One of my favorite movies is an old classic starring Gary Cooper called "Sergeant York."
The story is about a Tennessee mountain man named Alvin York, a poor farmer who kept running into bad luck. But along the way he became a Christian. When World War I broke out, he designated himself as a conscientious objector because he believed the Bible taught people not to kill.
While he was in basic training, he excelled as a marksman. He came to a crisis during his early days in the military. During a long period of meditation and prayer he read this verse: "Then [Jesus] said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's'" Matthew 22:21, NAU).
In the movie he mulled over Jesus' words and came to the conviction that a follower of Jesus also could be a patriotic citizen of the United States and could fight to defend his country.
My father, Edgar Gaines, was a lot like Alvin York. No, my father did not receive the accolades York did. But when World War II broke out, my father left his farm in Lauderdale County, Tenn., and went to war to fight in the United States Navy. He had never been out of his county, much less America, but he went all over the world on a warship fighting for our freedoms.
One of the freedoms men and women like Alvin York and Edgar Gaines fought for was the freedom to vote. Many brave men and women have died so we can have the privilege to choose our own leaders. They fought and died so we could have a government "of the people, by the people and for the people."
I believe voting is my patriotic duty as a citizen of the United States. I love my country and I thank God that I live in America. Is it perfect? No. But neither am I, and neither are you. Does America need to repent and turn afresh to Jesus? Yes. And so do I, and so do you.
The greatest issue in our land in my opinion is abortion. Sixty million babies have been slaughtered via abortion in America since Roe v. Wade in 1973. That is 10 times as many Jewish people that were killed by Hitler and the Nazis in the Holocaust. I have four children and 10 grandchildren. I cringe when I think that there are people in America who believe it would be all right to take a baby's life when it is only a month, a day or a week away from being born. We have not only lost our morals, we have lost our minds if we think that is right.
I believe that New Testament marriage—one woman married to one man—is an issue all Christians must stand for in America. The only marriage that the New Testament supports is heterosexual, monogamous marriage (cf. Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31).
I also believe Christians must champion the fact that racism must stop in America. There is only one race—the human race. Bible-believing Christians believe that we all come from the same biological parents—Adam and Eve, thus we are all biologically related to one another. All lives matter because God created all people, God loves all people, Jesus died for all people and anyone can be saved!
Christians should vote and we should carry our Christian convictions into the voting booth with us. Find out what candidates believe and vote for or against them based on your biblical principles.
Christians, do not sit this one out. Do not stay home and avoid voting Tuesday. Stand in line five hours if you have to, but make sure you register your vote. People have fought and died to give you the privilege of being salt and light in this sinfully dark world.
Vote and pray Tuesday. In other words, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
Steve Gaines is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.