By now, most of you reading will have voted. If not, you’re leaving work early to drop off the ballot or make it to the polls to stand in line for a little secretive booth where you fill in the blank who you want to lead the country.
I’ve dreading this post for over a year. E has been on me to write it, but I kept putting it off. But today is Election Day and so, in a melodramatic way, it’s now or never.
I don’t vote.
Phew! There, I said it aloud. I. Don’t. Vote.
First things first, I don’t need a lecture about responsibility or about duty. This is especially true given that my brother is currently deployed in the Air Force, I am well aware of the argument that he is “fighting to protect my right to vote” and the argument hasn’t yet convinced me. I would also prefer to not have a lecture about taking my right to vote for granted. I’ve lived in other countries. I know, okay? I know.
The reason I don’t vote is pretty simple: I can’t vote for Jesus. Now, I promise I’m not going to be Shane Claiborne-esque because I think his political opinions are quite obvious despite his consistent write in vote for Jesus. I also promise I’m not a lazy escapist who uses Jesus as a cop-out answer. So, some explanation is in order.
I don’t vote for any candidate because none represents where I stand as a Christian. An example might be made of abortion or healthcare. Someone recently summed it up neatly when he pointed out that neither party is fully pro-life. As Christians, this individual said, we should be pro-life from the womb to the grave. Neither party stands for that scope of care, but Jesus does. Since I feel torn between both parties on a number of issues, I cannot bring myself to vote for one candidate at the expense of the other party’s issues. For years, issues like these have been a battle for me and I finally resolved that I could not vote for the “lesser of two evils” because that still involved voting for evil.
I don’t vote because the political arena lacks truth. I told someone at church recently that I wish we could sit them (the candidates) down and ask them to actually be honest on one topic, just one! Please, don’t distort your opponent’s view and please just speak your plan with clarity and integrity. Impossible you say? Then why would I vote for you? Why would I participate in that?
I don’t vote because we, as believers, have started to identify our religiosity and relationship with Christ as being related to political affiliations. Politics causes a huge divide not only in the country (which does not terribly concern me) but even in the body of Christ! We might restate Paul’s words for our own time: “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…” could easily read today that “there is neither Republican nor Democrat, Liberal nor Conservative, Independent nor Green, et al” for you are all one in Christ. We’ve become so embroiled in politics that we attack believers who are our brothers and sisters because we disagree about economics, foreign policy, etc. This, my dear ones, is incredibly discouraging.
Finally, I don’t vote because of several political experiences during college in Seattle. I lived in the NW during the previous presidential election and there was a lot of tension, a lot of animosity. There was also a decent amount of misplaced emphasis. I found this to be true among friends at school and family far away. People had pictures of Obama with the word “hope” underneath—but I don’t recall the Bible or the Fathers ever telling us to put our hope in any man (or woman). There was an email I received that equated Sarah Palin with a new Esther…I don’t even know where to start with that one… You see, it is easy to be caught up, swept away and want to see our hopes for the future come to pass here and now. But we have to hold our hope for the future in tension with the fact that we live today, here, in the midst of sin and corruption.
I do not vote because too many of my friends and family have begun to put their hope in candidates. But this is not to be. Over and again, Scripture calls us to put our hope in God and God alone. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” For me, not voting is an active way of trusting God to bring about His plans for my state, the nation and the world. It is a way of saying that I will not trust men to lead us because they will always fail. I will, however, trust in the sovereignty of God and pray for those he puts in authority over me (Romans 13.1).
I do, however, think you should probably vote. With humility and grace and sorrow for the knowledge that no matter who is elected some things will go wrong despite all that may go right. So go on and vote, and be humble in the face of the One who controls all things, and gracious to those with whom you do not agree.
For some further (and more intelligent) thoughts on the subject I would suggest two things which can be found here. Scroll down to Oct 25th to find “Thinking Biblically at the Polls” a presentation by four professors of varying backgrounds at my seminary. Also, Oct 29th is the Seminary President’s talk on the “Politics of the Gospel.”
TheoMag has four great articles on this page.
Finally, Michael Bird’s blogging mate Joel Willitts has some brilliant thoughts and reading suggestions here.
No, I do not agree with every jot and tittle on these various articles or lectures. They are useful for generating thought and discussion.