Why I’m Thinking About Voting

Editors Note: This article reflects the opinion of the writer, but should not be taken as Radi-Call’s official position. We recognize that this topic is controversial. However, we encourage our writers to give their honest, well thought out opinions. Our desire is not to be controversial, but to begin discussions that encourage our readers to think about what they believe and why.

Last night I watched a movie that upset me. Based on a true story, the main character goes from a Planned Parenthood director to a pro-life advocate. The movie shares an insider’s view of the billion dollar abortion industry that is snuffing out 600,000 babies a year in the United States alone. 

By the end of the movie, I was processing many feelings and questions that I have already been thinking about over the past few years. Why am I doing nothing to oppose this horrific injustice that is happening right around me? What would I think about a Christian who lived during Hitler’s time but did nothing to stand against the mass slaughter of millions of Jews? 

Participating In A Democratic Society

Over the past few years, I’ve felt a tension growing inside of me. On the one hand, I see how broken and insufficient the world’s systems are at bringing lasting change. On the other hand, I wonder if I’m taking the easy route of completely disengaging from the world’s broken systems. This tension has led me to ask this question: What does it look like for two-kingdom Christians to engage in and show concern for their communities and countries?

We could sit down over coffee and dialogue about the many redemptive ways that might be considered. But for the sake of this blog article, I will be looking at an even narrower question: Should two-kingdom Christians vote?

Although Scripture does not clearly spell out whether voting is right or wrong, we do find principles that provide a framework for this question.

1. The government and the kingdom of God are two different entities and our allegiance must be to God and His kingdom. Jesus said in his trial before Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight…” (John 18:36).  When the apostles were told not to preach and teach in the name of Jesus they replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

As two-kingdom Christians, we should place our hope in Christ’s kingdom rather than in any earthly entity or power.

2. We are citizens of an earthly country, which is ruled by a government that we must honor. Paul writes to the church in Rome, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). 

As two-kingdom Christians, we recognize that the world’s systems are broken because of sin. But we should willingly submit to the laws of the land as long as they do not directly contradict our higher authority and loyalty to Christ’s kingdom.

3. The government’s God-given role is to punish evil, reward good, and protect its citizens (Romans 13:1-7). It is in our best interest when the government carries out its God-given role and we are commanded to pray for them that we might live peaceable lives (1 Timothy 2:1-3). 

As two-kingdom Christians, we should have a healthy interest in the well-being of our government because God uses them to accomplish His purposes. 

Social Issues Matter

Social issues are not merely political. They are spiritual. Racism, sexual immorality, abortion, homosexuality, genocide, and world wars are merely symptoms of the plight of mankind. We are lost and in need of a Savior. 

But there’s hope! Every social issue is confronted with the life-changing power of the Gospel. As Christians, we are the salt and light as we live out the Gospel in tangible ways. Every physical solution that we offer must be rooted in the good news that only Christ can change lives and transform hearts.

As two-kingdom Christians, we should look for every possible opportunity to engage in society and offer the hope of the Gospel. 

The Big Question: Should We Vote?

In summary, we know that Christ’s kingdom is where our hope lies, not in any political system or movement. However, we do see that God has ordained government, although broken, to fulfill His purposes in society. 

And in a democratic society where the government is “of the people, by the people, for the people” (Abraham Lincoln), voting is one way for us to make our voice known. 

I’ll be honest. I have never voted, but I am prayerfully considering it. 

As I pray, I am asking God to give me more boldness to share the Gospel and represent Christ in my community. My concern about the spiritual welfare of my neighbors is first and foremost. 

But out of that concern, I am acutely interested in who is leading our government and who is running for office. And I am asking God to show me if my responsibility as a citizen of this earthly country includes voting. 

Let Me Clarify

I am not considering political involvement. Actively promoting a party or candidate will alienate me from others, which will reduce my kingdom effectiveness. Who I vote for will be a private issue.

Voting does not mean I wholeheartedly support the candidate’s agendas or policies. Instead, my vote is choosing the best option available given the issues at hand. 

Voting should be informed. I will not only listen to what candidates say, but also look at what they actually do. My Faith Votes is a helpful resource for objectively considering where candidates stand on a range of issues.

Voting should be done prayerfully. If voting day comes and I don’t feel at peace about casting my ballot, I don’t feel obligated to do so. 

Let’s Continue The Conversation

The movie “Unplanned” still weighs on me. How can I live my life normally while babies are being slaughtered daily in my neighborhood? Abortion reminds me of how broken our society is and how much it needs Christ. It compels me to pray against the evil of abortion and the Satanic forces that are driving the industry. 

And yes, it pushes me to thoughtfully consider my stance on voting. 

How about you? Have you ever thought about voting? Are you on the fence or have you prayerfully come to a conclusion? 

I look forward to reading your comments! After you share, I suggest you check out the results from our recent political survey. I think you will find the results quite interesting as you pray about your position on voting.

IMG_0664 Ian Miller lives in Queens, NY with his wife Marci and young daughter Aliyah. Ian serves in administration for a non-profit organization while working a part-time job and finishing up his college degree. He is passionate about urban, cross-cultural church planting, and verbal, personal evangelism.

16 thoughts on “Why I’m Thinking About Voting

  1. Thanks for writing this, Ian. I appreciate the way you distilled the 3 principles, and also the 4 clarifications. The last one touches on another major issue — the way many of us often feel “pressure” or obligation to act in certain ways because of the expectations of others.

    I identify with your feeling of tension, and the unsettling sense that I’m doing less than I could do. I have no desire whatever to entangle myself in the kingdoms of the world, but at the same time I find the reasons I’ve personally been given against voting to be ultimately unsatisfying. So I very much appreciate you openly addressing the issue with thought and care, and I think it’s a conversation worth continuing.

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  2. Just wondering what you think will be eternally accomplished by voting based on that issue only? What will change about any individual’s attitude toward children or sexual relations? What will change about the chances of those children born to hear the gospel? What are you going to do to provide for those children who might be born as a result of a change of law? Or for their single mother? Also what other evil might you have to endorse (most pro-life candidates are also pro-war) in order to vote for a candidate who opposes abortion. This is not theoretical – many conservative Anabaptists were convinced to vote for George Bush especially because of the abortion issue. There have been over 182,000 civilians killed in Iraq as a result as well as untold thousands killed and millions displaced due to ISIS which came up as a direct result of that war. Voting is a no-win no-solution answer for Christ’s disciple.

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    1. A few reflections on your comment:
      – Just because someone votes for a president that leads the nation’s army doesn’t necessarily make the voter “pro-war.”
      – Although there are many other dysfunctions that intersect with abortion (ie. immorality, broken homes, poverty, etc.), this should not prevent us from standing against the evil of murdering babies. I definitely agree that we as the church have many opportunities to offer redemption to the brokenness around us beyond defending the life of the unborn. But we must not overlook this horrific genocide going on around us.

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    2. Interesting thoughts… “voting is a no-win no-solution answer for Christ’s disciple”. There is some truth to that statement, but that statement could be applied to many other areas of life then too, right?
      Also, if something doesn’t change the results, potentially, does it nullify our responsibility of speaking up for the truth? We know we can’t reach the whole world for Christ, does that mean we don’t share the Gospel? Yeah, our single vote can’t affect the results as a whole, but can it affect us? Will our heart be more involved if we vote? If our heart becomes involved, won’t we want to pray more? Won’t we be more concerned for our leaders if we become involved.
      Like Ian said, I don’t endorse the campaigning and heavy involvement in politics.
      I completely see where you’re coming from. I’m haven’t made a clear stand for voting or not-voting yet. These are just questions I’m wrestling with now.
      Ultimately we know our only hope is found in Christ! The Greatest thing we can possibly do is Pray! That’s our best tool.

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  3. I consider this an philosophical issue since scripture does not say, “Thou shalt not vote” hence differing opinions on the subject.

    We used to not vote because tradition and church rule said “don’t vote”. But the day came when there was a local issue that we were very concerned about and that has to do should the county allow alcoholic beverages to be sold here in our county? Until then it was illegal to sell all kinds of alcoholic beverages. Our bishop gave his members the go-head to vote. We voted but the measure passed to allow alcohol to be sold. But if all Mennonites would have voted – assuming they would have voted nay – it would have failed.

    Something to think about.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Sandra! It’s interesting to hear about situations like you just shared. I’ve wondered if more people would vote if they knew their vote would make a difference and if it directly affected them in some way. That sounds to be the case in your situation.

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  4. Great article, Ian!! I’ve had the exact same thoughts for a while now. Why shouldn’t we as Christians vote? If God ordains government, don’t we want to be part of it? When we become part of something, won’t we naturally pour more prayer into it? We could potentially place our hope in it then… But what don’t we run the risk of putting our hope in? Houses, sports, friends, salary, etc…
    If we use the argument, “We are not of this world, therefore we should not vote…” does voting make you more of this world than owning a house or a business? Voting doesn’t either mean that we endorse everything the candidate is for.

    If Christians aren’t gonna stand up against abortion actively, along with prayer, who will? This is probably the worst (or one of the worst) genocides in the history of mankind, and many Christians aren’t even blinking an eye or moving a finger to put an end to it. Are we as Christians even praying hard against it? If we take action and our heart becomes part of it, won’t we pray all the harder?

    Anyway just some thoughts.

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  5. While I’m glad to see people engaging with this topic, it bothers me that conservative Anabaptists who decide to vote nearly always vote Republican. After all, the reasoning goes, the Republican party is against abortion and gay marriage, so it’s pretty simple, right? While I am (mostly) glad for our people’s strong emphasis on family, the reality is far more complex than that.

    For instance, the values of most Democrats include care of the environment, providing for the poor, and treating women with dignity, all values which should be embraced by Jesus followers. Of course, this does not mean all Democrats live out these values but neither do Republicans always live out all of their stated values.

    Because I am disturbed by the Republican bias I sometimes speak up for Democrat values. I have pointed out, for instance, how it is often a politically progressive person who speaks out against pornography. (Fox News quite frequently carries new stories with sexually explicit content. While the major progressive news sites do this as well, it is not as common.) Once I made the simple observation that Barak Obama is an excellent orator. Even this was greeted with a chilly hush.

    As someone who understands the Kingdom of Jesus to be trans-political, I do not support any earthly political party. I only contend that you would be hard- pressed to make the case that the Republican party reflects more of Jesus’ values than does the Democratic party.

    Allow me to close with a quote: “The metamorphosis of Jesus Christ from a humble servant of the abject poor to a symbol that stands for gun rights, prosperity theology, anti-science, limited government (that neglects the destitute), and fierce nationalism is truly the strangest transformation in human history.”

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    1. Thanks for your comment Gideon. As you said, there are many different issues to take into consideration.

      While it may be difficult to know how to prioritize issues if one votes, I believe there are a few things to take into consideration.

      1. It is the church’s responsibility to offer heart transformation through the power of the Gospel. The government can never do that through legislation or executive orders.

      2. The government’s God-given role is to punish evil, reward good, and protect those who are under their authority (Romans 13:1-7). We should be very concerned when any government not only turns the other way, but also legalizes mass murder of the most vulnerable segment in society.

      The reason I believe that abortion is so urgent is because it is snuffing out lives by the millions. Just as in Pol Pot or Hitler or Mao. But it is happening quietly, under the guise of “health care.”

      This should be of deep concern to us.

      The laws of the land will not change the hearts of the people. But they do offer protection for the unborn.

      Voting in lawmakers who protect the unborn only addresses the legality of the issue.

      We as the church should also be concerned about the other underlying social issues connected to abortion, just as we should with any genocide. And that is where the church should shine brightest.

      This might mean offering alternatives to abortion such as foster care and adoption. Pregnancy care clinics and Christian adoption agencies are making a huge impact in this space.

      Inner city kids clubs offer the hope of the Gospel to children who have little spiritual hope. Evangelism, discipleship, and church planting offer spiritual transformation to broken people.

      These are just a few examples of how the church is stepping up to address the deeper issues below the surface. And there is so much more to be done in this space.

      So are other issues important to consider? Yes, they are. From my perspective, abortion is the most urgent in our present day.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ian. I appreciate your willingness to share your opinion and open the door for discussion. I have voted since I was eighteen and I plan to continue doing so. I think it is important for Anabaptists to at least consider the idea of voting. The United States political system relies on voting to function correctly. While a “two-kingdom” mindset is a valuable, we [those born in the U.S.] are undeniably legal citizens of the United States. The voting system was designed to represent every group of people living in the U.S. as citizens. In order for this system to function as it was meant to, Anabaptists would need to vote. The importance of the system functioning as intended is debatable, but I believe it is of some, but not utmost, importance. I think that since the Bible does not state a definitive stance on voting, it is a valuable tool that we as Anabaptists should use more than we have.

    As for how an Anabaptist should vote, I agree with a lot of what Gideon stated. There is no correct political party. We should not vote to benefit one party. I do not have an issue with supporting a political party, but our identity should not be in the beliefs of the party. It is very important to be educated about the candidates and to vote for candidates, not parties. I tend to lean towards the political beliefs of right wing libertarians, but I try my best to vote for the best candidates no matter the party they represent. I personally lean libertarian because I believe there is a distinct line between morality and legality, but that is a much larger topic to dissect. I also believe it is important to understand the best candidate is never the perfect candidate. Every candidate will support policy that I do not agree with, but voting for them does not mean I support everything they support. I also think it extremely important to understand the difference between morality and legality

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  7. Very interesting article and discussion. I appreciate this topic (among others) being discussed as I think it’s important to personally hold convictions and not simply go by a “so-and-so does/doesn’t, so I don’t” mindset. 1) we are less likely to actually believe those things (whatever they are), and 2) if we’re questioned on them or find ourselves under pressure, we won’t be able to hold a position unless we’re convinced by Scripture and the Holy Spirit of the position we hold as a personal conviction.
    As an introduction for the subject of if we should vote or not, I come from a non-plain background with a lot of political involvement. My dad was an up and coming political figure when my parents got born again. I was a little girl at the time. Most of my relatives have been quite involved in politics and law enforcement. It’s certainly not a foreign topic to me.
    After my parents came to the Lord, we began to hold many of the same core principles as the Anabaptists. Some of them, like the head covering, even came before we ever met or heard of plain people. With time, we become more or less loosely connected with Anabaptist believers, but didn’t personally know hardly any Mennonites until I was in my upper teens. (By-the-way, my parents immediately brought an end to their political involvement at the time of their salvation, without pressure from others to do so. Instead, they faced pressure from unbelieving relatives for their decision.)
    As a two-Kingdom Christian, without a heritage of “we don’t vote” (quite the opposite!), I don’t vote and am not in favor of voting or political involvement. Why? There are several reasons and I’ll try to explain some of them here.
    – I believe voting is the world’s way of bringing about change, not God’s way. While there are no New Testament passages that you can just point to and say “we should not vote”, there are multiple passages that give us direction on what we are TO do. 1 Tim. 2:1-4 says PRAY for all who are in authority. Eph. 6 tells us that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, and our King calls us to be clad with His armor and to proclaim the gospel, and PRAY. 2 Cor. 10:3-5 says clearly that we do not battle against flesh and blood.
    – Most people in favor of voting cite Old Testament passages to support their position. Yet, it is in the Old Testament that God judged Israel for wanting a human leader (Saul).
    – Hardly a single major political figure of our day is a truly righteous person, walking in relationship with God through our Lord Jesus. While one person running for office may hold more similar values than another running for that same government position, to vote for either is still to vote for an ungodly individual as a leader. It’s choosing the “lesser” of two evils. Would you want casting that ballot to be the last act you carried out before departing from this earth?
    – Did you ever think about what Church history might have been had their been a democracy-style government in the days of the reformation? Especially if the early Anabaptists would have voted? Or what if it had been in the time of the early Church? They likely could have avoided the persecution that arose, but would the movement have survived to the present day? Would the testimony for Christ and His Word have been so loud and clear? That we indeed hold a faith worth dying for? Or, what if they would have had the option and ended up voting for a leader that later turned on the church and brought evil and suffering on themselves and others? What about the church division it could cause if different members of Christ’s body were to “prayerfully cast their ballot” and be at odds? I think you can see where it might lead.
    – Another thing that has impacted my choice not to vote is the that, from what I have read, political involvement has been a test of non-resistance status in the past when a draft came up. Young men who voted or were otherwise involved in politics found it much more difficult to obtain CO status. Which, to me, would say that voting can be seen as a definite two-kingdom divider line in the eyes of government officials. On which side do we want to be found standing?

    I’m open to your feedback and look forward to following the conversation some more. May each one be firmly rooted in the Word of God and fully persuaded in their own minds. (Rom. 14:5)

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