Biblical and Ethical Issues That Have Bearing on This Election
This letter was written in the Fall of 2004 regarding the upcoming November election.
Over 70 Christian leaders have signed this statement, written by theologian Wayne Grudem, regarding biblical and ethical issues in the election (see names below)
The Bible speaks to several ethical issues in this election
Many Americans seek guidance from the Bible for important issues of life, while we recognize that many others do not. With thankfulness for the freedom of all Americans to believe whatever they think best regarding matters of religion and ethics, we offer this statement of our personal understanding of the teachings of the Bible for the thoughtful consideration of all who are interested in how the Bible might speak to ethical issues in the current election.
1. Supreme Court justices: People don’t often think of the appointment of Supreme Court Justices as an ethical issue, but it clearly is now because several decisions of the Supreme Court have imposed on our nation new policies on major ethical and religious questions.
A small majority of our current Supreme Court, and lower courts that follow their example, have gone beyond their Constitutionally-defined task of interpreting laws passed by Congress and state legislatures, and have in effect created new “laws” that have never been passed by any elected body. By this process they have imposed on us decrees that allow abortionists to murder unborn babies (contrary to Exodus 20:13 and Romans 13:9, “you shall not murder”), that protect pornographers who poison the minds of children and adults (contrary to Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet ... your neighbor’s wife; see also Matt. 5:28), that redefine marriage to include homosexual couples (thus giving governmental encouragement to actions that Romans 1:26-28 says are morally wrong), and that banish prayer, God’s name and God’s laws from public places (thus prohibiting free exercise of religion, and violating Romans 13:3 which says that government should be “not a terror to good conduct, but to bad”). In taking to itself the right to decree such policies, the Supreme Court has seriously distorted the system of “checks and balances” intended by the Constitution between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
It is unlikely that any elected body such as a city council, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress, would have decreed policies like those mentioned above, for such groups are accountable to the will of the people. Not so the Supreme Court, which is appointed for life. And democratically-elected members of Congress and state legislatures are helpless to change those Court-mandated policies unless the makeup of the Supreme Court is changed. We believe the ethical choice is for a President and for U. S. Senators committed to appointing judges who will follow the original intent of the Constitution and just interpret law and not make it, rather than for candidates who have often voted to block such judges in votes in the Senate.
2. Defense against terrorists: A fundamental responsibility of government is to “punish those who do evil” (1 Pet. 2:14) and thus to protect its citizens. We now face a unique challenge, because terrorists who will sacrifice their own lives in killing others cannot be deterred by the usual threat of punishing a criminal after he commits a crime. While Jesus instructed individuals not to seek personal revenge but to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), the Bible teaches that governments are responsible to “bear the sword” (Rom. 13:4) and thus to use force to oppose violent evil. We believe the ethical choice is for a candidate who will pursue terrorists and, when necessary, use force to stop them before they strike us, not for a candidate who only promises to respond if we are attacked again.
3. Abortion: The Bible views the unborn child as a human person who should be protected, since David said to God, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13; see also Psalm 51:5; 139:13; Luke 1:44), and strong penalties were imposed for endangering or harming the life of an unborn child (Exod. 21:22-23). We believe the ethical choice is for candidates who believe government should give protection to the lives of unborn children, not ones who believe government should allow people to choose to murder their unborn children if they wish.
4. Homosexual marriage: The Bible views marriage as between one man and one woman, for “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). Because our courts have shown a troubling tendency to overturn the laws that have already been passed concerning marriage, we believe the ethical choice is for candidates who support a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
5. Embryonic stem cell research: Creating more human embryos for their stem cells is making the beginnings of little babies for the purpose of harvesting their parts, contrary to the command, “You shall not murder” (Exod. 20:13). There is a good alternative: using adult stem cells for medical research, because this does not destroy the life of the adult whose cells are used. We believe the ethical choice is for a candidate who has decided he will not allow government funds to be spent to create more human embryos just to take their stem cells.
6. Natural resources: God put human beings on the earth to “subdue it” and to “have dominion” over the animals (Gen. 1:28). We value the beauty of the natural world which God created, and we believe that we are called to be responsible stewards who protect God’s creation while we use it wisely and also seek to safeguard its usefulness for future generations. The Bible does not view “untouched nature” as the ideal state of the earth, but expects human beings to develop and use the earth’s resources wisely for mankind’s needs (Gen. 1:28; 2:15; 9:3; 1 Tim. 4:4). In fact, we believe that public policy based on the idealism of “untouched nature” hinders wise development of the earth’s resources and thus contributes to famine, starvation, disease, and death among the poor. We believe the ethical choice is for candidates who will allow resources to be developed and used wisely, not for candidates indebted to environmental theories that oppose nearly all economic development in our nation and around the world.
7. Should Christians speak out and try to influence our nation on these issues? God’s people in the Bible often spoke about ethical issues to government rulers. Daniel told the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to practice “righteousness” and to show “mercy to the oppressed” (Dan. 4:27); several Old Testament prophets speak to foreign nations about their sins (Isaiah 13-23; Ezekiel 25-32, Amos 1-2, Obadiah (to Edom), Jonah (to Nineveh), Nahum (to Nineveh), Habakkuk 2, Zephaniah 2); and Paul spoke to the Roman governor Felix “about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (Acts 24:25).
As Christian leaders we agree that the primary message of the New Testament is the good news about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But the primary message is not the whole message, and another significant part of the New Testament teaches us how people should live. With respect to issues like these we have mentioned, the Bible also teaches us about what kinds of laws governments should have.
The laws of a nation have a significant influence on the nation’s moral climate, for good or for ill. This is because laws can either restrain evil or encourage it, and because laws also have a teaching function as they inform people about what a government thinks to be right and wrong conduct.
Therefore we urge pastors and Bible study leaders to teach on these crucial ethical issues facing our nation. We urge all Christians that they have a moral obligation to learn about the candidates’ positions, to be informed, and to vote. We urge all Christians to pray that truthful speech and right conduct on both sides would prevail in this election. We also encourage Christians to consider doing even more for the good of our nation, such as giving time or money, or talking to friends and neighbors, or even serving in office themselves. Such influence for good on the direction of our country is one important way of fulfilling Jesus’ command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:19).
[The signatures below represent only the personal views of those signing and not the views of their churches or institutions, which are added for identification purposes only. Permission is hereby given to reproduce and circulate this statement]
Pastors and Christian Leaders
- Dr. Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Randy Alcorn, Founder, Eternal Perspective Ministries, Gresham, OR
- Kerby Anderson, National Director, Probe Ministries and host, Point of View radio, Dallas, TX
- Dr. Neil T. Anderson, Founder and President Emeritus, Freedom in Christ Ministries
- Jack and Kay Arthur, CEO and Founders, Precepts Ministries International
- Dr. Barry Asmus, Senior Economist, National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas, TX
- Ted Baehr, Chairman, Christian Film & Television Commission, Camarillo, CA
- Dr. Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary
- Gary Bauer, President, American Values
- Joel Belz, Founder and Publisher, World Magazine
- Tal Brooke, President/Chairman, Spiritual Counterfeits Project Inc.
- Dr. E. Ray Clendenen, Executive editor, Bibles and Reference Books, Broadman & Holman Publishers
- Rev. Eugene Clingman, Executive Administrator, International Church Council Project, Hathaway Pines, CA
- Dr. Darryl DelHousaye, President, Phoenix Seminary and Senior Pastor, Scottsdale Bible Church, Scottsdale, AZ
- Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author, Host of Revive our Hearts radio
- Dr. Lane T. Dennis, President and Publisher, Good News Publishers/ Crossway Books and Bibles, Wheaton, IL
- Dr. James Dobson, Chairman, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
- Dr. Bert Downs, President, Western Seminary, Portland, OR
- Dr. Tom Elliff, Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma, and past president, Southern Baptist Convention
- Dr. Steve Farrar, Founder and Chairman, Men’s Leadership Ministries, Frisco, TX
- Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Ð Springdale, AR and The Church at Pinnacle Hills Ð Rogers, AR
- Dr. Jack Hayford, Chancellor, The King’s College and Seminary, Van Nuys, CA
- Dr. Jim Henry, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Orlando, FL, and past president, Southern Baptist Convention
- Dr. R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor, College Church in Wheaton, Wheaton, IL
- Susan Hunt, Author
- The Hon. Don Hodel, President, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
- Charles W. Jarvis, Chairman, USA Next-United Seniors Association
- Dr. David Jeremiah, Founder, Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, CA
- Dr. D. James Kennedy, Chancellor, Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Dr. Gary Kinnaman, Senior Minister, Word of Grace Church, Mesa, Arizona
- Dr. R. T. Kendall, Bible teacher, Author
- Bob Lepine, Co-Host, FamilyLife Today
- Dr. Robert Lewis, Pastor at Large, Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, AR
- Dr. Crawford W. Loritts, Jr., Author, Speaker, Radio Host, Atlanta, GA
- H.B. London Jr., Vice President, Church, Clergy & Medical Outreach; Focus on the Family
- Dr. James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, IL
- Len Munsil, President, Center for Arizona Policy
- Dr. Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, World Magazine
- Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX, and past president, Southern Baptist Convention
- Ron Prentice, Executive Director, California Family Council
- Dr. Dennis Rainey, President, FamilyLife, Little Rock, AR
- Alan E. Sears, President, Alliance Defense Fund, Scottsdale, AZ
- Dr. Joseph M. Stowell III, President, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL
- Dr. Joseph Wasmond, President, Freedom in Christ Ministries, Knoxville, TN
- Dr. Stu Weber, Senior Pastor, Good Shepherd Community Church, Gresham, OR
- Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association
Professors at Christian colleges and theological seminaries
- Dr. Gregg R. Allison, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
- Dr. James A. Borland, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
- Dr. Gerry Breshears, Western Seminary, Portland, OR
- Dr. L. Russ Bush, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Fred Chay, Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, AZ
- Dr. Richard C. Chewning, Baylor University (Emeritus), and John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
- Dr. Jack Cottrell, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Cincinnati, OH
- Dr. Kendell Easley, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Germantown, TN
- Dr. Wayne Grudem, Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, AZ
- Dr. Howard G. Hendricks, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX
- Dr. George W. Knight, III, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Taylors, SC
- Dr. J. Carl Laney, Western Seminary, Portland, OR
- Dr. David E. Lanier, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA
- Dr. Daniel R. Heimbach, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Mark Daniel Liederbach, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Tom J. Nettles, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
- Dr. Dorothy Kelley Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX
- Dr. Alvin L. Reid, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC
- Dr. Leland Ryken, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
- Dr. Wayne G. Strickland, Multnomah Bible College and Seminary, Portland, OR
- Dr. Steven R Tracy, Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, AZ
- Dr. Bruce Ware, The Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY
- Dr. Paul Wegner, Phoenix Seminary, Scottsdale, AZ
- Dr. Robert W. Yarbrough, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL
This is a partial list of signers. For a full, updated list, or to get a current electronic copy, go to www.citizenlink.org
Additional note: The following legal opinion regarding this statement has been given by a prominent, highly knowledgeable tax attorney:
It is the opinion of an Arizona tax lawyer of long experience, that the enclosed statements, if made from the pulpit or by a church representative, do not violate the prohibition against political advocacy by a tax-exempt organization. The reason is that this memorandum deals with issues rather than candidates or parties. Tax-exempt organizations, including churches, are not prohibited from expressing views on moral and other issues. This paper deals with issue.