By Andrew V. Ste. Marie
This November is another presidential election in the United States. Once again the people of the United States have the opportunity to choose the next President and other elected officials. In the midst of the heated campaign cycle, we who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus would do well to ask the question: “should Christians vote?” Are there compelling reasons to abstain from voting? Indeed there are.
Voting and political involvement promotes dissension in the brotherhood. Political affiliations and opinions promote division among Christ’s body. One man is convinced that the conservatives are right and is excited to vote Republican; the next is convinced that a liberal agenda will do the country better and will vote Democrat. A third says that everyone should vote for a third party. They then proceed to debate and argue, then go away holding anger in their hearts toward each other. Such things happening in the world is bad enough; why would we ever want to bring this horrid, division-creating plague into the church? There has been enough bitterness, dissension, and division among those who call themselves Christians already; why would we want to add yet another controversial subject into the church which has no relevance to the Christian’s mission?
A friend of mine told me about how his father, who was a minister in his denomination, ran as a Republican for Congress. When his political views became known, he was nearly thrown out of the church which was predominantly Democrat.
Voting and political involvement detracts from the Gospel. Jesus has given His church the mission of taking the Gospel to every creature, baptizing them, and teaching them to keep every commandment He gave (Matthew 28:19-20). Add to this the commands of the Apostles, and the church has a full-time job. Why would we want to add to this divinely-given mission any efforts to campaign for political issues or people? May God forbid that any effort would ever be made to convince people to vote one way or another across a pulpit meant for the proclamation of the Gospel and obedience to God’s commands!
Not only does politics detract from the Gospel in time and effort, it also detracts from the Gospel in credibility. What if the church expends time, energy, and effort into a political candidate who is successfully elected, then it is discovered that the candidate was not what the church thought he was? What if he gets the country into a deeper mess than it already is in? The church will find itself discredited in the eyes of the world, and when she tries to proclaim the Gospel, the world will turn a deaf ear. “You told us about the wonders of the political candidate last year and we believed you; it did not turn out; why should we pay attention to your Gospel this year?”
I heard a missionary to Africa once tell the story of how in an election year, some politicians came into the area where he was working. They met with the native ministers and asked them to help campaign for their candidate, for which they would be paid. The native ministers met together and discussed the situation in the missionary’s absence. Having never discussed politics with the missionary, they came to the conclusion on their own that doing so would detract from the Gospel, so they refrained from doing it.
God will put in power whom He will, regardless of what we do or do not do. God sent a dream to Nebuchadnezzar the king, warning him of the punishment awaiting his pride. In the dream, it was stated that Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment would be “to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17). Daniel the prophet praised God because “he removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21).
God will set up as President (or Congressman, or governor, etc.) whomever He has chosen to allow to use that office. His purposes will be accomplished. If God has chosen to set up a certain person as President, all of earth can oppose it – but in vain. God’s will shall be accomplished. If God has chosen to set up a certain person as President, it will not matter if I vote in favor of that person or another – my vote will not make a difference. God’s will shall be accomplished.
Voting and political involvement consumes valuable time which could be spent on the Kingdom of God. Even if one never says a word to another person about politics, if he votes and keeps himself informed on the issues and candidates, he must pour a large amount of time into politics. Imagine all the time spent reading, researching, pondering, forming resolutions, and acting on political subjects! Now imagine how much could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God in that much time! Time spent reading the Word of God and good books, researching and studying important topics, pondering God’s truth, making resolves, and then acting on them! How much time which could be spent furthering the church’s God-given mission is wasted on the worthless politics of this hell-bound earth!
Voting and political involvement compromises nonresistance. Jesus was clear about nonresistance: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). “Resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39). We who profess to be Christians must obey Jesus’ commandments, including these ones. How then is it an expression of nonresistance and love for our enemies when a man, professing to be a Christian, casts his vote for the Commander-in-Chief of the American military? How is it an expression of nonresistance when he purposely votes (if he chooses to do so) for a man whose principles are to attack the enemies of America and to fight in war against those who attack our country? War is the way the kingdoms of this world settle their disputes; let us, followers of the Prince of Peace, keep far away from partaking, even indirectly, in their diabolical method of “problem-solving”.
Voting and involvement with politics blurs the line between the church and the world. Earthly government, politics, voting, lobbying – all are worldly methods to take care of worldly issues. Christians involving themselves in such activities are at best compromising with the world on these issues (if not completely giving up to the world). The Bible talks again and again about the necessity of keeping separation from the world:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15-17).
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:4).
Fellow-Christians, we have a divinely given mission – to spread the Gospel, baptize, and teach the commands of Jesus and His Apostles. We have no time or resources to waste on the vanity of politics. We must not compromise nonresistance or separation from the world; we must not mix the Two Kingdoms (the Kingdomof Godand the kingdoms of this world) by involvement in politics. May we carefully avoid any political entanglement or any involvement with other things with which our enemy, the Devil, seeks to ensnare the church and turn it from its mission.
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
Originally published in The Witness, September 2012.