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To Vote or Not to Vote?

By October 30, 2008One Comment

CandidatesI really debated over whether or not to write this blog.

In general, I don’t like to weigh in on political issues. It’s such a distraction from the things that really matter–namely, the Gospel. Government, politicians, and even policies that reflect Christian values–all these things can quickly become idols that supplant Christ.

Even so, I decided to throw in my two cents because there is an important tension within the Christian life that warrants some acknowledgment. While Scripture does push the Church to take on the burdens of the world instead of depending on the government to do our work for us, Scripture ALSO sets a precedent in which Christians are permitted to use worldly means to accomplish social and spiritual change.

For example, in the book of Acts we see Paul use the Roman political system for his own personal gain. Throughout his life, Paul spoke before government officials and appealed to the Roman justice system to protect himself when threatened with imprisonment.

Given this precedent, we learn that there are times when it is permissible to use the government to further the Gospel and the good of humankind. God created government as a means for maintaining justice in this world, so it is important that we hold the government accountable for its God-given role.

That said, we do not betray our calling or the Church’s mission when we vote. By voting, we aren’t simply handing our dirty work over to the government (though we sometimes want to), but instead offering an important perspective to a system that could use direction.

But having said that, PROCEED WITH CAUTION. It is easy to get caught up in the division that defines the political arena. And Republicans are not the only ones who create this division with faith–Christian Democrats and Republicans alike have a tendency to be excessively judgmental, painting pictures in vast generalizations and vilifying the opposing side.

This is unacceptable behavior of brothers and sisters in Christ. Do not allow yourself to succumb to this temptation.

As Christians, there is one thing, and one thing alone, that we can be sure of, and that is the Gospel. You could be wrong about McCain, and you could be wrong about Obama, but you are not wrong about Christ. And having said that, there is only one man in this world who deserves the unflinching devotion and trust that we so willingly give to mere men.

So while you listen to the candidates preach about change, remember that there’s only One who can affect real change in this world. We can vote for laws and regulations every single year, but our country will not change its direction until Americans experience a change of the heart. Get behind the man who can do that.

So yes, vote. Definitely vote. But you won’t find the man who fits the above job description on the ticket this Tuesday.

One Comment

  • Blake says:

    Hi, I’m new to your blog and really like the quality of writing and thought here. If you or any readers are still interested in this topic, I’d like to challenge you a bit on this.

    Paul used the Roman political system only for the furtherance of the Gospel, not “his own personal gain” or for “the good of humankind” except insofar as that good is the Gospel. The way in which he used the system I would characterize as “defensive.” It is defensive because he appealed to laws already in place to defend him from a mistaken judgment the Romans made about his identity. Christians in America are more focused on an “offensive” use of government. They actively pursue legislation and power for moral means. My contention is that the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles do not provide precedent “offensive” engagement with secular institutions by secular means. Paul only gives us an example of “defensive” engagement with secular institutions by secular means. All of this is to say that I don’t think Paul in this circumstance can be used as a Biblical precedent for Christians voting.

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