Deut. 1:13).

#5. Accept the Results

In just a few days, an incumbent will be recognized.  If you are one of those people who is happy with no one on the ballot, your next step is easy – pray.  If your beloved candidate loses, pray.  If your camp succeeds, pray.  Scripture commands us to pray for our political leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-4).  Then, do your role as an American citizen to portray your character as a heavenly citizen and strive towards gentleness and compassion (Col. 3:12).

Regardless of your theology, we cannot escape the sovereign hand of God over all political processes.  We get to vote, but nothing happens without his say-so (Rom. 13:2).  He installs and removes all leaders (Dan. 2:21).  “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes” (Dan. 4:17).

There are two dangers here: we can glorify or demonize a politician.

Your candidate is not the Savior.  And their candidate is not beyond the grace of the Savior.

There is a healthy balance.  Don’t put your trust in a ruler you love (Ps. 146:3), but also honor the ruler you despise (1 Pet. 2:17).  If you believe the incumbent president to be wicked, it is understandable to moan (Prov. 29:2), but do so in a way that doesn’t curse the leader (Ex. 22:28; Ac. 23:5).

If I am thankful for anything this election season is that it has truly clarified positions.

The religious right’s failure was putting their hope in the promises of politicians rather than the Prince of Peace.

Maybe this type of election has been a wakeup call for many.  Maybe it has clarified the boundary lines of spiritual citizenship.  Maybe he will be president.  Maybe she will be president.

Regardless, I know who will still be King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16).

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.