How much of a role God play in appointing political leaders? If the authorities that exist have been established by God (Rom 13:1) why do conservative candidates or the more Christian candidates not always win the election? Surely there were far more prayers being offered up for the Christian candidate than the liberal one.  Why would God appoint an evil leader who makes decision against the law of God (ex: abortion, gay marriage, ecc…)? If God did choose the political leaders, then were Hitler or Stalin were appointed by God? If God do not desire evil then why does He choose evil leaders?

[editor’s note: The questioner pointed out in response to my original answer that I said God does not appoint leaders, yet we should pray for wise leaders.  This logical inconsistency (that God does not choose, yet we pray for him to influence the decision), hopefully, is addressed in this answer]


It is true that God does acknowledge the authority of civic authorities in the political sphere.  Because it is a dangerous world, we need governments to control the kinds of behaviors that sinful people will exhibit.  The police in our countries are, in principle, charged with protecting good people from those who would do evil to us.  Of course, there are corrupt countries where the police fall very far short of fulfilling this goal. That is why God tells us in Romans 13:1 that Christians ought to obey the governing authorities, unless doing so violates our Christian conscience (Acts 5:25-27).  If you look at this verse closely, Paul is not telling us that God appoints the specific ruler in any one government, but that he supports, generally, the right of a government to govern and to protect people from harm.  

Because God tells us to obey legitimate governing authority does not mean that God controls who gets elected.  We have free will.  God does not interfere in our freedom of will except rarely, and for a specific reason. He interfered in the “politics” of Egypt during the time of Moses, but that is because it involved something related to his plan to send Jesus to save us.  He also interfered in “politics” to fulfill a prophecy when he brought Babylon against Judah and the Jews went into captivity.  Again, God interfered in this case because it was an essential part of his plan to ultimately save humanity from their sins.  In these specific cases, God trumps our free will, but only because of his specific purpose to save humanity.  We as Christians do pray for our leaders (1 Peter 2:13-17) and we should pray for God to help people to make wise choices when voting if we live in democracies.  However, God does not interfere in the minds of individuals, forcing them to vote for certain candidates he supports.  Whatever you think about any political leader, we should not blame God (or give him credit) for getting him elected.  We should either blame (or give credit to) those who choose to vote the way they do, not God.

The comments I have already made seem to point out a logical inconsistency.  I suggest we pray for God to give wisdom to leaders and to those who vote for leaders, yet I already said that he does not make people do certain things and vote certain ways.  Which is it, one might be tempted to ask?  Does God get involved in elections or other political processes or does he not?  My response is that God will respond to our prayers. God will try to influence people as he tries to influence us through the Holy Spirit.  I trust God to find the right balance of helping us without forcing us.  To me, exactly how this might work is a mystery, but by faith I trust that God will do what he can within the limits he imposes on himself because he gives us free will.  Either way, clearly, he does not decide elections and he does not “appoint” (using your word) leaders, generally.  Otherwise, surely Hitler and Stalin would not have ever  become leaders.  There is a lot of sin in this fallen world and as long as God does not steal our freedom of will, evil people will occasionally take the reigns of societies.  God does not cause evil, but he allows it.

You seem to assume that all Christians will vote for conservative rather than liberal candidates–that God favors Republicans.  (Those who are not Americans reading this letter, please forgive my focusing in on a specific American example in the following!)  This is a bad assumption.  God does not favor either Republicans or Democrats.  Politics is of the world.  We will not win the world for Christ through politics.  Neither of the two chief American parties are even close to being a Christian party.  We should not put our trust in politics or politicians.  There is plenty of reason to support liberals and to support conservatives and there is plenty of reason to vote against them. We should be very cautious about declaring any one political party as the Christian one.   Personally, I know Christians who are Republicans and ones who are Democrats.  Each is convinced that their choice is more Christian.  If you are more concerned with social justice, you are more likely to vote Democrat.  If you are more concerned with moral issues, you are more likely to vote Republican.  Which was Jesus more concerned about, moral issues or social justice issues?  Republicans favor the rich and the corporations, are less supportive of environmental concerns generally, but they take stands on moral issues more in line with Christian values, generally.  Democrats favor the poor, the needy and the outcast in society, generally, which is a more Christian value that that of the Republicans, yet they take a more “liberal” and less “Christian” stand on moral issues generally.  Jesus surely gave more attention to social justice issues, to caring for the poor, the needy and the outcast than to taking a public stand on moral issues.  Which party one chooses will depend on which kind of issue one finds to be the more important–social justice of moral questions.   To declare one or the other to be the Christian party is divisive and inappropriate.  Some believers attend rallies to support environmental issues or women’s rights or the rights of immigrants.  Other believers attend rallies to support laws limiting the availability of abortion or against gay marriage.  Still others feel that Christians ought to stay out of political rallies altogether.  Some of these causes are “liberal” and others are “conservative.”  We should be cautious about condemning either side as unchristian and should be very careful about posting divisive statements on social media.  Let us not put words in God’s mouth and let us understand that God does not stuff the ballots in elections.  God does not appoint evil leaders, but he allows sinful human beings to choose them and he allows sinful people to do sinful things, including allowing violent people to take power through violence.  This is because we have free will.  God respects us and loves us sufficiently to allow us to choose to do evil.  Do not trust in political leaders but trust in God.

John Oakes

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