As followers of Christ, how should we react when an election places the “wrong” person into office? If the results appear fraudulent, it would certainly be appropriate to pursue legal actions permitted by the laws of the country to determine if election fraud occurred and whether it would have made a difference in the outcome.
But what if I believe that an election was indeed fraudulent even if the legal system says differently? As a Christian, how do I respond?
As I contemplated this question, I started to consider the prophet Daniel and his situation and response. We learn at the start of the book of Daniel that he was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar when Babylon overthrew Israel and was forced into the king’s service. Not exactly an election, but still, he is now living in a land with a pagan leader in office he didn’t choose, working a government job he didn’t seek. How did he respond?
First, Daniel 1:8 reads, “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself.” That first word, “but,” intrigues me. It implies that there were a lot of responses that Daniel could have had, but he chose to resolve not to defile himself. His first reaction was to look to himself and resolve to obey God.
Later in that passage we see that not to defile himself, he needed to appeal to those in direct authority over him for an exception. He doesn’t protest or rebel, but respectfully petitions the steward for a kosher diet. He convinces the steward to try an experiment, the results of which were positive. And God blessed Daniel and his companions with understanding, skill, and wisdom beyond their peers.
In the next chapter, we see another test. Daniel learns in chapter 2, verse 13 of the king’s decree that all the wise men are to be killed. Daniel’s response? Complain? Grumble? Protest? Write letters to the editor? Post raging anti-government stories on Facebook? He could have done any of those things. Instead, he chose something different. In verse 14 it says, “Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion.” What did prudence and discretion involve in this case? It involved getting information to understand the situation (v.15), requesting an audience with the king (v.16), appealing for more time, and soliciting his companions to join him in seeking God’s mercy regarding the current crisis (v.17).
When God reveals the mystery to Daniel, Daniel responds with a prayer of praise. Then he goes to the king and gives him what he wants – he tells him the dream and its interpretation. In other words, rather than lobbying to change policy or tell the king he is off-base and taking the country in the wrong direction with this decree, he serves the king by giving him what he wants, with the Lord’s blessing. Isn’t that interesting? In doing so, though, Daniel is clear and unapologetic about the source of his insight and the reason behind what he is doing (v.30). By acting with prudence and discretion, and respectfully submitting to (an arguably illegitimate) government authority, Daniel had a platform to glorify God and point others toward Him. You can read the king’s response in verse 47.
So how should we respond to an election that doesn’t go the direction we think it should? If we follow Daniel’s example, recognizing as he did that it is God who changes times and seasons, removes and raises up kings, and gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding (Dan. 2:21), then we would: 1) resolve not to defile ourselves, 2) act with prudence and discretion, 3) respectfully appeal through proper means, 4) go to prayer with like-minded companions, and 5) diligently serve those whom God has put into authority so long as those authorities are not requiring that we sin against God.
Your brother in Christ,