[The following is a piece I wrote for our congregation's November newsletter.]
While some of us may have taken advantage of early voting by now, November 4, brings election day. What is the Christian’s responsibility when it comes to voting?
For the follower of Jesus Christ living in a democracy, the command to love our neighbor, I believe, includes responsible citizenship. And responsible citizenship, in turn, can entail voting.
I say that it can entail voting because merely casting a ballot is no sign of being a good citizen.
The right to vote can be abused or misused as easily as other privileges we have in life. To cast an uninformed vote, to vote for a candidate simply because of their party affiliation, or because we like the way a candidate looks, are common ways in which we can misuse the privilege of voting.
If we’re uninformed about a particular race, we should probably not vote in that contest. We exercise good stewardship of our citizenship when we cast an informed vote. If we do feel informed though, then we should by all means, vote. One could even say that we have a Christian duty to vote.
This raises another question: What do we do if after fully informing ourselves, we feel no enthusiasm for any candidate?
Here are a few points to consider.
First: Remember that politicians are people too. Those who seek public office are, just everybody else, members of the human race of whom the Bible observes: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one...” (Romans 1:10) Perfection is not the benchmark standard for us to apply to our political leaders. I’m certainly not suggesting that you overlook what appears to be an overtly rotten character in a candidate. But I do suggest cutting candidates some slack for being human. Remember that even George Washington, as great as he undeniably was, didn’t start out with his face chiseled onto Mount Rushmore.
Second: Pray about your vote. Ask God to clarify your thinking and to give you wisdom. The Bible says, “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Finally: “Sin boldly.” This strange bit of advice came from Martin Luther for Christians sincerely weighing decisions. Luther advised Christians to read God’s Word, talk things over with trusted Christian friends, and to pray. If, after all of that, your course remains unclear, do what you think is right. Your judgment could be wrong. But you can have a clear conscience because you know that your intent is to do God’s will.