Discussing
So You Voted. Now what?

Josh Larsen

Jonny
November 9, 2010

An interesting post, but one that I consider misguided at best. It's easy to say "being engaged in the political process beyond voting is really part of our Christian duty," yet it is difficult to find even one taken-out-of-context verse to support that proposition. I would love to see a dialogue among Christians that wasn't premised ont he idea that we should be politically active. Just because we have been taught this lie for generations doesn't mean we should continue to reiterate it today.<br><br>I would add: This is not a negative comment against the blogger. I think you wrote clearly and concisely and offered up a cohesive opinion. I just think the opinion is based on fallacious premises.

Jeremy Anderberg
November 9, 2010

Are being responsible citizens of America and responsible citizens of the Kingdom of God different at all? In this post you make them seem like they are the same thing.. I very respectfully disagree with some of this post, just curious on your thoughts! <br><br>Thanks, <br>Jeremy

Brian Murphy
November 9, 2010

I agree, I don't think it is our duty as Christians to be politically active. <br><br>However I think on an individual basis if a Christian feels like they should vote then they should check out the candidates and make an informed decision.

Josh Larsen
November 9, 2010

My reason for why Christians should be politically active is a bit buried in the middle of this piece. Jesus calls us to redeem this world in his name, and certainly one crucial way of doing this is through the political process (only a small part of which is voting). I would be curious to hear the reasons, from a Christian perspective, against being politically active. Is there any way that might contradict God's will for us?

Bethanykj
November 9, 2010

I believe that christians should be seeking justice, and when the government perpetuates injustice, we should try to change the system. But I wonder if the church has more power for justice when it works independently of the government, or alongside it, or combines direct action with political lobbying, or sees politics as broader than governance.

Rickd
November 10, 2010

Bethany, I agree that Christians in a democracy should support social justice, the question comes down to what is social justice? With any tragedy, Christians should be among the first to come to aid as the Samaritan did, whether that be earthquakes in Haiti or floods in New Orleans or Tsunami’s in Asia. Beyond coming to the aid of victims of tragedy it gets muddier. Our church has a mission that rescues women out of prostitution in Indonesia and we also work with the homeless and hungry in our community. Amy Semple McPherson, the founder of the Foursquare denomination, mortgaged Angelus Temple during the great Depression to feed all the hungry of Los Angeles. The 1st century church took care of its own widows and orphans and raised funds for members of the church affected by famine, but there was not an outreach to all the poor of Jerusalem or Rome. <br><br>If more Christians followed Josh’s advice to continue to be politically active after voting, I am not sure many on this site would be happy. This last midterm election represented the highest turnout of Evangelicals in history with 78% voting Republican. According to the results of an election-day survey, self-professed evangelicals and social conservatives made up the largest single voting block in the midterm elections held Nov. 2. Also contributing to the turnout were self-identified members of the Tea Party, 52 percent of whom said they are evangelicals, and Roman Catholics, who as a block voted 58 percent Republican. As a consequence 61 house seats were taken by Republicans, the largest turnaround since 1938. The issues that spurred evangelical Christians to action were a health plan that tied our future to staggering, unsupportable debt. They and many Democrats were concerned with the negative effects of Cap and Trade. Another issue that resonated with the majority of evangelicals was the disintegration of our borders and the problem of illegal immigrants. Over all it was the feeling that the President was leading the country into a future of European style socialism. I and most of my Christian friends and the 6000 members of our church, would describe ourselves as politically and socially conservative Christians. Should we take Josh’s call to political action (our “Christian duty”) as a mandate to continue work for balanced budgets, reduced taxes, restricted abortion, defensible borders, reduced entitlements and the prohibition of gay marriage? I am not debating these issues, just pointing out that there are very different approaches to social justice. Statistically, most evangelicals believe that many of the issues of social justice (hunger, poverty, full prisons, living wages, housing, racial harmony) can be addressed through full employment and a balanced budget.

JCarpenter
November 10, 2010

Not to avoid the direct question, but perhaps extend the question to include Christians being involved in government---which includes the military, the CIA, local or government office, elected or functionary, the police, etc. If a case can be made for Christian involvement in those examples, then why not in the political process as well? Christian agencies must work together with, and sometimes at odds with, government agencies and officials; if cooperative ventures can be enacted, then why not be involved in politics? Christians work within corporations that can have a lot of influence on society, the economy, with even an international reach; why not politics? Where Christians in any of those roles make a difference is in their faith-influenced modes of operation---disclosure, telling truth, having integrity, etc.

Laura
November 11, 2010

In terms of a Biblical mandate for political involvement, I have always seen Romans 13:5-7 as speaking to that. If we have a duty to submit to governmental authorities out of respect for God, then under a democratic form of government, I see us as obliged to participate in some way (at a bare minimum, as an informed, Christ-reflective voter).<br><br>I think the danger (and the tricky tight-rope act) is to keep our focus on the King of Kings as the supreme ruler, and not be wooed into thinking that there is any true influence or agency for world change in political power. <br><br>I think it is dangerously easy for Christians to get so entangled in the process (i.e the "Christian Right" or "Liberation Theology", to cover the full spectrum) that we cease being salt and light in the world.

Pcg
November 12, 2010

Bravo. As stated by a friend, "When the Constitution of your country allows you the freedom to not vote, you can't be in the wrong." That is, I don't vote (because I believe the system is fundamentally broken and its participants liars and thieves), but to tell me I'm not doing my Christian duty (or, even worse, that I'm sinning) just doesn't follow when the authorities to which I submit afford me the legal option to not vote.

Pcg
November 12, 2010

I don't know what "a Christian perspective" might say about something the Bible doesn't explicitly address any more than I would know what "a Christian perspective" might think about ranch versus bleu cheese. But I'll take a stab at explaining my own apathy.<br><br>If you believe that the political process is fundamentally broken, then attempting to work *within* it is not necessarily a good stewardship of one's time, energy, and focus. Do I believe that contradicts God's will for my life? If God's will is that I know Him and make Him known in the world, I believe that my time (personally) is better spent helping Christians *actually* know Him and understand that their hope is not in the little (D) after the candidate's name or in the best candidate or in the one who will outlaw abortion or in the process itself or in America(TM) period.<br><br>In the end, I just don't care enough. America and its public "servants" will come and go. I don't think refusing to participate is any more against God's will than participating is; I'm sure there are people out there that feel the same way about things I'm passionate about.<br><br>Does that help?

Bethanykj
November 19, 2010

I don't really want to get into a political fight here, because I sincerely believe people should follow their conscience, and I'll make arguments about where mine leads me another time. <br>But I am skeptical at best of the government's ability to do anything to achieve something like full employment. I think in terms of individual effort, the sorts of actions you talk about in the beginning of the post do more to help people find employment or feed the hungry than protests and marches or lobbying, especially given how expensive campaigns are and how slow our government moves.

Pjh
November 21, 2010

I stumbled across this while doing some research; I do not read blogs on a regular basis. Wow! A site where several posters questioned the Christian obligation to vote, and were not demonized! Impressive! I once expressed such a view on another site, and was promptly (and politely) branded a heretic. <br><br>My view seems pretty close to that expressed by pcg. I do not see a Scriptural mandate to vote; I do not see how being subject to authority equates to obligation to vote for authorities. (Laura, if you could explain further, I am interested). Neither do I see a legal mandate; I was taught in civics class that voting is not a duty (but rather a right.) <br><br>At the same time, I see no prohibition, Scriptural or legal, against voting, and I have no problem with those who do. And I agree with Josh Larsen that, if a Christian feels moved to be involved by voting, it would be logical to be further involved campaigning, lobbying, etc. Why should political action be limited to simply voting?<br><br>Personally, I can not justify the time and effort to become so politically involved in a system that is broken; I can not in good conscience participate in a game based on moral relativism. I am not going to try to fix the system, for I believe when God calls us to redeem the world, He wants us change the hearts of the people, not fix the world’s systems. Souls are immortal and of lasting worth; systems are not.<br><br>I appreciate those Christians who do become politically involved; they serve as a valuable rear-guard action, protecting what remains of our freedoms and proclaiming Christ in a generally godless arena. However, I do not have the temperament or gifts for such a task (I tried voting once; it didn’t work). I will therefore focus my efforts in helping people (myself and others) become conformed to the image of Christ.<br><br>Thanks again for the considerate discussion!<br>

Rickd
November 22, 2010

Bethany, I hear you. I really don’t want to get into any political tussles either. The point I was trying to make is, one man’s political activism is another man’s culture war. When conservatives do politics journalists label it cilture war. When political liberals do politics, it’s called progressive. Josh’s call to political activism among Christians may not have the result he imagines if he assumes all Christians share the same political values. I have private opinions and causes I believe in but they are sooo secondary to advancing the kingdom and fellowship with brothers and sisters, no matter their political stripe. It’s only occasionally when a political issue crosses into the realm of morality that Christians are compelled to articulate their differences. And the civil exploration of those differences is often what Think Christian is about.

Laura
November 22, 2010

I agree with you that voting is a right rather than a duty. That being said, a nation that is constitutionally formed to be governed by "We the People" would grind to a screeching halt if none of those people availed themselves of that right. <br><br>As a Christian placed by God under this form of government, if I am to pay "taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due", then I have come to view the "right of voting" as a duty towards God in honoring the government.<br><br>I appreciate your statement that "when God calls us to redeem the world, He wants us change the hearts of the people, not fix the world’s systems." I struggle regularly with keeping that priority uppermost, while still fulfilling what I view as my duty as a citizen.<br><br>In that vein, I also am aware that there are many issues in this society that Christians in good conscience are trying to solve legislatively that are actually spiritual ills, and unfixable by more moral/biblical laws. <br><br>As a (very controversial) case in point:<br>I live in Massachusetts. Even if voter pressure succeeded in overturning "gay marriage" in my state, the change of law would accomplish nothing to change the hearts or redeem the souls of so many of my fellow citizens who glory in their sin and rebellion against God. It's only by God's people reflecting Christ's redemptive love and grace through repentance that can reach those who are now so far from Him. Politics has no power to effect that change.<br><br>All in all, I trust that God will direct each of us in whether or how much we are involved in the political process. I also appreciate the considerate discussion!

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