Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Should Christians Vote?

Huh.  I haven't posted in almost a week.  Either I've been really busy or haven't had any thoughts worth sharing in a while.  Probably a combination of both, actually.  Well, at least I'm back to it.

I came back to it after reading this article by John Piper about whether or not he is planning to vote in this coming presidential election.  I have several friends (and it's a rather popular nonconformist opinion amongst many right now) that have chosen not to vote in this election.  Their reasons are many - from thinking that both candidates are bums, to thinking that a two-party system is flawed, to believing that voting is actually an immoral thing to do.  I must confess that I have even felt some doubt about whether or not voting is a worth-while thing to do in this election.  After all, my choices are between a totally pro-abortion universalist, or a somewhat pro-abortion Mormon.  Not a great selection.  How then should we vote?  Should we vote at all?

It's been said by many that voting for president is simply a matter of picking the lesser of two evils.  And this has even been enough to persuade some to nix the idea of voting altogether.  People want a genuine man with integrity that they can feel good about voting.  The question, however, is whether or not having this kind of man running for the office is necessary to make voting a legitimate thing to do. 

In the article, Piper interestingly argues that not voting equals not having your voice heard, and that the effectiveness of not voting comes not in refraining to vote, but in talking about not voting.  In other words, if you talk loudly about not voting, people will actually listen.  Not voting, however, is heard by no one.  Piper's solution: talk about how you don't want to vote and how voting has been cheapened, and how you don't like the two party system, but still have your voice heard by voting.

His rationale is that voting inherently effects the outcome of the election, and that even if both candidates are bad, one is certainly worse than the other.  It is the Christian's responsibility, then, to exercise biblical wisdom and vote for what is essentially the lesser of two evils - the one that will do the most amount of good (even if it is small) and the least amount of evil.

Piper admits that this certainly isn't the ideal situation, but it is nonetheless the situation we find ourselves in.  I think it's a convincing, albeit brutally realistic and somewhat pessimistic, rationale.

We also need to consider that the Bible commands Christians to pray for their leaders, and to submit to those in authority.  This is hard to do if we loathe those in authority.  And in our country, we have the power to be a part of the process that selects leaders.  It would be hard for me to pray for people that disgust me so much that I want nothing to do with this process.

The Bible also tells us, however, that God determines kings, rulers, and authorities, and puts them in their place for his own purposes.  Admittedly, this is difficult in a representative republic like ours, where we feel as though we have complete control over the election process.  After all, we think, if we don't like someone, we'll just vote them out.  We assume that we have the final word on who is elected for leadership.  But do we?  According to the Bible, we can at least say that we don't have all the control we sometimes think we do.

Why vote, then?  If God has already determined who the next president of the United States will be, does he really need me to vote for the guy?  The answer is no, but I think at the same time that the question is flawed.  God does not call Christians to elect leaders.  Rather, he calls them to be obedient to what he has called them to do in his word: to love and protect life in all its forms, to love justice, and deal fairly with everyone.  This call should be reflected in the ways that we vote, whether or not the "right" man wins or not.  I equate the idea of voting under the reign of a sovereign God much to that of my view of evangelism and God's sovereignty: the end results don't ultimately matter to me, since God is responsible to do as he purposes.  The only thing that should matter to me is obedience to his word.

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