Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Question or Topic
Why don't disciples of Christ vote?
"Whenever we go through an election period I am often asked about voting. I usually manage to skirt the issue, but often end up asking myself again; exactly why do I refrain from voting? I would appreciate some help with this subject."
We recognize that it is not expedient for faithful servants of God to entangle themselves with the affairs of this life. However, we may find it difficult to build a good scriptural case for our position. It may be that we are trying too hard to find a "thus saith the Lord" that is an end to all discussion on the matter.
In this country, we are subjected to the political process at all levels of government. There is the selection of town officials and then the state, and the range continues all the way to the presidential elections. For the most part, there is a two party system. Each major party has its own platform for improving the quality of our life, protecting our freedoms and assuring us happiness.
It may be the promise of a better road in our neighborhood or a concern for the future of our Social Security benefits. So what is wrong with this picture? We are all interested in the same things and would normally do all that we can to improve our own welfare.
The real issue is not what we need, but in whom we place our trust to provide for our needs. Should we place our confidence in mortal man and look for gain through his devices? We are told by the Psalmist: "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalms 146:3-4).
Trust in God
As servants of God, we should trust in God. The Psalmist continues in verse 5: "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God". We also have the familiar words in Proverbs: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Most High Rules
Of equal concern in this matter is the principle of Divine control and providence in the governments of men. "He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2:21). "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Daniel 4:17).
The question is, which king or which president has God chosen for His purposes? "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor" (Romans 11:34)? Are we confident that if we vote, that we will be voting in harmony with the will of God? Or, is it possible that we could actually be resisting His will, if we support the candidate of our choice, after our own will?
A Question of Degree
We may ask, "Why worry about a town election?" God certainly has more important matters to worry about than who is the next selectman. The process starts with the town, it moves on to the state and then up to the federal level. The senators of today were yesterdays mayors, governors and selectmen. No matter what level we choose to participate in, we place our confidence and trust in the wrong source as we attempt to advance the fortunes of those individuals who will cater to our will.
Voting in Ecclesia Elections?
If the principles are all the same, no matter what the degree of importance, then what about elections within the Ecclesia?
It is not the process, but the motivation and the purpose that are at issue. In this world, we serve the purposes and the intentions of the flesh. In the Ecclesia, we should be attempting to serve God. Our goal is to glorify Him in any work that we do as a body. We trust in Him to guide us and we ask for His blessing on the outcome of the process. We pray that it is His will that is done.
An election simply provides us with a practical method for placing our trust in God, and submitting ourselves to His will in the process.
A Matter of Choice
We mentioned that we often search for the right verses to support our position on this issue. The reason that this approach is difficult is that there is no direct command saying: "Thou shalt not vote". This is not a matter of commandment, but rather one of choice. As servants of God, we choose to place our trust in God. We consciously decide that it is not appropriate for us to involve ourselves in a political process that is after the will of the natural man.
We do not participate in politics because we choose to place our confidence in the joy of God's kingdom which is coming on this earth. We choose not to trust in the processes that the natural man places his temporal hope in.
Strangers and Pilgrims
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (II Timothy 2:4). It should be our intention to follow the example of our commander in chief, who said: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight" (John 18:36).
Our hope is to please our master, and to identify with those faithful of old who "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth". Through faith, they chose not to be "mindful of that country from whence they came out," but professed that "they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:13-16).
It is our choice not to take part in the politics of this world. We place our trust in God and not in the "way which seemeth right unto a man". Our time and energy is devoted to the glory of God, and all of our activities are subject to the Lord's will. We choose not to vote or to entangle ourselves in any way with the affairs of this life, not because of a command, but because we simply want to please him.