A Pressing Question
What is our responsibility, as Christians, in regards to voting on election day? This is a question I get from time to time (like, every four years!). Are we commanded in Scripture to vote? Is it a sin to stay home and not vote, if we do not approve of any of the candidates? Am I shirking my responsibility as a believer, and as a citizen of our country? These are all good questions that deserve to be addressed.
Understanding Bible History
First, we begin with the fact that you won't find a specific command in the Bible to vote. There is a simple reason for this. In Bible times, democracies were unheard of, where people had the right and privilege of actually selecting their political leaders. In the Old Testament, nations were ruled by kings who came to the throne as legitimate heirs (or by usurping the throne). In the New Testament, the Roman Empire had full authority in placing their Governors, Tetrarchs, and Pro-consuls. There was no opportunity to vote, let's say, for or against Herod. You didn't even have a chance to vote against the local tax collectors, and those guys were really despised.
Obeying the "Powers That Be"
In Romans 13, we have some very detailed teaching on the believer's responsibility to government rulers. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers (government authorities). For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God" (Rom. 13:1-2). Later in the same chapter we are commanded to "render to all their dues: tribute (taxes) to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor" (verse 7). Christians are supposed to obey the laws of the land, and support the government--unless we are being told to do something completely contrary to what the Bible teaches (see Acts 5:29). Our obedience is a vital part of our testimony to the world.
Abdicating Our Rights
While there is no direct command in the Scripture to go to the polls and vote for a Presidential candidate, the failure to do so, in my mind, is a failure of stewardship. It may not be a sin, but it is surely an abdicating of our rights and privileges. If we are supposed to obey that which is a LAW, then doesn't it make sense to take advantage of that which is a RIGHT? Stewardship means not wasting our natural resources, squandering our money, or neglecting our most treasured possession--our children. These are gifts from God to be used wisely. I count the privilege to vote in a democratic society as a gift--a gift that many others do not have. It's a privilege we should take seriously; a precious right we should exercise wisely.
So while I can't say failure to vote is sinful, I believe it is shirking our responsibility, and wasting a God-given opportunity. But some will say: I don't like either of the prospective candidates, why should I be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils? Well, first of all, nobody is forcing you to do anything. But remember this: when your children and grandchildren ask you in years to come why you didn't at least try to stop the decline in our nation's direction, how will you answer that? Whether you will ever answer to God for failure to vote may be debatable, but failure to do your best to influence the future of our country for your grandchildren's sake is inexcusable.