To Vote or Not to Vote


This is not a political blog. In fact, it’s more anti-political in the sense that I’m wondering if I’m actually going to vote this year. I’m not the only one: in any given election between 35 and 60 percent of registered voters abstain from casting a ballot. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the inconvenience on people’s time. Folks don’t seem to be motivated enough to take a few hours out of their busy schedules.

What I’m wondering is whether or not voting is obligatory for believers. Many believe it is our duty as Christians to participate in the political process. Author and theologian Wayne Grudem bases that duty on Romans 13 and that voting somehow recognizes that governing authorities proceed from God and therefore we should give “honor to whom honor is due” by taking part.

Jesse Hughes in the Liberty University student paper remarked, “since politics is unavoidable, it follows that we as Christians should have some say or influence in political decisions.” He went on to suggest that voting is an act of loving your neighbor because of the impact political decisions have on others. He writes, “one way to love your neighbor is to vote for candidates and policies that will uphold and respect our dignity and natural rights as image bearers.”

My response to this is twofold. First, it is very evident that our country has crossed a “Rubicon” in its rejection of God and the Judeo-Christian principles upon which it was founded. Candidates that could make the kind of impact this writer envisions either do not exist or are unelectable. Second, I can love my neighbor without voting and in much more effective ways by living out my faith in the community.

When considering whether or not I’m going to vote, a number of things come to mind. I’ll attempt to briefly enumerate them:

1. It is clear that Satan, the god of this world, holds sway over governments. We see this in Daniel’s prophecy as the prince of Persia, a reference to an evil spiritual entity, wielded authority over the ancient kingdom of Persia. As America continues to rebel against God, it becomes more obvious that spiritual wickedness holds sway in high places. We need to ask ourselves if the Christian duty to separate ourselves from godless systems includes the political process.

2. Christians are in the world but are not of the world. We are pilgrims and this world is not our home. In Philippians 3:20, the apostle Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Even though he says voting is “one form of doing good,” John Piper admitted, “I don’t think it follows from any biblical truth that voting is an absolute duty for Christians.”

3. I’ve heard a number of fellow believers say that we should vote because it gives us the right to complain about the government. This is neither a serious nor legitimate reason for a Christian to vote. If we believe God is sovereign, there should never be anything to complain about. Murmuring and groaning about political issues betrays a lack of trust in God. We submit to governing authorities and pray for them as the Bible teaches, but griping is never appropriate for us as believers.

4. Finally, what is more divisive than politics? It is for this reason I never bring up politics in the pulpit. I’ve witnessed heated arguments among Christian brothers regarding political issues. People who name the name of Christ can and should dwell together in unity despite which side of the aisle their loyalties lay.

What may swing my decision is the argument of voting for the lesser of two evils. But then, is it possible to vote for a candidate with whom you have serious concerns about their character and integrity without offending your conscience?

In the end, I most likely will take Piper’s advice. He said, “If you believe, as I do, that in principle, voting is a great gift and privilege in our society, and you want to uphold that privilege, it is almost always possible to vote by writing in the candidate you think is worthy, though not on the ballot. In that way, you may uphold the precious gift of democratic self-government while avoiding the ruinous effects of supporting unworthy candidates.”

Four things to consider when deciding whether or not I’m going to vote.