Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Does God Care If I Vote?

The following article (will) appear in the October 15 issue of the Nashville News (Nashville, IL).

With national and local elections just weeks away, the question being addressed this month is “Does God care if I vote?” In response to this question, I’d like to make three observations.

First, Christians maintain dual citizenship. We are citizens of God’s kingdom, which is a spiritual citizenship, but we are also national citizens (1 Peter 2:9-16). As national citizens, it is completely appropriate for Christians to participate in the political process. In fact, Paul worked within the political system of his day when he was arrested by Jewish religious leaders and beaten. He insisted that his rights as a Roman citizen be acknowledged and eventually appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 21:7-25:12). So it is fair to say that we have at least one solid biblical example of a Christian knowing, understanding, and utilizing the political system of his day. So, it is not unchristian to participate in elections or to cast votes.

In the United States, Christians are free to cast their vote without compulsion from anything other than the Holy Spirit. The prophet Micah reminds us that God expects his people to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with Him (Micah 6:8). Jesus build upon this Old Testament ideal in reminding us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). While there is certainly a spiritual emphasis to these comments, one cannot miss the element of social justice that is included. My second observation, then, is that in exercising our right to vote we ought to love our neighbor by seeking to extend justice and mercy and peace through the political process.

My final observation is this: Not only do I believe God cares if we vote, but I believe God cares how we vote. If we are to pursue issues of justice and mercy, if we are to advocate for widows and orphans (James 1:27), then the way we vote surely matters to God. While no other human being has the right to look over our shoulder as we vote, we live our lives coram Deo – in the gaze of God. That means God looks over my shoulder and I cannot vote for candidates, policies, or parties that dishonor God in the most fundamental ways.
Hear the wisdom of Mother Teresa, who said in her 1994 address to the National Prayer Breakfast, “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is war against the child.” While other issues may be important, the view a candidate or a party holds regarding the weakest and most vulnerable among us – and unborn children certainly fit that category – is a simple criterion for determining if a vote will honor God.

If someone could show me how voting for a candidate who believes it is acceptable to kill unborn children is consistent with “loving your neighbor,” I welcome you to do so. Until then, I do not believe it is possible to vote for any pro-choice candidate and honor God with that vote.

1 comment:

Tammy D. said...

Thanks Rob for sharing. You've given me food for thought as well as reference material to use when speaking to others who take a "Why should I vote" attitude. God bless!