Christians and Voting – Part 3

In the Roman Empire only Roman citizens had the right to vote. Usually you had to own land and had to be a male to vote in the Comitia Tributa (Tribal assembly). From what I have been told there was a word the Greek world would use for people who had the power to vote, but didn’t – ιδιος (idios). The Greek word ιδιος means “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self.” It was used as a patronizing term, basically saying someone was ignorant if they didn’t vote. From Greek, to Latin, to French, to Middle English, we arrive at the derivate of ιδιος… Idiot.

In the United States, all U.S. citizens are given the right to freely vote. There are probably many who would agree with the Roman citizens of old. If you don’t vote, you are ignorant. Then again, there are definitely some who think only those above a certain IQ or who have proven themselves to be highly intelligent should vote. I am not particularly concerned with these schema. The question I want to answer most is, should Christians vote?

In my past post, Christians and Politics, I basically said that I felt that Christians should not hold any political offices. For similar reasons I believe that Christians should not vote. Here are my thoughts.

First, voting puts Christians in a position to be against the world in a way that does not lead them to the gospel. I may have told this story before, but four years ago I was walking down a street in Maine. Someone had trampled over all of the Bush signs and a few of the Kerry signs. Thinking that it was unfair, I started to fix all of the Bush signs and also the Kerry signs.

As I was fixing the Bush signs, I had people honking at me, flipping me off, and cursing at me. As I was fixing the Kerry signs, I had the same. One guy even pulled over and told me that if I voted for Bush than I could expect to be out of a job. None of these people knew that I was just fixing all the signs, but they saw that I was fixing one candidate and decided that they hated me for it. I was not that into either candidate, I was just trying to be a nice guy. This caused strife and division between me and the world. The strife had nothing to do with the gospel.

Second, when a Christian votes, he will (or should) vote according to his conscience. For instance, he may vote to keep homosexual marriage illegal. Doing this does not help homosexuals in any way. It is not sharing the gospel with them. It only makes them more reactionary against Christians. Now, I do not think homosexuals should marry, but whether or not they do is not my concern… it does not change who I am and what I think marriage is. Voting to keep homosexual marriage illegal does not change who a homosexual is either. What I mean is, whether or not someone is homosexual does not change just because they cannot marry. It would be better to put my resources towards sharing the gospel with homosexuals than to put my resources towards forcing homosexuals to act according to my beliefs. Without Christ a married homosexual is just as bad off as an unmarried homosexual.

Third, at least because of the second reason and possibly because of the first, a Christian voting ultimately goes against separation of Church and State. A Christian will probably always vote in a way that supports his belief system or his religious system over something that goes against his system(s). Although it is not a government sanctioned religion, it is allowing the people to almost make it one.

I think the ultimate reason for not voting is because it places our faith in programs and people instead of placing our faith in God. We should trust that God will rule our lives justly and mercifully.

What do you think about Christians voting?

Comments

  1. Nomodiphas says

    First Christians voting does not violate the first amendment. Reading the federalist papers and other early speaches and documents makes it clear that the founders (even non-religious ones like Jefferson) of our nation wanted and expected religion to play a big role in molding politics, keeping order, and teaching the citizens moral.

    Second, saying that we as Christians would be imposing our views of morality and justice assumes that all there, all we have are different views of morality and justice. The Bible of course clearly states that there is one justice that applies equally to all. Now does this mean that we should try to hijack the government and impose our views upon society? Of course not. But every government imposes some view of justice upon its citizens, shouldn’t we be pushing it towards a true notion of justice?

    As for gay marriage and sin, thinking that it only affects those who engage in it is not a Biblical view, but rather a modern, western view. Read the account of Achen’s sin in the Book of Joshua. Though its effects may not be visible, sin effects the community. Sexual sin spreads disease and creates unwanted kids who are more likely to grow up in poverty and be involved in crime. So sin is our concern.

    Finally, declaring that sin and sin is an act of mercy. It is not the gospel, but it opens the door to the gospels. The Jews and pagans of antiquity were aware of their sin, of their need of a savoiur and so were open to the gospel. We in the West today lack a notion of sin and so we by and large do not seek a savior. If someone is on the wide path and headed toward’s destruction, the most merciful thing we can do is point this out to them so that they may seek Him who holds life.

    So as far as Christians voting goes, we should! Just as the teacher or businessman should do all in their power to reveal God in their respective fields, Christians should act as citizens (and even as politicans — it was largely Christians who ended slavery, no one can argue that that didn’t reveal and glorify God) in such a way as to reveal God to society and the most basic way we can do that is by voting for people who know and respect God’s notions of government.

    King David and Josiah, Daniel and Joseph: believers in God both in Isreal and in pagan states served in the government and by doing so revealed God to the nations. Yes the gospel is most important, but God cares about all spheres of life and it is often though other domains in life that we reveal God to the world.

  2. http://www.onenewsnow.com/2008/01/nigerian-born_pastor_calls_for.php

    this seemed to relate to your series on Christians and politics. What are your thoughts on what he has to say about Christians being involved in politics?

  3. Nomodiphas,

    You’re right, it doesn’t violated the first amendment directly. But I believe that it does in the long run… at least, if Christians get their way in the voting booth. Whether or not the founders wanted/expected religion to play a big role in America has been up for debate for a while now.

    In a much better world we should push our governments towards a true notion of justice… but then again, in a better world we wouldn’t need to. Otherwise, by doing so we become a nuisance to the rest of the world and I sense that it ultimately hurts our witness. We basically end up looking like a bunch a whiny pains in the rear.

    Regarding gay marriage and sin, I don’t think I ever said that it only affects those who engage in it. What I did say was that instead of passing laws that in no way stop sin, just prevent some people from openly sinning does not fix the problems. What we should do is spend our resources in showing people the truth about Christ so that Christ can change them. Sin is definitely our concern… but laws do not fix sin – Christ did/does.

    If I understand your final point, than I think I agree. But declaring someones sin and making a law against their sin are two different things. When we fought in the civil war (as you pointed out). We fought because we declared that slavery was wrong… the reaction was that the South tried to prove that the Bible proved that slavery was wrong. Then we went over and decided to slaughter people who didn’t agree with us (very Christian). Instead they needed to be witnesses to the South, gently showing them their sin and helping slaves to escape from their slavery whenever possible.

    I believe that the New Testament is shockingly revealing and seems to affirm my position regarding Christians voting. There were a number of horrible things happening during the first few centuries of “Christendom”. For instance, exposing a baby. If someone did not want a child they would leave them at an altar of a god or leave them out in the field to die. But you never see Paul or anyone else talking about using their Roman rights to prevent these things. Instead we see Paul teaching people and discipling them.

    My position is not that we should sit back and watch the world crumble, but that we should spend our resources in a way that truly effects people… laws do not change people. I think Israel can attest to that.

  4. Rhea,

    Your link was cut off, but I was able to get to it anyway, for anyone else, you can click here to read the article.

    Regarding your question, I understand his point, I think it is similar to what nomodiphas is saying, I just disagree.

    In a way, I think it is delaying the inevitable, no matter how much we try to make the world a just place we cannot ignore scripture… it’s going to get less and less just.

    It is also an interesting point, Christians in America generally don’t care at all about the political state of other nations. I suppose it is Americanism that makes is this way, but if Christians are concerned about making this nation just, then shouldn’t they equally be concerned about making all nations just?

    Thanks for the comments!

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  5. nomodiphas says

    A couple of quick thoughts, I do definitly agree that no matter what we do scripture makes it clear that things will ultimately get worse and worse in these last days until all is made new and perfect. So one could say that any attempt to make the world better politically will end in failure. And if one’s goal is utopia or seeting up some sort of heaven on earth, indeed it will end in failure.

    But maybe we need a different definition of failure. As far as I can tell from my readings of scripture God never commands us to attain a certain result, but rather only to obey and leave results to Him. It is my impression from reading the scriptures (and I am the first to admit that my reading could be wrong) that that we are to be witnesses in whatever job we do. If I am a factory worker I should do that to the best of my ability to be a witness. The same goes with being a teacher or a bussinessman. Whether or not I change society, I should be a witness to the truth. And besides, who am I to judge the results of my actions?

    Why should a politcian be any different? Well, you are correct in asserting that there have been grave abuses in the past (like the people of Jesus day who wanted to make Him king, we often want to use Him as means to our political schemes). Many have done much harm in the name of the God. Any wrong a so called Christian politician does is attributed to his faith and it is used to justify Christianty. But anytime a Christian businessman makes a mistake it could be attributed to his faith as well and used to reject the faith. Because the fact of the matter is many people are rejecting the truth and then looking for a justification for their action.

    Does this mean we should not run for office or label our business a Christian business? Maybe. If our actions in these public capacities give people reason to reject the faith, maybe we should avoid indentifying ourselves as Christians if we run a business and maybe we should forego running for office. I doubt this is the right course of action, but I have not completely written it off.

    As far as I can tell we all agree on ends (the spreading of the gospel), but not on means (invading every sphere of life v. staying out of politics because it could compromise our witness. And as far as I can tell the Bible is not super clear on means. We are to submit to government and pray for our leaders, but not much more is said. Paul does not say more, but we have to remember he is writing to a small group of believers living in an empire that would have absolutely no amount of political power. For them the best way to spread the kingdom was submission and prayer. But would Paul have said the same thing if he was writing to a Roman govenor (quit your post — I doubt it, Jesus told the adulterer to quit her sin, but did not tell the Centurian to quit the army) or to those that elected a Roman govenor. Paul never wrote to that group so we cannot know. It is my sense that he would have told them to elect, not necessarily fellow Christians, but men who recognized and followed God’s principles for government (that are clearly laid out in the Old Testament). But again, all I have is a strong sense.

    On a real quick side note, I agree that the civil war was probaly not the best course of action. When I was talking about Christian influence I meant more on the popular level. Slavery was getting more and more marginalized (it was abolished peacefully in all of Europe by then and the slave trade had been ended for half a century in America) and if it had not been for our attack on the south, it would have probaly died a peaceful death in the US as well thanks to the campaigning and educating of Christians.

    Finally, it is a huge problem when we mix nationalism with politics and confuse the two. The hatred towards Mexicans and views on immigration are undoubtably more often motivated by Americanism than Biblical principles.

    –By the way, thanks for starting up this interesting discussion, its been a pleasure to join. I may not be near a computer for about a weak, but hopefully I can join the discussion later.

  6. Nomodiphas,

    Thanks for the reply. It was not my intention to give the impression that I am basing my views on whether or not I think the national government will fail. I agree that we probably need to rethink about the definition of failure and put it in God’s hands.

    I agree that we should be a witness in whatever job we do. I also happen to believe that some jobs are better than others. For instance, a Christian should not be a stripper. No matter how could you are at being a stripper, I do not think it will ouweigh the bad things that come from stripping. Similarly I think politics tend to build walls between Christians and non-Christians that are unnecessary and can easily be avoided.

    Your business man example is a true one and one that needs to be considered. But there is also the question of absurdity. I might sell spools of yarn for a living. There may be who is completely offended by yarn. The problem with politics is you are generally taking a side against a major group of people.

    I appreciate the discussion you are bringing to the blog. I also appreciate the civility as well.

    Don’t worry about not being here for a week. My next post is not planned until next Tuesday and then Thursday. I think the conclusion will be a week after that.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  7. Mr. Duncan says

    Lew,

    I’m with you on not voting, but for different reasons and with a different motive.

    I am a follower of Jesus and a citizen of his kingdom. I will be a citizen of his kingdom forever. Therefore, I do not choose to get involved in the politics of a temporary home. Similarly, I would not try to get involved in the politics of France if I went on an extended vacation there. Whatever France does, France does–with or without my opinion. Even if they allowed me to vote, I wouldn’t want to.

    I want to make it clear, however, that this is MY CHOICE and I do not think that “Christians should not vote”. Personally, I think it is a waste of time and energy on something that will not last.

    The cynical side of me reminds me that most politicians lie and cheat. Even those who call themselves “Christians” make decisions that are anti-God.

    I don’t vote any more. Bush was my last mistake to getting involved in politics.