Voting is a right conferred on any eligible United States citizen. Voters come from all backgrounds, socio-economic classes, both genders, and a vast garden variety of lifestyles. Hence, it is no surprise that our politicians are courting voters with an aggression that would put a prizefighter on a three-day caffeine high to shame. Yet, while the politicians are tickling our itching ears, promising us all but the blue off the sky, more and more Christian parents find it hard to participate in this civic process. Some denominations affiliated with Christianity, i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses, have already turned their backs on the voting process. Many cite the fact that voting is synonymous with deciding on such issues as abortion, war, death penalty, and a variety of social issues that are not always clear cut.
What would Jesus do? Would He vote for the pro-war and pro-life Bush campaign? Would He vote for the pro-defense, pro-choice Kerry campaign? Would He enter a write-in vote for the "disciple whom Jesus loved ? Would He run for office?
Believe it or not, but the first "vote , complete with broken election promise on the part of the Serpent, took place in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve voted against God and pro-Serpent (Genesis 2:16-3:13). Egged on by the Serpent, they decided to no longer trust God but decide for themselves if God's word held veracity. Unfortunately, they did not choose wisely, and all of humankind is paying the price for this vote of a lack of confidence in God to this day.
Another "vote we encounter in the Bible took place in the time of Samuel and Saul, when the Israelites were no longer content with God's system of appointing judges but instead clamored to get a "king like all the other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:4-22, 12:17). The rest of Israel's history points to strife, power-struggles, greed, malice, politically motivated murders, and a divided kingdom.
Those opposed to the idea of Christians voting in elections point to these examples where the people spoke and disaster ensued. Proponents point to the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31) where the apostles decided the question of circumcision for Gentile believers once and for all. Both sides, in my opinion, are missing the point.
The Bible neither forbids nor commands the voting in elections. There is no "thus sayeth the Lord attached to an injunction against voting. What the Bible does, indeed, state is that God's ways are not (wo)men's ways (Isaiah 55:8), which should come as no surprise; after all, there is a way that seems right to a (wo)man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 16:25). God reserves for Himself the right to install rulers within His Kingdom (as in the case of the Old Testament Israelites) and within His church. For this reason, my interpretation of the Scriptures leads me to believe that while voting for one's leaders (or members) within the church is an unacceptable practice that should be entirely discouraged, the voting for one‘s worldly government is an entirely different matter. Yet, what about those folks who are unsure of whether or not they should truly vote in a governmental election? Are the Jehovah's Witnesses, and groups like them, correct in abstaining from the voting
process altogether? In my opinion, the biblical answer is a resounding "no .
My understanding, based on Scripture, encourages me to participate in politics, the electoral process with due diligence. Proverbs 14:34 teaches that righteousness exalts a nation. Further, Proverbs 29:2 states that when the wicked rule, the people groan. How does a nation experience righteousness? How can the wicked be prevented from ruling?
Easy...by having responsible Christians weigh the options at hand; advisedly, intelligently and diligently choose from the candidates running for office; and pick the one(s) who most closely resemble(s) godly values, and by having these responsible Christians instill these same values in their children! No lesson speaks louder than the lesson of a good example, thus, Christian parents should not only go to their local polling place, but take the child(ren) with them, and involve the young ones as early as possible in this process of this most valuable civic privilege.
As to which candidate a Christian parent should vote for...well, in my opinion there is only one clear choice, but I will leave it to you to discuss your choice with God for yourself.
Portions of this article were previously published at http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/practical_christianity/110292>