Should a Christian Vote?

Is There a Biblical Way to Vote (Part 1)

Vote! We know we should, but is there a biblical way to do it? It’s election season. Presidential candidates are looking for our votes. They are jet-setting from city to city, shaking hands, kissing babies, slinging mud, giving passionate speeches in churches, and trying to win our vote. As I think about the upcoming election, I have a few questions: How should followers of Jesus think about voting? Is there a biblical way to vote? How do I participate in a process that seems to elect people who are diametrically opposed to my Christian values? What should Christians do?

Voting is one of the great privileges we have as citizens of the United States. Though we have this opportunity, not all engage in this process.

USA Today columnist, Rick Hampton, wrote that the younger generation looks at voting as a quaint, irrational act. One graduate said, “I don’t care enough to care about why I don’t care.”

I understand these sentiments. When I look at who’s running for president of the United States, I am tempted not to vote. If you are anything like me, you feel the same way. What do you do when the candidates running conflict with what you believe? What biblical principles should inform our thinking regarding voting for a candidate?

Now, I cannot tell you how to vote, but I can attempt to equip you as you prepare to vote. Over the next couple posts, I want to help us think biblically about voting.

Should a Christian vote? 

There are no verses in the Bible to command us to vote or prohibit us from voting. However, the Bible does provide us with principles that should govern our thinking.

Jesus dealt with this same issue during his day. Rome, a Gentile authority, governed Israel. This was a serious concern to the Jewish people. Many would ask, “Given our present political situation – a pagan government ruling over us – should we even pay taxes to Caesar? God is our king, and we belong to him. Why should we bother submitting to an authority that governs in opposition to our religious beliefs?” In Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus answers their questions and ours with several timeless principles:

Principle #1: We live in a world with two kingdoms.

  1. Caesar’s Kingdom – political authority – Matthew 22:21
  2. God’s Kingdom – spiritual authority – Matthew 22:21

Principle #2: We have responsibilities to both kingdoms. 

  1. Paying taxes, honoring government officials, and voting – Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7
  2. Praying for, submitting to and obeying political leaders – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Principle #3: Our greater responsibility is to God and his kingdom

  1. Political authority is not to be obeyed when it conflicts with God’s authority – Acts 5:29

Should a follower of Jesus vote? Based on the principles above, voting does not conflict with God’s authority. So, as followers of Jesus, we should exercise our right to vote.

I know we don’t have a perfect system, but God has called us to participate in this system and to be salt and light. The imperfection of the system should not prevent us from enjoying one of greatest privileges we have as citizens of the kingdom of God and the United States.

Turn Your Minutes into Moments

When have you been tempted to not participate in the political system? 

How have you reconciled living in two kingdoms? 

Next Post: Are there biblical principles that should inform our thinking in voting for a specific political candidate?

 

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  • Stevie

    For the most part I have enjoyed your blog. However, you used scripture to make your point… a point that can not be found in scripture.
    Paying taxes, honoring government officials, and voting – Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7… These scriptures speak to honoring your government officials, sure… They speak to paying taxes since those officials need to be paid, sure. But to use these verses and then to draw the conclusion that it says that ” as followers of Jesus, we should exercise our right to vote.” is a strong misuse of scripture.
    Where in scripture (and I mean an actual scripture that MEANS what it was meant to mean) does it say we, as followers/lovers of Jesus, should put our stamp of approval on evil men? I’ve been searching, as I am a lover of our country, but my love for Jesus and His word has shown me that what I endorse shows my integrity. My integrity can not put my name (vote) to support a woman who promotes the killing of babies, or to a man who claims to be a Christian, and yet can find no reason to ask God for forgiveness, and yet takes communion anyway… 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
    “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Avoid them… yet we’re to vote for them? I can’t fathom it.
    Romans 16:17-18 ESV
    I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

    We are to have NOTHING to do with them… avoid them. Not vote them in as president.
    I’m not happy about having no one to vote for, but I don’t have to answer to my government, I have to answer to my God. and when it comes down to it, I know I’m standing by godly standards by not waivering and putting my name (my vote) to promote the candidates you mention.

    It’s not over yet, and I’m praying there’s still a chance for this election. And I praise God that He cares for us, and will watch over us. He will not leave us nor forsake us. No matter who is in office. But please, I beg of you, do not use scripture in this false way. You did not give a scripture to support your “As followers of Jesus we should vote” stance. Please, I beg of you, be wise as you counsel your readers.
    God Bless.

    • Marvin Williams

      Stevie, I appreciate you taking time to reply and adding your voice here. Talking about politics can be an energized topic. The fact that we are having the conversation says that it is important to engage the topic.

      Now, I agree with you that there is not a verse in the Bible that prohibits voting or commands voting. However, the biblical principles in Matthew 22 and Romans 13 infer that we have a responsibility to respect and honor our government, unless we are forced to disobey God’s commands (Acts 5:29). If the government was forcing us to vote for a particular evil and ungodly candidate, then we should refuse to vote, seven days a week. I don’t think I was out of bounds or eisegeting those texts.

      I believe voting is a small way to honor and respect the system under which we live. I absolutely agree we should be biblical and wise as we elect political officials. I wrote about it in the second part of this brief series (Who Should I Vote For). I talk about judging candidates according to four filters: competency, integrity, morality and humility. These four filter (I am sure there are more) should give us a good handle on their character and how they will run the country on some very critical issues.

      We have the freedom to vote for or against candidates based on these biblical filters. Stevie, would you disagree with the idea that God has established human agencies for the government of people? Do you think that the act of voting itself conflicts with God’s laws/commands? I agree that voting for a candidate that does not make it through the biblical filters conflicts with God’s laws, and therefore, we should not vote for that person. This is the reason i spend time researching the candidates to see which one comes closest to the biblical filters.

      I appreciate your comments, Stevie. Thanks for visiting my blog and engaging. Blessings on you, friend.

  • While surfing Facebook today, I ran across a revealing post on Hillary Clinton’s inconsistent position on the hot social topics of our time (the video is at https://youtu.be/-dY77j6uBHI). While I had no intention of voting for her, this video brought forward my dissatisfaction with the ALL the remaining presidential candidates into full Techni-color glory. I remembered you had posted something about this a while back, so I came back to analyze your stance.

    While the guidance you offer here (and in part two) is solid, it still didn’t help me for THIS election, as I feel zero of the three remaining possibles are qualified, least of all the front-runners, Trump and Clinton. Normally, I would vote Rep, but this year I was really considering abstaining. Neither business acumen nor political chameleon superpowers are enough to make up for the gross lack of character and integrity we’re presented with this year.

    However, as I mentioned in my Facebook post on this topic, “the retort to that is, ‘Many have died to so we can have the freedom to vote as we want.’ Certainly abstaining is part of that freedom, but.. is it right? A quote against abstaining from the vote would be one commonly attributed to Einstein: ‘The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.'”

    Well, one of the folks who responded to that thread had probably one of the best suggestions I’ve heard. Her words: “At this point I feel my best option is to vote a write-in (namely : Ted Cruz)…still exercising my right to vote – and yet standing by my convictions. Maybe it won’t matter at this election – but who knows the influence it could have at the next if enough of us take a stand?”

    I had forgotten about the write-in option. I think that will be it for me. In the meantime, may God have mercy on our country. Like Israel before us, we are being judged and are being left to our iniquity. Hang onto your seats, recommit to sharing the Gospel, and pray for forgiveness.
    Matt

    • Marvin Williams

      I hear you and understand your sentiments. When I look at the field of candidates, I have no affinity to any of them. I agree with you, writing in a candidate is a viable option. I think it is more important to wrestle with our values as we cast our vote. Am I casting a vote according to my values and the values of the candidates, or because I have always voted a certain way. I appreciate your stance and you sharing your voice here. This election is unlike anything I have ever seen and experienced. I am glad God is sovereign and is ultimately the one who controls our world. Again, thanks for adding your voice. I appreciate it.