Americans consider many key issues when deciding who to vote for in our nation’s elections.
With the midterm elections this upcoming Tuesday, we want the political issues we stand behind and the people we vote for to reflect the morals and values we hold dear.
So who would Jesus vote for? And would he vote at all? What issues of our day would Jesus support, and what would He abhor?
As believers in Jesus Christ, these questions should be a guiding light in our political views. Ideally, when we are dwelling on the Word of God, everything (including politics) should naturally be seen through the lens of Jesus’ own words.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous.” – Joshua 1:8
The most explicit case in the gospels of Jesus addressing a political topic is when he is asked by the Pharisees about paying taxes to Caesar.
“‘Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” – Matthew 22:15-22
It’s important to note that the Pharisees were not asking this question with genuine curiosity about Jesus’ answer. In asking this question, Matthew lets us know “the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle Him [Jesus] in his words.”
They knew that the Jewish people, living under the tyranny of Roman occupation, detested the extreme taxes levied on them by their Roman masters.
If Jesus explicitly said the Roman taxes were unjust, the Roman authorities would have arrested Him for treason before He had time to complete His ministry. But if he said the Roman taxes were just, he would have alienated the vast majority of people to whom he was preaching.
So, as Jesus so often does, he speaks in a parable and answers by saying, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
This requires us to ask the next question, what is God’s and what is Caesar’s?
Jesus seems to imply that, since it is Caesar’s image on the coins of that time, that we should render them to Caesar in the form of taxes—and many advocates of big government have tried to make this case.
But theologically, we have to look deeper by asking the question, what is God’s?
The answer is everything. God created everything and everything exists for His glory. To take anything away from God to give to Caesar is to usurp God’s authority.
Indeed we have precedent in the Old Testament to support a radically anti-government view of taxes.
In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel beg for a king to rule over them. Samuel, who was the leader of Israel at the time, is distressed by their demands and prays to the Lord.
And God responds, “…it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
In seeking to place a government of men in authority over mankind, we reject trusting in the sovereign government of God.
So, it seems that Jesus is making this point and warning us to place trust in God above the politics of man.
Another claim about Jesus and His politics points to His call for non-violence and the reaction of the state to such a stance.
David Gornoski, writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, interprets Jesus’ non-violent stance this way: “I believe that means, in part, if I want to imitate Jesus and I see my neighbor doing some wicked, nonviolent act — whether it is drug abuse, bigoted speech, discriminatory commerce, unfair wages, or resisting some economic regulation — I cannot use physical force to oppose them.”
It’s fair to state that putting the authority to legislate morality into the hands of government, whether it’s in personal ethics or enforcing economic justice through political power, is taking away from God’s role in these areas of life.
It is faith in God that changes the hearts of the wicked, not politicians or political power.
So, in conclusion, who would Jesus vote for?
This question is ultimately hard to ask, and may be even harder to answer, but as you consider who you should vote for, keep these ideas—and His word—in mind.