Do Christians Have to Vote?
I know of no passage in the Bible that demands that Christians vote in governmental elections. In fact, that form of government (democracy) did not exist at the time, at least in the way that we understand it. So no, Christians are not obligated to vote morally. That is an American value, but not a biblical one. I am not saying it is wrong to vote, just that there is no biblical command for us to do so, and where God has left our conscience free, we are free.
An argument can be made that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and thus if we love the fellow members of our society, we will take part in elections to seek to do good for our neighbor. But a Christian in good conscience could choose not to vote to protest the corruption of the political system if that system only gives them bad choices to vote for. Whether or not that was true in this election, I will not pass judgment. I do say, the Christian may choose not to vote.
Locker Room Talk and Apologies
Trump says that the sinful remarks he made about women is just locker room talk and I have seen some of his followers say that all men talk this way. This is simply not true. I have never talked this way about women and I know lots of men that find this sort of talk repulsive. I do not deny that some men talk this way. I have heard such talk. But it is not characteristic of all men and it is certainly not normative for Christian men. The Apostle Paul forbids such crude jesting in Ephesians 5. It is degrading of women who are made in the image of God. It makes a mockery of the beautiful gift of sexuality. I realize it is becoming more and more the norm in our shock jock culture. But that does not make it right. It is evil. Whether you voted for Trump or not, Christians must be united in saying that treating women in this way is wrong.
Also, if one is making an apology, one does not make excuses for the thing one had done wrong. You take responsibility and then shut your mouth. If you are truly sorry, you won’t say, “but other’s do worse” or “everybody does it.” Contrition humbles so that you know you have no excuse. Defensiveness about the thing you apologized about is a sign you have not been completely broken over your sin. Some have argued that Trump is a baby Christian and needs discipleship in these areas. Maybe so, but it must be pointed out that his example of repentance falls far short of the biblical ideal.
Could a True Christian Vote for Trump or Hillary?
I have heard some Christians say, a real Christian could never vote for Trump or Hillary for this or that reason. I did not vote for Trump or Hillary, but I will not judge my brother or sister’s conscience if they feel they had to vote for one of them. Theoretically, as bad as they are, a Christian may conclude that all the other options are worse. I am not saying they are worse. I am saying that theoretically it is possible for a Christian to conclude this. That is a decision that every individual Christian must make before God themselves. We must not judge one another on the basis of who we vote for. A Christian could have chosen to vote for Trump or Hillary or someone else or not to vote at all.
The Bible does not say who we are to vote for. The kingdom of God is not about political power. Every candidate will reflect some biblical values and fall short in other areas. Every individual must make the best decision they can, and we should not refuse to fellowship with some one because of how they voted.
I an sensing a terrible trend on both sides of the political spectrum to judge whether a person is a Christian by the way they vote. This is absolutely and every possible way unbiblical and wicked. It divides the church according to their political preferences, the church that Christ has chosen to be one. It means confession of faith in Christ is no longer our unity. Instead we are unified by whether or not we pass some political test. It means our God is our political party, not Christ. We must not divide the church along political lines. If we do, the church has no spiritual or eternal reality, it is merely the religious wing of political power. A sign the church is not of this world is when republicans and democrats bow down together before the transcendent Christ acknowledging their political parties are absolutely nothing compared to him.
The Dangers of Focusing to Much on Politics
CS Lewis wrote that there is a grave danger to giving to much attention to politics in the Christian life. He basically said it means we find that the basic problem in the world is not inside us, but outside of us. It is with some other group that is wrong or some problem in society out there. All of those things must change, not us. It therefore tempts us to damn those who are different from us, finding fault with them and judging them for basically I am righteous; they are the problem.
Lewis said the only way a person can grow as a Christian to realize the most basic problem with the world is inside of us: sin. This keeps us from being self-righteous towards other sinners but encourages us to reach out to them in love. It makes us realize that politics is not the ultimate answer to our or societies problems. It encourages us to examine ourselves first and repent, before looking at others and their faults. Lewis said this is the only way a Christian will advance in godliness. Focusing on the problems out there and with others will stunt our spiritual growth.
Can Christians be involved in politics? Yes, but they always do so with the knowledge that it is not an ultimate concern. Its more like a hobby compared with how much passion we have for Christ and his kingdom and which is a kingdom not of this world.