Mt Soledad
Welcome to the
Christian Citizenship Council
of San Diego
San Diego
“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

Equipping the Church to Vote

Chapter 3: Our Biblical Mandate as Christians to Vote

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how
can it be made salty again?…You are the light of the world.  A city on a
hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:13,14)

Voting, per se, is not directly addressed in the Bible by command or precept.  A form of divinely appointed “voting” could be ascribed to the soldiers that prevented king Saul from killing his son Jonathan (1 Sam 14:24-45), or the selection of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:20-26).  The use of lots, in general, provided a way to determine God’s will when important decisions or selections needed to be made.  Although voting was not unknown in ancient days (e.g., the Romans), it was not until quite recent times that popular elections have become commonplace amongst nations.

Since voting rules and procedures have not been given to us by God, we must look to Biblical principles and precepts that apply.  Though an exhaustive treatment is beyond the scope of this booklet, a few clear examples will hopefully suffice.  In Prov 11:14 we find:

“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors
make victory sure.”

Ultimately, a nation’s leader (ruler) should seek out the Lord’s will in order to ensure he makes godly decisions (Deut 17:14-20).  This can be done through diligent study of scripture, sincerely seeking after the Lord through prayer, and availing oneself of wise, godly counsel from those that are trustworthy.  Advisors provide not only appropriate information, but insights into what is right and wrong, what consequences may occur, and wisdom into what action to take or decision to make.  With a multiplicity of dependable counselors, as Proverbs 11:14 implies, the right outcome is within reach (Prov 15:22; 20:18; 24:5,6).  Without godly counsel, leadership cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and historically they will eventually go astray.  The end result of poor, ungodly leadership, is a nation where the people go their own way and do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25; Prov 28:28; 29:2, 4).  As we know from experience, and by historical events in the Old Testament, the personal example and decisions of a leader can have a profound effect on an entire nation.  As Prov 11:14 implies, a nation can cease to exist (fall) without proper guidance being given and followed.  Incidentally, the source of national destruction can come from external threats (enemies) that overwhelm a weakened country, or from internal moral decay resulting in unchecked violence; rebellion; injustice; wickedness; and the like.

So, what does this have to do with voting?  Our form of government has been specifically designed to ask who should rule over us.  Elections are the vehicle instituted to select those men and women believed to be the best leaders to wield authority and power over virtually every aspect of our lives.  In a sense, then, our form of government asks us to be wise counselors in the selection of our rulers – whether at the city, county, state or national level.  This was the intention of our nation’s founding fathers.  Though quoted in Chapter 1, it bears repeating: John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court said,

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler,
and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our
Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

This is an awesome responsibility, and it implies an informed, ethical electorate that will make wise decisions.  If a friend comes and asks for advice on a personal matter, or is wrestling with a major decision, won’t we go the extra mile to help them determine the best course of action to take?  How much more, then, should we be careful about our vote and whom we try and place to “rule” over us?  Isn’t it obvious that to be ruled by godly leaders is preferable to evil ones?  As Prov 29:2 says:

“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Remember, that a vote for a particular person is a vote for all the legislation (good or bad) that person will pursue during their “reign” in power.  Do we want those in elective office to violate our sensibilities with egregious legislation, or would we prefer to have ones that support the strengthening of families, the restraint of the intrusive power of government, the protection of life, and the uplifting of moral values?  Do you want rulers that will commend the “good” and punish the “evil” (Rom 13:1-5) or vice versa?  I believe the answer to this question is obvious also.

Does this mean that the minimal act of voting is all that comprises our Christian citizenship responsibilities?  Absolutely not! Although voting establishes who will rule over us, we exercise a continuous vote of sorts when we express our opinions concerning the decisions (or pending decisions) of our leaders.  John the Baptist spoke out against the moral evils of Herod the tetrarch (John 14:3-5) in a brutally violent environment.  We have much greater freedom to expose and attempt to correct that which is wrong (or evil) in our own leaders in our day.  As Ephesians 5:8-14 states, we are to:

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,
but rather expose them.”

And by what standard are we to judge actions, God’s word of course (1 Tim 1:8-11).  Whenever we provide counsel to the authorities over us, we are to be careful that we are correct, well reasoned, and respectful (Rom 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17).  In like manner, we ‘vote” when we encourage our leaders for making a correct decision, or when they took a courageous stand on some moral issue of importance to us.  May we be just as quick (and full of grace: Col 4:5-6) to commend godly actions as we are called to correct ones that are ungodly and destructive.

If our votes in the selection of our “rulers” are so important, isn’t it also true when we vote on various ballot measures (propositions; initiatives; local measures; etc)?  These serve to define legally what is right or wrong.  These decisions, whether at the city or state level, will serve to set the standard upon which many lives and actions will be judged.  If we don’t support godly, righteous standards of good, won’t unrighteous standards of evil be imposed?  If Christians don’t answer the call to define what is right and wrong so that godly justice will prevail, who will answer that call?  If we don’t say how (our) tax money should be spent, who will say?  Obviously, it will be those that don’t believe the way we do, or don’t subscribe to the same moral standard we know to be the best for man as revealed in God’s word.  No, I believe voting on proposed laws is an important part of our Christian citizenship responsibility.  Man’s laws are at best only a shadow of God’s perfect law for mankind.  But even so, we have opportunity in this nation to define what laws will be used to define right from wrong.  May we also be diligent in this duty.  I believe how we handle the selection of our leaders, how we encourage them to do good and not evil, and how we vote on various ballot measures are all part of what it means to be “salt and light” in this nation (Matt 5:13-16).

Unfortunately, the salt and light illustration has been reduced to a very refined application in many Christian circles over the years.  Generally, it is taught as sharing the gospel (light) and setting an example of a Christ-like life (salt).  I believe, however, these have a much broader implication for our lives.  The light of God’s word includes His principles, commands, precepts, laws, and of course His truths (Psalm 119).  Light is used Biblically to refer to God Himself (1 John 1:5), the gospel (2 Cor 4:4), salvation (1 Peter 2:9), righteousness (Rom 13:12), and many other aspects of a believers relationship to God.  Light also illuminates everything while it dispels darkness.  This implies showing evil for what it is, and actively restraining it.  In Matt 5:14-16 we are called to be light in the sense of good works.  Doesn’t this also include influencing our neighbor for good – both his and ours?  Isn’t this the very nature of loving our neighbor as ourselves?  Applying God’s truths to man’s condition around us, with reason and facts, gives opportunity to be a blessing to all.  Working to instill righteous laws, and supporting moral legislation is just one more aspect of our duty.

Similarly, salt symbolizes spiritual health and vigor (Matt 5:13) as well as healing (2 Kings 2:20) and God’s judgment (Gen 20:26).  In large quantities it can sterilize and destroy fields (Deut 29:23), while in very small amounts it can actually fertilize the soil (Luke 14:35).  It is widely recognized as a preservative and for seasoning, both of which provide richness to life and serves to prevent decay.  When placed directly onto a wound it will disinfect infection that may be there.  Is that not also part of the call of a Christian, to work to eliminate the evil around us for the common good, yet not loosing sight of our need to do all things in conformity to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, through love for our neighbor?  I believe the preservative and cleansing part of our call as Christians in this society has been weakened to accepting the evil around us through “peaceful co-existence” and non-involvement in the political process.  This then becomes a very narrow view of our responsibilities as Christian citizens.

Ultimately, we know the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord (Prov 21:1) and He is sovereign in all things.  But we also know the Lord has given to us a special duty to exercise our vote for leadership in a godly manner.  The apostle Paul exercised his rights pro-actively as a citizen of Rome when it was needed (Acts 22:22-29), we must exercise our citizenship duty whenever and wherever we can for the good of all.  In doing so, even the act of voting must be done in a Christ-honoring way (1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17).  I believe wisdom dictates we should be involved in voting at every opportunity and be an influence for righteousness.  However, I also believe amongst Christians there’s a certain amount of risk in having them vote.  I’ll pose a question I’d like you to consider:

“Which is better, a Christian that votes in an ignorant way,
or one that doesn’t vote at all?”

For too long, in my experience, many Christians have voted in an ignorant way.  For too long, we have allowed our lives and our thinking to be molded and directed by the ungodly influences around us instead of God’s righteous standards (Rom 10:2).  When ignorant Christians vote, they cancel each other out on average, so the ungodly have an even greater chance of prevailing.  When a Christian refuses to exercise his duty to vote (even though asked to do so by our nation), he in effect doubles the vote of the ungodly.  Either way the influence of those called to be salt and light in their influence in this nation is compromised.

I believe the only viable, the only wise, the only responsible approach for a Christian to take is to become informed on the issues of the day and to be thoroughly equipped to exercise their vote in a reasoned, Biblically based, defensible manner.  To do otherwise is abdicating our role of setting an example for those around us, and withdrawing into our own world instead of engaging the culture to honor Christ and restore good to the land – both in leadership and in justice.  To do less is to turn from our high calling to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:39) and to refuse to work for the peace and prosperity of the land (Jer 29:7), for our good and our neighbors good (Micah 6:8).

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