A Christian’s Responsibility to Vote
The Presidential election campaign of 2016 has been one of the most interesting and frustrating campaigns in memory. When the dust settled from the primaries, we ended up with two candidates. Each representing one of the two major parties. Many Christians are confused and distressed about how they should vote. They rightly reason that neither candidate would qualify as a pastor of a Bible-believing church.
Many still have no idea who they will vote for. Others have decided not to vote for anyone. Yet others are debating whether to vote for a third-party candidate or write-in a candidate. Even among Christian leaders, there is great confusion and even double-mindedness, with leaders switching their views back and forth. Emotion drives more of the rhetoric than a biblical analysis of a Christian citizen’s responsibility. So, this post will address a Christian citizen’s responsibility to vote for President from a biblical perspective.
The writers of the Bible were not under a democratic form of government in which the citizens could vote. However, the Bible teaches principles concerning government that apply to every form of government, including democracies.
Romans 13:1 (NIV) 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.
The first thing we must realize is that governments are established by God as an extension of His authority on earth. Now, this definitely does not mean that all governments govern according to godly principles. However, it does mean that virtually any government is preferable to complete anarchy. Some governments are clearly more righteous than others. Since God establishes governments, a Christian citizen is required to submit to the governing authorities. To submit as long as the government does not require something contrary to God’s Word.
Romans 13:7 (NIV) Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
This verse elaborates on what submitting to governing authorities means. A Christian citizen is required to pay taxes, revenues, respect and honor. With regard to elections, our duty is to vote for the candidate of our choice. The U.S. government states that every citizen has the “Right to vote in elections for public officials.” Every citizen is responsible to “Participate in the democratic process.” We also are responsible to “Support and defend the Constitution.”
Vote for the best candidate
Voting is a choice between alternate candidates and obviously we should vote for the best Presidential candidate. The candidates for office are always two sinful and flawed human beings. However, I believe that God has a candidate that is His choice for every election. In a future post, I will address the process of how a Christian should determine who the best candidate is. Much of the public discourse by Christians on how to decide who to vote for is not biblical.
In every election, there will always be one candidate who is better than the other and that is the one a Christian must vote for. I realize that in our country, in every succeeding election, the quality of the candidates seems to deteriorate. Why is that? As the country continues to drift farther from God, the people choose less godly candidates. This does not mean that our choice is meaningless. In this election, the choice between two flawed candidates will have a profound effect on the lives of every believer.
What your vote means
When one votes for a candidate, you are not approving everything they have done in the past. Nor do you approve of every policy they have advocated. Nor do you approve of everything they have said. You are simply comparing two candidates. Your vote says that you believe, according to biblical principles, that the candidate you vote for is the best one available. It is theoretically possible that two candidates in an election could have very little differences. Then the choice would be difficult. However, the choice in this election is easy, as the differences are stark.
To refrain from voting is not an option for the believer, for it means to disobey our Scriptural mandate to submit to the government. Not voting is not a trivial sin, it is a sin of great magnitude. For your vote determines the direction of an entire nation. Your vote will may well determine whether there will be freedom of worship for Christians and the church in the years ahead. Not only must all Christians vote for the best candidate, they must …
Vote for the best candidate who can win
Some Christians don’t want to vote for either of the two major party candidates. So they will either vote for a third-party candidate or write-in someone. In most elections and in the present presidential election, the winner will be one of the two major party candidates. Neither a third-party candidate or a write-in candidate has any possibility of winning under any circumstances. Some see it as a protest vote. Others see voting for a candidate who can’t possibly win as keeping them from voting for evil.
Let’s look at the effect of voting for a third-party or write-in candidate. When you don’t vote for the best candidate, you are in effect voting for the worst candidate. Your vote for a third-party or write-in candidate means that the worst candidate needs one less vote to win and that the best candidate needs one more vote to win. Voting for a third-party or write-in candidate is exactly the same as not voting at all. Voting for a third-party or write-in candidate is not an option for the believer, it is a sin of great magnitude. Those who vote for a third-party candidate are voting for the worst candidate.
Vote according to God’s will
Finally, many people, even Christian leaders, are saying, just vote your conscience. Voting your conscience is entirely unbiblical. People’s consciences lead them astray all the time. In fact, some people think that if their conscience does not condemn them, then it’s not sin. The Bible teaches that your conscience is completely unreliable. Our behavior must be directed, not by our consciences, but by God’s Word. God has picked a best candidate. Your task as a believer is to discern God’s will and vote for that candidate. When you vote according to God’s will, God will bless you, whether God’s best candidate wins or not. If you miss God’s will and vote for the candidate that is not God’s choice, God will not bless you. You will reap the consequences of your sin, whoever wins the election.
God’s will is not relative, it is absolute. Person A cannot vote for Candidate X and be in God’s will, while Person B votes for Candidate Y and is also in God’s will. If God’s candidate is Candidate X, you must vote for Candidate X to be blessed. Voting for Candidate X avoids the sin of voting for Candidate Y. You can know God’s will by following biblical principles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. How to vote according to biblical principles will be the topic of a future post. Stay tuned.