Landon Peterson peeks out of the voting booth while his mother Meghan votes March 20, 2012 at Christian Union Church in Metamora, Illinois.
This year, I’ve had many people ask me if this is an important election—if the events of this November will truly make a difference in the history of our nation. “Should we even bother to vote?” they inquire. Disheartened by politics as usual and the seeming gridlock of Capitol Hill, people have become disillusioned by the legislative process and wonder if their votes really count at all.
But I believe that our votes do make a difference. In fact, I am convinced that every generation has a responsibility to safeguard the wonderful liberties we’ve been given, at every opportunity we are offered to do so. We cannot afford to be apathetic, because our democracy is always just one generation away from being lost. This is especially true because of the serious issues confronting our nation today. Terrible financial difficulties, increasing unemployment, and a rise in the number of broken families tear at the very fabric of our society. If we fail to consider how it all impacts the generations that come after us, the consequences will be devastating.
I confess I often think about the path America is on and how it will affect my grandchildren. What will this nation be like when they have their children? Will they have the same opportunities you and I had? Will they experience the same liberty to serve God and raise their families with the values they hold dear?
Perhaps what troubles me most, of course, is how we are losing our reverence for the Lord. Where there is no healthy awe of God, there is usually a loss of respect for all authority and a failure to follow godly principles—such as wise stewardship of resources and the preservation of each person’s dignity and right to live. In other words, we forfeit the very foundation that made this country great in the first place.
Of course, no one man or woman is at fault for all the problems of the nation, and no one man or woman can solve all the troubles our country is facing either. But as citizens, we can make a difference in its direction and we must take responsibility for its future. After all, the leaders we elect reflect our values and who we are—therefore, we must act wisely.
This is why Proverbs 11:11 teaches us, “The good influence of godly citizens causes a city to prosper” (TLB). When Christians influence those around them to seek God and inspire others to live by godly values, the entire nation is blessed. This is why I am so committed to asking believers to pray, stand up, and be a light to those around them. Because I believe that when they do, the whole country will benefit.
So ask yourself: Who are the men and women running for public office who faithfully represent the values you stand for? Who votes for laws that uphold the dignity of human life and godly stewardship principles you believe in? Consider your candidates carefully and allow God to guide your decision.
Because you and I have a choice and we can make a difference. We can vote; influence those around us; teach others about the salvation, justice, and loving-kindness of the Lord; and restore the godly foundations of our nation. But if we forfeit our right to vote we will only be contributing to the further erosion of our freedoms as citizens of the United States.
Winston Churchill reminds us of the consequences of giving up our privileges so easily in “The Gathering Storm.” He writes, “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
So if you ask me: “Will this be an important election? Should I vote?” I will unequivocally say, “Absolutely.” Because to give up our rights to speak into the direction of the nation may one day result in a country where we have no voice or vote. And I’m sure you would agree, my friend—that would be far worse than any challenge we face now.
Charles Stanley is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, founder and president of In Touch Ministries, and a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 50 books, including his newest release, “The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God Through Prayer.”