Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This month we have the privilege of casting our vote for who will be writing the laws of our country. It’s really quite hard to miss out on the fact an election is going on with all the signs that litter the roadways and stand in supporters’ front yards. Now is the time when you’ll be bumping into all these candidates, at every kind of community event as they try to wrangle up support, speak with voters, and try to convince you that they’re just the right person for the job. We’re also beginning to see and hear all kinds of advertisements in the paper, on tv, and on the radio encouraging us to actually go out to vote. There are other ads making sure we know exactly how, and where to vote. You pretty much have to have your head buried in the sand not to know that we’re coming up on an election.
But have you ever thought about how your Christian faith guides you in selecting who to vote for? Or have you ever asked if, as a Christian, you must go cast your own ballot? Let’s look at that last question first. Does the Bible tell you that you have to vote? Well, no, not exactly. Democracy wasn’t all that widespread at the time the Bible was written. However, the Bible does give some instruction for how Christians are to treat our government, which gives us some guidance in this respect.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.” (13:1-7) Here we learn that God gives us the government to care for us and provide order in His creation through the writing, enacting, and enforcement of laws. Because of this we’re to pay taxes, respect those who hold that office of authority, and obey the laws they put in place, so long as they don’t lead us into outright sinful acts. As Christians we “pay to all what is owed to them.” Now, this doesn’t explicitly mention voting, however as citizens of Canada one of the duties, rights, and privileges our government gives to us is the duty, right, and privilege to vote. Since we’ve been given this duty as citizens, we, as Christians, “pay to all what is owed.” We vote to whom a vote is owed. To refuse to vote is to disrespect not only those in the governing authority, but also the authority that God Himself has put in place. So, we give our prayers, time, intellect, and reason to select a candidate for office and cast our vote.
Now, does the Bible give us guidance on we cast our vote, as Christians? Well, again, not exactly. The Bible never says “Vote Conservative, or Republican, or whatever other party is in your country.” And, for the record, neither am I. However, Jesus does tell us, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus also tells us the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), where the Samaritan risks his life, and gives generously for the care and service of his neighbour. In this sense, the Bible does give us some guidance in how we are to vote, in that we don’t look to which candidate will help our own special interests, but who will best serve my neighbour. And let’s not forget that my neighbour isn’t just the poor on the street, but also the family four doors down from our house, the CEO in a big ivory tower, and the child who has yet to be born and hasn’t yet seen the light of day. Each of these are my neighbour, and the Christian is to have his or her neighbour in the forefront of his or her mind in everything he or she does, including voting.
I don’t want to tell you which party to vote for, I leave that up to you, your conscience, and your God-given reason. I do, however, want to give you the guidance the Bible offers us as we consider the options that are placed before us.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Tim Schneider