You hear it every two years, like clockwork: “This is the most important election of our lives.” But is every election really so critical? Why does each subsequent election seem to be the most important?
In a recent Decision interview, Tony Perkins, who has spent nearly 20 years in Washington as president of Family Research Council, explained why:
“With the nation becoming more polarized and divided, each election grows in its importance because we have found that we have two very opposite views of the direction America should be going,” Perkins said. “We’ve seen that contrast in the last two years, and the outcome of this election will determine if we continue on that path or if we’re able to at least push the pause button and allow Americans to reassess this direction, such as transgender ideology being pushed on our children and the federal government being focused on trying to get abortions to women in states that have embraced pro-life laws. There’s a lot at stake in this midterm election.”
For months, election observers have said there’s a fairly good chance that Americans will indeed “push the pause button,” but the outcome is not at all certain. With an evenly divided U.S. Senate and the Democratic Party holding a slim advantage in the House, polls have indicated that Republicans will likely regain a small majority in the House. The Senate looks like a closer call; some say the Senate outlook leans toward a Republican advantage, while others show it leaning toward the Democrats.
Whatever the result, it seems clear that the nation is at a crossroads on key moral and Biblical issues. In June, as President Biden signed an executive order on “advancing LGBTQI+ individuals,” he remarked: “We’re in a battle for the very soul of this nation.”
Perkins agrees wholeheartedly.
“But I would go one step further,” Perkins said, “and say it is not only a battle for the soul of the nation, but it’s a battle for the children of our nation—their souls. Because these personally and societally destructive policies that are being pushed are locking children in to a path that leads to destruction.
“[Biden] is using every agency to push this transgender agenda on children. We see the preoccupation with abortion. We see that the House has passed, multiple times, not just a codification of Roe v. Wade, but going beyond that to erasing every pro-life law that states have passed over the last four decades. That’s before the Senate now. And by the midterm election, they will be pushing to try to codify another errant decision by the Supreme Court: the redefinition of marriage.”
Although evangelicals have tended to align with the Republican Party on many issues since the 1980s, voters should not assume that all Republican candidates will take Biblical positions. In July, a bill called the Respect for Marriage Act passed in the House, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the bill.
Christian leaders have called the bill “a disaster for religious liberty.” It would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and codify same-sex marriage into federal law, with severe repercussions for Christian wedding vendors, businesses, universities, adoption agencies and others who hold a Biblical view of marriage.
Perkins spoke with one of the conservatives who voted for the bill. The man’s explanation revealed the danger in assuming that legislators will always demonstrate clear thinking, and also a deeper issue: the failure of the church to communicate what the Bible teaches about such issues.
“My pastor said I should probably vote for this,” the man told Perkins.
When churches depart from or refuse to teach Biblical truth, the consequences can be far-reaching. “What the pulpit prioritizes, the people will pursue,” Perkins said. “If the pulpits are silent on an issue because they don’t want the cultural pushback, the social media storms or the hateful things said about them, then why do you expect the political leaders to do it?”
So, what about this year’s elections? How should Christian voters evaluate their choices? Party platforms are helpful, Perkins said, since members tend to follow their party’s platform about 80% of the time. But voters must also look at where the individual candidates stand on the issues.
“I believe we should choose leaders who know God and who fear Him,” Perkins said. “I don’t think being a Christian alone qualifies you for office, but I believe we should be looking for leaders who have a Biblical worldview, who look to God’s Word for direction on the issues.”
In order to have such candidates to choose from in the first place, Christians must be willing to run for office if God leads, and Perkins said he sees more and more men and women of faith being called by God to run for office today.
“That tells me something,” Perkins said. “I believe God is pouring out His grace and mercy upon us and is allowing us to change the path we’re on as a nation.”
But some people criticize believers who become involved in the political process. They accuse evangelicals of being hungry for power.
“It’s a false premise,” Perkins responded. “Protecting unborn children and their mothers from the trauma of abortion—that’s being power hungry? Working to advance policies that would strengthen the family, so that children grow up with a mom and a dad and have a greater chance of success—that’s being power hungry? Bringing truth to the debate about the policies that govern our nation? That’s not being power hungry. If I were hungry for power, I’d go do something else—I would be one of these titans in the social media world. I would work in Silicon Valley, and I would exercise control over what people think and what they say. … Just because we are Christian and we come at this from the perspective of a Biblical worldview does not invalidate our voice in the shaping of public policy.”