I believe that voting is an issue of freedom of conscience – falling under Romans 14-15. Each of us must decide under the Lordship of Christ how to vote. There have been a lot of bullying efforts by supporters on both sides, but in my experience, some in the GOP and passionate Trump have mastered this art recently.
“No true Christian would vote…”
If you have decided to vote for Trump, fine. You do not need to convince me if you are convinced in your own mind. I am turned off by those who present Trump as “God’s man” and refuse to admit his faults and failings, but I understand those who are determined to stick to a binary choice, have examined both parties, and believe that Trump is a better choice than Biden. If you have made such a choice, you need not justify it to me. If you are comfortable with your choice, God’s blessings on you. Even if it offends me, you Trump loyalists who see him in messianic terms are free before our Lord to make your choice. You give account to him, not to me.
However, the pressure and bullying that is so evident among Christians today is concerning and is not in line with biblical teaching. Obviously, both sides have offended. In 2016, NeverTrumpers were on the offensive, challenging the gospel faithfulness of those who would support a man with the flaws of Donald Trump. To challenge the GOP nominee was within our right but to question the biblical fidelity of those who supported him was not. Trump supporters are paying back the NeverTrumpers in spades in 2020. When a prominent Bible teacher makes voting GOP and Trump a necessary evidence of salvation, questioning the salvation of anyone who makes a different choice, we have crossed the Rubicon. I have heard repeated challenges to either the salvation or the doctrinal fidelity of anyone who does not support the GOP or the Trump campaign. One primary purpose of the CBN appears to be to enforce GOP loyalty among Southern Baptists. I received a call from a long-time family friend recently. People in her church were considering running off their pastor. He’d committed no sin nor did he preach heresy. He did not support Donald Trump in the election and so he had to go. One youth pastor lost his ministry license because he posted social media messages against Trump (to be fair, his posts were a bit aggressive, but enough to lose his license?). Ronnie Floyd used the power of his office and the EC mailing list to pressure SBC pastors and leaders into supporting the president in his reelection bid. Those who do not support Trump have been painted as theologically suspect, as liberals (per CBN), and as enemies of the SBC.
When history is written, I fear that it may be the divisiveness of the 2016 and 2020 political seasons that puts paid to the work of Southern Baptists, not liberalism, or “wokeness,” or any of the other bogeymen we seek to blame. When we are questioning one another’s salvation and love for Christ based on party loyalty, we are in deep trouble.
All of that is a loquacious setup to my question. I have seen the assertion repeatedly that “Christians have to vote.” On a discussion site, I visit periodically, a man stated boldly that “biblically, we are required to vote.” I asked him to provide the scriptural support for that statement, but to this point, I’ve received nothing (he is not required to respond to me, of course). I would therefore like to ask this question:
To those of you who would say that voting is a moral or spiritual requirement for a believer, could you provide biblical support for that?
Perhaps it is an assumption held because we have heard others say it. For some, it might be a bullying tactic. “You have to vote and you can’t vote for the other side (because…abortion), so vote for my guy.” If you genuinely believe that voting is a mandate from Scripture, I would like to know why.
NOTE: please do not take me to Romans 13. That passage requires me to obey the governing authorities and there is no law requiring me to vote. I can NOT vote and still be in obedience. The verses from the Sermon on the Mount about salt and light do not require voting either. I am also not interested in aphorisms such as, “If you don’t vote you can’t complain.” Lots of people who don’t attend annual meetings complain about SBC issues! I want someone to explain to me why voting is a BIBLICAL mandate, as I have seen several assert recently.
Let me set forth a “totally fictitious” scenario, one I created wholly out of my burned-out brain.
1. Let’s pretend that there’s a committed believer (Mr. X) who finds both party’s candidates morally and ethically unacceptable. This person cannot, by conscience, vote for either man – for moral and spiritual reasons. The reasons themselves are not significant to this discussion, but Mr. X simply cannot vote for either one of the candidates put forward by the two main parties.
2. Like many NeverTrumpers I’ve talked to, Mr. X voted third party last time but wasn’t completely satisfied with his vote. Since the 2016 election he’s come to believe the man he voted for isn’t qualified to be the dog catcher in Gretna, Nebraska, much less president. Third-party candidates do not get the scrutiny that the D and R fellas have gotten (for good or ill). There are a couple of candidates that appeal to Mr. X in third parties, but he is reluctant to go this direction again.
3. He has considered a protest vote, writing in CB Scott, or perhaps just writing “None of the Above” (per Brewster’s Millions) in the president slot. Obviously, this would be a protest vote, an intentionally wasted vote.
4. The other option is for Mr. X to stay home and not go to the polls. In his locality, there are no key races or issues that would drive him to the polls (Senate, House, etc) and so he is considering just staying home.
If the two political parties cannot provide a morally acceptable candidate for whom to vote, why would it be morally unacceptable to just stay home?
I understand some of you are passionate about Trump and some of you hate him. I’d really rather not talk about him. This is not meant to be a discussion of the comparative merits of Trump or Biden. A lot of my friends seem to be going with Brian Carroll. It isn’t about him either. This is about a theoretical question.
- Why would it be wrong to respond to the two parties putting forward morally unacceptable candidates (if it is your conviction they have done so) by staying home on election day and refusing to vote?
- Is there a BIBLICAL argument that requires us to vote?
- What kind of world would we have if we all wrote in “CB Scott” for president?