It’s that time again. Four years have passed and another President of the United States will be elected, along with U.S. senators and congressmen, not to mention leadership positions and ballot propositions on state and local levels. Once again, we will be bombarded with campaign ads and political rhetoric, and each American will have to decide which candidate(s) he or she desires in office. The awesome privilege of being an American citizen is that we, the people, get to make the decision by heading to the ballot box to cast out vote.
As Christians, we are called to think biblically about everything we do, and as we approach another election cycle, we need, first of all, to ask the basic question of whether not Christians should vote. This may seem like a needless discussion because historically, most Christians would agree that voting is a civic duty incumbent upon every American. But we live in unprecedented times in which concerns over issues such as voter fraud, gerrymandering, and a misunderstanding of the electoral college have caused many Americans to become disillusioned about the idea of voting.
The statistics of how many Americans actually exercise their right to vote reveal that a great number don’t turn out on election day. Unfortunately, what many who embrace the idea that ‘their vote won’t matter anyway’ do not realize is that their failure to cast a vote only creates a vacuum that will be filled by those who do. Christians, of all people, should despise this sort of passivity because of what is at stake in our election process–especially in these volatile times.
“Christians should despise the ‘my vote won’t matter anyway’ sort of passivity because of what is at stake in our election process–especially in these volatile times.”
Let’s look at three reasons every American Christian should indeed cast his or her vote this November.
Reason #1: It is an Obligation of Citizenship
Romans 13:1–7 is explicitly clear that Christians are to honor and obey their rulers. Here in America, ours is ultimately a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and our supreme authority is the U.S. Constitution. It is the Constitution that gives us the right to elect to office those who will represent and govern us. For this system to work, the right to vote is not merely a right, but a responsibility incumbent upon the people. Therefore, for a Christian to shirk the responsibility to cast his or her vote is to shirk the responsibility given by the highest authority in the land.
Reason #2: It Concerns the Advancement of the Kingdom of God
The governmental context of both the Old and New Testaments is much different than the democratic republic we enjoy in America. But regardless of what form of government to which the people of God have found themselves subservient, they have always exercised their rights under that government for the advancement of the kingdom of God. We have Old Testament examples like Joseph, Esther, and Daniel, and in the New Testament, we have the example of the Apostles, most notably that of the Apostle Paul.
When the Philippian authorities ordered the secret release of Paul and Silas from jail after they had been beaten publicly without trial against Roman law, Paul declared his Roman citizenship and demanded that the officials release them publicly (Acts 16:35–39). When he was about to be interrogated by scourging while in the custody of the Romans in Jerusalem, Paul said to the centurion responsible, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25). When Festus tried to compel him to stand trial in Jerusalem, he used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Ceasar and thus stand trial in Rome (Acts 25:9–11).
“Regardless of what form of government to which the people of God have found themselves subservient, they have always exercised their rights under that government for the advancement of the kingdom of God.”
While these actions have nothing directly to do with voting, they are nevertheless examples of a Christian exercising his rights as a citizen for the advancement of the kingdom of God. When we cast our vote, we do so in an effort to prolong our freedom to spread the gospel both here in America and abroad. Failure to vote leaves the door open for tyranny that will seek to rob us of this blessed freedom.
Reason #3: It Pleads the Cause of the Innocent
Proverbs 24:11–12 issues this command:
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
Since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, over 60 million babies have been murdered in the womb through abortion. This moral issue is championed by politicians, and for a Christian to fail to use his or her right to vote to seek the overturning of this heinous crime against the innocent is a crime in itself. While this is the supreme moral issue of our times, there are countless other issues that have moral implications.
We could certainly provide additional reasons for a Christian to vote, but these are just a few of the most important. Despite the very real threats to our election process and the frustration we often feel when the results come in, whether or not a Christian should vote is really an invalid question. Christians must vote. It is our duty as citizens of a republican democracy, it is a means to the preservation of our freedom to advance the cause of Christ, and it is a moral imperative.
But if we must vote, we must vote wisely. In our next post, we’ll explore how to be prepared when we enter the polling booth.
“When we cast our vote, we do so in an effort to prolong our freedom to spread the gospel both here in America and abroad. Failure to vote leaves the door open for tyranny that will seek to rob us of this blessed freedom.”