When a Christian votes, the common sentiment is to vote for others who also claim to be Christian or who proclaim a stand on one or more issues that are perceived to be consistent with Christianity. However, the Scripture does have numerous requirements for those who would ascend to political leadership. Some of the clearest is Deuteronomy 17 which sets out the qualifications for a king.
At first glance we may assume this doesn’t apply since we have no king or that it only applies to a national head, such as a president or prime minister. However we can easily find examples, such as in Genesis 14, where there were multiple kings reigning over county or city size areas that made alliances with each other. From that example we can reasonably apply, partially or fully, the kingly requirements to heads of smaller regions. However it should be certain that they do apply to a national leader.
Are they your brother?
ESV Deuteronomy 17:14"When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' 15you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.
Like the English term “brother”, the Hebrew “אָח” (“ach”) has multiple meanings. It could be someone who has the same biological parents, someone of the same tribe or country, or someone of the same faith such as a Christian brother.
Clearly it cannot be of from the same biological parents. From a national perspective an example would be that the French should not desire an Italian to rule over them. The Italian may be very qualified and have good intent, but he is not of the same country, he is not French.
Fundamentally we repeatedly see the Lord commanding the tribes of Israel not to intermarry with those of other faiths to pollute the community. In the same way leadership by those of other faiths causes a similar pollution. To whatever degree this leadership puts you in submission, does a vote for them acknowledge a willingness to be in submission to another faith via their representative? Is voting for the lesser of two evils when the lesser is not a qualified brother a submission to another god?
Do they use power for personal gain?
ESV Deuteronomy 17:16Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
Do we evaluate someone by the success they already have had or for being of an affluent birth? Have they demonstrated that they use their position for personal aggrandizement?
Do they promote outside alliances for an alleged mutual good? Does this in reality this set up dependence or even enslavement to outside forces? Would an alliance aid the king’s power and distance himself from the common man or the voter?
Is he driven by sex or a desire for the things of this world to the point of opulence? Is their god their belly (Philippians 3:19)?
Did they write out the law?
ESV Deuteronomy 17:18And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
This is the most telling of all the requirements. The “law” is in Hebrew “תּוֹרָה” (“torah”), specifically meaning Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Who has done this or will commit to doing this? We should not consider this a typing exercise, but with pen or scribe on paper or parchment, writing the Torah. Spending an hour a day this is roughly a one year task.
Listening to or reading the Scripture is helpful and enlightening. Being a scribe and writing a copy of the Scripture helps engrain the words into your mind. You are inspired to think about each word as you write and have the time to dwell on the verses in the process.
Finding a Bible to read is easy in this era, but sitting down with a copy that you wrote by your own hand brings a closeness that is perhaps the Lord’s intention.
Why do this? Why should someone who can easily buy numerous copies of the Scripture spend the time and effort it writing their own copy by hand? Perhaps in doing so it will help shield his heart from being “lifted up above his brothers” or that his daily reading of the copy he wrote would inspire him “not turn aside from the commandment”.
There is purposely no real conclusion drawn in this article, but ideas set out. When someone attempts to draw you to vote for them to perform a role that is similar to or effectively a king, a serious evaluation of their qualifications based on Deuteronomy 17 is called for.
Two people need to be reviewed before you vote, the candidate, and you. If you claim to be a Christian, should you not also evaluate yourself? Should you consider how much you are evaluating a candidate on the precepts of the world or of the Scripture? The Lord grants us freedom for our own tastes when we choose chocolate or vanilla, however the Lord gives us guidance when we choose more serious things, such as leadership.
Is our vote based on our own weakness, letting someone else decide things for us? It is based on wanting our team in leadership rather than the other? Is it based on our desire for the leadership to provide things for us? Is it based on our study of Scripture?
The conclusion then is yours.