Should you vote in the election? Should I vote in the election? This is the question that many Christians are asking.
The United States midterm elections are one week away. In light of this, I have begun to see more and more Facebook articles and Twitter messages instructing Christians to not vote.
I strongly object. I believe that Christians have an obligation and moral responsibility to vote.
Yet since there are numerous arguments given for the idea that Christians should not vote, I want to address a few of these arguments in this post as a way of encouraging you to get out and vote this year. The article will close with a few suggestions or ideas about how to decide who to vote for.
Argument 1: We serve the Kingdom, and the Kingdom is not of this World
Some Christians argue that since we are citizen of the Kingdom of God, and this Kingdom is not of the world, we should not get involved in the politics and government of this world.
It is true that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and that the Kingdom is not of this world.
But what these Christians who say this seem to forget is that while the kingdom if not of this world, it is definitely for this world. The Kingdom of God has come down from heaven to earth in the person and work of Jesus Christ to transform this world so that God’s will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven.
The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God on earth. And while voting is not going to be the only way (or even the primary way) for the rule and reign of God to spread upon the earth, it is certainly one way that can help. Leaders of worldly governments who have similar goals and values as Jesus Christ can certainly do more for the Kingdom of God than can worldly leaders who value only power, riches, glory, and fame, all of which belong to the kingdom of darkness.
So one way for the Kingdom of God to come upon this earth is for us to be involved in politics so that we can affect change and move the kingdoms of this world a little closer to the Kingdom of God. Voting is the smallest and easiest way for this to happen. It shouldn’t be the only thing we do, but it is a start.
Argument 2: Jesus and Paul didn’t vote; so neither should we!
I am not making this argument up. I have heard people use it.
Yes, of course Jesus and Paul didn’t vote, but this was because the Roman Empire was not a democracy. Voting wasn’t an option for Jesus and Paul. They didn’t vote because they weren’t allowed to.
But this doesn’t mean that Jesus and Paul were apolitical, that they had no political views and never taught anything about the politicians or political climate of their day. Quite the contrary, both Jesus and Paul were outspoken about the abuses of those who held political power, and even called upon leaders to conform their rulings to the will and values of God. They also paid taxes and encouraged their followers to do so, as well as teaching them to obey the ruling authorities, who were place into their positions by God.
In light of these things, I believe that if Jesus and Paul had been given the opportunity to vote, they would have seen it as one more way to make their voice heard.
Furthermore, many of the people in Scripture whom God used greatly were involved in politics, and even raised up to such positions “for such a time as this.” Joseph helped saved millions of lives through his position in Egypt. King David and King Solomon led the nation of Israel into peace and prosperity. Daniel was a wise and godly counselor in the royal courts of Babylon. Esther used her position to rescue her people from annihilation.
So it is completely false to say that Jesus, Paul, or any of the godly people of Scripture were not involved in politics and would not vote. The opposite is actually true. God wants all of us to get involved in how this world is governed, whether it is in large or small ways. The smallest of these is voting, and if that is what you can do, then that is what you should do.
Argument 3: Politics is so divisive! It sickens me to get involved
Some Christians don’t want to vote because of how divisive politics have become. To get involved with the issues makes them feel dirty.
I understand the feeling. There is much filth in the realm of politics.
However, isn’t this exactly why we are here on earth? Isn’t the anger and malice that is found in much of the political realm the exact reason we should be involved?
Rather than retreat from the darkness, let us be a light in the darkness, providing a voice of love, hope, peace, healing, and forgiveness rather than hate and anger.
Voting, and getting involved in politics, provides an opportunity for us to show the world a better way of standing up for what we believe while peacefully disagreeing with others. So cast your vote, and do it with love toward those who have different views.
Argument 4: Jesus is My President!
I especially hear this during a presidential election. “I’m not voting,” the person says, “because Jesus is my President.”
Fine. I don’t disagree. Jesus alone is our only Lord, Ruler, King, and Master. Call Him your “President” if you wish.
But what does this have to do with voting? Voting is not an oath of fealty. Voting is not a stamp of approval on everything the person you vote for has said and done, or will say and do. Voting is not a promise to obey, support, and defend everything this person says or does.
In fact, voting is the opposite of such things. Voting gives you the right to disagree and voice your disapproval.
I am so tired of people who do not vote feeling like they then have the right to criticize the decisions of the person in office. I feel that if you have the opportunity to choose who is in office by voting, and you forsake that right, then you should also forsake your right to oppose or criticize the decisions of those who are in office.
Voting is a way to make your voice heard. And if you don’t want to make your voice heard through voting, then you should also not make your voice heard after the voting is over. When you vote, according to the values and principles of your only sovereign, Jesus Christ, this is what gives you the subsequent right to raise your voice in prophetic warning about the poor decisions that the leaders are making, whether or not you voted for them.
So yes, Jesus is your president. And guess what? He’s calling you to vote … but not for Him. He doesn’t get put into office by voting. He is in His position for all eternity, regardless of which human is in which political office or role.
As Christians, we are invited by God to call our political leaders to follow the will and ways of God, and one way we can do this is by voting. If we love justice and mercy, then we are to be involved and active in every battle that helps bring more justice and mercy into the world. Voting and political activity is one way to make this happen.
Argument 5: My Vote Doesn’t Matter
I hear this all the time. “I don’t vote because my vote doesn’t matter. I’m just one small voice in a sea of people who disagree with me.”
I live in Oregon, which is mostly dominated by liberal Portland and the I-5 corridor down through Corvallis and Eugene. But other than these areas, most of Oregon is politically conservative. I think I heard that by numbers alone, the majority of Oregon is conservative.
Yet every election year, less than 25% of the conservative people come out to vote. Why? Because they think their vote doesn’t matter. They see the powerful and loud voting block in Portland and Eugene, and think, “There’s no way my little vote can overcome that giant.”
So they stay home.
And then they complain all the time about how Oregon passes terrible laws, such as the law that use our tax dollars to fund abortions.
But if even half of the people conservative parts of the state voted, they would be able to have more say and direction in the state, and might even gain a majority in the state congress.
I had a short twitter conversation about this very thing with my friend Dan Kent yesterday. Here is a bit of the thread:
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I think that what Dan is saying is that if you feel strongly about the direction of our country and how it is led, you should do more than just vote. You should also raise your voice. And I agree with that.
Of course, I also think that if you didn’t vote, you have no right to raise your voice.
I think a vote is the very first word of you raising your voice to have a say in the direction and leadership of the country.
So should you vote? I say YES! Get out and vote.
But who should you vote for?
I’m not going to tell you. That is, I’m not going to give you names or a political party to vote for. Instead, I will provide some values and ideas to help inform your decisions.
As Christians, we must look for candidates that help bring to reality the values that Jesus taught and lived. Especially those of Luke 4:18-19. Jesus said that He came to this earth to help the poor, heal the brokenhearted, give liberty to captives, restore sight to the blind, and set free those who are oppressed.
Obviously, all political candidates from all political parties claim that they will do these sorts of things. All candidates from all political parties in every political race I have ever seen or heard claims that they are fighting for the rights of the poor, the week, and forgotten, the neglected, the oppressed, and the overlooked.
If you really listen to what all candidates say, this is exactly the sorts of things they all promise.
So what are we to do?
The answer is to not look at what politicians say, but rather at what they actually have done. Nearly all politicians have a history of whether or not they have helped people. A state governor or senator doesn’t start out campaigning for that political office. They will have always worked their way up from smaller city or regional offices.
As a result, we can look at their history of what promises they have made, and whether or not they have actually kept these promises. We can look at the poor, the oppressed, the neglected, the forgotten, and the overlooked in the communities in which they served to see if, during their time in office, the conditions of these people got better or worse.
If conditions got worse, then this candidate does not deserve your vote. If they improved in tangible, verifiable, measurable ways, then maybe this candidate does deserve your vote. Again, all candidates will SAY things improved under their leadership, but you must verify the actual numbers and results to see if this is so.
Don’t just listen to the words that people say. What people DO is always more important than what they SAY. Politicians promise all sorts of things, but what they have actually done for the people they serve is the best indicator of whether you should vote for them or not.
Here are some questions to consider about any candidate:
-Is crime going down in the area in which they governed?
-Are homelessness and poverty levels decreasing?
-Is the unemployment level decreasing?
-Is the standard of living generally increasing?
-How do they respond toward political opponents? Do they call for violence and hate, or love and acceptance?
-What have they actually done (not promised to do!) to protect the weak and give a voice to the voiceless? This not only includes immigrants, but also the poor and sick of our own country, and especially the weakest and most voiceless of all: unborn children.
(I am not a single issue voter, but I have always wondered how any Christian can support the killing of unborn children. I agree that a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body, but a baby is not her own body. The body of the baby belongs to the baby. I am pro-choice for the baby as well. I want the baby to have a choice.)
Don’t think about such questions as a Republican or Democrat. Think about these questions from the perspective of a citizen of heaven, and how you can bring the will of God down to earth.
Let me be specific.
And for this, I’m going to talk about Trump.
I know I said I wasn’t going to tell you who to vote for, but he is not running for office this year, so I can talk about him.
Trump made many promises during his campaign in 2016. He promised to bring back jobs, reduce crime, move toward peace with various countries around the world (like North Korea), enact prison sentencing reform, increase the income of the average American, and help restore our health care system to take care of the sick and needy in our midst.
Since Trump had never held political office, it was difficult to know if he could be trusted to keep his promises, or if he even knew what he was talking about. But, regardless of what you think about him, he was elected as the President of the United States.
The past two years have shown that he did indeed know how to accomplish the things he promised. Here is a short list of how he has helped millions of people in the last two years:
- Almost 4 million jobs have been created.
- New unemployment claims at a 49-year low.
- African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment is at an all-time low.
- Women’s unemployment rate hit a 65-year low.
- Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent (3.5% this quarter), higher than any time during the previous administration.
- Median household income has hit highest level ever recorded.
- 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps since the election.
- Small businesses have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.
- The FDA approved more affordable generic drugs, linking drug prices to the cheap drugs that people pay in other countries.
- The Medicare program was revamped to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs—saving seniors hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.
- Budgeted $6 billion in NEW funding to fight the opioid epidemic, and have reduced high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent.
- Moved U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, showing support for Israel.
- Re-worked trade deals with Mexico, Canada, and the EU
- Helped improve communications between North Korea and the US, while bringing an end to the firing of test missiles by North Korea.
- Began the process of reforming prison sentencing guidelines which have previously led to high incarceration rates among African-Americans.
This is the sort of thing I am thinking about in this article. These are tangible and positive benefits that have come from the Trump administration, all of which help the poor, neglected, sick, and needy of our country. Whether you like Trump or not, we can all agree that these positive benefits are good for the people of our country, which will also, in turn, be good for the entire world.
You can look for similar things in the politicians you vote for next week, and in future elections. Make sure you think through the issues. Don’t just vote Democrat or Republican because that’s what you’ve always done. Consider the facts and statistics, and make the best and most informed decision that you can. Then get out and vote, making your voice heard in a small but significant way.
When all the Christian voices add up, we make a decisive block of people who can let our voices be heard.
So should you vote? I say YES! Get out and vote!
This post is part of the October 2018 Synchroblog. See what others have to say about the topic of voting by reading the articles from the other contributors below:
- Red, Blue, Green, or Neither? – Scott Sloan
- Voting is Violence … So Vote! – Tim Nichols
- Who Should we Vote For if We Vote At All? – Mike Edwards