About This Post:
- It is short enough to read right now.
- It is a lot less political than you are expecting.
- It is very different than you want it to be.
- It doesn’t say much about voting.
- It is not written cowardly like some posts on controversial topics.
- It is not opinion based or biased.
- It will make you think.
- It does not ask you to vote.
- It does not condemn nor praise voting.
- You will not get mad at me (if you do, you did something wrong)
Common Reasons Given By Anabaptist Christians for Not Voting:
#1: Show Me Verses
“I’d like for you to show me where in the Bible it supports getting involved in government.”
Things to Consider
- Do you live exactly by the Bible?
- Do you need verses to support actions that are considered common everyday life and amoral in character?
- Is the statement purposefully and incorrectly insinuating an exaggeration?
- Is voting really considered “getting involved in government,” or would that be more like holding office, protesting, campaigning, and losing sleep over it?
- Did Jesus pay taxes?
- Did Jesus teach principles for how we are to interact with the government? (hint: Yes,
“I’d like for you to show me where in the Bible it supports getting involved in finances.” Think about how engrossed we are in something that is in the exact same category as voting. Think about the tools you buy, the ways you try to save money, the gadgets you buy, or vacations you go on.
It is very easy for us to think we need a Bible verse to approve or excuse actions that we have personal presuppositions, opinions, or convictions about. Ironically, this is also what non-believers do to Christians all the time, and during those times, we seem to take the opposite point of view. That’s a very serious inconsistency. Let’s be careful to see both sides to every issue, and discern if a verse is truly needed in order to do something. Most of the time we will find that God allows free will in order for us to know and claim the Holy Spirit as our guide.
#2: Two Kingdom Living
“Christians should be in this world but not of it.” John 17:16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Things to Consider
- Is living in this world while part of God’s kingdom possible?
- Is the kingdom of God present on earth, or, is it feasible to exist in both?
- Is the New Testament for living people still residing on earth?
- Is taking 20 minutes out of your life every year such a dramatic act of worldly living?
- Have you asked yourself if you do similar things in the world like go to the bank, file insurance claims, take out loans, pay taxes, accept tax refunds, etc?
- Do you own a business? Does it take any of your time, energy, or focus?
- Does your family suffer labor abuse working in the “earth” all day?
- Do you own a new car? Do you own new gadgets? Do you have money? What does John 17:16 say about that?
It is possible to be a member of Sam’s Club while still making purchases at and being a member of BJ’s Wholesale Club. Naturally the policies and member benefits are not interchangeable — which ironically is easy for us to understand.
I need to say one more thing here — most Anabaptists Christians misunderstand the Kingdom of God. I’m not saying I do understand it all, but after hours and hours and hours of study and listening to Tim Mackie at the Bible Project, I can say I understand it pretty well. To learn more, start here.
My first thought was, “Uh oh, we’re missing some context.” John 1:15 says “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
If we are honest, we do countless things every day that are in the same category as voting. God does not ask us to give up participating in any worldly system, but rather uses countless New Testament space trying to help us grasp that we are indeed living in God’s Kingdom through His Spirit while continuing our physical lives in an earthly kingdom.
“I admit there are no verses, but the principles of the New Testament are still there.”
Things to Consider
- What are principles? Are they specific commands? Are they logically derived conclusions based on taking all the parts and arriving at a harmonious conclusion?
- Are their difficult principles about other things you are overlooking?
- Is there a way to know and practice unspecific New Testament principles?
In my experience, this reason is not supported by principles. This quickly discredits the case. It would be like discussing whether or not we should eat peanut butter, and one person says, “I admit I can’t find a section in the US Constitution that opposes it, but the theme basically implies it is wrong.”
Seems like a very tough claim to back up. It is very possible for Christians to discern and compile various principles from Scripture, but let’s be careful to do so in a fair, unbiased, and Spirit-led way. We all choose to practice principles in different ways, and we tend to form churches and denominations around those. However, we all know that 43,000 Christian denominations can’t all be wrong. We are wrong, however, when we ignore the Holy Spirit and present our own interpretations of Scripture.
“Jesus did not vote. Remember, WWJD.”
Things to Consider
- How do you know?
- Did Jesus pay taxes?
- Do you know about Jesus’s personal life?
- What type of things did the Gospel writers tell us about Jesus’s life?
- What was the government system of Jesus’ day?
“Jesus did not drive on the right side of the road.” This analogy works perfectly because just like there was no opportunity to vote under the Roman government and therefore no reason to talk about it, so it was no reason to talk about cars and laws concerning the privilege of driving on public, earthly roads.
Let’s be careful to separate the things Jesus did as the Son of God for our redemption from trivial things of his regular life as a son of man. Making such a claim is very bold. It would be wise to practice and teach the things we do know about Jesus before we ask others to practice (or in this case not practice) things we do not know about Jesus. Again, what would the Holy Spirit have you do?
#5: Our Authority
“God is our authority, not man.”
Things to Consider
- Do you see any irony in this?
- Would you say you think more about God’s authority, or about your church deacons, preachers, and elders?
- Is an authority structure possible? (hierarchy)
- Do you respect your boss, even if you disagree with his or her decisions?
- Who created government?
- Could you take this same stance in your local church?
Authority structure is a defining point of so many Anabaptist churches that I am ashamed to say that this inconsistency needs to be addressed long before voting could ever enter the picture. It may be like saying, “My boss is my authority, not my wife. I always do exactly what my boss wants.”
One can not escape the world’s system of authority structure, and that’s okay. There are Bible examples and principles that show living under man’s authority is perfectly appropriate, and this is obvious by the examples given of how to relate to the government under various circumstances. We are to pray for our leaders, as well as be sure to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction in knowing whether to believe man vs. God if we are asked to violate God’s Word.
“I’ll be honest, if I start would vote, I’d get too carried away with the whole mess. If I read up on who is up for election, I’ll start thinking about it, talking about it, and getting upset over it, so I’ll just avoid it completely.”
Things to Consider
- Is this consistent with your lifestyle?
- What is your relationship like with the Holy Spirit? (self-control is a fruit)
- What is your perspective on life — is it possible to be reasonably balanced and fair?
- Do you avoid speaking to the opposite sex because you know you tend to get carried away with lust?
- Is your honesty biased?
- Are we honest about other weaknesses, and take the same level of radical action against those?
You avoid the topic of politics and don’t vote because of honesty — you know if you get involved, you’ll get carried away. That sounds so spiritual, but what about lust? Do you avoid speaking to the opposite sex because you know you tend to get carried away with lust?
It is a blessing to be able to recognize our weaknesses. However, let’s be careful to evaluate if our honesty biased. Let’s be honest about our other weaknesses, and take the same level of radical action against those as well as we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these blind spots to us.
“So once you voted for your commander in chief, and he asks you to go to war, then what?”
Example: “If you vote for Bob, and Bob institutes the draft, it’s all your fault and you have no excuse for not going since you obviously support everything this person does.”
Nonsequitur: a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement
Things to Consider
- Is the office of President the only office anyone votes for?
- How many local and state government officials are elected by voting?
- Does merely casting a vote signify that you infinitely agree with the candidate on unknown future decisions?
- Can you name any example in American history of this?
- Can you give statistics or proposals of this?
- Can you point to the article in the Constitution?
- Have you emailed your congressman to repeal the Military Selective Service Act?
- Are there other daily decisions that are not contrary to Scripture that you make but could one day become contrary to Scripture? Are you afraid of making the wrong choice then?
- Do you think you are strong enough to handle a situation where you must choose between obeying God or man?
So once you marry your wife, and she asks you to lie on your taxes, then what? I see two options here as well: #1 don’t marry her; #2 marry her, but if she asks you to violate God’s Word, refuse to do that. Don’t be surprised if your friends tell you, “Well you married her, you must want her to cheat on her taxes.”
Suppose you are a photographer, and many of you are, and you have proof that you are a photographer. Now suppose someone asks you to do a nude photo shoot. What will you do? Will you give up photography out of fear that this type of request could happen some day?
Be very careful to avoid thinking “president” when you are referring to voting. If you are unable to vote for a president for this reason, or for any other reason, don’t overlook the countless other offices which may even have a greater influence than that of our “honorary” position of president. Vote because we need people to administer government well, not to try to legislate morality.
“How can you vote for someone who is immoral or supports wrong things?”
Things to Consider
- Do you believe the government and the church should be separate?
- Do you agree with your church leaders on every issue?
- Does anyone in your church do sinful things?
- Do you do sinful things?
- Is an elected government administrator the same thing as a church leader?
- Can we expect to live under a Christian government?
- If the entire US government was made up of people from your church, would you still use the other reasons here, and if so, is that consistent?
How can you vote for a church trustee that believes in a different interpretation of end time prophecy? How can you vote for Township sewer authority inspector when he doesn’t wear a plain suit? How can you vote for church deacon when he clearly is incapable of replacing a transmission in a car? How can you vote for an executive branch leader of the government when he isn’t a Christian pastor?
We must be clear and consistent in our Christian lives and testimonies. We also need to respect each other’s convictions and sensitivity to things that may differ from us. Remember if we can’t vote for a president in good consciousness, let’s go to the polls and vote for a congressman, a district representative, or city councilman. Taking these things into consideration, let’s go forward with the Holy Spirit.
#9: God’s Will
“God will put in office who he wants regardless of whether or not Christians vote.
Things to Consider
- Was it God’s will that you read this sentence?
- What is God’s Will? How can you find it? (see this blog post)
- Do you put the same reasoning behind other aspects of your daily life?
- Could you be putting words in the voters mouths?
- Was it God’s will that you wore those socks today?
- Could you be an agent of God’s will?
- Did God create free will?
- Does God’s omniscience of the future mean he doesn’t need you anymore?
What if it isn’t God’s will that you wore those socks today and yet you did it anyhow. Tomorrow, don’t put them on…stand there and wait for God to put them on for you. Try it, but if he doesn’t do it for you, it may mean socks are not part of God’s Kingdom.
God will give you a new car no matter if you sit at home on the couch or go to the car lot. But further, and more importantly, imagine if the same level of “God’s Will” was acknowledged when buying a new car…our church parking lots would be a lot less shiny and the automakers just might be out of business.
Be careful not to insinuate that anyone who votes is trying to change God’s will. Be honest, and see how foolish this claim reason really is when you apply it to your own life. Do what I did on November 6th of 2012:
You Got Me!
The casual reader who skipped to here may be looking for an easy answer or for my opinion on voting. Those who have read the entire post know that this article was barely about voting at all!
What Is Our New Perspective?
- We will earnestly seek the truth.
- We will avoid inconsistent judgments, excuses, or questions that contradict our own lifestyle participations.
- We will base our lives on unbiased examination of God’s world and through an unhindered relationship with the Holy Spirit.
- We will move forward with a new understanding of Kingdom living.
- We will seek to glorify God in our daily lives.
A Few Parting Comments
- Should thieves lie? Is it wrong for dogs to eat “Beware of Dog” signs? Is it okay for illegal drug dealers to commit fornication?
- Whether or not Christians should vote is an odd thing to even discuss.
- I have never heard it discussed in the correct context and without manipulation. It’s possible that you have a personal conviction against voting. That’s great! Just remember it’s personal.
- Don’t vote if you feel you shouldn’t for some reason. But PLEASE do not judge others, twist Scripture, or spread your convictions as absolute truth.
- Be aware of your own life, don’t use reasons that are inconsistent, and earnestly pray that you will not be blinded you Satan’s deceit.
- If your social media update comments, likes, shares, and links are all slanted either for or against voting, ask yourself why that is? Ask God to give you a new balance, a fresh understanding of the Christian life, and most of all ask for the constant presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
- Read Proverbs 6:16-19 tonight for your devotions.
- The comment section is open for comments, using these principles of course. (It will be moderated according to how well you read the post.)
- Email me stuff I missed or messed up.
- Did you notice any themes?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to a church council meeting tonight…and vote. 🙂
I don’t vote–never have, although I’ve considered it. Bottom line is, I won’t vote to put someone in a position I couldn’t conscientiously fill. Being nonresistant rules out most. There are other reasons; one is that my primary citizenship is in heaven… More to say than I can here; I’ve been considering addressing it in a sermon. Just wondering if you read any of the old Anabaptist or Brethren writings (primary sources)?
Thanks for the comment. This is why I like to stress that “voting” does not equal “president.” I actually have several Christian neighbors and friends who were Township Supervisors. But if you were running for Congressman, I really think you could maintain your Christian beliefs in good conscious, possibly even on the federal level. When people run for president though or find themselves in the spotlight, they get involved in so much stuff that I would think it would be nearly impossible to not compromise somewhere. No, I haven’t, but I’ve read the Bible.
Yes… Hmmm… There are implications of most government offices you might not have considered… Since the Bible doesn’t directly address voting, we have to interpret and apply; some of the older ones thought through these interpretations and applications thoroughly.
I’m agreeing with you. Certainly there may be good reasons against voting, but frankly I believe you and I would both have to admit that we are not hearing those, and any time the topic comes up we hear the type that I covered here. I wanted to make a point that the reasoning used against it is almost always unsupported or inconsistent. I’m a reasonable man, which is why I wrote this…to bring reason into the conversation. Only at that point can an honest conversation occur.
So, how would you respond if a PH preacher were to give reasons against voting in a sermon? Just curious…
I heard a sermon like that at Rhodes Grove a few years ago, and it was really disappointing how one sided it one. If it happened at PH, and a fair analysis was given without a hint of presupposition or bias, I would thank you. If it was one-sided, the majority of people wouldn’t really hear you (just my guess). One would certainly have a challenge on their hands to not only be balanced but to included most of the things I mentioned here. So if reasons were given against it without any other context or biased perspective, I would have to consider if that was the view of the church in general, and if so I would have to consider taking my membership to avoid being a stumbling block.
This is an interesting post. I do agree that many people in anabaptist groups kind of use a “this is how we’ve always done it approach” and therefore, when pressed for reasoning, merely blurt out hand-me-down phrases that aren’t always applicable.
I didn’t grow up with such patterns and there are pros and cons to that but for sake of keeping this relatively short I’ll skip past that part of the discussion.
Basically, I came into the anabaptist church scene in my mid teens. I never voted prior obviously but haven’t since either. This was initially due to it being cast as taboo, almost, but growing older and having thought through this on a more personal level I do contend that I’ve moved beyond the cookie cutter approach on this particular topic.
I am currently not a citizen of the USA, merely a permanent resident. The only hindrance to me becoming one is myself. Now, the reason this is important is that it plays into some of my reasoning. I’ve pondered the reasoning of the draft, although somewhat unlikely, and wondered, what would the law say concerning me to choose CO status vs. going to war. I have familial ties (not so distant ones either) in many parts of the world. What makes my involvement with the USA gov’t required? Why not go elsewhere, afterall, I’m a transplant. And, that is where some of my deeper thought stems from.
When reading the book of Esther, I feel a slight connection ( don’t worrry, I have it better). The changes that went into effect were accomplished by a few, not a majority vote. Then we see this happen with the three Hebrew children and also Daniel. We also read. of the giants in the land of Canaan. How did conclusions arrive there, numerically speaking. I guess what I’m getting at is that I see a pattern throughout the Bible pointing out that God doesn’t require numbers in his favor to win. That’s not to say,he doesn’t want our participation but rather that our approach could very well be strictly spiritual in nature (i.e. praying amd.living as the most Christian civilians as we can). I have more thoughts that I might share later but need to go for now.