How should Christians relate to voting?

Christians are good citizens. They recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. They should do their part to assure good government. One way to do this is to vote.

However, there is nothing in the Bible that addresses this topic directly. And Christians are not all agreed on what position to take. Some feel that they should stand apart from all aspects of politics. They may feel that since Christ will soon to return, Christians have more important matters to deal with than to debate various political issues, seek office, or vote. Whatever time is left, Christian could better use in witnessing and preparing others to meet Christ.

Other Christians object to voting and involving themselves in political matters on the grounds that their effort will be nonproductive. Bible prophecy indicates that world conditions will steadily deteriorate, growing worse and worse as the end approaches, so why put forth the effort to improve matters?

Still others maintain a hands-off policy because of the prophetic picture of the U.S. in Revelation. They feel that an affirmative vote for a bad candidate would hasten formation of the image to the beast power, a vote for a good candidate would retard the fulfillment of prophecy. So they take the position that the only safe course is to refrain entirely from voting.

However, the act of voting when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper. At the same time, Christians should avoid participating in the spirit of party strife and debate. Some wise Christians have taken the position to engage in no political agitation or discussion, privately or publicly. They do not pose as the supporters of any particular political party. They seek always to recognize Christian principles apart from and above the candidates. If they vote, they do not link their interests with such parties. They cast their votes for the candidates who in their judgment are best qualified for particular offices, without reference to party affiliation.

Every individual exerts an influence in society. Every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of such things as freedom of religion, moral issues, temperance, virtue, freedom from drug abuse, and forthright honesty?

But though Christians may vote, they should be extremely selective in their voting. By voting, we assume some responsibility for the decisions that our elected candidate may make— whether good or bad. Thus, we must not vote without careful thought and attention to the issues. We should never vote blindly or out of a sense of party loyalty. All too often today, selfish policies rule in place of principles of right. Christians can have no sympathy with this. In voting as in every other activity, Christians should seek divine wisdom and then do their best.

The biggest problem that faces Christians in voting is that they lack omniscience. Even if they vote intelligently and conscientiously, they may make a mistake. But this is true in all areas of life. Should Christians never act unless they are absolutely certain they are right? If so, both the government and the church would be paralyzed, for no one is infallible. Timid leaders would hold back, doing nothing lest they do the wrong thing. In the meantime the devil and his forces would occupy the field. In voting as in every other activity, the Christian should seek divine wisdom, then do their best. The right to a free ballot has been purchased by the blood of patriots. The Christian will not regard it lightly, nor permit it to be lost through apathy or disuse.

Christians may not only vote in good conscience, they also may seek and hold public office. Sacred history reveals that some of God's most noble men participated in secular government. Joseph was one. Serving a top post in Egypt's government, he considered his appointment the direct result of God's leading. Speaking to his brothers, he said, "God hath made me lord of all Egypt" (Gen. 45:9). "God did send me before you to preserve life" (v.5). Another servant of God who filled an important government office was Daniel. So well did he fill his post under the Babylonians that when the succeeding empire took over he was continued in office. Darius the Mede recognized the leadership qualifies in Daniel, and made him first of three presidents of the hole kingdom (Dan. 6:2).

Perhaps in coming elections some Christian brothers and sisters may be found on opposite sides, voting for opposing candidates. This should not lessen their confidence in one another, or their love for those who differ with them. We must permit no personal antagonism or prejudice to embitter us against any of the believers in Christ. Whether one chooses to vote or not to vote, they should receive no criticism because of their choice.

Thus it seems clear that God-fearing people may, without sacrificing principle or compromising conscience, fulfill their obligation to government. They may, without becoming involved in political strife, cast their ballot. At the same time they will long for a better world, and pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).

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