What Would Jesus Vote? Would Jesus Vote?

ImageIn Ontario we are facing an upcoming election. On June 12th, thousands or millions of voters will hit the polls to make their voice heard. Before June 12th thousands of more Canadians will be meeting with their local Members of Provincial Parliament, attending rallies, and writing petitions which they hope will hold some merit.

As I consider the upcoming elections, it has started to get me thinking about what the healthy Christian response to holding politics should be. Should Christians evade the topic entirely or should they run for office themselves? Does having a Christian represent us in parliament really make that big of a difference or is the only thing that counts when it comes down to it the opinions they hold on paper? How does an Anabaptist deal with the tension of pacifism and politics? Furthermore, as a question to something we’ve been exploring in my Church History class in seminary – are there still fragments of Christendom that evade our politics and if so should they be abolished?

There are a variety of hot button topics that trouble me as a voter and as a Christian alike. What should I feel about abortion? Do I truly disagree with it from a fundamental standpoint or am I allowing my religious viewpoints colour how I feel on this issue? What about homosexual union? There are many Christians who are against homosexuality and there are many others who are in favour of it. My point here is not to get into a discussion about the various pros and cons this would create nor is it to share my own viewpoint on this subject, but it is simply a question of: should my moral and religious obligation be to stand behind a fundamental approach to Biblical texts or should it be to become more inclusive in our society? (After all, are there logical arguments against gay/bi-sexual unions apart from the Bible and fundamentalism in general and if there aren’t should Christians be imposing theological texts on a society that generally is uninterested in matters of Christianity?).

As I think about my role as a voter, these are all issues that I have to learn to hold gently, but also in tension and contrast with one another. Although I do not believe the Bible speaks to the issue of voting, I do know that the Bible does discuss the importance of how we view those in authority over us. In Romans 13 we read that those who rule over us are given that appointment by God and that we should not resist their power (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+13). We are reminded of the importance of not evading civil responsibility such as the payment of taxes (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22:15-22). And yet, as a Christian our highest calling is to do justice, seek mercy, and walk humbly with our God (http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Micah%206:8).

You may wonder what your role as a Christian voter is, but I think the answer is pretty clearly laid out in God’s Word. He commands us to speak out against injustice and to defend the rights of the most vulnerable in society (http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Isaiah%201%3A17).   The Christian way to approach politics, then, is not to ignore the pressing issues, but to seek out more ways to promote gender equality, economic justice, and empowerment of the “least of these.”

It greatly sadness me when my peers (who are young adults) seem not to care about what is happening in the political arena. This especially troubles me when I consider my peers who I went to Bible College and Seminary with as well as my colleagues in various forms of Christian ministry. The truth is, that we can indeed serve God and give Him the glory through making informed and educated decisions about who will best represent us in parliament.  

Below, I’ve highlighted some ways that I believe will serve God as we approach this election:

1)      Be informed. Whether or not you are a Canadian born citizen, landed immigrant, Permanent Resident, or Canadian living abroad get to know the issues. Maybe you feel that because you are a PR rather than a citizen and therefore cannot vote that you do not want to spend time getting to know what is burning on Canadian’s minds. HOWEVER, if you presently call Canada your home then I would URGE you to help take responsibility of what is happening in our country. If you are an immigrant, you can bring a special perspective to what is happening politically. In many ways, there are still important ways that we need to reform immigration in Canada providing resources, governmental grants, and jobs to people who have chosen to live with us.

On the flip side, there are certain individuals who feel that immigration is not a big deal. They think that we should be granting jobs only to Canadian born and bred youth and radical people who feel like Canada should not accept any more immigrants. To this I say the following, unless you are 100% Native (Aboriginal) Canadian, do you really have the right to say this? Canada is a country made up of immigrants! Sure, maybe it was 5 generations ago that your great-great-great grandparents came over here, but the fact is, had they not immigrated you’d still be back in the motherland! Please also consider, as your Christian duty, that sometimes people HAVE to immigrate to other countries due to religious persecution and intolerance or due to severe famine or natural disasters. That’s what whether or not you are a Canadian citizen, I’d encourage you to read up and research information on immigration reform.

2)      Vote wisely or choose not to vote. Don’t just take voting lightly, go to the polls and check off the box your parents expect you to check off, or spoil your ballot because you think all politicians are out to get you. Instead, think before you vote. Similar to the previous point, go to each party’s website and read their platforms. Phone, email, or drop in to your MPs office to ask them questions that are pressing on your mind. Then choose which one you agree with the most and which one you think will represent you the best. If you choose not to vote, make sure that you are doing it for good reasons not simply because of laziness or thinking that all politicians are crooks. I do believe that there could be legitimate reasons for a Christian to not want to vote, but before you decide to take that route truly ask yourself, “will I be serving God more with or without my ballot?” And if you choose not to do the ballot ask yourself how else you are expecting your voice to be heard. Remember that in many cases a spoiled ballot may say a whole lot more than simply not showing up to the polls.

 

3)      Refuse to let Religion Rule to Roost. By religion I am not necessarily talking about true Evangelical faith which cannot lie dormant. I’m not talking about the relationship with Christ part, but about downright fundamentalism. You see, there are certain Christians who believe that the only “Christian” party is the Conservative wing. I have actually attended youth events where the Conservative leader tried to hook young adults into voting for him (or her) simply because he (or she) was a “Christian” and would represent them as a “Christian” in power. I’m not saying that having Christians in power is not important. I truly would love it if our prime minister and all the MPs and MPPs WERE Christian. After all, as a Christian I believe it is our responsibility to go and make disciples (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2028:19). HOWEVER, never vote for someone SIMPLY because they are a Christian. If they have the most God-fearing and best platform (in your opinion) and HAPPEN to be Christian consider that an added plus. But remember that many God-fearing Hindus, Jews, and Muslims can also serve you really well in the political arena. Sure they may not believe theologically as you do, but they still have very good morals and high standards.

As Christians we are blessed with the honour of showing our dedication to Christ in every aspect of our lives. When I was at Tyndale University I had an amazing professor who used to challenge my class full of 17 and 18 year old kids that everything we do is an act of worship – an act of giving God worth. In that sense it doesn’t matter whether you’re leading your youth group, serving on the mission field, or writing an academic paper – as long as you do it with the right heart and the right motivation you can be praising God. So, I’d like to take this a step further and encourage you to consider giving God worth with your ballot this year. Read and watch the news, talk with your friends and get them energized about voting, discuss the hard questions between the intermix of faith and politics with your pastor, youth leader, or campus chaplain. Then, GO. Go to the polls on June 12th and check off the name that you feel best reflects Christ’s will. And, always remember to PRAY. PRAY for all the parties and candidates who are running that they will be able to seek Christ’s face and if they don’t know Him yet, that they will form a personal relationship with Him someday. PRAY before AND after your cast your ballot and then leave it into God’s hands. And as you walk away from the polls remember that even if the person you wanted to see doesn’t get into power, that as Christians we can still work towards political, racial, and gender equality and that we should never give up. Especially not after June 12th.

 

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2 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Vote? Would Jesus Vote?

  1. You have made some interesting. I have really enjoyed reading your articles for the past year or so, thank you. Over the past few years I have grown passionate about this issue that should be pressing in every Christian that is a citizen of a developed country with a giant military (especially USA). After reading “The Kingdom of God is Within Us”, “That Holy Anarchist”, “The Myth of a Christian Nation”, and writings by Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, John Dear, Father Kabat, Jaques Ellul, Adin Ballou, and The Bible; I have developed an informed opinion about voting.
    I personally believe that every Christian shouldn’t be involved in violence. Jesus rescued us from violence by dying on the cross. I also believe that we should follow the words of Jesus before any other words in the Bible, I mean we are CHRISTIANS, followers of Christ. Jesus doesn’t use force to get people to follow Him or listen to Him. Should we, as followers of Christ, use force to get what we want, or should we use the power of Love that our Triune God urges us to use. Our we loving our enemies by voting? When we vote, we except the system that is in place, we force our will on other people, and we agree with the system that is being used, system of violence. Part of Jesus’ mission on earth was to abolish the need for Christian to use violence.
    I am not familiar with the use of tax money in Canada because I am from the US; in the US a very large part of tax revenue is used for the “global police”. If you voted in the US, then the person you chose to represent you, chose to use violent force. Any president or representative that you vote for is most likely okay with violence, is Jesus okay with violence?
    Followers of Jesus were killed and tortured for their radical beliefs; most of them because they opposed the current system. Why are followers of Jesus not displaying the same passionate advocacy that was displayed by some of those brave followers today? Are we afraid?
    SO if we don’t vote, that doesn’t mean we just sit around and let injustice take place. We inform people of the violence, we talk to people, we try to establish a society of peace, we try to build community around love. Voting isn’t the only source of action, it sure seems like the easiest though. Being a Christian isn’t easy, it is the hardest thing in my life. This is just food for thought. I don’t condemn those who vote, I don’t condemn anybody, that is the job of our Creator, but I ask you to stop and think before voting. http://www.thatholyanarchist.com/?page_id=2 This book is a good overview of Radical Christian beliefs, its free and a quick read. Here is my blog : http://radicalseeds.blogspot.com/. I work for Mennonite Central Committee. God Bless!

    • Hi Jacob,
      Thanks for your powerful and insightful thoughts on my blog post. I’m glad that you have enjoyed reading what I have published on here. You mention some really great writers in your response, many of whom I have profound admiration and respect for. Additionally, I read That Holy Anarchist while a seminary student at AMBS in Indiana. It’s a great book and has a very different perspective that often gets pushed to the side.

      While I agree with you that not all Christians feel comfortable with voting, (and this is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to myself: should I as a Mennonite vote? Is the only party a Mennonite should vote for Green? Are there other ways to expound political theory without voting?), my blog post was simply to encourage dialogue. I hope that it provided a level of thought especially to young voters who have no interest in the political climate of our day. I truly believe that whether or not someone casts a ballot, they need to think wisely and carefully though the various issues and understand what is going on with our world. I also think that should a Christian decide not to vote, perhaps they could consider refusing a ballot rather than simply not showing up (the connotions for both would be quite different – whereas not showing up could simply imply not caring, refusing a ballot shows a level of protest). I also believe the political situations in Canada and the U.S. are quite different. While neither country is ideal, our whole systems operate on a different sphere. As a young adult interested in political and social development I think more young Christians would do well to become familiar with the super power that is the United States and the voting situation there as well. Thanks again for your thoughts!

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