Some Christians believe that it is a sin not to vote. Others believe that it is a sin to vote. Aired before election day in the United States, this Little Lesson provides guidance for Christians who find themselves wondering whether or not they should vote. Learn more!
Is it a sin not to vote, or is it a sin to vote?
If you’re watching this video on the day that we publish it, November 2nd 2020, you know that tomorrow is election day in the United States, and this is a big election. I don’t think I’ve ever seen our nation so divided as it is right now. Polarized would be probably a better word. There’s lots and lots riding on this election, because we’ve got candidates that are so different in their viewpoints. Who gets into office is going to affect the future in a major way in this country, so it’s important that we know what our responsibility as Christians is in this regard.
Now, Christians are divided. There are some Christians who believe that it is a sin to vote. I think those Christians would be in the minority, but they do exist. Oftentimes, they are very sincere, devoted followers of Christ. I have friends who have this conviction. The reason that they have that conviction normally is because they believe that whoever they vote for, whoever they help elect, they then, as the voter, will bear responsibility for the decisions that the winning candidate for whom they voted, if they voted for the winning one, they’ll be responsible in part for the decisions that that candidate makes when he or she is in office. Being God-fearing people who don’t want to share in the sins of anyone else, they opt out altogether, and they’ll tell you it’s a sin for you as a Christian to vote.
They might even cite a scripture like something that Paul said to Timothy one time. He said, “Don’t lay your hands on anyone too quickly, and thus share responsibility for the sins of others.” You can understand that. That makes perfect ethical sense. When you give someone your endorsement, you’re helping them on their path and you share some responsibility for what they do.
That’s why Paul told Timothy, “Don’t be endorsing anybody for the position of eldership too quickly,” because you put them into office and then you’re responsible for what they do, at least in part. Not in full, but at least in part. Nobody can argue with that, at least on that level.
I highly respect those Christians who hold to a conviction that it’s wrong for a Christian to vote, because I know why they hold that conviction. They want to keep a clear conscience before God. They don’t want to be responsible for harming anybody via their vote, their endorsement, their backing of a political candidate who gets elected and then who does things that are not pleasing to God. That makes perfect sense.
However, on the other side are those Christians, and this I think would be the majority, who believe just the opposite, that it’s a sin not to vote. Why is that? Because they would maintain that as Christians, we have an obligation to support the most moral candidate that we can find, because if we don’t vote and we could’ve voted for the most moral candidate, then in one sense, now of course not in the purest sense, but in one sense, then you’re helping the less moral candidate and candidates be elected because you’re not participating when you could have cast a vote for the more moral and ethical candidates. You can understand the logic there, and it makes sense.
So what is the solution to this dilemma? Well, no, we can’t find in scripture anything specifically about voting, because it seems that in Bible days nobody had that wonderful privilege that you and I have. We can’t find any specific scripture about it, but I believe we can look at scripture and we can find principles that answer these questions that are more contemporary questions, things on which the Bible specifically is silent on. I think voting falls into that category.
You will recall that there was a time when some religious leaders came to Jesus and they were trying to trick him. They’re trying to catch him, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Now, they were trying to trick him some way. I guess they wanted him to say it’s not lawful, because then they could get him in trouble with the Roman government or something. I don’t know how they felt.
I’m sure most Jews in that day kind of chafed about the whole idea of paying taxes to the occupying foreign power, the Romans. On a moral, ethical level, you could find reasons not to pay taxes, because the Romans are taking our money and using it for things that anger God. You have a perfect excuse, a moral and ethical excuse not to pay taxes.
Again, I’m not sure what their plan was, depending on how Jesus would have responded, but Jesus, being God and you can’t fool God, he said, “Give me a coin.” A denarius I think it was. He held it up and he said, “Whose inscription is on this coin?” Well, they said, “It’s got Caesar’s face on it.” He said, “Well, then render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render to God what is God’s,” an answer they were not expecting. But what’s he saying? He’s saying pay your taxes.
That’s contained in other scriptures in the New Testament as well. Christians are supposed to pay taxes, when in fact God knows full well that some of the money that they render to Caesar, some of the money that they give to Uncle Sam is going to be used for things that don’t please God. In fact, they can be used for things that God hates. But God is saying to us, “I understand your predicament.”
There has to be human government. In fact, read Romans 13:1-8. All authority is from God, and those that exist are established by God. So even in democracies and republics, God is very much involved if maybe it’s behind the scenes and people don’t perceive it so much, but God is very involved in who gets elected and who gets into office. He uses that for his divine, sovereign purposes.
We’re supposed to be paying our taxes. What Jesus is saying, “Render to Caesar,” God’s not going to hold you responsible for what Caesar does with your money. I’m holding you responsible to pay your taxes. That’s what you should do, but you’re not going to be culpable with Caesar on any bad thing he does with your tax money.
I think voting then would fall into that same category. You see, because again, the argument of those Christians who would say that it’s a sin not to vote … I’m going to just repeat their logic a second time here. By not voting when you could’ve voted for the candidate that most closely patterned, or followed, or resembled Christian ethics and Christian morals, by not casting any vote when you could’ve voted for that person, in essence you’ve helped the lesser moral candidate then be elected. You being a moral person, had you voted. Okay.
I have friends in this category, so I respect them very highly. But let’s just say that you don’t vote in this next election and people come into power who say right now, “It’s okay to abort babies,” and they get into power. Then they say, “Well, we’re going to use taxpayer money to fund the abortion of babies under the category of healthcare for women.” You’re not thinking about the health of the baby women. But let’s just say that happens.
Well, if you, because of your convictions of you’re not going to vote because you’ll be held responsible for the decisions of those for whom you vote, when that time comes, you’ll have to stop paying your taxes because you’ll know that your money is going to fund the murder of babies. Because again, if you believe that you’re culpable for every decision made by anyone for whom you cast the vote, well then you’re also culpable for every bit of tax money that you pay.
What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to apply the principle that Jesus gave us for paying taxes. God is saying to us, “I’m not holding you responsible for what they do with your tax money.” Can you see that if you opt out of voting to keep a clear conscience, you could have voted on behalf of the unborn, but you didn’t, and then you’re culpable or the murder of babies because you didn’t love your neighbor as yourself? Did you want to be aborted? Do you want to be murdered? Well, then you should vote accordingly, loving your neighbor as yourself.
Any candidate who thinks that it’s okay to murder babies in the womb, we have to question that person’s moral compass. Those candidates who cop out and say, “Well, I’m personally opposed to it, but I’m not going to stop anyone else from doing it,” so they’re not going to enact any laws opposed to it, that is a cop out. Just apply that same logic to any other moral issue and it falls apart rather quickly.
Just let’s say that they wanted to make it lawful to murder two-year-olds. If the parents didn’t want the two-year-old any longer. Are you going to say, “Well, I’m personally opposed to that, but I’m certainly not going to stop anyone else from murdering their two-year-old”? And you think you’re a moral person? No. You’ll only be fooling yourself. Okay?
I know some people say, “Well, we shouldn’t be one issue voters.” Well, the abortion issue, that’s a revelation of a person’s moral character. Imagine back in the days of slavery, imagine during the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court, when they’re deciding whether or not black people are fully human. Are you going to criticize somebody and say, “Well, don’t be just a one issue voter. There’s other issues besides slavery on the table?”
Until next time, may the Lord bless you.