by Stephen Morris
Dr. Ralph Gilmore and I had an interesting conversation recently about whether Christians had a “duty” to vote. He was concerned that to take the position that we did was to imply that failing or refusing to vote was a sin. I do not wish to suggest that anyone’s eternal destination is dependent upon whether or for whom one votes; however, I do believe that several biblical principles strongly suggest that we as Christians should vote.
First is the principle of good stewardship (Matthew 25: 14-30, I Peter 4:10). The Bible teaches that God holds us accountable for the way we use the gifts he gives us—our time, our talents and our opportunities. In our Republic, God has given us the opportunity to vote and participate in the selection of our public officials and thereby in the making of laws. God will hold us accountable for how we use the gift of self-government.
Second is the principle of good citizenship (Matthew 5:41, Titus 3: 1 & 8, I Peter 2: 13-15). The Bible goes beyond commanding each Christian to be obedient to governmental authority; we are command to be examples of good works, of “going the extra mile” in not only meeting the needs of others but in fulfilling our legal duties as well. Being examples in citizenship is another way for Christians to be salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16).
Third is the principle of empty prayer (James 2:14-17). James criticizes the Christian who would say to a hungry person “be filled” but gives that person no food. The Bible unequivocally instructs Christians to pray for their civil leaders so that we might enjoy “a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (I Timothy 2: 1-2). When we pray for good leaders but fail to vote to elect them, we are guilty of the same type of empty, hypocritical prayer.
Fourth, and most relevant to the question, is the principle of rendering what is due (Romans 13:7). In Matthew 22:21, Jesus instructs us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Although this instruction is given in the context of paying taxes, it applies more broadly. In our Republic, one way we show respect and honor to our Constitution, our founders, and our leaders is to participate in our political system. Our “due,” or duty, to our system of government is voting.
Perhaps these principles were on the mind of Samuel Adams when he said, "Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote . . . that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." I believe that Adams was correct and that the Bible teaches that Christian citizens of the United States have not only a right but also a duty to vote and participate in the political process.