The official stance of the Churches of God is that we do not involve ourselves in politics, including voting. James’ article touches on some of the reasons for this. Michael’s article deals with the social consequences of not voting. You can find out more by speaking to your local church elder.
The pressure on young people to vote is impressive; many of the most one-sided conversations I had with my university friends were over my refusal to vote, and I’ve noticed an increasing stream of posts on social media condemning those who are not voting.
The line I hear most often in conclusion to a conversation where I’ve refused to vote is, “then I’d better not hear you complaining about X, Y or Z”. Which in fact fits with the Biblical notion of submitting to political leaders, whatever the result: as Paul wrote to the Romans,
‘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’ (Rom 13:1).
The pressure to vote can come just as much from other Christians as from non-Christians, who may add the argument that Christians should vote for the party that will most closely uphold the teachings of Jesus. Policies on health and social care are particularly relevant here.
When it comes to another Christian who decides to vote as a matter of conscience, then this is something between him or her and God. It is not helpful for us to pass judgment on one another (Rom 14:4,13).
But we cannot count our voting for the party with the best social care programme as our service to those in need. I’ve begun to feel that it’s better, instead of attempting to have a political voice on the matter of the poor and the sick, to act on those concerns as best we can in our personal capacity.I suppose that it is (relatively) easier to campaign for better social care for the elderly living alone than it is to actually care for them, and so the latter (even if only acted out in a small way) is a better witness by virtue of its action and personal sacrifice. The decision to not vote, however, then places the pressure on us to live up to this – so we need to make sure that we do!
It’s rare to identify a candidate who promotes policies that uphold Christian principles, and who will maintain such a stance on every issue throughout a term in office. In contrast, we know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8), and that
‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [him]’ (Matt 28:18).
All governing authorities – whether despotic or benevolent – are subject to God.
Furthermore, it is very likely that two Christians will end up with different evaluations of which party/candidate is the ‘most Christian’, so rather than getting into bitter, emotionally-charged arguments about which political party deserves our vote, we should
‘strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.’ (Heb 12:14)
We cannot count our voting for the party with the best social care programme as our service to those in need.
When it comes to another Christian who decides to vote as a matter of conscience, then this is something between him or her and God. It is not helpful for us to pass judgment on one another (Rom 14:4,13). It is important that each one of us respects the position held by our church leaders, and acts in obedience to God’s appointed authority over us. But in addition to that, each one should be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14:5), because
‘whatever does not proceed from faith is sin’ (Rom 14:23).
‘whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31).