How to Use the Ten Commandments as a Guide to Vote

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama
(Reuters/Michael Reynolds/Pool )

Many are calling the upcoming U.S. presidential election the most important since World War II. That may be true because, in addition to deciding the future of major economic and social policy initiatives like immigration reform, social security, debt reduction, same-sex marriage and health care, the next president will most likely have the ability to nominate two Supreme Court justices, who have unfortunately become the bottom line for confirming or eradicating major policy initiatives. (Thus unelected justices with their own ideology, political bent and ambition have legislated immorality such as Roe v. Wade in 1973 and other vital issues that affect our culture.)

As a non-partisan Christian, I have been encouraging Christians to vote their values instead of voting based on groupthink and party affiliation. In order to do this, we have to go to the source of our ethics and values: the Bible.

God could not have made His standard for societal law any clearer than when He wrote His law in the Ten Commandments and gave it to Moses on Mount Sinai as noted in Exodus 20. He laid them out in the order of importance as His top 10 list. These moral laws, which in context were given as a corporate blueprint to build policy upon for Israel and all nations so they may experience longevity and national blessings, are also the standard in both the New and Old Testaments for personal holiness and ethics, and are repeated numerous times in the New Testament almost verbatim (e.g. Eph. 6:1-3).

Although we are not saved by obeying the works of the law (Eph. 2:8-9), they serve as the ethical behavior the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk in (Rom. 8:4) when we yield to His grace (Titus 2:11-12). Although the ceremonial aspect of the law has been done away in Christ (John 1:29; Heb. 9:1-10:14) the moral law is still the good, holy and righteous standard for us to live by (Rom. 3:31; 7:12, 14, 25).

As we look at the Ten Commandments, we find there are two primary components related to our obligation to obey the law: The first four commandments relate to our vertical obligation to God and the last six commandments relate to our horizontal obligations toward our neighbors.

I am not going to quote all the commandments, but will focus on several that have relevance to the upcoming election.

The first commandment is to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).

This is the most important of all the commandments because, if we follow it, all the other commandments will naturally fall into place. Hence, I will only use this verse as related to the four stated commandments we have toward God.

Having no other gods before Him means that God has to be first and foremost in our lives, even as Matthew 6:33 instructs us to put first His kingdom and His righteousness. In Matthew 22:37-38, we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Regarding the upcoming election: This means we are to put God’s standards and Word above our ethnicity (e.g. it shouldn’t matter whether a candidate is black, white, yellow or brown), and we should put biblical values above our party affiliation.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, we should judge candidates based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

The last six commandments are about how we are to live in relation to fellow human beings. This was summarized in Matthew 22:39-40 when Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors even as we love ourselves. Thus the first four commandments connect to Matthew 22:37-38, and the last six commandments connect to Matthew 22:39-40.

In reference to the last six commandments, we need to see how they directly relate to the public policy positions of two candidates for president, President Obama and Mitt Romney.

“Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20: 12) is the most important commandment regarding human relations because it connects to the nature of marriage and procreation. Marriage (Gen. 2:23-25) is the basic human building block of society and existed before human government (which started with God delegating capital punishment to humans in Genesis 9:5-6), before Israel, the Law of Moses, and the church.

It is also important to note this commandment mentions both “father” and “mother” not “mother and mother” or “father and father.” Thus, according to God’s top 10 list, biblical marriage is the most important human institution we need to protect and honor, and is even mentioned before murder, adultery and economics!

Thus, when Barack Obama was forced to show his hand and mentioned that he now supports same-sex marriage (in addition to announcing that the Justice Department would no longer enforce DOMA, which forbids federal funding for same-sex marriage) he was in gross violation of the fifth commandment (which is also the first commandment related to human relations). On the other hand, Romney is opposed to same-sex marriage.

The sixth commandment is, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13).

God so hates the shedding of innocent blood (Prov. 6:16-17) that murder is No. 2 on His list of the remaining six moral commandments related to human obligations.

Of course, the whole Democratic party platform is pro-choice, which means they are in favor of a woman’s right to terminate the life of an unborn child within her womb. Furthermore, Obama, as a state senator, voted several times against the Born Alive Act, which forbade the hideous practice of allowing botched abortion babies to die or be discarded in the garbage with medical waste.

“Barack Obama could favor denying legal protection to babies after they are born and the press wouldn't bat an eyelash. In fact, he did,” wrote Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.

He continues: “In the Illinois legislature, he opposed the ‘Born-Alive Infants Protection Act’ three times. The bill recognized babies born after attempted abortions as persons and required doctors to give them care. About a year after his final vote against the bill, Obama gave his famous 2004 Democratic Convention speech extolling post-partisan moderation.

“But he couldn't bring himself to protect infants brutalized and utterly alone in some medical facility. Some moderation. The federal version of the bill that he opposed in Illinois passed the U.S. Senate unanimously. Some post-partisanship.

“President Obama is an extremist on abortion. He has never supported any meaningful restriction on it, and never will.

“He opposed a partial-birth abortion bill in Illinois, even as the federal version passed the House and the Senate easily and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. He arrived in the U.S. Senate in time to denounce the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the ban.

“In 2007, he told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that his first act as president would be signing the Freedom of Choice Act. The act would enshrine in federal law a right to abortion more far-reaching than in Roe v. Wade. His support shows how it is impossible to stake out a position further to his left on the issue, unless, perhaps, you are performing abortions yourself.

“In May, a bipartisan majority of the House, including 20 Democrats, voted to ban abortion for the purpose of sex selection. A White House spokeswoman objected: ‘The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way.’ In other words, gender-based discrimination is OK—so long as it results in an abortion.”

Hence it is clear that Obama is in violation of supporting a law that violates the sixth commandment that prohibits murder. What’s even more troubling is that African-Americans and people of color have been targeted the most by the abortion industry, as noted by planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who believed people of color were from an inferior race. “Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need ... We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock,” she said in the April 1933 issue of Birth Control Review.

In Woman, Morality, and Birth Control, Sanger wrote, “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” Because they were poor, she planned to use “colored” ministers to convince them, from a religious perspective, that the right thing to do was to terminate their pregnancies if they were too poor to afford them.

In a 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, Sanger wrote: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. And the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Unfortunately, Sanger and Planned Parenthood have been largely successful in achieving their goals, since data shows us that for every 1,000 African-Americans born in the USA, 1,600 are aborted.

We are now witnessing something many believe is worse than slavery: We are witnessing legal genocide. Thus, when people of color vote for a pro-choice candidate or platform they are (unconsciously) voting for their own systemic extermination.

Regarding “after-birth” issues like racism, many point to the fact that Mormons forbade people of color from their priesthood until 1974 and hold it against Romney because he was recently a high-ranking member of the Mormon Church. However, there is no evidence that Romney is personally a racist and he was not a leader in the Mormon Church when racism was systemic in their doctrine.

If we are going to hold it against Romney for being part of a religion that 40 years ago was racist then we have to be fair and cite the terrible racist history of the Democratic Party that was part of Jim Crow, the KKK, slavery and was far behind the Republican Party (the party of Abraham Lincoln and King) regarding civil rights until the past three decades.

The seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14) basically teaches that all sexual acts outside of the marriage of one man and one woman are considered adultery. The marriage bed, as defined by God’s Word, is undefiled (Heb. 13:4).

Leviticus 18 gets into more detail regarding how the seventh commandment is unpacked and illustrates how heterosexual sex with someone that is not one’s spouse, with another person’s spouse, with in-laws, same-sex relations, as well as sex with animals, are forbidden by God. Paul the apostle restates some of these sexual acts as sin in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Hence, same-sex marriage clearly violates two of the first three commandments related to human relations.

The eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15) is related to economics.

This is where it gets sticky. The president and the Democratic Party claim that Romney and the Republicans favor the rich because they pay less of a percentage of taxes than the middle class. (The income tax percentage for the rich is higher than the middle class, but most rich people earn much of their income through capital gains, which are taxed at a much lower rate than salary income. However, all people have a right to buy and sell property and trade on the stock market. Thus, it is not a right reserved only for the rich. However, most poor people are not financially knowledgeable enough or have enough money to make a living through capital gains categories like real estate and trading stocks.)

On the other hand, I have heard some conservative people of color say that the Democrats are still attempting to keep their people on the plantation through entitlements and welfare programs that merely help in the short term but don’t do enough to break the generational cycles of poverty. Other black leaders have noted how people of color have more poverty today as related to marriage, intact families and finances than before the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson started in the mid-1960s. This proves handouts and welfare have hurt more than helped people of color.

Personally, I believe a halfway approach is best: Government economic aid to the poor should continue, but it should be redefined and restructured so there are far less blind handouts. I believe monies should be funneled through partnerships with churches, nonprofits and charities that have boots on the ground and know how to do micro-financing, job training, entrepreneurial endeavors, educate at-risk children and would more likely do a better job than government bureaucrats.

With the current level of family fragmentation, nonprofits and church-based programs need to step up to the plate now more than ever because big government entitlement programs with no practical accountability have proven they cannot “parachute in” and rescue our communities! For books on this subject read Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) by Robert Lupton, and When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett.

Furthermore, by forbidding stealing in the eighth commandment God is espousing the right of individuals to own private property. Thus, this commandment is against any ideology (whether liberation theology or communism) that espouses egalitarianism, which is when an overreaching central government tries to force equality and the redistribution of wealth by progressive tax structures or, in communism, by the abolition of private property altogether.

On the other hand, conservatives in this nation are against redistribution and believe in empowering individual rights and the free market. In my opinion, this is more in line with Scripture than those espousing communism and egalitarianism. I espouse a kingdom economic approach that not only includes a free market view of capitalism, but which obligates Christian business owners to disciple, finance and reproduce other business owners from among their employees. This would do more than merely create jobs in poor urban areas; it would create entrepreneurs who can break their generational cycles of poverty.

Furthermore, the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Ex. 20:17) seems to also advance the theory of private property and is against the motive of egalitarianism, which many believe is driven by the politics of class warfare and envy.

A debate about economic theory and what really works would take another position paper. However, even if (hypothetically) liberals are correct in their position, the commandment dealing with economics is number eight on God’s top 10 list, thus not as important as commandments one through seven. Furthermore, God tells believers that if they put first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will provide all things we need anyway (Matt. 6:33).

This November’s election is a test for all believers: Are we going to vote our biblical values as stated in God’s top 10 list or are we going to vote our race, ethnicity and party affiliation? I hope and pray that all believers will vote for the candidate that most closely reflects the ethics and values God gave in the form of His Ten Commandments.

Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond. Click here to visit his website.

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