Here we are again staring down another election. It’s been a brutal year and the next couple weeks are likely to be even worse. What’s a person to do? How can a Jesus-follower cast a faithful vote in a race cluttered with many issues and strong personalities? Let me offer a suggestion.

Many readers may be familiar with the Food Network program, Beat Bobby Flay. In this reality show, two top chefs compete against each other for an opportunity to challenge the program’s famous namesake. When one wins the preliminary round, he or she chooses the dish that both chefs will fix within limited time. Flay and his challenger then begin feverishly preparing their yummiest version of the selected entrée.

As time winds down, the two plate their offerings and expert food critics are brought in to conduct a blind test. Neither plate is identified as to its preparer and the judges evaluate the dishes on texture, appearance, creativity, and of course, taste. The climax occurs when the judges announce the winner. Flay is usually victorious although challengers occasionally defeat him.

This is the process I would propose for the upcoming election. Strip away names and parties, gaffes and tweets, and examine prior records as well as what’s on platforms. Inspect the items that matter most to you without regarding temperament or personality.

Many Christians are rightly concerned about protecting human life, which involves everything from abortion to war to law and order. Evaluate past actions as well as platform positions of each candidate. The handling of infectious diseases should also be compared and both presidential candidates have records on these involving swine flu and COVID-19. Daily abortion rates, however, continue to be four times that of COVID deaths.

In addition, religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment should also be tasted. Where do candidates and platforms stand on safeguarding this precious right by ensuring that not only churches, but business owners can exercise their religious freedoms without prosecution? What actions and stances have candidates taken to promote religious liberty around the world? Both have statements as well as histories.

Related to this are issues dealing with LGBTQ lifestyles. While Christians love all people, we are not to approve of all behaviors. Where do candidates stand regarding the misnamed Equality Act that would force citizens to accept and support lifestyles they oppose on Biblical grounds? Are candidates in favor of biological males participating in female sports? Should employers, even churches, be forced to pay for sex-change surgeries through insurance and allow men to use women’s restrooms?

Discrimination is also important. What actions have candidates taken that have improved lives of minorities and leveled playing fields? What past comments and stances have they made and what resulted? Abortion even influences this criterion as a disproportionate number of black children are killed in the womb. Their lives matter as well.

Education, criminal justice reform, and environmental issues should also be weighed and sampled by Christian voters as well as treatment of Israel and Middle-East peace. Again, both candidates have clear records and platform positions that differ and these should be examined and considered with a discerning mind.

Just as in any taste test, political decisions are rarely unanimous in either direction but careful unbiased research will usually result in a preponderance of positions leading to a clear choice. So after sampling each of the platforms with a blind eye to names and selecting the one that best matches Biblical standards, unveil identities to discover your choice. Then let your vote fall where it may, personalities notwithstanding. Such a process can bring clarity and direction in this and every election.

As we prepare to hire an American chef for the next four years, let’s be sure to read their menus, check their prices, and sample their cooking. What do you want to eat for years to come? Much is at stake. Praying, George

George Bowers is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 16 books, including “From The Horse’s Mouth”, a collection of first-person stories from Biblical persons. It is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.