Should Christians Vote?
FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF, BOB THIEL
The world is a complicated place with many types of problems. In the world’s so-called democracies, politicians campaign to persuade us to vote for them so that they can help solve these problems. Around the world, election issues and problems usually include matters like the economy, environment, crime, international leadership, defense, and a host of social concerns. Community leaders with different ideas wish to persuade us that their group’s choice is the one that will be best for the country. Many of these leaders bring religion into the campaign. Should Christians vote? The Bible teaches that Christians should follow Jesus’ example (Philippians 2:5). So if Jesus was an American citizen, would He actually vote? In countries with parliamentary systems, would He vote for a certain party to get a particular prime minister? In the USA, some seem to think that Jesus would vote for members of the Democratic party, because Democrats are perceived by some to be more compassionate than Republicans. Others feel certain that Jesus would vote for Republicans because Republicans are perceived by some to be more “pro-life” (anti-abortion) than Democrats. Some others, noting hypocrisy in both major parties, feel that Jesus would vote for the candidates offered by the smaller political parties due to their personalities or views on different subjects. But would Jesus go to a polling place and vote for anyone?
Democracy is Not New
Democracy was known before the time of Christ. In ancient Greece, all the male citizens were expected to vote on the issues facing their society. The Greeks introduced the concept of democracy to the Romans. The Romans (who were somewhat skeptical of the Greek model) set up a modified form of democracy called a republic. In a republic, elected representatives are supposed to vote for their interpretation of the will of the people. The U.S., other “democracies” of the world (with Switzerland as perhaps the most notable exception as it is more patterned after the Greek model), and even many churches are patterned after the Roman model. Most people in western societies seem to feel that some form of democracy is the best form of government. Would God agree? The Bible warns us, “there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). It also warns us, “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). In Genesis 2:17 God warned Adam and Eve to not partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve did not listen to God. After listening to Satan, they decided that they did not need to listen to God but that they should decide for themselves (Gen 3:1-6). This is the first recorded act of human democracy in action. Nowhere in the entire Bible do we see God sanctioning democracy. The Bible shows that God appointed His leaders and made them known to His people. From Enoch to Noah to Moses to David to the Prophets to Jesus and even to the Apostles, we read nothing about God encouraging democracy.
Actually according to the Bible, democracy is condemned. When Samuel was God’s appointed leader/judge, the majority of the people wanted 3 a king like the rest of the world. Even though there appeared to have been legitimate criticisms of Samuel’s leadership, God told Samuel that the people had rejected God and not Samuel (I Samuel 8:1-9). The Bible says it was evil in the sight of God for the people to ask to have a government like the other nations around them (I Samuel 12: 17). The Bible teaches that God sets up as leaders whomever He wants, and this is the “lowliest of people” (Daniel 4:17, NIV). And in the case of the USA, whoever becomes the next president will be apocalyptic in the sense that the next president will take steps that will lead to the fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecies. The Bible records incidences of religious leaders who felt that they were as good as the leaders that God appointed, but God had other ideas. For example, Korah (who was a religious leader and a Levite) was apparently in favor of voting and a republican form of government (which is what, the United States, for example, claims to have). After assembling 250 supporters (who were community leaders/representatives) he said to Moses and Aaron: 3 You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Numbers 16:3). God clearly did not agree with Korah’s assessment and God decreed death to Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:32). When some of the people thought that God’s punishment was excessive, God also severely punished them as well (Numbers 16:49). Thus, it should be clear that God did not sanction voting in a republican form of government.
The New Testament Does Not Sanction Democracy
If democracy was to be sanctioned in the Bible for Christians, most certainly it would be sanctioned in the New Testament. Greek and Roman ways were widely known. In the New Testament we read of Jesus appointing apostles. Paul writes that God first appoints apostles, secondarily prophets, etc. for the edifying the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,12). When Judas needed to be replaced (after his betrayal of Jesus and his suicide), the apostles did not have an election, they followed the Biblical example of seeking God’s will: 24 You, O Lord, who know hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen…26 And they cast their lots. (Acts 1:24,26). Notice the apostles did not decide that they were qualified to see into a person’s heart. Some have written that various forms of democracy are now acceptable because they believe certain scriptures in the book of Acts imply it. The primary verses appear to be in the story of Acts 15. In Acts 15 many of the apostles and elders met together to discuss circumcision and Gentile believers. A multitude of counsellors was used to discuss the matter. Some feel that using counsel is indicative of democracy. However, the fact that a multitude of counsellors was used does not change God’s form of government. In the Old Testament we read that not only has God always encouraged this practice (Proverbs 11:14), we also read that God himself engaged in it (2 Chronicles 18;18-21); thus the fact that some of the Church leadership followed this practice only shows that God’s governmental practices from the Old Testament were to be continued.
It is interesting to note something else mentioned in the Book of Acts. Notice the warning to religious people who thought that they were doing the right thing: 38 “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39) Those who vote in worldly elections apparently believe they know aspects of the plan of God that there is no human way they could know. Yet, look at what God said to Samuel, one clearly called and appointed by God, when Samuel thought he knew who should be the next king over Israel: 6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him.” 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:6-7). Samuel was chosen by God, but did not know who God would pick. Are you sure that you know better than He?
Democracy is Not God’s Form of Government
It is also interesting to realize that many who believe that the New Testament sanctions democracy also believe that God’s future ruling government (in the Kingdom of God) will not be a democracy. Jesus told the apostles that they would be rulers over the twelve tribes of Israel in his kingdom (Luke 22:30). Jesus chose the disciples, they did not get their positions from any form of democracy (John 15:16; 6:70). God, not man, chose David to be king over Israel originally (Acts 13:22) and has also chosen him to be king over all Israel in the world ahead (Jeremiah 30:9). By the way, Jesus said that God the Father has reserved who will have certain positions of authority in the kingdom of God (Mat 20:23). The rewards in the kingdom will be Jesus’ to give (Revelation 22:12); they will not be for the people to take for themselves. Democracy will not be God’s form of government in His kingdom. Why? One of the many problems of voting is that no human thinks the way God does. 8 ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways’, says the LORD (Isaiah 55:8). When Jesus was on Earth he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God and told people to repent (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus refused to participate in even the most elementary governmental decisions while He was on the earth (Luke 12:13-14). Although Jesus taught that we were to pay taxes (Matthew 22:17-21), He also taught that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). While taxes are required by nearly all governments, voting is not (note: if your government legally requires that you vote, pray and attempt to do the least you are required to do).
Jesus taught His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to everyone (Matthew 5 28:19,20). Jesus said that His disciples were to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:16). The apostle Peter clearly understood this. He wrote that being part of God’s people made one part of a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). The apostle Paul wrote that this present world was evil (Galatians 1:4). The Bible warns of the consequences of being part of the world’s systems and its governments and tells us to come out of it and to be separate (Revelation 18:2-5). Look at what the Bible teaches will happen in the Last Days and what Christians are to do about it: 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, 3 unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The aspects of the above remind me of various political leaders, including the leading two running for the office of the President of the United States. Notice that God’s word does not encourage voting as the solution to those issues in the last days, but to turn away from such people. Paul said that Christians are to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
What is an ambassador? Merriam-Webster has the following definition: 1 : an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment 2 a : an authorized representative or messenger If you are a real Christian, you are an authorized, official envoy, for Christ! Ambassadors often live in alien nations, some of which are clearly hostile to their beliefs. Ambassadors, though they live in other societies, do not involve themselves in the politics of the societies that they live in. There is a time for God’s people to take over the governments of this world, but it is not yet (John 18:36, Daniel 7:17-18). It will be after the second coming of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:16, Revelation 11:15). To Christians, Peter wrote: 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Honor Authority 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:9-15, NASB). 6 Aliens and strangers in a land do not vote. Now the Bible does mention one particular vote by the Apostle Paul (while he was still Saul and thus unconverted). Notice what he later said about it: 9 Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them (Acts 26:9-10). And while the above is not of itself a blanket condemnation of all voting, it is the only time the word “vote” or “voting” is in the Bible. And it does show that even religiously zealous/conservative/liberal individuals do not always vote correctly and can do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Whose World is it Now?
Various ones claim that it is the duty of Christians to vote. Most who profess Christ do not believe that the Kingdom of God is the answer for what is facing their nation or the world. Although the Bible says Christians are to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), they reason that God would want them to do something God does not command. Consider also the following scriptures: 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) The gospel is hidden to those who involve themselves in Satan’s political world. How? They are submitting to the devil’s authority, not God’s. They fail to do take the following seriously enough: 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2) The Bible also teaches that the “serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan … deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). The solution to the world’s ills is the return of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, not political leaders. When people get wrapped up in the world’s politics and his governments, they are submitting to Satan’s idea of how to run things apart from God. Many seem to place more hope in elections than the Kingdom of God. What is a Christian to do? Notice what Jesus prayed: 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:14-17) True Christians are in the world, not of it. This age is Satan’s according to the Bible. The biblical truth is that Christians are not to be partakers of Satan’s worldly system That is not the way to bring in the Kingdom of God.
Politicians are Not the Answer, the Return of Jesus Christ Is
Notice a secular view related to the 2012 USA presidential election as it has some ideas to ponder related to the 2016 campaign as well: When confronted with the false dilemma of the democratic political process, many individuals settle for the “less of two evils” as a kind of compromise. … Contrary to the popular snipe that “only those who vote have the right to complain,” common sense leads us to quite the opposite conclusion. It is only those who have not aggressed against others who have the right to complain when they are aggressed against. Those who, to invert a phrase, “feed the mouth that bites them,” may stand firmly, but do so on shaky ground. A vote for either evil is nonetheless a vote for evil. (Daily Reckoning, October 19, 2012) It is interesting to see a secular source coming to similar conclusions regarding the ‘democratic system’ and the US presidential election. Of course, many professing Christians believe that they need to vote even though that concept is not endorsed in the Bible. But notice two concepts that are: 20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2) The “lesser of two evils” is still not good. Let’s look at some of what the scriptures teach are to be traits of godly leaders: 19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. (Exodus 18:19-21) 2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God. (2 Samuel 23:2-3) Few politicians endorse God’s laws and statutes and do not possess covetousness. Hence they are not people that Christians should endorse. Consider also the following: 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) National repentance and prayer is what the USA needs or it is biblically-doomed (cf. Habakkuk 2:6-8; Daniel 11:39). The same holds true for its Anglo-Saxon descended allies such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The whole world needs to repent (cf. Acts 17:30).
Although many sincerely believe that it is their “Christian duty” to vote (even though that 8 “duty” is not specified in the Bible), some seem to have overlooked some prophecies related to political leaders in the end times: 12 As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.” (Isaiah 3:12) 16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed (Isaiah 9:16). It should be clear that Isaiah prophesied that there would be end time leaders that cause people to err. This is what many politicians, directly, and indirectly, do. While it is true, that like the King of Nineveh (Jonah 3:5-6), political leaders could call for national repentance after enough people began a fast, the reality is that this simply is not something that many of them ever seriously consider, let alone do. It seems that this will not happen (unless perhaps after the prophesied destruction). God will decide who He wants in various offices, and that is not always the ‘best’ person: 17 This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men. (Daniel 4:17) By voting, one could be voting against God’s will. God’s people do not want to be found fighting against God (Acts 5:39). Once, in the 1970s, I actually voted in an election. But for some reason, I decided not to vote for attorney general. If I would have voted for that office, I probably would have voted for the man that won–a man that later was involved with a massive lawsuit against the Church of God I was part of in the late 1970s. Obviously, I would not have done that on purpose, but am glad that I did not accidentally assist in empowering one who was against the COG (and that was perhaps the only office I did not cast a vote for then). Notice also a disturbing comment from a secular source that generally supports democracy: All political campaigns lie and mislead. We all know that, and that knowledge is “baked into the cake,” so to speak, when it comes to assessing candidates. (Bookman J. GM on Romney: ‘Campaign politics at its cynical worst.’ Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 31, 2012) No candidate should lie or mislead. And while I am not agreeing with the statement that they all do, the reality is that it is not godly conduct to lie or mislead, and that not only reflects unfavourably on the candidates, but also the process of modern democracy. The Bible is clear that humankind, apart from God, cannot solve its problems. Jesus will return and He will be the non-humanly elected King of Kings (Revelation 17:14). Problems all humans have faced will be solved by the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God: 3 “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5) No matter which politician gets elected in carnal governments, human political leaders will not bring this about.
What Should Christians Do About Leaders?
If Christians are not supposed to vote, what should we do about leaders? Pray for them! Notice what Paul wrote: 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Notice that we are to pray for worldly leaders and those that have authority over us so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life. Nothing like this is said for voting that many falsely claim is their “Christian” duty–prayer for leaders is. We also are to pray: 14 The will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:14). Similarly, Jesus taught: 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:7-10). And that, I believe, should be the type of prayer that Christians have about elections. Followers of the true God are also told to: 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7). Voting for one promoting evil, like abortion (like Hillary Clinton) and “country first,” in violation of the first commandment, in the case of certain USA Republicans (like Donald Trump) is not a Christian thing to do. Many people, however, apparently are not satisfied with the biblical admonitions to trust God to choose political leaders. This is not new (1 Samuel 8:6-7). And while I can certainly understand that people often feel that they should do more, people often forget that God inspired Jeremiah to write: 23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23). Also notice what Hosea was inspired to write: 6 Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually (Hosea 12:6). It may be of interest to point out that Jesus suggested that people would take matters in their own hands thinking that they are doing God a service (John 16:2). And while this referred to killing, the principle is still that one should not violate what God instructs and justify it by thinking that is what God wants one to do.
Should a Christian vote?
Christians are not to be part of this world (Revelation 18:1-4), but are to be ambassadors 10 for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). True Christians “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). Jesus did not vote while He was on this earth. A Christian ambassador should follow the leadership of Jesus Christ and the Bible and not vote. The Bible never enjoins voting or democracy. The Bible condemns both individual and republican voting. The Bible teaches that Christians should pray about their governmental leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3)–it never teaches that voting is a Christian duty. Those truly concerned about the selection of leadership of their countries should pray (and if safely possible fast) for “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14).