Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Voting, Conscience, and Sin

Elections tend to bring out the worst in people. Even in the Reformed circles of the blogosphere accusations were being tossed around about how a vote, or failure to vote, for a particular candidate was a sin. Did we really have to sink to that level?

At the risk of offending some of my readers, let me point out the blatantly obvious fact that there is no biblical command to vote. While some have used the dominion mandate in Genesis 1 and the subjection command in Romans 13 to argue that we have a responsibility or duty to vote, I submit that voting is simply one method of exercising influence.

In this country we (at least for now) are free to vote, but we are just as free not to vote. How we vote and if we vote are matters of conscience, and the conscience is an important thing to consider. Let me illustrate.

In 1924, Eric Liddell refused to run in the Olympic Games on Sunday. He believed strongly that it would be a violation of the Fourth Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8). We can all respect that. I consider Liddell to be a great man of faith, even though I disagree with his view of the Sabbath.

Jesus told us in Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." We are under a new and better Covenant (Hebrews 8:6), and believers have already entered into a Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4). Christ is our Sabbath, not a particular day of the week. The Fourth Commandment was a shadow of what was to come, and the death penalty imposed for breaking that commandment was merely a glimpse of what would happen to those found outside of Christ in the coming judgment.

Yet Eric Liddell was convinced in his heart and mind that running on Sunday was breaking God's law. Therefore, it would have been a sin for him to compete, since he would have been in violation of his conscience. Likewise, it would have been a sin for other Christians to encourage him to act against his conscience.

This principle is applied in scripture to all aspects of our lives, from what we eat and drink (Romans 14:21, 1st Corinthians 8:10) to what we think and believe (2nd Corinthians 10:5, 1st Timothy 1:5, 1:19). Our conscience bears witness to the law of God written on our hearts (Romans 2:15).

So, how does all of this apply to voting? I believe that we should examine ourselves before casting a single vote. Ask yourself, "What are my intentions? What are my motivations? Are they in line with God's word?"

As with many issues in our Christian walk, we will have agreements and disagreements with our brothers and sisters. I think we can all agree, for example, that drunkenness is a sin. But what about the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages? Try asking a Southern Baptist if it's possible to come to a general consensus.

When it comes to voting, there are countless issues that must be weighed, and because we are fallen human beings with vastly different backgrounds and experiences, we will not view each one in the same way. For me, a major concern is the slaughter of the unborn. I cannot in good conscience support a pro-choice politician who pledges to keep abortion "safe" and legal. I also cannot bring myself to support a candidate who claims to be pro-life, yet turns around and votes to confirm pro-abortion judges and send billions of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.

As you have no doubt surmised, I did not vote for the Democrat or Republican for president. I cast my vote for the Constitution Party candidate, the guy who had "no chance" of winning.

Was that a sin? In the eyes of some, it was. I have been told on more than one occasion that a vote for anyone other than (fill in name of Republican candidate) is a sin because it ends up being a vote for the Democrat opponent (i.e. a vote in favor of abortion).

But there are other issues to consider as well, such as a politician's consistent refusal to honor his or her oath to uphold the Constitution. That document is the supreme law of the land. In other words, it is the governing authority to which we are all subject (Romans 13:1), and that includes civil leaders. When our elected representatives ignore the restraints on their power, they are governing unjustly. Vows were taken seriously in scripture (Numbers 30:2). Oaths are considered "final for confirmation" (Hebrews 6:16). Should such a grave dereliction of duty be rewarded with a vote?

It isn't my intention to delve into every single controversial issue (e.g. confiscation of private property, government-run education, financial bailouts of private businesses at taxpayer expense, preemptive war, etc.). My point is to encourage each of us to examine our own motives for voting rather than lash out at those who may have voted differently. After all, we are ultimately accountable to God for our actions.

What are your thoughts? If you can keep a relatively civil tone and the expletives to a minimum, then feel free to jump right in and speak your mind.


Malachi_Abaddon said...

I love the inconsistent argument that a vote for a 3rd party is a vote for the opponent. (To put it more clearly, a vote for Chuck Baldwin is a vote for Obama because it's not a vote for McCain)

Think about it in the opposite way. A vote for a 3rd party is a vote for your candidate because it's not a vote for the person you don't like.

If that's not inconsistency, then I don't know the word to describe it. Not that it matters at the moment.

Anthony said...

I used to believe the "3rd Party is Democrat vote" argument, or "No-vote is Democrat vote."

I suppose mathematically, it's true, but this isn't a horse race. I believe a vote is an endorsement and I just couldn't endorse McCain, ever.

Now this country is an OBAMANATION and they want to pin it on me?? Nice.

Lee Shelton said...

The argument I usually hear is that it's stupid to vote for a third party candidate because he can't possibly win. It's a "wasted" vote.

But the Republicans rejected and demonized the one man capable of beating Obama, and that was Ron Paul. One could argue that since McCain didn't stand a chance against Obama, a vote for him could be considered "wasted."

Anthony said...

That's so true and many people have opened their eyes, even though the status quo barely received the smallest dent in the election results.

Yet I'm encouraged that Ron Paul did so much for the liberty movement, it could only have been of God.

Rachel R. said...

I, too, voted for Baldwin. (And a Republican. And an Independent. No one can accuse me of being a "Party" voter! lol) I think it is important to note, in addition to all of the wonderful points you made, that it is not our responsibility to "win" an election, or to otherwise guarantee results. God is responsible for the results. We are responsible only for living righteously, upholding/supporting truth and righteousness, and living in faith - not fear. I vote to support that which, to the best of my knowledge, is honest and upright, not to "win." Besides, David had "no chance" of winning against Goliath, and Gideon's army had "no chance" of winning. God is bigger than statistics!

Anthony said...

...for that is OBAMANATION before the LORD... - Deuteronomy 24:4

His will be done.

Dawg Doc said...

I would take it further and argue that the evidence indicated that even if every 3rd party vote in America were awarded to John McCain he still would have lost by more than 5.5 million votes! It would only have changed one state in the electoral college, also.

Sonny Davis said...

This is an excellent post and well articulated. I used to feel as though I had to support the Republican Party because they seemed to be most closely aligned with the values I support. This election cycle; however caused me to be more particular with my convictions and vote accordingly. The sad thing is that many of us are influenced too heavily by society, instead of God's Word. I, too, voted for Chuck Baldwin.

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