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Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon
Our Biblical Responsibility To Vote: Get Registered, Get Ready, Here’s How
Are you registered to vote for the upcoming national election? If you are a U.S. citizen, voting is not only an honor and a privilege, but it is a Biblical responsibility. How so?
Jesus was once asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. He replied “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12. 17)
Any serious consideration of this text by Christians requires us to think about what WE owe Caesar. Paul elaborated on this in Romans 13.1-7. In speaking of the Roman government, he said “pay to all what is owed to them.” He was referring to respect, honor and taxes.
As we apply this to our times, we obviously do not live under Caesar. But we do live under the U. S. government—a representative democracy. Among other things, Washington asks for our participation—including our vote. This is one of the key requirements of a democratic government. In this respect, voting is part of our obedience to the Lord as a disciple.
It is mind boggling how so many Christians overlook this by not registering and getting out to vote in local and national elections. According to the US Census Bureau, as many as 29% of US citizens were not registered to vote in 2008—that’s 60,000,000 people! I’ve heard that up to 24,000,000 Christians are not registered. I wonder how this can be?
Our votes, and the choice of one candidate over another, can affect the lives of many people. It affects the family, the elderly, children in the womb, our religious freedom, how marriage is defined, justice issues, global poverty, the reach of the government, educational choice, the environment, economic viability, and the course of our culture. So please exercise the right, this privilege and Biblical duty. Here are some next steps.
- Make sure you are registered to vote
The Florida deadline for registering is October 9th. Voter forms can be found here. By the way, encourage your friends to register as well. One way the campus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando serves our community is by being a polling place on election day. This should also make it easy for students who live in this area.
- Realize the importance of one vote
Do you remember the 2000 presidential election? It was all decided in one state by just 537 votes. The state was Florida. So don’t believe it when people tell you that your vote does not matter.
- Be informed The next worst thing to not being registered is not being informed. Study each of the party platforms. Find out about local candidates. Check out voter guides. Some people don’t like voter guides. I do. They provide some accountability so we can know how local and national representatives actually vote. Check out several different voter guides since different guides highlight different issues. Google “voter guides” to see the various ones that are out there.
- Vote with a Christian mind
That is, think as a Christian about different issues and candidates. Talk with others about the issues and candidates. Vote your values. As we do this, we will of course recognize that the ultimate solutions to our world’s problems are not political. We will remember the place of the gospel, the role of the church, the supremacy of Christ, and that we are not to put our ultimate trust in nations or political leaders. Nevertheless, who is elected does make a huge difference. Party platforms differ. Rather than just vote on the basis of one issue, think through a broad range of issues. Think Christianly! And enjoy talking about these things with people who may have a slightly different opinion than yours!
- Finally, don’t forget to pray for our nation
This too is a Biblical command (1 Timothy 2.1-4). Between now and Election Day, many Christians are entering into a period of fasting and prayer regarding the direction of our nation and the election of its leaders.
Dr. Don Sweeting
James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Church History
Orlando Semper Informanda | Volume 7 Issue 7