During the yearly election cycles, whether it’s local, statewide, or national, I have gone to the voting booth for the past 25 years. I think I’ve only missed two primary elections. In that course of time, I’ve mostly voted while holding my nose. I mean that figuratively, but sometimes it felt more literal than at other times. I don’t remember ever voting for someone whose policy I could completely endorse, and I’m not sure that anyone’s policy, party platform, or personal life ever completely jived with God’s. In fact, most times when I’ve voted I had significant disagreements with a particular policy, point of view, or even religious or personal issue. I am a protestant Christian, conservative, republican but at different times I have voted for a Catholic, “non-religious”, Mormon, Democrat, and Independent.
I will go to the polls again this year in another national election, and I will continue to hold my nose as I’ve done in the previous years.
So why even make the effort? What principles inform and influence me on this?
God appoints, we elect
The Lord is the sovereign God. He is the One Who anoints, appoints, and ordains government. Yet believing in the ultimate control of God over all things does not lead me to become a fatalist. God has ordained the end but He has also ordained the means. I vote because God is sovereign, even as I evangelize because God is sovereign. He has already determined the outcome of this next election and it is through our involvement He achieves what He has ordained (cf. Ezra 1:1-2, Isa. 44:28-45:1; Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1).
Every vote cast “in His Name” counts “in His eyes”
At one point or another I have thought that my vote really doesn’t matter or was just wasted in one way or another. I am sure that line of thinking will only increase as the evidence of voter fraud and corruption continue to be a major player in American politics. Yet I have found myself driven to vote as I have realized that I am voting not simply my conscience, but voting for Christ.
Admittedly, I am a one-issue voter and I am such with a renewed vigor and passion. The single most important issue of our time is the sanctity of life. Now, of course, there are many other topics of great importance but this one stands above all. If we miss this, it doesn’t matter what other issues we have “right”. Life is the basic point and the unbiblical taking of life eclipses every other subject on the scale of importance.
So, for the past forty plus years America has looked favorably of the “right” of doctors, mommies, and daddies to kill unborn children. And in every election cycle it has been the dominating matter that has driven my vote. I will not knowingly vote for a pro-abortion or spineless pro-life candidate. I have faithfully voted in every election (except two primaries) since I came of voting age. However, the legal right to abortion is more entrenched in our society than ever before. Our government actually condones and sponsors abortion.
That would be the ideal scenario for discouraging me from ever participating in the American political process. But I have come to the point of thinking that my vote is a vote before the Lord Himself and thus I have voted “in His name” and therefore my vote counts in His eyes.
There are clear biblical responsibilities for a Christian in regards to earthly governments
We are called to pray for governing authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-5) as well as to give thanks for them (1 Tim. 2:1-5). We are called to respect (Rom. 13:7) and honor (1 Peter 2:17). We are called to pay our taxes (Matt. 22:21) and to take every opportunity to live a peaceful life (Titus 3:1-3). I understand my vote in a democracy as a means to accomplishing these ends.
“Third” Party Vote
On some occasions I have chosen to pull the lever for a “third” party candidate, though I’ve never done that for a national election. Those I have voted for have never won or even come close. I’ve not chosen to vote for a third-party candidate based on whether or not they “can win”. However, my vote is informed by some basic ground rules in the form of questions:
- Are they actually on the ballot?
- Is there a significant difference between them and a major party candidate?
- Are they actually serious about this election?
In this present national presidential election, as far as I can tell there aren’t any legitimate, serious, distinct third-party or independent candidates. There are dozens and dozens of people running for president. Only three candidates are actually on the ballot in all 50 states and most are only on one state ballot. Still many others are running for a write-in vote. One other party with a very attractive platform is only on the ballot in 20 states.
Why I Can’t Not Vote
Obviously, there is no verse in Scripture that gives a clear command for Christians to vote. But there are clear, biblical commands and principles that help to enlighten a decision to vote. These are things that have helped me when I was wondering if I should just skip voting altogether. They also help to influence my choice of candidate, even though I can’t remember ever voting for the “ideal” candidate! I don’t believe that voting is the quintessential tactic for accomplishing my purpose in life, but I do view it as a potential way to glorify the Lord.
It is an effort to “do good” to everyone thus providing what is good for them (Galatians 6:10; Titus 3:1-2)
I see my vote as a means to obey what God has called me to do and seek to use it in that way insofar as it depends on me. Therefore, I try not to look at my vote as a decision between evils but rather as a labor to do the most possible good.
It is an effort to respect public figures instead of maligning them (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
It is an effort to love others well by promoting things that will lead to their good (Prov. 14:34; 28:12)
I have seen the reality of severely oppressed and persecuted people around the world. I cannot bear the thought of the people of my community (and church!) enduring those things and if my vote can be a means to opposing that, I will vote.
It is an effort to submit to legitimate, God-given authority, thus being a “good” citizen (Rom .13:1-7)
Voting is not required by Scripture, but it does seem to be a means to the end to which we are called.
Beware of Hypocrisy and Hopelessness
There is some cause to rejoice at what is going on in our country today. The call for moral clarity is refreshing and unlike much of what I have heard in the past 20 years. In recent days we have heard pastors using profanity from the pulpit as an acceptable form of communication as well as Christians encouraging wantonness and drunkenness as a use of liberty. Those who are brothers in Christ have taken in all kinds of lewdness calling it entertainment, while warning us not to judge them for their actions. Playlists are populated with “explicit” content that used to make us blush in shame. Some leaders have stood with false teachers in an effort to “show unity”. But many of those same people are now loudly and repeatedly denouncing the obvious moral failures and character defects of Donald Trump. Perhaps that is cause to rejoice as it’s conceivable that this is indicative of a wholesale repentance and change in the moral course of their hearts. But if it is not, then what? This is where a warning against hypocrisy ought to be sounded.
Finally, I am encouraged because the kingdom of God has never been dependent on political clout or voter turnout. The particular policies in which I believe, for which I vote, and support will likely never have much political traction. I rejoice when they do, but neither do I despair when they don’t. The greatest good and ultimate end is the glory of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nero couldn’t burn it, Stalin couldn’t imprison it, the Roman Catholic Church couldn’t redefine it, false teachers couldn’t change it, Socialism couldn’t banish it, legalism couldn’t help it, liberalism couldn’t hinder it, and the IRS couldn’t neuter it.
Think about it, and you’ll realize that the advancement of Christ’s kingdom has never depended on democracy or even basic civil liberties. Even in very recent history, the church in Eastern Europe and the Iron Curtain countries flourished and grew both large and strong even under communist persecution. But the church in free, democratic, postmodern Western Europe is for all practical purposes dead. … It’s time thechurch woke up to that fact (John MacArthur, http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A222/politically-incorrect?Term=vote).
This is where a warning against hopelessness ought to be heard.