When I travel I like to listen to Pandora and a commercial keeps playing from a conservative Christian group here in Iowa gets played frequently. It drives me nuts because of the narrator’s voice and tone, but mostly because of something he says about voting.
“Christians are called to choose, even when the choices are hard.”
It begs the question. Are Christians called to choose? Are we called by God to vote?
First, off I want to make it abundantly clear that I believe it is important that we vote. We, who are citizens of the United States, have a constitutional right to vote when we reach the age of majority. Men and women died so we could have that right. We should exercise that right, but at the same time also be responsible in learning about candidate, issues, etc. (which could be an entirely different article).
Second, I certainly don’t believe Christians should abdicate voting to just those outside the faith. We certainly would not be happy with those results.
But are we “called to choose?”
In a word – no. Voting would be a relatively foreign concept to those whom God inspired to write our Bible. It certainly wasn’t practiced in ancient Israel. It was also not something practiced in Roman-controlled Palestine. Yes the ancient Greeks experimented with democracy and the Roman Empire was preceded by a Republic, but by and large most people in the ancient world did not have any concept of democracy.
Now what are we called to do?
We are called to make disciples, (Matthew 28:19-20). We are called to be witnesses, (Acts 1:8). We are called to be ambassadors for Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV). We are called to a relationship with Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:6; 8:30; 1 Corinthians 7:22). We have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, (1 Peter 2:9). We are called to be salt and light, (Matthew 5:13-14).
I don’t see any calling to vote.
Some will say, well that is part of being salt?
Well, yes that can be part of our functioning as salt since it had preservative aspect to it and our voting can help act as a preservative.
I would submit you can still be salt if you don’t vote, and some even though they vote have lost their saltiness.
Then some will say, well Jesus said to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,” (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25).
What is the context? Jesus was being asked about taxes. Yes you can find a guiding principle there and include voting, but ultimately Jesus was telling the religious authorities yes you have to pay taxes.
Romans 13:1 says we are to “be subject to the governing authorities.” We are to be obedient unless they demand us to render unto Caesar what is rightly God’s. In that we can not obey. The last I checked we are not legally required to vote.
So, no there is no “calling” to vote. It is important, but let’s not overstate it. Let’s not make this more important than what it actually is. This is a particular interpretation of scripture, not God’s command.
The second thing that bothers me about the statement “we are called to choose even when the choices are hard” one can infer they are talking about a binary choice. I could be reading into that, but I don’t believe that even if God were calling us to vote (which he hasn’t done) that we are limited to the major party choices are we?
Of course not, that would be ridiculous, right?
Can we just encourage Christians to vote their conscience (which, hopefully, is matured and informed by scripture) as part of exercising their right as a citizen to vote? This, I believe, is what the commercial is trying to accomplish.