5 Reasons I'm Voting This Year

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,” Romans 13:1 says, “For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” But how do we apply a passage like Romans 13 in an election year?

Our democratic society is worlds apart from the totalitarian context in which Paul wrote. This passage is complicated by the fact that, in a democracy, those in authority are put there by the people over whom they govern.

So how do we understand this passage? Well, the answer is part of the reason I am voting this year.

1) To Faithfully Exercise the Authority I Have Been Given

Because we are citizens in a democratic republic, each person is given a measure of authority in ruling the society. This authority is exercised through voting as well as through other forms of political engagement. As such, voting is one way in which I choose to steward the authority that I have been given. It is a way through which I can participate in the process of serving the common good using the vote with which I have been entrusted.

This isolationist tendency in our Christian communities too often leads us to disengage from and judge the systems that are broken.

2) To Hold the Authorities Accountable

My second reason for voting follows close on the heels of the first: Just as we have given authority to others by our vote, we also are responsible for holding those authorities accountable for the responsibilities that they have been given.

Voting is one form of doing this—of holding accountable the leaders Scripture calls “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4). Through our votes and our choices, both on candidates and policies, we engage in a form of accountability with those in power. It is our job to remind them that they are to serve for the good of the whole, exercising their authority in a way that benefits all of society and enacting policies which uphold and enforce justice.

3) To Work for the Common Good

Another reason I am voting is because of the calling that we have, as followers of Christ, to work for the common good. This is the sentiment I see articulated in Jeremiah 29:7, ““Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

The Israelites, as exiles in Babylon, would have been tempted to disengage and isolate themselves from the pagan society into which they had been carried. In many ways, I see this isolationist tendency at work in our contemporary Christian communities. Too often this tendency leads us to disengage from and judge the systems that are broken.

We can be influencers of the system rather than merely critics of it.

However, God calls us to be a blessing to the places where he has sent us. This applies to how we are involved in the democratic process. Because we have been given the right to vote, and therefore an opportunity to help determine the economic, social, and political course of this nation, we have a responsibility to exercise that right in a way that encourages the benefit of the common good. Neglecting this responsibility is to neglect our calling to help bring blessing to the society in which we find ourselves.

4) To Give Voice to the Voiceless

Another reason that I am voting is found in Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Throughout Scripture, especially in the prophetic books, those who have power and a voice are encouraged to speak up on behalf of those who do not. While this exhortation has far-reaching implications, I believe that it also applies to small acts such as voting.

As such, I enter the voting booth not only with my own interests in mind, but also the interests of those less fortunate than myself. In this way, voting takes on a corporate dimension as I give away the power that I have to the powerless—voting for what serves the marginalized and oppressed, and using my voice to amplify the voice of those who are usually silenced. 

I believe that in this way I also put into practice Jesus’ call to love my neighbor as myself. So I try to vote specifically with the interests of my most disadvantaged neighbors in mind. I see my role as speaking up and pleading their case to those who are in power.

5) To Add Salt to a Complex Political Soup

My last reason for voting is probably the most obscure, but I believe it is important: I vote to act as salt in a complex political system. Jesus calls us the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt, back in those days, acted as both a seasoning and a preservative. While I know that no political party or system can perfectly represent all of the kingdom values that Jesus proclaimed, I believe that we can add some of that Kingdom seasoning to the mix when we vote. We can be influencers of the system rather than merely critics of it.

We should always be asking ourselves, “In what ways can I encourage the current system to reflect the kingdom reign of Christ? How can I encourage the current rulers to preserve justice and resist evil through my vote?”

Through voting, we can add to that process. Of course, far more is needed in our society to bring these kinds of Kingdom changes about, but voting is one small way we contribute to this process. So, I vote with the hope of bringing some small change to the world and I hope to do so in a way that can add a little pinch of Jesus’ Kingdom salt to the process.

But enough about my reasons for voting. Why are you voting this election year? Sound off in the comments below.

11 Comments

85,041

Nate@hinesinc.com commented…

Gotta say guys, I read through this stream a few times and been thinking about it for a few hours. It seems to be that the above comment discussion rests on a foundational assumption that government is the primary, biblically derived sphere in which to address & 'solve' issues of poverty.

The pressure & expectation put upon political figures & politics in general in the above discussion amounts to a real deification (in both the lib & conservative responses). Gov't is the place for politics & pontification. Gov't is the place for partisanship & hard discussion. It is the place you will find grandstanding & all the other things we get sick of. In America however, we have traded our individual freedoms, and the consequent responsibilities for a gov't master. Gov't no longer occupies its proper sphere & we are relegating ourselves and our fellow citizens to a rather sub-human existence of emotional & spiritual dependence on people rather than God.

The American Founders, who spent their lives in the analysis and reformation of gov't, attempted to place the primary responsibility for managing American homes in the home. The church was intended to care for the poor. Incidentally, America is the first country in history to embody significant low & middle class charity. By this I mean that those classified as poor & middle class historically have given a huge percentage of their income to the poor both domestically & around the world. In modern socialist countries & medieval kingships small charity is given out by the political class and that is it. The poor are sucked dry to pay for the king.

The point above that socialism and free societies both have problems is true. But an apt analogy may be that all marriages have problems - true. But advocating socialism is analogous to recommending that a troubled married couple start seeing a prostitute as remedy - marital problems remain, but a whole new problem is introduced. Socialism cannot address our moral & spiritual problems, it does not have the tools to, & it is the least effective way to address practical issues of governance. A free liberty loving society cannot directly address our spiritual problems, but it cultivates a passionate, free people who have their full resources & energies available to work toward the redemption of the world around us.

85,041

Anonymous commented…

I'll only address your last paragraph. The first problem in your argument is that you oppose socialism to free societies, which is just wrong. True socialism as an ideology, which is what it is, just like capitalism is an ideology, has nothing to do with totalitarian or dictatorial rule which has overtaken socialist societies by people who hunger for power and place the value of power over the value of people. I do not think capitalist societies have faired much better, seeing as much the imperial, colonial, and the current Western subjugation and domination of the world (again, I don't blame that on capitalism, itself, but I place the blame on those who would seek power, through profit and place a higher value on profit and power than on the lives of people. Now there has never been a society or government that has implemented socialism in a true or adequate sense. In nearly every case, socialist movements have been co-opted by power-seekers either from the very beginning or soon after revolution. Socialism is about taking care of everybody's basic necessities collectively. Capitalism is about providing a space in which everyone can take care of their own necessities. For both to be successful, requires that we place people above profit and power. Please look at our so-called "free-society" for what is actually is, and look at socialism for what it is, an ideology, apart from the totalitarian-co-opted examples that we have of it. Not to mention, I would be happy to list many examples of where totalitarian/dictatorial rule has co-opted capitalist societies in much the same way if that would help.

campwebb12

29

campwebb12 commented…

we weren't just voting for president, the local and state elections are where you have more say, and you are able to register at the polls, I believe

campwebb12

29

campwebb12 commented…

and what of caring for the poor, sick and needy? are those not biblical principles? I understand the church should do that, but it's very apparent that something isn't working when so many people are still needing so much help.

85,041

Abelcomm commented…

Everything Hitler did was legal because the people drank the coolaid like they did this time. Again Obama paid the race card and insited people saying if we lose you will be back in chains and your life will go backwards. When a grateful immigrant paid for prime time to share how he left socialism and communism to come to America and that he sees America on a slippry slope and heading towards communism and that Americans did not seem to learn from history we should wake up. But when a lot of uneducated voters vote to get an OBAMAPHONE and more handouts that many when interviewed felt he paid for it out of his STASH how can you deal with that level of ignorance. Some even said this is payback because my ancestors were slaves. I agree America is reeping what they have sown in some ways. I agree with you on voting values because without morals in government and in society we will be self destructive.

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