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Christian Biblical Studies
THE CHRISTIAN AND VOTING
Question: Does the Bible approve of Christians voting?
Answer: The Bible does not seem to say anything bearing directly on the question. The practise of citizens going to the polls every so often to elect political leaders at the local or national level, though a relatively recent phenomenon in historical terms, is now well established in democratic countries.
For many decades, certain groups of citizens, defined by sex or race, were denied the vote. This included women – even in otherwise advanced countries – and various indigenous or marginalised groups, based on skin colour or ethnicity. Perhaps the most well-documented struggle for the political emancipation of women is that of the suffragists in Britain, Europe and North America, one which began in the early nineteenth century and did not achieve its electoral goals until well into the twentieth. (New Zealand was the first democratic nation of the nineteenth century to grant women the vote, in 1893.)
Some Christians adopt the view that since this ‘present evil world’ is in rebellion against God’s will and antagonistic to godly principles, any endorsement at the ballot which helps to ‘keep things going’ is wrong. Other Christians prefer to focus their voting efforts on local or neighbourhood elections, where they feel they can influence policies to reflect their traditional ethics, and block those which do not – the ‘moral’ or ‘protest’ vote.
It has long been understood that the obligation of the church at large is twofold: to preach the Gospel and to rebuke the world for its sin. The Christian is, in this regard, the interface between heaven and earth. So, living in the world, though not being of it sometimes requires one to take a public stand in favour of righteousness and to act on one’s convictions. As for the relationship between the Christian and the state, the Apostle Paul instructs the church to offer ‘prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for . . . kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty . . .’ (See 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, King James Version).
In conclusion, no one ought to dictate to another how he or she exercises the franchise. And it is worth keeping in mind that a people may indeed get the government it deserves by voting for a bad one – or by not voting for a better one.
Copyright December 2012 UK Bible Students
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