Should we vote for the sake of voting?
In the United States, we as voters and as Christians are often faced with difficult decisions. Our moral, biblical, and political responsibilities may often conflict, and the lines begin to blur. It is increasingly rare to find a presidential candidate that we agree with on all or even some points, and sometimes the most appealing option is to not vote at all. So, in elections where our presidential candidates act against our, and more importantly, Godâ€™s standards, should we vote for the sake of voting?
Or, is withholding our vote a valid option?
Many argue that it is our absolute responsibility to vote, regardless of who our presidential candidates are. Despite that candidates do not fit our standards, not voting would be wasteful, so the argument goes. But in a scenario where, for example, all the primary candidates support abortion, which concern is greater? Are we called to vote and fulfill our responsibilities as American citizens, or is the ethical and biblical standard above that responsibility? In other words, does responsibility to participate in government outweigh the ethical responsibility to avoid being an accomplice to evil? This is not an easy question to answer.
The Bible certainly speaks about our responsibility, as Christians, to obey and respect our political leaders and our government. Romans 13:1 states, â€œLet every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by Godâ€. And certainly, we must submit to our government. But, when our government contradicts the law of God,Â kneeling to God’s statutes and ways come first.
So, when manâ€™s law comes into conflict with Godâ€™s, we have a higher power that holds us accountable. But, what about voting for the lesser of two evils? Should we vote for one candidate to combat the other? Even if we donâ€™t fully agree with candidate A, perhaps candidate B is a far worse option. And in voting for candidate A, thatâ€™s a vote against candidate B. Right? Not necessarily.
Does our vote really matter?
Numerically, not so much. Even when considering the exceptionally small percentage of American citizens who vote, our individual votes still count for very little, in the grand scheme of things. That said, our votes still hold a great deal of weight, just not as you might think. They count because of the statement they make, and how they influence (and encourage) those around us. And as Christians, isnâ€™t that one of our greatest responsibilities? To encourage and build one another up, seeking to glorify God with all our actions and decisions. And if we believe that voting for any candidate does not fall in line with that, then it is our responsibility to abstain, for sake of conscience if nothing else.
Our vote means more as a statement than a number.
So if we choose not to vote, mathematically, it makes virtually no difference. Choosing to vote, or choosing not to vote, is a personal and political statement. We should not look at voting and try to decide what the number will mean. Rather, we have a responsibility to choose based on what will best glorify God. And when man falls short of Godâ€™s law, perhaps the best choice is to not vote at all. What is good is not always the same is what is best.Â
For Further Discussion:
FEE provides an in-depth article; Not Voting: Powerful Dissent
Discipleâ€™s Perspective aims to reunite gentlemanly virtues with scholarly conversation. Standing in the great Reformed and conservative heritage of thinkers like Edmund Burke and Abraham Kuyper, we humbly seek to inject civility into an informed conversation, one article at a time, bringing clarity out of chaos.Â
Robert Lewis Dabney was the great Southern Presbyterian theologian and professor of ethics during the late 1800s, who provides a helpful polemic against moral relativism.
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