Roger Williams was an early settler, pastor, and the founder of Providence. In the early 1600’s he argued for the liberty of conscience when he wrote, “I plead the cause of truth and innocence against the bloody doctrine of persecution for the cause of conscience.” (The Bloody Tenent) Williams argued against any group or organization using coercion to sway another person’s faith, beliefs, or actions. No one should be forced or bullied into thoughts or actions he or she does not voluntarily subscribe too.
Freedom of conscience is an essential belief for Americans. It is more significant than just the freedom to make personal daily decisions; it is rooted in the relationship between God and man. The idea of conscience is directly related to a person’s duty in relation to God. The highest duty of each man and woman is to God and not to man or civil authorities.
The separation of the church and state in the founding of America was to elevate the rule of God over the public authorities in the heart and mind of man. The government is limited in its scope of influence by God, where the church is the instrument by which God oversees and rules over His people by His Word. Christians understand the call of God to submit to and pray for leaders and authorities. However, Christians also know that the government has been empowered by God to accomplish His glory through the building of a society where humanity flourishes.
Since the founding of our country, these ideas have changed. The separation of church and state is now viewed as the method of keeping religion out of the public square and the government. This shift has resulted in a political and social culture that functions independently of any one person’s religious convictions. Instead of living and voting according to conscience, the current pressure is to live and vote according to the majority opinion of the day. Scripture reveals to us that being right is not determined by having the most people on your side, but by being in agreement with God and His Word. You cannot ignore the significance of conscience without ignoring God and His relationship with mankind. Therefore, each Christian should focus on voting in this year’s election according to his or her conscience. Meaning, the thing that matters most to a Christian when voting is his or her relationship with God both before and after voting.
If you are convinced that your party and candidate are the best course for America to follow, then let that be according to your conscience- meaning let that be between you and God. Support your candidate, campaign if you will, but let the browbeating and bullying stop on both sides for those who are called Christians. Cease condemning other brothers and sisters in Christ by demeaning or devaluing a vote because it isn’t for who you support or what you think.
Follow the pattern established in the founding of America, the freedom of conscience, and operate according to your relationship with God. Encourage others to do the same. Evaluate platforms and philosophies by Scripture and not polls. Resolve yourself to live in every way in agreement with God’s will by following His Word. Above all things have faith that regardless of the outcome of an election God is sovereign and in control. Because of that, the duty of a Christian is to be honoring to God no matter the potential outcome politically, socially, and personally.
Read more from Pastor Rob on his blog at RobArmstrong.org