Every election we hear a lot of encouragement to “Get out there and vote!” I agree! Voting is an important right and a valuable component of our free society. We should all want our voice to be heard. It seems to me, though, that just walking into a voting booth and pushing some buttons is not enough. In fact, I believe that uninformed voting could be worse than not voting at all.

As William E. Simons put it, “Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”

Voting that is based solely on an emotional appeal is seldom helpful. That’s why I suggest we pay very little attention to the political television ads. After all, we don’t want our representatives to base their decisions simply on how they feel at any given moment. In the same way, we shouldn’t vote for candidates based on how we feel at the moment we enter the voting booth. The Bible says that the “Lord of hosts, who judges righteously … tries the feelings and the heart…” (Jeremiah 11:20). We need to keep a check on our emotions because they can be terribly wrong: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). We dare not base our decisions on our emotions.

What should we do, then, before we get into that voting booth?

I believe that there are at least two things we can do to prepare ourselves before we close those curtains and pull the voting lever. First, we must admit our need for wisdom and humbly ask God to guide us. The Bible lays this out very clearly, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).  “Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way? It is a trap for a man to say rashly, ’It is holy!’ and after the vows to make inquiry” (Proverbs 20:24–25). In other words, once the lever is pulled, it’s too late to find out about the character of those we have chosen.

Not only should we pray and ask God for wisdom about how to vote, but we also need to put some effort into investigating what the candidates believe about moral issues. In other words, we need to know what principles are guiding these people who want our votes. For example, are they more interested in encouraging hard work and self-reliance, or are they trying to get us more dependent on the government to take care of us? Since the Bible says that “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10), I don’t want my tax money used to discourage people from working when they are able to work.

Since I find the taking of human life to be morally repugnant, I refuse to support politicians who plan to use my tax money to fund abortions. Since the Bible teaches that marriage is a solemn union between one man and one woman, I will not support a candidate who is in favor of weakening that institution.

I could continue to give examples of value-based voting, but I don’t want to detract from this important point: We should be voting God’s values, not just endorsing candidates from any particular political party. A candidate may actually be a very nice person, but the main question is this: Will he or she promote the values that are important to God? Finding the answer to that question will take a little work. I have some voter guides that list where candidates in our area stand on many issues that are important to Christians. Looking at those guides, we can learn what convictions the candidates hold to and what they have supported in the past. When we know those issues, we can make up our own minds whether or not to vote for them.

I know you are voting today, but if you call me, I’ll give you a free voter guide as quickly as I can. Also, you can see a copy at www.PaFamilyVoter.com.

It was James Garfield, our 20th President, who wisely said, “The people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.”

Investigate, and then get out and vote!