By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
American Christians are face with an unenviable choice this November between two imperfect options as they decide between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
To use a common figure of speech, without implying that either of these men is “evil,” we are faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils. My personal counsel to fellow believers in such a situation is simple and straightforward: when Christians are faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils, Christians should choose less evil.
And as my good friend Neil Mammen says, unless Jesus is on the ballot, we will in fact always be faced at election time with a choice between the lesser of two evils.
But some Christians, because of the profound theological differences between Mormonism and Christianity, cannot bring themselves to vote for a follower of Joseph Smith. I understand their reservations, and when their reservations become for them a matter of conscience, I choose to respect their conscience and I refuse to pressure them to change their mind.
What we must understand as Christians is that there is no explicit command in Scripture which tells us for whom to vote in a situation such as this. Since we are neither commanded to vote for a Mormon, nor to refuse to vote for a Mormon, this decision falls into that large gray area of life governed by individual conscience.
The decision about whether or not to vote for a Mormon candidate for the presidency is not a matter of right and wrong but of conscience and wisdom.
Christians will come to different conclusions about what the path of wisdom is for them, and our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the faith is to respect the place to which their conscience directs them. We must not attempt to legislate for them or seek to impose our standards on the dictates of their own conscience. We need to keep the black and white out of our gray areas.
As Paul puts it in Romans 14, we are to “welcome” each other but not let ourselves “quarrel over opinions (v. 1),” no matter how strongly felt our opinions are. The word translated “opinions” (dialogismos in Greek) comes from a verb which means “to think or reason with thoroughness and completeness, to think out carefully, to reason thoroughly, to consider carefully, to reason.”
The implication clearly is that Christians on a matter such as this may consider their options carefully and thoughtfully and yet come to different conclusions about what the right thing is for them to do. This is altogether right and proper, and we are under no obligation to agree with each other as to the right option. As the apostle says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (v. 5).
In the absence of a clear command of Scripture, each of us reasoning the matter through to our own conclusion is not only all we can do, it is the best thing we can do.
Paul adds that on matters like this, we are not to “despise” or “pass judgment” on the one who differs with us (v. 3). For, as Paul says about the one we may be inclined to reject, “God has welcomed him.”
"Who are you,” says Paul, “to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (v. 4). In other words, other believers do not answer to us on this decision but to God and God alone.
It is certainly permissible for us to have robust dialogue with our brothers and sisters in the faith on this issue. A vigorous exchange of ideas and perspectives will help us all think more clearly and make a better and more reasoned choice for ourselves. But that, in the end, is where we must leave things.
There is a marked difference between these two candidates on the profound moral issues of our day. One believes in abortion on demand during all stages of pregnancy, and even supported infanticide as an Illinois state senator. The other has staked out a clear and unambiguous position in support of the sanctity of human life.
One candidate supports “marriage” based on what Western civilization has always referred to as the “infamous crime against nature.” The other affirms that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.
The two candidates have staked out clearly marked differences on the role of government, one advocating for unlimited government power, the other verbalizing commitment to a smaller government restrained by the bonds of the Constitution. One candidate has proven to be a splintered reed for Israel, while the other expresses unwavering support for the people to whom we owe a debt for preserving the word of God for centuries.
Now some will certainly argue that the candidate who has staked out the conservative positions on these issues has been known to change positions rather abruptly and with no warning. And they are right. This has been a disturbing pattern in his public life.
But if a man takes one position on the campaign trail and pursues another in office, that is a moral problem for him but not for those who have chosen to take him at his word. To fail to keep promises is a monumental betrayal of trust, but the moral culpability in such a case would belong to him and not to those who expected him to be a man of integrity.
So can a Christian vote for a Mormon? Of course. Must he? Of course not.
And that is where things must remain. In the meantime, let’s heed the words of Scripture and refuse to get into verbal brawls over the matter. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (v. 10).
In the end, God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Let’s each seek to please him with our vote and leave the results in his capable hands.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)