More than one person this election season has posed the question to me, "Should a Christian vote for a Mormon?" That is a great question and one that shows a person is thinking deeply about what appear to be opposing values.
It would be nice if we leaved in a squeaky clean world where every decision contained no ambiguity. However, that world does not exist, and we often have to choose between complex options.
My response to sincere Christians struggling with casting a vote for Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith has been as follows:
1. You are not voting for an office that is primarily spiritual. You are not voting on a pastor, deacon, elder, nor the president of a Bible college, seminary, or missions agency. You are not voting on a theological creed that deals with salvation, prophecy, and the doctrine of revelation. You are voting on a secular position. We are not a theocracy. We are a democracy. Though our ideal would be for this person to be an evangelical Christian, the ideal does not always happen. (And history has proven that being a born-again evangelical does not necessarily make one a great President.)
2. Vote for the one most qualified to do the job. If I were going to have a major surgery, I would want my surgeon to be the one the most qualified for the job - regardless of whether or not he or she were a Christian. No, I would not want a satanist operating on me; but besides that, I would be glad to get the best of the field whether that person were a Jew, Mormon, or evangelical.
One of the complexities of theology is that God has given some of his grace to all people. Even to those who may not acknowledge Christ as their Lord and Savior, God has given them gifts, abilities, and desires to help build culture and help humanity. The man who designs a bridge may not acknowledge God, but he is using his God-given abilities nonetheless. In such situations, even if the person operating on me is not an evangelical Christian, I can trust God and go with that doctor. My trust is in God, not the person. God can help me through that person's hands and mind just as much as He can through the hands and minds of a born-again believer. So, with this election, I can vote for a Mormon and put my trust in God.
3. Vote for the person who best stands for biblical values. You are not so much voting for a person as you are voting for the values for which that person stands. Tony Evans recently gave an excellent illustration on Focus on the Family. He said that when you are pulling for a football team, even if you do not particularly like the quarterback, you still root for that quarterback to get done what needs to be done in order for the team to win.
Years ago in seminary I heard that theologically-conservative churches of different denominations would have more in common with each other than a theologically-liberal church would have with a theologically-conservative church of the same denomination. So, as a conservative-evangelical, I have more in common with the Mormon candidate who stands for traditional values than I do with the other candidate who claims Christianity (and in at least one interview has claimed Islam) but does not hold the values and views of historic, orthodox Christianity.
Albert Mohler, the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an excellent article on the election entitled The Great American Worldview Test: The 2012 Election. I highly recommend it to you. In it, Mohler explains,
We are not looking at minor matters of political difference. We are staring into the abyss of comprehensive moral conflict. Christian voters can escape neither the consequences of their vote, nor the fact that our most basic convictions will be revealed in the voting booth come November. Christians cannot face these questions without the knowledge that God is the Giver of life, who made every human life in his image. We cannot consider this election without the knowledge that our Creator has given us the covenant of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as the demonstration of his glory and the promise of human flourishing.
Americans will elect a president in November, but our vote will reveal far more than our political preference. The 2012 election is a worldview exercise of unprecedented contrasts — an unavoidable test of our most basic convictions. The electoral map will reveal more than an election winner. It will reveal who Americans really are and what we really believe.
4. Vote for the candidate who best models integrity, truth-telling, humility, and other good character qualities.
Charles Stanley has provided an excellent list entitled What to Look for When Choosing a Leader. He provides nineteen questions to ask about the character and integrity of potential leaders.
Newt Gingrich has told America for eighteen months that this presidential election is the most important election of any of our lives. It will determine the future of our country more than any election since that of Abraham Lincoln.
This Southern Baptist pastor will be voting for a Mormon in two weeks.