Democracies and Republics are not found in the Bible. Certain Greek states (such as Athens) were democracies, but the Greek’s interaction with Israel was limited until it was an empire ruled by Kings. Likewise, the Roman Republic did not interact much with Israel until it was an empire. All of the nations surrounding Israel were ruled by a King, effectively a dictatorship (I Sam. 8:19-20). Israel itself was originally a theocracy, that is, ruled by God directly, and then later ruled by a king. Never in the Bible is there a hint that the people could vote for a national ruler to lead them, although in the Northern Kingdom there were a few coups where people chose to follow a usurper (I Ki. 15:27-29). God chose Moses and Joshua; He chose all of the judges; He chose the kings as well: Saul, David, Jeroboam, and Jehu for example. Democracy was nowhere to be found. Yet the Bible does give us enough principals and examples to know what kind of a person we ought to vote for by defining for us what kind of person a ruler ought to strive to be.
First, God calls us to choose church leaders who are personally godly (I Tim. 3:1-7). By implication, godliness is an important characteristic of a leader in general, including a political one. The Bible repeatedly condemns political rulers who were wicked (Prov. 16:12). Political rulers who were evil were warned for their sin. God sent a prophet to warn Jeroboam over his sin (I Ki. 13) and later warned him that his descendants would be wiped out as a result of his wickedness (I Ki. 14:7-10). Conversely, God encouraged rulers to be righteous (Prov. 20:28; Ex. 18:21). As Christian voters, we should seek to elect men and women of character rather than leaders who are personally wicked, to the best of our ability.
Secondly, God calls us to vote for a person who will fight for and enact laws that promote righteousness and true, Biblical justice. In other words, we ought to vote for people who will enact laws that promote or incentivize Godly behavior, while punishing crime and disincentivizing wicked behavior (Isa. 5:20; Prov. 29:4). Finally, these two concepts – personal righteousness and promoting righteousness – cannot be entirely divorced; a ruler can be ungodly while he promotes and incentivizes godly behavior, but he cannot be considered godly if he promotes or incentivizes wicked behavior. Romans 1 is clear on this point. At the end of Romans 1 Paul writes: “those who practice [wickedness] deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Paul’s point is that irreglious people who sin deserve condemnation because they commit sin and they also deserve condemnation because they encourage others to commit sin. As an example, Hitler never personally murdered anyone (that we know of), but everyone considers him a murderer because he incentivized, promoted, and otherwise ordered the murder of millions. Ideally, we should vote for a person who is personally godly and promotes godliness.
Sadly, as our country becomes more secularized, we often don’t have that option. However, we should prioritize voting for leaders who promote and incentivize godly behavior over those who are seemingly godly, but who promote and incentivize ungodly behavior. And we ought to pray for our country and its leaders as we are reminded again of the sad trajectory of our nation.