Some time ago I wrote about how a Christian who stands on the Gospel is to act in regards to the government. But I want to address a different aspect by asking the following to us American Christians: should Christians vote?
The argument that is often posed against participation in the American government (be it in office or voting) is that as part of the Kingdom of God our loyalties to that kingdom supersede our loyalties to these earthly kingdoms. We obey God rather than men. So although we are to obey these kingdoms and submit to their authority we shouldn’t be active participants in the earthly kingdom. Christians shouldn’t vote (because voting is choosing the lesser of evils and is not commanded by the earthly kingdom) and definitely shouldn’t hold any form of political office.
Admittedly I see where these Christians are having a problem. Previous world kingdoms didn’t allow the People of God to have much of a say in anything. With the rise of democracy Christians have had to deal with the issue of being a participant in establishing the ruling body—and that feels too much like playing God.
Firstly: God’s Kingdom is over all earthly Kingdoms and there is no single governing body that exists without God’s (at the very least) allowance. God in theocratic nations has direct control over who will be king (Saul, David, etc.) but Scripture also shows situations where other Kings (Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar) are labeled God’s chosen king.
Second: God is ultimately behind the downfall of governing bodies—even if that downfall is altogether the faults of men. If policy and timing were the only things considered, the splitting of the Davidic Kingdom occurred because of a cruel work policy, unfair burdens on a portion of society, high taxes and a savvy servant (1 Kings 12). Yet we’re told (1 King 11:13) that it was God who ultimately stood behind the split.
Third: The civic duty of the People of God winds up underscoring the testimony of the People of God. Samuel had to work with Saul. Nathan had to work with David. Esther married Ahaseurus. Daniel had to work with an administration that first kidnapped him, likely castrated him and then proceeded to work with the administration that also conquered that Kingdom. These were all awful scenarios for the People of God to be in yet their testimony was one of respect, duty and serving to their fullest ability.
Fourth: Civic duty always provides options. Peter and John when speaking to the men who just beat them said that they had to obey God rather than men but it was not a matter of civic disobedience and treachery against the state. They were given an option: Stop Preaching the Gospel or Get In Trouble: they would going forward continue to take the second option. Daniel got to that point as well. Stop praying to your God or Die—Well then in that case, prep the Lions.
Fifth: The People of God are found in all types of situations for the purpose of reflecting God’s glory in those situations. Daniel’s book is important because Daniel was there and wound up being a testimony while being there. Isaiah’s testimony is important because he was There when God was looking around for someone to be There. Nathan’s testimony was important because he was exactly where God wanted him to be. Hosea’s testimony was important because of the situation he was in—not in spite of it.
Paul speaking about a totally different subject (marriage) speaks about the various situations that the People of God are to reflect their confession. The Lord has assigned to each one a vocation—a calling—and that calling is not our career choice, who we will marry, or something like that. The situation Christians find themselves in becomes the place where those same Christians are to walk as God has previously called to do good.
If during circumcision, not seeking uncircumcision. While being a slave, not seeking freedom: but if it comes, it comes. Each believer is to remain in the condition in which he was called (1 Cor 7) for the purpose of reflecting a testimony of God and highlighting His glory. If I expand the example based on the previous points: a person like Daniel is to remain in that vocation and work it to the full glory of God. A Christian in Afghanistan must reflect to the world what an Afghani Under God looks like.
So in a political system that requests (but doesn’t demand) the vote of its citizens it’s important for a Christian to reflect God’s glory in that situation. They are to research the issues, honestly weigh the matters, think about what’s important, prioritize positions and finally vote with a clear conscience.
Now this may not mean voting for one of the two candidates (although I think one can argue that there may be a moral requirement to vote in a manner that belays further moral degradation in society) but it does mean that an American Christian should reflect how an American Under God would actually function. If the day ever comes that a Christian is told that to Vote he must stop preaching the Gospel when in that case, we take the option of not voting. In the meantime: be a consistent taxpayer, a contributor to the good of society and a smart voter.