In our hyper-political culture, the calls to vote for public officials have never been louder and ubiquitous. Every time you get on Facebook or Instagram, you are given the option to register to vote. Athletes and celebrities have been encouraging us to vote. Clothing brands and alcohol beverage commercials implore us to vote. However, the act of voting is not virtuous in and of itself. In fact, it is unwise to vote if you are uneducated about the issues at hand. The fact that many people are uneducated is the reason why the United States is not a democracy; it is a republic. Our style of government restrains the “tyranny of the majority.” Despite this, our nation’s voters must not just participate by voting, but also know how to vote. Thankfully, God does not leave us in the dark in how we ought to vote. The Noahic Covenant gives us an objective standard that we can use to know whether or not a candidate is a viable option for public office.
The Nature of the Noahic Covenant and Place in Redemptive History
When Adam plunged the whole world into sin, God promised that offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This is the first announcement of the gospel that Jesus Christ will come and save His people from their sins and defeat Satan and all of his works. However, even in that first announcement of the gospel, God also says to the serpent that he “will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring…” Ever since then, there has been a war between Satan and Christ at play in human thoughts and actions. Due to Adam’s sin, we are born as offspring of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3).
However, God rescues sinners and makes them His own as He did to Adam, Eve, and Abel (Genesis 4:4). This ongoing Satanic war was first evident in the brutal murder of Abel by his brother Cain after God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.. Wickedness increased so much on the earth that God decided that He would “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (Genesis 6:7) by a worldwide flood. However, since God is true to His promise to bring forth Christ, He kept a remnant for Himself: Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8). After the flood subsided, God established the Noahic covenant.
God promised that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Disruptions in human life and natural events will continue to occur “while the earth remains”, but God has promised to withhold His wrath from the earth, by not bringing about another flood or worldwide natural disaster. The Noahic Covenant is temporary because this world is temporary. The Noahic Covenant will end when Christ comes again to establish a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).
God calls Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Noah and his sons do indeed have children, but those children are born as offspring of Satan because of innate sin that is bent towards evil and wickedness. However, God establishes a system of justice to counteract the wickedness of the world. God says to Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of the man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).
God expects mankind to punish those who commit acts of violence. In this way, God is able to restrain the offspring of Satan from persecuting the offspring of the woman. Joseph and Mary fled from an unjust king who wanted to kill every child under two years old to Egypt where a more just system of governance was in place (Matthew 2:13-15). God made this covenant with the whole world, both unbelievers and believers. God says to Noah, “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:15-16).
The rainbow is the visible sign of promise to the whole world that God will not bring another worldwide flood-judgment. This covenant is a promise that God will show common grace to both believers and unbelievers that He will protect them in justice and provide for their needs (Matthew 5:45). Even Cain was a beneficiary of God’s common grace prior to the covenant when God promised that “vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (proportionate justice) (Genesis 4:15).
To summarize, the Noahic Covenant is a common grace covenant wherein God promises to the whole world to uphold the natural and social order. God does this by restraining evil through human governments and withholding His wrath until all of His promises are fulfilled in Christ. This covenant created an ordered “playing field” for God’s plan of redemption to unfold. But how does this covenant affect the way 21st century Americans vote? I will argue that since the Noahic Covenant established a system of governance to restrain evil, and since Americans play a role in governance by electing representatives for us to be in our country’s government, then the Noahic Covenant gives an objective way to measure the viability of candidates who run for public office. The law given in this common grace covenant must be respected by all mankind’s governments
Can We Vote for Unbelievers?
Since the Noahic Covenant is made with the whole world, then we should expect unbelievers to be involved in civil society’s pursuit of justice and peace. While Christians should certainly be mindful of the sin nature of any candidate (including Christian ones), we should never deny our vote to a candidate simply because they do not believe in Christ. Unbelievers, though fallen in sin, still have the law of God written on their hearts (Romans 2:15). Unbelievers, because of God’s common grace (Genesis 20:6), can understand the moral order of the world and act in accordance with it (though not in a way that could please God). Consider the pagan Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abraham lies to Abimelech by saying Sarah is his sister when she actually is his wife. His desire to marry her was extinguished when God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that she is already a man’s wife.. He is repulsed by the idea of almost committing adultery and even rebukes Abraham for his sin of lying (Genesis 20:19).
Moreover, Abraham even makes a political treaty with Abimelech in which they and their servants agree to not steal and oppress one another (Genesis 21:22-24). Abraham was not compromising with the world, but acting wisely as he, a member of God’s redemptive kingdom, lives with unbelievers in God’s common kingdom. It is not wrong to vote for an unbeliever nor is it “syncretistic” to be a member of a political party. What matters is not whether the candidate qualifies for eldership at your church, but whether his or her policies will promote peace and justice in our society.
Christians should only vote for candidates who are unconditionally for religious liberty—for every religion. This is because the Noahic Covenant was made with the whole world specifically so that the offspring of Satan would be restrained from persecuting the offspring of the woman. The church grows exponentially when our government officials leave us alone to worship and practice what the Bible teaches. Paul even calls us to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). Persecution in the form of violence or economic oppression breaks the sixth and eighth commandments. According to the Noahic Covenant, persecutors of the church ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law by the government.
Christianity is not the only religion that should be protected; the religions of Satan ought to be protected, too. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. should not be persecuted for their respective religions. The Noahic Covenant is designed to protect all image bearers from injustice as both believers and unbelievers live in the common kingdom. Moreover, the common kingdom is not theocratic Israel. We are not to put to death unbelievers since the Mosaic covenant was made with a specific ethnic people in a specific geographic location with specific blessings and curses. The Noahic Covenant offers no blessings for obedience or curses for disobedience. It is simply in place for the sake of preservation. This covenant protects unbelievers from the wrath of God prior to the return of Christ. Because of this covenant, we are able to love our unbelieving neighbors and preach the gospel so that they can be with us in the theocratic reign of Christ in the new heaven and new earth.
Equal Treatment and Proportionate Justice
Christians should vote for candidates who are for treating image bearers equally under the law and metes out proportionate justice. God tells us that He requires a reckoning for the act of murder. Justice for murder, in God’s law, means that the murderer should be rendered the death penalty. While Genesis 9:6 can refer more broadly to the general principle of proportionate justice, it is a good indicator that any candidate who thinks the death penalty is immoral does not know what justice is. The candidates we vote for ought to create laws that are in accord to God’s law revealed in nature (natural law). God not only reveals His law in Scripture, but also in nature. Moral order is woven into the very fabric of creation and is equally observable by both believers and unbelievers.
Since this covenant values the lives of all image bearers equally, any law that values human lives less than others because of their ethnicity is unjust. We should vote for candidates who will pursue justice for all races. There are candidates who push for “racial justice” or “social justice” that also believe it’s acceptable to murder the most vulnberable of our population: the unborn. Those who are for abortion and claim to be seeking justice should not be listened to in our society’s discussion about racism.
Pro-Life and Pro-Traditional Family
The Noahic Covenant was made to preserve life and for families to reproduce. As indicated above, voting for any pro-abortion candidate is not option for Christians—for anyone! This is because the right to life is the basis of all other rights. Moreover, Christians should not consider candidates who promote and plan to pass LGBTQ+ legislation. Why? Andrew T. Walker writes, “Prioritizing the natural family as the main focus of our political order would do more to promote flourishing, end inequality, and repair our broken foundations than anything else on the table. Why? The family is the source of political order.” One of the reasons why American society is crumbling is because we don’t have a standard for sexual ethics. But if our standard is how God designed sexuality to be lived out, then our society will flourish. Living in accord with nature (how God designed the world to work), typically results in prosperity (Proverbs 8:14-21).
Voting is Temporary
Christians should be interested and engaged in politics. This should be so because the state of peace and justice in society depends upon the governance of our leaders. However, since the Noahic Covenant is temporary, elections are too. We need to remember that we are not primarily citizens of the United States, but citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). Our identity is not in this age and whether or not the candidates we vote for win. Our identity is in the age to come. The Lord Jesus is the last Adam who has redeemed from the first Adam’s sin and the world he plunged into sin (Romans 5:16, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). There will be a day where there will be perfect peace and perfect justice because Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead and raise up our dead bodies in glorified, resurrected life forevermore (Revelation 21:1-4).