What Would Jethro Do? A Biblical Voting Guide

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Oct 27, 2010 1 Comment ›› Ben DuPré

What Would Jethro Do? A Biblical Voting Guide

What would Jesus do? T-shirt (http://www NULL.christianshirts NULL.net/designs NULL.php?id=83)With only 6 days left until election day, now seems like a good time to tell you who you should vote for.  No, you will not find any candidate endorsements here, but the Bible  does tell us what kind of candidate we ought to choose.  And the standard is WWJD: What Would Jethro Do.  As usual, the Founders offered some insight (http://www NULL.wallbuilders NULL.com/LIBissuesArticles NULL.asp?id=80) into how we should exercise this important duty, too.

Voting is the solemn duty of every capable citizen, as our Founding Fathers plainly understood:

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual—or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams, Father of the American Revolution

Every citizen should vote, but at the same time voting should never be done for its own sake.  We have a responsibility to “God and country” to vote according to the will of God, to elect righteous and moral leaders of integrity and character.

“Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. . . .[And the] people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.” Rev. John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration, “Founding Grandfather”

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” John Jay, Diplomat & First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

When it comes to selecting our leaders, the Bible gives us a simple test:

WWJD—What Would Jethro Do?

In Exodus 18:13-27 (http://www NULL.biblegateway NULL.com/passage/?search=exodus%2018&version=31), Moses’ father-in-law Jethro saw the tremendous burden that Moses bore alone in hearing disputes between Israelites “from morning till evening.”  Jethro recommended the introduction of the first republican, representative government in Israel, as well as standards for who should serve in this new form of decentralized government.

Verse 21: “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

Deuteronomy 1:13 (http://www NULL.biblegateway NULL.com/passage/?search=deut%201;&version=31;): Moses recaps: “Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

So it’s as “simple” as selecting a candidate like this…

  1. Capable: able to be a servant leader, not just physically, but as one with courage of conviction and moral strength.
  2. Fears God; wise; understanding: they should not fear party leaders and interest groups, they should fear the Lord and His Word.  Fear of the Lord is, after all, the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:17 (http://www NULL.biblegateway NULL.com/passage/?search=prov%201;&version=31;)), so we want wise, God-fearing leaders who will both know what is right and do what is right even when only God sees them.
  3. Trustworthy or “committed to truth” (KJV); respected: leaders who speak the truth, defend the truth, and know The Truth; those we can trust with their position of authority and with their positions of policy.
  4. Hate dishonest gain: one who would not use his position for unjust wealth (bribes, etc.), power, or pleasure.  And he must hate this trait in others, too.

Reading through this checklist would almost make us laugh (or cry) for how well it describes what most of our politicians so characteristically lack.  Our WWJD test sets the bar awfully high, and would certainly preclude almost everyone we could think of that is, or wants to be, in politics.  But the bar should be high!  Nor should our leaders’ repeated failings make us lower our standards; but rather we should demand that they be met all the more.

And notice that the WWJD test focuses on the character, the integrity, the—dare I say it—”personal life” of the person running for office.  After all, is it not the behavior of the person when they are in private, rather than the rehearsed presentation in public, that more readily reveals what kind of person they are?  Lots of personal wealth, good looks, and a smooth tongue should not be the criteria we look to in choosing our leaders.

When you cast your vote in the election, no matter the office or the year, remember to ask yourself What Would Jethro Do?

Of course, What Would Noah Webster Do? is also a good question to ask:

“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; . . . and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.  If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” Noah Webster, Father of American Education, 1823

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  1. Meryl Brodsky says:

    This is a compelling column that caught my attention.

    For a variation on this theme, go to the Chicago Examiner during the coming week for my column, entitled: “Election time: Who Would Moses Choose?”

    Search the topic: Biblical references to contemporary issues

    I am the Judaism and Spirituality contributor and this is the first of many topics I will be addressing.

    Meryl Brodsky, M.S. from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
    B.A. from American Jewish University)

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