Duty to Vote?

With the election here once again, a lot of Christians are arguing about whether we should vote or not. Many urge Christians to vote, and even contend that it is our duty. Some say its our duty because we live in a free country. Others because it is a way for us to love our neighbor. One the other hand, there are some Christians who argue that Christians should not vote at all. I would disagree with both of these ways of thinking.

There are many good reasons for voting, but there are also good reasons for not voting. When it comes to Christians and voting, I would argue that Christians should follow their conscience. If you feel like there is nothing wrong with voting, well then vote for who you think is the better candidate. Yet, there are many of us who do not feel like our conscience lets us vote.  If you feel the same way, then do not vote. Here, I want to respond to three reasons why some say it is a Christians duty to vote.

1.) “We live in a free country where we have the right and responsibility to influence society and vote.”

One the one hand, there is some power in this argument. We do live in a country where we can influence how it behaves, and we should do so. I would agree that we have a responsibility to influence society. Government is part of society so they are included. This is true whether we live in a free country or not. Yet, our one duty as citizens of heaven is to be the Church. We are to be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Imitating Jesus and preaching the gospel wherever we go, at all times, to all people. We can influence society and government by providing for the poor, loving our enemies, etc. The disagreement is not over whether we should impact society. The difference is how we as Christians should go about it. The main way we impact society is by being the Church. Anything beyond that, such as voting, may be permissible for the Christian. Yet, it certainly is not a duty. Voting doesn’t make disciples, preaching the gospel does.

2.) “There are many people throughout the world who do not have the right to vote, and we need to show how much we appreciate our freedoms by voting”.

It is true that many people do not have the right to vote and in America we do. Yet, when one decides not to vote they too are showing their appreciation for our freedom to vote. The very fact that they choose not to vote shows the freedom we have in this country to vote or not to vote.

3.) “Voting is one way that we show love to our neighbor”.

Voting can be a way we show love to our neighbor. Yet, so can not voting. There are many different reasons why Christians may choose not to vote. One of those reasons is also love of neighbor. One could argue that voting is inherently violent. Once again, the main way we love our neighbor is by imitating Jesus in how we treat them and live our lives.

Whatever one does, it is important to realize that there can be dangers with both voting and not voting. If a Christian decides to vote there are at least two dangers they must avoid. One, do not forget that our main mission is to be disciples of Jesus and spread his message. If we do this we will follow 2 Timothy 2:4 which states, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” Secondly, to argue that it is a Christians duty is, as I’ve tried to briefly show above, fallacious. To suggest that goes beyond the duty of the Christian.

If one decides not to vote, there are also at least two dangers. First, realize that the decision to not vote should never be based on apathy or being lazy. We should all care about making this world a better place. Whether Christians vote or not, we must be prepared to enter the world of darkness and shine our light. By doing this we follow Matthew 5:16 which states, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Secondly, one should not suggest that they are not voting because there are no good reasons to vote. There are good reasons to vote, just like there are good reasons not to.

Whether Christians vote or not is not something Christians should be dividing over. This is not a debate over an issue like the Trinity or the deity of Christ. Vote or don’t vote based upon where you believe the spirit is leading you. Most importantly we need to be the Church and imitate Jesus.


About Danny Nowotarski

Hey, I'm Danny Nowotarski and this is a blog about Christians in America. Just to give a little background, I'm a college student who became a Christian at the age of nine. I come from a Baptist background but have been influenced mainly by Ana-baptist thought and the likes of John Howard Yoder and Vernard Eller. I believe that we as christians must be obedient to God and part of that obedience is being pacifists. We christians are aliens and exiles here, lets start living like it.
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