The Christian and His Vote
Several decades ago, the question “What would Jesus do?” was a big fad. Jesus, along with all those in the first century, lived when the Romans were in power. Even several centuries preceding this, we know that the world was ruled by dictators (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greek). However, if Jesus and the apostles lived in a democracy, what would they do? For those who live in such countries (such as the USA), we have a luxurious privilege and blessing that many citizens of other countries do not possess—we have a voice! Yes, even Christians have a voice when it comes to the election of our political leaders! Totalitarian governments do not allow people to express their choices at the polls, but countless individuals in the past literally have given their lives to make this freedom possible. God has blessed us to have a “government of the people, by the people and for the people” (as President Lincoln addressed at Gettysburg). Inherent within this privilege is a responsibility as citizens—to inform ourselves of the issues and the candidates. Thus, voting is a choice of people who enjoy civil freedom!
How to deal with the government has always been a problem for the people of God. When the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus regarding the subject of taxes—a quite sensitive issue among people both then and now—he asked for a coin and responded, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:15-21). Unfortunately, it seems that there has been, and will always be, tension between our obligation to God and our obligation to our country. While we are citizens of a heavenly country (Phil. 3:20), and the kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36), we are still to view our governmental rulers with respect (Rom. 13:1-7). Regrettably, some Christians do not exercise their right to vote. From a civic perspective, they become apathetic. Alexander Tyler, a Scottish historian, wrote about the fall of the Athenian republic and stated that most nations progress through a specific sequence from rise to power and then to collapse. Detailing such, he itemized these stages as follows: bondage to spiritual faith, spiritual faith to great courage, great courage to liberty, liberty to abundance, abundance to selfishness, selfishness to complacency, complacency to apathy, apathy to dependency, and dependency back to bondage. As a nation, where do we fall in this sequence? As a Christian citizen, where do we fall in this sequence? Do we personally care?
How tragic that very few Christians have undertaken the duty of serving in a public office! Many Christians are crestfallen when it comes to seeking civic leadership positions, because they believe the corruption within would quite literally choke any godly influence out from the good-hearted child of God. Yet, the quandary lies in the fact that while the general attitude among Christians is negative toward politics and politicians, it is equally true that our democratic nations need men and women of faith in leadership positions now more than ever! We need good people who will exercise godly wisdom to bring about reformation (Prov. 14:34). How will we ever reach this point if we choose never to voice our opinion or cast our vote? If God could act through human kings of days gone by (often influenced by godly men, such as Daniel and Nehemiah), why could He not act through His own people today when they serve in leadership positions?
William James (1842-1910), a renowned philosopher and spokesperson, once said, “There is but one unconditional commandment, which is that we should seek incessantly, with fear and trembling, so to vote and to act as to bring about the very largest total universe of good we can see” (“The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life”). He also stated,
The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes; they always dwell within their borders, and from these internal enemies, civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blessed above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks. (“Memories and Studies”)
Therefore, Christians ought to desire to be good citizens and exercise their freedom to vote according to principles of character and morality. Indifference and apathy are truly the worst enemies in the civic arena—may they never be demonstrated by the people of God! It is time to stand boldly against the sins of our nation and the issues that affect morality! May every Christian exercise his or her right and privilege to vote, and accompany such with fervent prayers (1 Tim. 2:1-2)!