How Does a Christian Vote?
Mark Clifford Brunner
Does God want me to vote? Is it ever proper to vote for a non-Christian candidate? How can I be sure that my vote is pleasing to God? Does the Bible give instruction on how to choose the right candidate when I vote?
As Christians we are confronted with a multitude of choices every day. We choose the type of job we want and where we want to be educated. We choose our spouse and the town where we would like to raise our family. Life is brimming with choices that, in our Christian freedom, we exercise every day. But what about voting? Is this another choice God has given to us with few, if any, strings attached? Just what are a Christian’s responsibilities when it comes to exercising his right to vote?
Fortunately, God’s Word provides a great deal of direction for Christians concerned about their political responsibilities. Basically, there are four principles that we need to consider:
- Christians vote because they care about their country.
- Christians vote expecting that God’s will be done.
- Christians vote because God has called us to act.
- Christians vote with the liberty to decide.
Christians Vote Because They Care About Their Country
Civil government, its power and authority, is instituted by God. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1). God instituted the state to provide peace and security for his creation. It is His will “that there should be government among men; anarchy is contrary to his will.” Just as God blesses us through the family and the church, He also blesses us through government. We should, therefore, be as concerned for that blessing as we are concerned for the welfare of our children and the well-being of all Christians. “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Christians should not disdain the privilege of voting for their civic officials and magistrates. By exercising our vote we show others that we take seriously the blessing God has given us in government. The act of voting also evidences our faith in God’s almighty will. It is His power that underlies all government. It is His will that moves history and shapes events. Finally, we participate in the electoral process out of thanksgiving to God for His gift of government. Caring Christians vote because they love their country.
Christians Vote Expecting That God’s Will Be Done
“As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). It is important to remember that no matter how much we try, sin will never be eliminated from the world. Abortion, suicide, euthanasia and infanticide along with all the sins of man will persist until the Day of our Lord. We must never become overly optimistic about government’s ability to eradicate these sins. God tells us that sin will be ever with us and that it can never be purged from the human heart. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
Knowing this helps us to focus and put our vote into the proper perspective. It is easy to get caught up in the euphoric expectation that maybe, just maybe, that next candidate or that next administration will be able to do God’s will in respect to abortion. Yet, we need to remind ourselves that this is not a realistic expectation. Abortion, like any sin, is a sin of the heart. Men’s hearts need to change before society changes. Even if government decides to stop this ungodly practice, God did not give government the ability to change hearts. That power He has given to the church and the church alone. We can, however, pray that someday government will realize that it is in the best interests of its citizens to eliminate the killing of the unborn. We as Christians should remind government continually of this. Voting is one way of serving our country by acting as its loving conscience. Regardless, when we vote we must always recognize that whatever the outcome of the election, God’s will is being done.
Christians Vote Because God Has Called Us to Act
Despite the fact that our vote will never serve to eliminate sin in this world, that does not give us license for inaction. God has called each of us to be his disciples. Discipleship implies action. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13-16).
We are to be God’s witnesses to the truth, serving our country with the talents and abilities that He has given us. It has been said that witnessing is first by being and then by doing. In a sense, that is what voting is all about for a Christian. God has called each of us to be His disciple. We have been declared righteous before God. Just by being made holy in Christ, we are all witnesses to his saving grace. But a witness left to being without doing is shallow indeed. Knowing that we are Christians compels us to act as Christians. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is what motivates us to exercise our political freedom to vote. When we vote we affect how the laws of our nation are formulated and enforced. Laws affect the overall good of society. Although good laws don’t make people good, they do affect the good of the people. Our country benefits from good laws because they provide peace and security for all of its citizens, including the unborn and the infirm. Good laws can help to curb sin, and it is in our best interest and that of all Christians to see that sin is held in check.
Christians love their country and, with the knowledge that sin will never be eliminated, courageously strive to affect the good of society by being active citizens who care about the political process.
Christians Vote With the Liberty to Decide
God has granted each of us a great deal of liberty in deciding how we should vote. Yet his only instructions are that we be good citizens, love our government and obey it. In that endeavor, we seek through our votes to secure the welfare of the state; that it may continue to offer us and all citizens the peace and security that God has mandated it provide. Remember, “God has not mandated that government must govern according to Scriptures, making the Bible the fundamental lawbook of the land.”
We have the freedom to vote any way we choose as long as it secures God’s aim for government. For example, God does not dictate that we base our votes upon whether or not a person is a Christian. For that matter, he has not commanded that we vote only for candidates that are pro-life. God wants us to vote for candidates who promote His aim for government. Since God has declared that human life is sacred and to be preserved, as Christians we will be moved to look for candidates that share this view. That candidate may or may not be a Christian. We may even be given a choice between two candidates: one who is pro-life but expresses many other views that are dangerous to the security of society and the other who is not pro-life but expresses a broad range of views that would afford society better overall protection. It may be that we choose the latter over the former because this candidate will more closely abide by the blueprint God has mandated for a government that provides peace and security for its citizens. We have the Christian freedom and responsibility to make these decisions.
God, through the liberty won for us in Christ Jesus, has left the shaping of our government to our ordinance. When you exercise your duty to vote in state and national elections, you affect how government functions and how it reacts to important life sanctity issues.
In our form of government, legislators, by their votes, reflect one avenue for us to show love for others. Through the passage of important legislation, they are to be extensions of each of us as we conduct the task of “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” These are the men and women who hold in their hands the ability to shape legislation which affects our “neighbors,” the lives of the unborn, infirm and the weak in our midst. The issues are many and none the least of these are those dealing with the sanctity of human life. As individual Christians, our concern for our neighbor compels us to be concerned about legislation which affects our neighbors.
Your Vote Makes a Difference!
Okay! But does my vote really matter? Your vote will help to support life and help to install in office those who care about God’s Word and about the sanctity of life. Let your light shine! When Christians bind together and witness through their votes, they do make a difference! Scientists have estimated that if you took the energy from one man’s heartbeats in a single day and concentrated them into one large throb of vital power, it would be sufficient to throw a ton of iron 120 feet in the air! One heartbeat, taken alone, is but a minor spark. However, when all of these minor sparks are combined into one large fire of energy, they have the power to move mountains. That’s why your vote means something.
As Christians, we have the privilege to demonstrate our thanksgiving to God who created life by witnessing to others that life is sacred. We do this in part when we vote for civil magistrates who love God and abide by the will of God. When you combine your vote with those of millions of Christians around the country, you ARE making a difference.
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