Why do you teach that a Christian should not vote in governmental elections?


Please read first, in regard to this question, our special tribute to Herbert W. Armstrong and the excerpts from his 1984 article, titled, “How Would Jesus Vote for President?”, which are published in this issue of the Update. The tribute and excerpts give an overview regarding the problems for a Christian being involved in voting in governmental elections. We need to understand that the issues of jury duty and voting for the government are connected with the issue of military service and war. We have addressed the problems regarding Christian participation in jury duty and joining the military in previous Q&A sections of these Updates (compare Issues #66 and #67, dated November 8 and 15, 2002).

It is inconsistent to take the position that one cannot join the military, because one is an ambassador of Jesus Christ and a citizen of another government — the Kingdom of God — while at the same time serving on a jury or voting in governmental elections. For instance, in the United States, the President is also the Commander-in-Chief with the right and obligation under the Constitution, in certain circumstances, to declare war. How can one refuse to participate in war, while voting for a person with the right and obligation to declare war? In the past, people were disqualified as conscientious objectors because they did not refuse to serve on a jury and to vote in governmental elections. It was ruled that such an obvious inconsistency in position showed evidence for non-sincerity of the applicant.

In addition, when one votes for a particular political candidate, one votes for the “totality” of the person. Some have argued that one needs to vote for candidate X, rather than candidate Z, as constituting “the lesser evil.” Following that kind of reasoning, one still would vote for an “evil,” which a Christian could not do (compare 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Somebody might want to vote for candidate X, as that candidate might reject abortion. However, the same candidate might, on the other hand, support the tobacco industry, or the pollution of the environment. A Christian could not support such a candidate, who might be right on one issue, but who would still be wrong on other issues. In addition, as stated above, every candidate would support his right as the future president or leader of his nation to declare war on other nations.

Another reason why a Christian should not vote in governmental elections is the truth that this is Satan’s world. It is Satan, with the permission of God, who places candidates into governmental office. If we were to vote, we might involve ourselves quite directly in Satan’s system. Hosea 8:4 gives us God’s warning in this regard:”‘They set up kings, but not by Me; they made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.'”

Sometimes, in order to insure that certain aspects of His plan are fulfilled, God Himself might intervene to see to it that the person best (or perhaps worst) suited for the job at that time gets the job (compare Daniel 4:17). How would God look at us when He intervenes directly to place a specific person into office, while we did not vote for that person, but rather for someone whom God does not want to see in charge at that time? Wouldn’t our vote be found to be in opposition to God’s Will?

To give a prophetic and an historical example, Biblical prophecy reveals that a final political leader of the resurrected Roman Empire — the “beast” — will soon arise in Europe. According to God’s plan, this person will be placed in office at the very last days, bringing havoc on this planet. It is Satan, with God’s permission, who will give his power and authority to this person (Revelation 13:4-5). A Christian could not and should not vote for this person, of course, as he will persecute and kill many of the “saints” (Revelation 13:7), and he will even attempt to fight the returning Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:19). Neither should a Christian have voted for Adolph Hitler, although it is clear now that Hitler came to power, as prophesied, to bring about the ninth resurrection of the Roman Empire. This is to say that God allowed Hitler to become ruler over Germany, so that prophecy could be fulfilled.

The Bible shows that God sometimes appoints directly, or permits Satan to place into office, strong or weak leaders, depending on the situation, in order to insure that God’s purpose will be carried out. God allowed ancient Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus to be ruler over Egypt for a very specific reason — “that [God] may show [His] power in [him], and that [God’s] name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).

Further, we cannot look at the heart of a person, in any event. When God wanted king Saul to be replaced, He had Samuel anoint David as the new king. If it had been left to Samuel, he would have appointed one of David’s brothers (compare 1 Samuel 16:6-13).

Participating in voting for governmental elections shows a lack of appreciation for the Will of God. It also shows a misunderstanding of the fact that Satan rules this world, and that Christians are ambassadors of Christ, called to come out of this world to be separate.

As Christians, we are in no way to resist our leaders whom God has allowed to be placed over us. Rather, we are to be thankful for whatever good they provide for us, and we are to pray for them so that we can lead a quiet and peaceable life (1 Timothy 2:2) and fulfill our God-given job to preach the Gospel and to feed the flock (compare Q&A section on Romans 13:3 in Update #62, dated October 11, 2002).

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