Voting — Is it a Christian Duty?
Study No. 81
A sincere follower of the Bible hates evil and wants the Kingdom of God to be established on this earth. This world is full of sin and there is often the desire to go out right now and fight unrighteousness.
In America today, there is a strong movement, called the Religious Right or Moral Majority, that believes it is the Christian’s duty to become actively involved in the political process. Many Sabbath-keeping groups advocate voting and political action. Others condemn any voting at all. What is the correct course of action?
A Political Activist?
If the Savior had come in the flesh during our time, He would not be popular with any political party today. Big religion would be putting pressure on the government to stop Him. Nevertheless, Jesus would fearlessly condemn pollution, moral decadence, false religion, corrupt government, etc., with great fervor.
Judaea was an occupied "iron curtain" country, not a free democracy like America today. Yet Christ openly condemned government and religious sins. John the Baptist lost his head for speaking out against Herod’s divorce and remarriage. Early believers were martyred because they refused to worship Caesar. This refusal was not looked upon as a religious, but a political offense.
Our Messiah told us to give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s, Matthew 22:15-22, that is, to honestly pay our taxes and obey the laws of the state. So we are to submit to governmental laws and ordinances, as long as they do not conflict with the higher laws of the Almighty, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7, I Peter 2:13-17.
We should denounce evil everywhere, no matter what the political consequences. But what about shaping the political decisions that are made? Was Jesus a political activist? By no means! The apostle Paul claimed the rights he had as a citizen of Rome where those rights would protect his life. He appealed to Caesar, Acts 25:11. Under severe circumstances, we may certainly do the same to defend ourselves. Yet neither Christ nor Paul nor any New Testament Christian became involved directly as a part of the political system.
Inhibit the Influence of Sin
Ken Westby, in the September 1984 ACD Newsletter, states, "In our nation you are asked to have a part in determining the standards by which you are governed. Those established standards either inhibit or promote the influence of sin in every part of society. Choose the leader whose stand on the big moral issues most nearly aligns with Christ’s stand as revealed in the scriptures."
In another publication, The Last Days Newsletter, Melody Green says, "I believe God wants all of us to be partakers in the continual shaping of this country . . . . The issues facing our nation today may be the most crucial in history since slavery. On the front line is abortion, homosexual rights, family and parental rights, pornography, and Christian educational freedom . . . ."
It appeared that the 1984 United States Presidential election was a clear moral choice. President Ronald Reagan claimed to be against abortion, homosexual rights, claimed to be pro-family, anti-pornography and in favor of Christian educational freedom. His opponent, Walter Mondale, had opposite moral values. Mondale was an admitted Humanist. By voting for Ronald Reagan, would a true believer have helped the moral climate of the United States, and inhibited the influence of sin? In a few ways, perhaps.
But, Mr. Reagan’s Vice President, George Bush, and his Secretary of State are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and/or Trilateral Commission, which means they are leaders of the Babylonish economic monetary system. President Reagan fueled our evil debt money system with government debts larger than any period in American history. He had considerable power to stop debt money. Mr. Reagan was committed to numerous other policies diametrically opposed to the Bible. His personal divorce and remarriage situation is anti-family and should morally disqualify him from office. In 1984, clearly Reagan was the lesser of TWO evils. But a true believer should have no fellowship — no part of — the evil works of darkness. Rather, he should reprove them, Ephesians 5:11.
Good Influence of Godly Citizens
Certainly we should pray for the powers that rule over us, so that we may be allowed to continue to live a Bible-centered life. Edmond Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This is entirely true. IF there is a clear contest between good and evil, we should act decisively, for the good.
Proverbs 11:11 (Living Bible) states: "The good influence of godly citizens causes a city to prosper, but the moral decay of the wicked drives it downhill." Corrupt government hurts us all. "A wicked ruler will have wicked aides on his staff" Proverbs 29:12. "For the wicked shall not rule the godly lest the godly be forced to do wrong," Psalms 125:3.
Israel was set up as a kind of theocratic republic. Moses gave YHWH’S instructions to the people through the elders, priests, and judges. He instituted Jethro’s advice to "Find some capable, godly, honest men who hate bribes, and appoint them as judges, one judge for each 1000 people; he in turn will have ten judges under him, each in charge of a hundred; and under each of them will be two judges, each responsible for the affairs of fifty people; and each of these will have five judges beneath him, each counseling ten persons. Let these men be responsible to serve the people with justice at all times. Anything that is too important or complicated can be brought to you. But the smaller matters they can take care of themselves" Exodus 18:21-22 Living Bible. No earthly human government today compares to this theocracy ordained of the Almighty!
Our Rock says, "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God" II Samuel 23:3 (KJV). I don’t know of a single candidate who fulfills this mandate. There are, as we shall see, areas where a godly citizen can (and should) exert good influence. But it is NOT in the area of electing most, if not all, of the unjust, ungodly candidates from which we have to choose.
Make This a Better World?
The October-November 1984 issue of The Good News of the World Tomorrow contained an article entitled "How Would Jesus Vote for President?" The correct answer was given — Jesus would not vote for President.
Our entire world, whether governed by a monarchy, dictatorship, republic, communism, socialism, etc. is based on the Babylonish system of government: competition and strife based upon greed and vanity, exploitation of the people, aggression, regimentation, delusion and deception. Nimrod founded our civilization by huddling people together into cities under his rule, Genesis 10:8-12. Babylon means "confusion," and "God is not the author of confusion," I Corinthians 14:33.
Messianic believers do not have the duty to make this a better world. This society is not God’s. It is Satan’s world! ALL nations are deceived and under the Devil’s sway, II Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, Revelation 12:9, 18:2-3, 20:2-3. The Savior gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, Galatians 1:4.
The gospel is a message about government, the rule of the Almighty. A few — called the elect or firstfruits — are being called now to understand the Truth, receive the Holy Spirit, grow and overcome. They are now qualifying to be immortal spirit being rulers with King Messiah over the nations of this earth, Revelation 2:26-27. Most are NOT being called now, they can’t understand the Truth because the Father is not drawing them at this time, John 6:44. Their day of salvation will be after the Millennium in the "Great White Throne Judgement" period, Revelation 20. Attempting now to make this a better world is just like casting pearls before swine, Matthew 7:6. It is counterproductive. The Truth won’t be appreciated and cannot be comprehended.
The coming government of the Almighty is going to smash into pieces and consume all the earthly governments, Daniel 2:44. Jesus did NOT enter into this world’s politics! He laid the foundation for His coming government, His administration. The Savior defeated Satan, the present ruler of this world, Matthew 4:1-11. Christ has not yet ousted Satan from his office. That will happen at Messiah’s return. At that time, both Satan and this world’s political and religious leaders will be deposed, Revelation 19:19-21, 20:1-2, Psalms 149:6-9. We should not help such an opposer of the Messiah to obtain office.
God Chooses Our Rulers
The "best" candidate almost never wins. It may seem that the lesser of two evils sometimes prevails. But the Creator’s Plan moves on. Because all nations have rejected Him, they are often punished with bad rulers who give them high taxes, war, oppression and misery. Presidential candidate Mondale said the American middle class workers were under taxed, and proposed that stiff tax increases be instituted. The Truth is that many in today’s welfare system are under worked!
Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule for their own self-government. Israel had divine rule and rejected it for a human king so they could be like the nations around them, I Samuel 8. Therefore the Eternal has allowed mankind to go for 6,000 years in their own way, to learn the bitter lesson that only the Creator’s way brings happiness, "to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom He will, and sets over it the lowliest of men" Daniel 4:17 (RSV). Yes, the Eternal rules over all. This is Satan’s world. God has not yet directly intervened to eradicate evil. God makes sure that men, in rejecting Him, are given the lowliest of men to be their rulers. Why should we resist His will? The modern rulers of Babylon are ordained of God, Romans 13:1-7. We are to be subject to them, but not part of them, John 17:15-16.
Rights of An Ambassador
Those that are in Christ are supposed to be a new creation, not part of this world’s system. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ," II Corinthians 5:17-20. The analogy is given that we are just like a nation’s ambassador. How valid is this analogy?
The United States ambassador to Moscow is not a communist. He does not regard the U.S.S.R. as his government, because it is mortally opposed to his government. The Ambassador does not enter Soviet politics nor attempt to mitigate the evils in its system. He doesn’t vote in Soviet elections nor join its army to fight for its cause. Nor is he allowed to do these things. Yet the American ambassador is subject to, and must abide by, Russian laws and rules.
This analogy is almost, but not entirely, the same as a true believer in his native country. Wherever you live, your government is basically against the Bible and those who follow it. You are to be an ambassador, a government representative, of the Messianic Kingdom. No man can serve two masters, two opposing government systems, Matthew 6:33, 24. The Messianic Kingdom is diametrically opposed to the Babylonish governments of this world. Our spiritual citizenship is reserved in Heaven, I Peter 1:4, Ephesians 2:19.
BUT, we are, in effect, also physical citizens of our respective countries as well. And, under the laws of Western democracies, we have the right to vote. The American ambassador to Moscow doesn’t have the right to vote in Soviet elections.
We have other rights, such as the right to appeal to the courts for redress of wrongs. As followers of the Messiah, we may carefully and under the right circumstances, exercise these rights. As we have seen, Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen when he was personally affected in an important matter.
Rare Use of Voting Right
IF there were a clear critical moral issue, it would not be wrong to register (as an Independent non-partisan) and vote in an election. It would be rare if ever that one would do this. Unless a candidate were clearly a righteous follower of the Almighty, one should not vote for government office.
In America, however, referendums are often voted upon. These ballot issues may sometimes be clear choices of right or wrong. For example, if a public vote were taken to legalize prostitution, I would want to go out and vote against it. I might even encourage others to do likewise. If a particularly bad or good legislative bill were being decided, I would want to write my elected representative on such a clear moral issue. This in no way means that I would be actively involved in politics. I have yet to exercise my right to vote. Before I ever would consider it, I would have to do much prayer and fasting.
The Worldwide Church of God has for years been adamantly against voting of any kind. Yet there is a tint on hypocrisy in their stance. I used to live in Big Sandy, Texas nearby the Church’s Texas campus of Ambassador College, where I worked. Big Sandy was a small town and Church members predominated. A Church member ran for mayor, and Church members helped to vote him into office.
In another incident, the Church headquarters in California was severely attacked for financial mismanagement, and a state-appointed agent was placed over its finances. The Church vigorously defended itself, even lobbying in the State legislature and appealing to the general public and other churches for support. A bill was eventually passed which exempted the Church from financial accountability. Certainly this is the ultimate of getting involved in the political system. In this case, it is regrettable because wrongdoing was covered up and now there is nothing to prevent Church officials from continued financial mismanagement.
COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE!
If the Messiah had come in the flesh in our day, He would be busy proclaiming the Good News of the coming Government of God. He would have no time to waste shoring up this Babylonish system which is doomed. We, as His followers, should be full time in the ministry, the service of His work, giving and sharing His Truth to others, living it and teaching it to our families. We must seek the Kingdom of God first, and His righteousness, Matthew 6:33. Is this activity doing nothing to combat evil? By no means! It is the ONLY real way to exert good influence on this world. By qualifying now to be Spirit-being rulers with the Messiah during the Millennium, and helping others to qualify as well, we are performing the only viable act that will defeat evil.
Those that are enmeshed in the political system, trying to accomplish "good" and "do something" are deceived. Their efforts are in vain, Mark 7:7-9. The Almighty calls out to them:
Come out of her [this world’s Babylonish system, including governments], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues Revelation 18:4.
Voting is NOT a Christian duty. There may be extremely rare instances when there is a clear moral choice or issue important enough to act upon. In these isolated cases, it would not be wrong to vote. But as a general rule, the true follower of the Eternal does not participate actively in the political system. His or her efforts are devoted to the Messianic administration, which is soon to smash in pieces all human governments. May He hasten that day! W
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