Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Christian Duty to Vote?

I've been thinking about the title phrase lately. Is it a Christian's duty to vote?

One might think that no candidate best embodies whole Christian virtues. The Christian who is convinced of his mandatory suffrage would vote for the lesser of two evils. However, I am not convinced of mandatory suffrage lest-ye-be-cast-into-the-eternal-flame. I do not believe the Constitution says that U.S. citizens MUST vote; they have the right to vote. A right does not necessarily have to be exercised.

I do not condemn other Christians for voting for who they believe is best.When you vote for a political candidate, you vote for his platform. There are some things on his platform with which you might not agree. If you vote for him in spite of these things, is this not compromising your beliefs? In some areas, a compromise might be fine. But there are other clear cut areas where I will not compromise my Bible-derived beliefs.

Googling for the phrases "Christian vote lesser evil" and "Christian duty to vote" return lots of results. You will find writers on both sides of the issue. Some go as far as saying it is sinful for a Christian not to vote. If you're going to make a strong statement like that, you need to have a very strong scriptural case, which I believe this guy does NOT have.

I found what I perceive to be a good argument in favor of abstaining suffrage here. I'll quote the section here, because I think the author states it well. I have added emphasis myself, as well as links (because I'm nice).

Those that are in Christ are supposed to be a new creation, not part of this world’s system. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ," II Corinthians 5:17-20. The analogy is given that we are just like a nation’s ambassador. How valid is this analogy?

The United States ambassador to Moscow is not a communist. He does not regard the U.S.S.R. as his government, because it is mortally opposed to his government. The Ambassador does not enter Soviet politics nor attempt to mitigate the evils in its system. He doesn’t vote in Soviet elections nor join its army to fight for its cause. Nor is he allowed to do these things. Yet the American ambassador is subject to, and must abide by, Russian laws and rules.

This analogy is almost, but not entirely, the same as a true believer in his native country. Wherever you live, your government is basically against the Bible and those who follow it. You are to be an ambassador, a government representative, of the Messianic Kingdom. No man can serve two masters, two opposing government systems, Matthew 6:33, 24. The Messianic Kingdom is diametrically opposed to the Babylonish governments of this world.
Our spiritual citizenship is reserved in Heaven, I Peter 1:4, Ephesians 2:19.

BUT, we are, in effect, also physical citizens of our respective countries as well. And, under the laws of Western democracies, we have the right to vote. The American ambassador to Moscow doesn’t have the right to vote in Soviet elections.

We have other rights, such as the right to appeal to the courts for redress of wrongs. As followers of the Messiah, we may carefully and under the right circumstances, exercise these rights. As we have seen, Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen when he was personally affected in an important matter.

I have not yet exercised my right to vote. I don't know if I ever will. Perhaps I will exercise it in referendums where there is a clear right and wrong. When you vote for a political candidate, you vote for his package of political beliefs; in a referendum, it's sort of a la carte. So what am I to do in the mean time? Pray. I pray and I try to increase my faith that God hears my prayers for this world and considers them.

I leave with this; I do not believe the Bible says "Thou shalt vote," nor do I believe there are enough smatterings of "Thou shalt vote"-like teachings in the Bible for me to conclude that, in fact, "Thou shalt vote." In other words, I believe it to be a Biblically disputable matter. Thus, although my presence at the voting booth will be rare, I do not condemn other Christians for voting for who they believe is best. I'm not totally convinced on the matter, although I lean very heavily towards not voting...if a fellow Christian has a good case for why I should vote, let's retire to the comment page and discuss it over tea. I like green tea with brown rice, with nothing else added, thank you.

P.S. - Call me a shallow voter, fundamentalist, or woman hater, but abortion is the make-or-break issue for me. I never intend to vote for anyone who is pro-abortion, no matter how good their platform is.

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  • Anonymous

    This is something that I have thought about recently, as I have generally voted Republican, but I am very displeased with the front-running Republican candidates right now. However, I do think Christians should vote, even if it means voting for a third-party candidate or a write-in. I heard that Judge Roy Moore (who refused to remove the ten commandments in Alabama) might end up running. I would feel great about voting for him, even if he did not have much of a chance to win.

  • Alan

    I don't think there is a mandate to vote, nor to abstain from voting. It's a judgment call. But maybe there is a good reason to vote. If all the Christians who think as you do would choose instead to vote, and if they vote only for pro-life candidates, that might be enough to make a difference on the abortion issue. Even if it did not change the law of the land, you would know you did what you could do.

  • Michelle

    I spent my college years in Canada. Among the group of Christians I associated with, it was very rare for anyone to vote. I seemed to get the sense that they thought it was wrong. I can't even think of the reasons why now, but they did encourage prayer during elections. When I moved back to the states I met the total opposite. It seems that most Christians in America have the notion to vote, just like you laid out in your post. After much meditation, prayer and questioning of others I concluded that it is a judgment call as already stated.

    If you do something, but don't have the faith to do it, then to you it is sin. Romans 14 goes into this pretty clearly

  • Sara

    Junkmale, as a pro-choice liberal feminist, (and i say with all the kindness i have, really and truly) I encourage you to continue to not exercise your voting privelages. It honestly helps me sleep better at night knowing that you don't. I only wished I lived in the same state as you so my vote would be a bit more meaningful- my state is so thoroughly blue (thank goodness!) that it's only rarely that i get the opportunity to cast a vote that may prove pivotal :)

  • Harmony


    That comment made me laugh. :) Our area of the country is so red that it wouldn't matter much which way we voted. Our county is home to a city which *requires* every head of house to own and maintain a firearm. Although I don't approve of deadly force myself, I must admit that the crime rate fell drastically after that law was passed.

    My sister just got a job up at JHU, and she DOES vote -- although I doubt it will do much to swing the tide in the liberal north. ;)

  • Sara

    Yeah, I'm sure your sister's vote will not do much to turn back the evil tide of liberalism that the lucky residents of MD get to enjoy!

    And I can't imagine the "head of household" gun-owning law getting very far up here. If I moved to Georgia, since there is no "head" of my household, would we be exempt? Or since we're "co-heads" would we have to have 2? Is the law actually written so the gun has to be registered in the "head's" name?

    I'm pro-gun control (surprise, surprise!) and I hate the idea of gun ownership with a passion. I've made my fiancee promise me there will never be any guns in our household, and anything more realistic looking than a super-soaker will be verboten. Guess I'd feel out of place in Georgia!

  • Anonymous

    los partidos politicos,y asociaciones politicas en general responden a intereses muy determinados y corrosivos,el aspirante a cristiano debe respetar la ley,establecida por concenso,de las mayorias cuando la ley es util y beneficia al projimo,de lo contrario,no debe hacerse complice de lo que es pejudicial para su projimo,una faccion politica implica rivalidad de intereses y conflictos por alcanzar el poder y beneficiar a su parcialidad,es una lucha por negocios y ventajas,de quienes se involucran,un precepto biblico seƱala que una persona prudente no interviene en conflictos o peleas ajenas,cualquiera que interviene en politica activamente y a favor de un determinado grupo de poder,llega a ser,de acuerdo a la inforamcion veridica que esta al alcance de todo el que investigue,complice de los peores crimenes,y si votamos nos hacemos igualmente complices gratuitos de estos crimenes,sin necesidad ninguna,pues lo que le da equilibrio a una sociedad son la buenas leyes y la inclinacion de la gente por respetarlas,nadie contribuye mejor al gobierno de una comunidad,que el que valora y respeta las leyes justas.