So the debates are over (praise God), but the debating continues (come Lord Jesus!). During the campaign season, chances are you’ve been the target of some billion dollars in campaign advertising. We’re the imagined voter in some focus group meeting. We’ve become the critical pawn to be moved in some campaign strategy session. We’re the intended audience of the largest and most sophisticated media communications effort ever in the history of the world. Never before has there been so much spent on trying to say what we want to hear without actually saying what we want to hear. Never has there been a more studied effort at performance, appearance, suggestion, posturing, and styling while “pivoting,” “spinning,” “ducking,” and “redirecting” away from substance.

Now we’re in the sprint to the polling booth–most of us. And we’re shuffling into that makeshift stall, if we’re Christians, with some mixture of hope and unbelief. We hope our vote matters, if for no other reason than to slow the tide of corruption. But many quietly doubt it will.

Last night following the debates I asked a couple sincere questions on my twitter account:

When you check your ballot, will you really be voting ur confidence in the candidate’s positions, or just hoping he might not make it worse?

Serious question: Which candidate has really represented your values/ideals in these high-profile debates? Which values? Which has failed u?

I didn’t receive many responses. That’s okay. I think I know the answer for a great many people. Most will be hoping things don’t get “worse” and few feel either candidate really made a bold, flat-footed, barrel-chested stand for their values and ideals. I observed social conservatives disappointed in Mitt’s whiff of the abortion issue in debate two. I read tweets from political liberals disenchanted with Obama’s use of drones in foreign conflict. I could go on. But you get the picture. Most voters are settling.

And most of us will rationalize our settling by saying a few things to ourselves. These are the only two choices we have. Or, Voting for the lesser of two evils is an effort to stem the tide. Or, There’s one candidate that’s clearly better on the social issue(s) I care about. You’ll know that this is a rationalization for you if you say these things with the nagging suspicion that there’s gotta be more mixed with a pang of uncertainty in your conscience. My hope for us all is that even if one or more of those reasons tip us into the voting booth, we might have a deeper resolution to fight for something positively better next election, not just something a little less bad.

Some others will vote in a couple weeks because they’ve heard and perhaps believe that not voting is not an option. It’s fine if people feel that way, too. If you feel a moral ought when it comes to voting, do what you believe to be right. Even write and speak to convince others that voting is right, morally good, even morally necessary.

But I don’t hold that view. Nor do I believe that speaking against the system while not voting is less effective than speaking against the system then voting. I think that position, while I respect it, fails on two counts. First, it seems to me to assume that the fundamental freedom and action that most necessarily needs to be exercised is the vote itself. It seems to suggest that speaking alone is empty or at least incomplete. But the right of free speech comes prior to and is fundamental to voting, which is simply another form of speaking. The most necessary thing is that we speak, not that we vote. The more effective thing in a democratic society that prizes the free exchange of ideas isn’t the private, quiet, sometimes symbolic act of voting. The more effective thing is shouting from the rooftops, banging the drums or pots, repeatedly delivering the message, enacting a little civil disobedience that challenges the powers of complacency and complicity. The most effective weapon in the campaign of ideals are words, not ballots. Ballots have their place but only if they reflect what people are speaking.

Moreover, it seems to me that if we really believe the system is broken but we vote anyway, we simply nullify our contention that the system is broken. Now, we may not believe it’s “that broken,” and so we vote. Praise God. I support you if you feel that way. But if you think the farce of national democratic elections has reached an almost irretrievable state of disrepair, corrupted by big money on both sides and fundamentally manipulative and insincere in its presentation of candidates, then to vote could only end in one outcome no matter who is elected–the further entrenchment of the brokenness we decry. The vote becomes a veto. In that case, the ballot is empty and the voice is empty. You can’t decry a thing sincerely and then comply with the thing secretly. We can’t hope to bring change or reform by continuing practices and patterns that are themselves part of the problem. Broken systems call for genuine fixes.

It seems to me there are two routes forward for this Christian: either a new kind of party or a new kind of candidate. The old parties and the old candidates are the problems. I fully realize that transformational figures only come along every so often. And I realize that in our instant, frenzied, critical media age even the most transformational persons and moments are fleeting. But that’s what we need, even if fleeting, and even if only to remind us of higher possibilities, possibilities that keep us from being dulled and lulled into the low level of discourse and life now taken for granted in our political discourse.

And by “we,” I mean the country generally and Christians specifically. It’s been a study in worldliness to read a great many tweets, posts, and comments from Christian leaders. Some of us have forgotten that apostolic admonition: “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4). I don’t for a minute believe Paul there advocates a withdrawal from society or civic rights. Not for a minute. But I do maintain that this admonition and so many others provide us a clear warning against entanglement with the world, entanglement with affairs outside the soldier’s concern, entanglements that distract us from the true warfare and our Captain’s orders. When the pastor or church leader’s tweets are all retweets not of a biblical perspective or of another Christian leader’s insights and analysis but of the one-liners and zingers and character assassinations of the world’s pundits and the world’s wisdom, we are “involved in civilian affairs” the way civilians are and we are entangled with the world. When the pastor or leader writes in such a way that they are easily mistaken as party loyalists rather than discerning voters, then they are involved in civilian affairs and potentially seduced by the world’s siren song. When the Christian leader’s comments reflect the vitriol and venom, the poison beneath the lips of asps and vipers, then we’re taken by the world in a most deadly way. The “Christian” commentary has left the world with the impression, once again, that to be a Christian is to be a Republican. It’s fostered the impression that to be a Democrat is to be an anti-Christ. And it’s gone further: It’s sometimes suggested that there’s nothing supernatural about being a Christian–all our concerns are just the world’s concerns thinly veneered with religious language but seeping with the same hatreds, anger, and violence. We not only need better candidates to represent our concerns, but some of us need to better represent Christ before we start evaluating the candidates.

Meanwhile, the Mormon presidential candidate on the Republican ticket walks off with the evangelical Christian’s vote tucked deeply in pocket with barely a hat tip to their concerns and issues–even when asked to speak to it directly, freely, and personally. Perhaps he simply feels you’re the “base” of his support and so you’d understand if he’s a little quieter about the things you care about in order to “get the swing voters” or “win a battleground state.” I’d simply suggest that being “the base” can mean your issues are debased. So far, I don’t see evangelical Christians being very shrewd about the political world, shrewd enough to protect their own interests with a candidate who can’t win without them. And that’s the reality. Romney can’t win without you; it’s not that you can’t win without Romney. May we never forget the order of things! And may we never stop thinking carefully about what “winning” is. Winning isn’t the election of a Republican. Winning is the advancement of the gospel, the sewing of a biblical vision of the ‘good life’ in American life and culture, the strengthening and spread of the cause of Christ through His Church, a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and holiness. That’s a far loftier goal than either electing Romney or defeating Obama, and it doesn’t depend on who “wins” the election when neither candidate really represents you. And though the country rightly has no religious litmus tests for candidates, and though the election of a Mormon president signals a kind of plurality that many believe to be healthy and welcome, I struggle to believe that the election of a Mormon president and thereby the normalization of a cult can be good for the kingdom. And, we shouldn’t single out the BGEA here. If we stop for a moment to count, we’ll see that many Christian leaders removed Mormonism from their cult list as soon as Romney appeared to be the likely candidate. They removed it by no longer talking about it as a cult and by encouraging others to ignore it.

On the other side of the aisle, other Christians are taken hostage, too. It’s been interesting to note the many reports of African Americans quietly disgruntled with Obama. But like White evangelicals who’ve largely attached their fortunes to Gov. Romney while ignoring Mormonism, almost all African Americans have hitched their wagon to the Obama train while ignoring the massive-scale destruction of black life through abortion and the equally problematic theology of the President. Some of those who’ve complained have faced significant backlash, and others have perhaps complained about the wrong things–“He hasn’t done enough for the Black community.” Still other Black church leaders have led the charge in fighting for a view of “rights” and a view of life that’s completely anathema to our Lord’s word. And when zero percent of the African American community polls for Romney (when Bush received 8 percent and 11 percent, and even Reagan received 3 percent in ’84), the jury is in on to what extent “race” and ethnicity are at play in this election.

Idols abound on both sides and across ethnic groups. Most necessary of all is a Christian voting public free of idols and blind, voluntary political enslavement.

So, what of all this? In short, it means I don’t have a political home and I need to fight to create one. It won’t likely be in either of the two major parties. It won’t be created by checking so much of who I am at the polling curtain and ticking a few blanks out of a vague sense of duty or an even vaguer hope that “this might work.” Home won’t be found as an independent, unhitched to anyone or anything besides my own ramblings. Thus begins a new political sojourn for me. I’m looking for a home with others who’ll leverage their voices and eventually their votes into something that looks, smells, walks, and talks like a Christian view of the good life. I am an idealist and an optimist. Shame on us all if we believe on Christ and we’re not all idealists and optimists.

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Comments:


63 thoughts on “Are Christian Voters Soldiers Entangled in Civilian Affairs?”

  1. In Canada a citizen can go to the voting station, be given their ballot, and then return it without checking a box. This is registered as a vote for no one, and will factor into statistics against each party. This “protest vote” is better than not showing up, which would be categorised as a “non-turnout.” Is that the case in the US? Can you register a protest vote?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Ian,

      Great question. The U.S. can’t register a protest vote in the way the Canadian system does. And a case could be made that not even checked boxes in the popular vote matter as much given the electoral college. In fact, that’s a long-standing debate about whether the electoral college is better or worse at certain things. It seems to me that it’s a pretty unsophisticated tool for registering dissent. It’s also a tool that unintentionally focuses disproportionate energy on key states who are seen as deciding the election.

      T-

      1. That’s too bad then, because it makes it harder for your non-vote to be heard for what it is. I totally agree with you about the moral consequences involved in voting for the “lesser of two evils.” Evil is evil. Your posts have been fascinating.

  2. Frank says:

    I agree with your comments, although I will probably write in my vote. In addition, I recommend the materials published by the Institute on the Constitution in Severn, MD. Pastor Whitney and Dr. John Eidsmoe do a great job laying out the Christian foundation of our form government.

  3. mel says:

    Thank you, finally someone that makes some sense of all this for me.

  4. rick says:

    Definitely the most thoughtful and well reasoned article on politics I’ve read this year. Thank you!

  5. Luis says:

    Great post! Just a question: would other frequent Christian Tweeter/Facebook topics such as movies, secular music, and of course, *sports*, be also considered “civilian affairs”? … what would you guys suggest marks the line between “Christian stuff” that we should be concerned about, and everything else?

    On another note, i wonder if, since having the perfect candidate (Jesus) is not viable, the secons presumibly best is not viable either as, I am not sure Christians in USA would ever agree on who that candidate should be (he would be too charismatic, or too traditional or too seeker friendly or too fundamental etc..)

    Please see here further thoughts on the viability of a third party Christian candidate http://tiny.cc/ChristiansVoting

    1. Mohammed says:

      Excellent link Luis. I think sometimes we Christians place our faith on the wrong challenge. Our goal should not to come up and elect a Christian president as 3rd party in order to Christianize America, but to be part of our society -with Christians and not Christians, and be witness in doing so. The world is getting more and more secularize and I doubt the solution is a 3rd party Christian candidate -if even viable. Most of the 20% independents who end up deciding the election care more for social justice and the economy than religion. Our country, though based on Christian values, was not to be a theocracy.

  6. Mary says:

    Whew! I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Both candidates are seriously lacking. I do not feel right about voting for either one.

  7. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

    Wow!
    So umm… Can I take my previous critiques back?
    I mean, I didn’t really know that this is what you were saying.

    *slowly walks away and picks chin up off floor*
    ——-
    Clearly THIS is the argument you were making a few weeks ago.

    A strong case with excellent proof material and a robust defense.

    Bravo.

    I stand corrected, embarrassed and ashamed. And most of all… CONVINCED!!! (Now who am I going to vote for again?)
    Great job sir. This is truly great work.

  8. Robert says:

    I’m wondering about how you think the national elections are a farce?
    Sure there is way too much money involved and it is sometimes hard to sort through the hype, but to say that it is a farce is a ridiculous statement. Instead of refusing to participate in the system we ought to pray for wisdom.
    When you vote for someone who has no chance of winning, or refuse to vote because we want the perfect candidate, we neglect our duty as citizens. Wen we refuse to do what we know is right, we neglect our duty as Christians.
    Voting for the best candidate does not mean we no longer have ideals. You aren’t putting the “Christian” stamp of approval on any candidate. You are simply voting for the person whom you believe will be the best leader.

    1. Tad Caldwell says:

      our only duty as citizens is to pay taxes and obey. Even if we did have a duty to vote rather than the option of voting how is voting third party any different than voting for the person who loses between the big two? Ill give you a hint: it isn’t different. A vote is never wasted if one votes on principle.

      1. Mel says:

        Thabiti may respect people like Robert but I just feel bullied by them.

        I do not see how as a prolife believer I am supposed to vote for either man. It makes no difference that the Republican platform is completely prolife. Romney has said over and over that is not how he feels about it. He was not prolife before and now he says just enough to suck the non-committed prolife people in.

        I just do not understand with all the tea party activity going on how we could be right back where we were with McCain four years ago. Why can’t we have a REAL conservative? Obviously the RNC is not really socially conservative. Until Christians walk away from it, nothing is ever going to change.

  9. Chris says:

    Thabiti,

    I want to praise you and Praise God for your post. I have also read a couple of your other posts recently on this topic. Like someone else said, I am glad that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    Personally I am dumbfounded and distraught over my “Christian” friends who are very excited about Romney. I truly believe Satan has blinded their eyes.

    “Christians” who continue to think that voting conservative is going to change things are delusional. Check the records…it was “conservative” Presidents that appointed “conservative” judges that declared abortion legal. It was “conservative” Presidents that appointed “conservative” judges that upheld ObamaCare. I could go on.

    Voting conservative for the past 40+ years has not solved one thing.

    Instead of wasting their time on politics, if Christians were truly living holy and righteous lives distinct from the secular and pagan culture around them and spent their time spreading the gospel, loving their neighbor, taking care of the widows, orphans and the poor and politely, passionately and peacefully pointing out the unrighteousness in the world and pointing people to the righteousness of God, then our government and society would be better.

    I refuse as follower of Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world, to cast my lot/vote for an unrighteous man where I believe I will be part and parcel of any unrighteous acts or legislation he endorses or passes. I see no reason why God would not hold me accountable as well since I helped him get into position to do such things. I will not throw in my lot or go along with them to “lie await for blood”, to “ambush the innocent”, to “swallow them alive like Sheol”, to steal “all kinds of precious wealth and fill my house with spoil.” I WILL NOT DO IT!

  10. Reg Schofield says:

    As a Canadian , what you have so passionately argued is exactly how I have felt for the last 5 years or so with the political process in my country . Very well said .

  11. Mark says:

    Thank you Thabiti for your continuing thoughts on this matter. They are appreciated!

  12. Robert Wallis says:

    Thank you for writing thoughtfully and biblically. It mildly annoys me that so many of my Republican friends have succumbed to “anyone but Obama” fever, but it greatly disturbs me when Christian leaders–many of whom have written and spoken eloquently on faith and life–weigh in during this election season with articles and posts that are thinly veiled “vote Republican” sermons. I will be voting for a third party and wish more Christian leaders were engaging the topic as you have begun to do.
    For the record, however, I’m not sure the political process is the place to hope for a “Christian view of the good life.” We must not put too much faith in our political system, as good as it is compared to others. Biblical injunctions to honor the emperor, pray for leaders, obey authority, etc are timeless and apply across cultures. If 1st century believers could take these truths and apply them in the midst of the Roman Empire, maybe American Christians should tone down the “this is the most important election in our country’s history” hysteria. There are many things worse than another four years of poor leadership. Our duties as citizens are important, but reasonable people can differ on how this should be applied.
    Thank you, Thabiti, for giving voice to many of our concerns. I hope many people read this and take it to heart.

    1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      Well Said Robert!
      Our hope should always be heavenward, so that we don’t give off the impression that we take find comfort or rest in anything this world has to offer.

      But what would you say to those whose only hope for decent human dignity and rights as an individual may very well rest in the outcome of this election? While I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think I can understand why others feel so passionately about their positions.

      1. Hans vanHaven says:

        Well said Robert, and thank you Thabiti. Peterson, if the ‘others’ you refer to are Christians, then their passions are wrongly placed.

        1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

          Slavery in America…
          Racial Discrimination in America…
          Abortion in America…

          All examples of individuals fighting for a sense of human dignity. If these are not values that the constitution upholds then the question is not who we should vote for, the question is who cares about the constitution.

  13. Timothy Reynolds says:

    Increasingly that’s how we feel over here in the UK, brother – we have no political home. For the first time in my life I find that I do not want to vote for any of the mainstream political parties. In fact I want to vote against them all. Is there a way I can do that?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Brother, if you find a way to do that please let me know!

  14. Curtis says:

    AMEN and AMEN! Thank you brother Thabiti! Thank you! Tremendous. My heart is with yours on this.

    Also, thank you for your posts on African American (AA) perspectives. I’ve been totally in the dark to the issues confronting the AA community as a white, middle class man.

    1. Peter says:

      I also want to thank you, brother Thabiti, for regularly helping me to understand better some of the issues confronting my African American brothers and sisters and indeed all my American brothers and sisters.
      Speaking as a non-American, I think some American Christians may be unscripturally idealistic about the US political system and to some extent idolize it. Democracy itself is only a system and not even a Biblical one (unlike, say, marriage, tithing, or monarchy) – that’s even before you factor in the corrupting effect of human sinfulness. What are you brothers expecting from your political system? Socialists have great expectations of their systems, as do Islamists – they expect both social and individual transformation. As Christians we know better, right? That individual transformation comes first and that the only eternally significant individual transformation comes through the Holy Spirit by proclamation of the gospel of Christ.
      Because of the AA experience (?), I think you are much less prone to this kind of idolatry than many, Thabiti, but in your posts I sense there is still a frustrated idealist. But, why would you expect either your nation’s political system to throw up a good rulers or if you got good rulers for them to be able to transform society? Isn’t lamenting the lack of good presidential candidates today a bit like first century Jews lamenting the lack of a godly king of Israel, or a godly Roman Emperor (or maybe procurator) – i.e. something one would have good grounds for doing but not something the early church seemed to bother with?
      Wherever we live, whether we get to vote or not, whether there are candidates with Christian credentials or not (modern Egypt?), aren’t we called to pray for those God puts in authority and avoid distractions from the mission of making disciples of Christ?

  15. Jonathan says:

    Thabiti, you said,

    “I don’t see evangelical Christians being very shrewd about the political world, shrewd enough to protect their own interests…”

    But I sure hope they’re shrewd enough to vote against the guy who has taken the most anti-Biblical, anti-Christian positions in the history of the American presidency:

    http://freedomtorch.com/blogs/3/5282/the-most-biblically-hostile-pres

    I will always proudly vote for the lesser of two evils. Because in our human system – we’re ALL sinful, and therefore we’re all evil to one extent or another. Even all politicians are evil because after all they’re humans too.

    Think about it for a minute. If you don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, then you’re going to vote for the greater of two evils! That surely doesn’t make any sense!

    If you refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils, then you refuse to vote. Voting for the lesser of two evils is the glass-half-empty way of saying you’re voting for the best candidate.

    1. Tad Caldwell says:

      your statement: “if your not voting for the lesser of two evils you are voting for the greater of two evils.” assumes two things, both of which are false.
      1. You are required to vote. If both options are evil choose neither.
      2. You are limited in choices to two. Last time I check their will be 4-6 people on most ballots across the United States. Maybe one of them is not evil in how he would preside as president? (even though he be an evil person as all are evil)

      1. Jonathan says:

        Tad, they’re ALL evil. The Bible tells us that. All humans are sinners and politicians are human, therefore they are ALL sinners. What you’re saying is that we should never vote.

        When you say “maybe one of them is not evil” – Biblically speaking, you’re wrong about that. They’re all evil. When you say maybe one isn’t evil – what you’re really saying is that maybe one isn’t as evil as the other. Therefore, you’re saying the exact same thing I’m saying – that you’re going to vote for the lesser of two evils!

        Or to put it another way – you’re going to vote for the best man in the race.

    2. Mel says:

      You should never be proud to vote for evil, ever.

      1. Jonathan says:

        Then you Mel, should NEVER vote. Because all people are sinners, therefore all people are evil. Our choice in this world is ALWAYS between the better candidate and the worst candidate. That is the choice of the lesser between two evils. It’s the only choice we’ll ever have in this life.

        1. rick says:

          Not true Jonathan, all people ARE sinful, but not all choices to support sinful men for public office are evil. The two main candidates this year, in my opinion, are both evil choices. Both are pro-choice and deny the “personhood” of the fetus. Only one of them has been honest about that.

          For that, and a number of other reasons, I will not support either of them. I wish believers would stop putting their trust in political parties that deserted them years ago.

          We have other options to vote for sinners which do not represent evil choices. We also can choose not to vote. No one MUST choose evil. Who wins an election is not all that important anyway. God is Sovereign.

          The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
          he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1 ESV)

          1. Jonathan says:

            Rick, it’s true that Romney has changed positions on abortion. But Obama is radically pro abortion. And Romney has run this campaign promising he would do nothing to further abortion. He has also promised to cut government funding for abortions. Now whether he keeps those promises is anyone’s guess. But at least he has made them and at least if he doesn’t keep them he’ll suffer tremendous political consequences from his base. So he will have some incentive to keep them. The other guy has every incentive to back abortions even after the baby has been born (partial-birth – which really means AFTER birth)!

            I wholeheartedly share your views on this issue. But I think there is enough difference between the two candidates on it that one choice will lead to far more abortions and the other won’t.

            Somebody said the other day that Romney is a flip flopper. And I said, yeah and that’s the best part about him – because the other guy isn’t! The other guy will never change his mind on this issue. Romney just might! I’ll take the chance that he’ll be better on it than the non-chance that Obama won’t.

            1. rick says:

              Jonathan, I don’t think Romney’s a flip-flopper. He’s a chameleon. I encourage you to visit the American Right to Life website and read their comments about him. In reality, Romney’s history in government is to the left of the President. Why anyone trusts him now is beyond me.
              http://republicansagainstromney.com/

        2. Mel says:

          The fact that we are stuck with a choice like Romney or Obama is completely due to the lack of discernment and belief in the Holy Spirit by “believers” and especially evangelical/reformed/religious leaders that jumped on Romney’s wagon so quickly.

          I am sick to death of the argument that this is the best we can do. If this is the best that we have to pick from then we do not deserve a free country. The fact that the rudest and meanest people I have come in contact of late are “believer” Republicans that absolutely cannot stand that I will not vote for who the RNC has put forward. As if! I answer to them instead of God and no they do not speak for God in my life.

  16. Chris Erwin says:

    Hey brother,

    Thanks for another provocative post — it helps elevate the political debates we’re having these days.

    A question — to what degree do you place the blame for the problems you’ve cited on individual Americans, as opposed to “the current system?”

    I don’t mean to play mind-reader, but from your post, I get the sense that you feel the current system is so fundamentally broken that it’s more or less hopeless UNLESS some unifying figure appears to bring about change. I can’t help but wonder — how’s that figure going to emerge if so many Americans are more or less politically ignorant and apathetic? I think of Aquinas, who said, “If, however, in time the people become corrupted and sell their votes, entrusting the government to scoundrels and criminals, they forfeit their power to elect public officials and the right devolves upon a few good men.”

    Does that describe the typical American voter – unconcerned with the greater good, looking out solely for themselves? If so, how do you move forward, in terms of a government led by the truly good men and women you’d like to see? Maybe we’re seeing a devolution from a functional democracy to an oligarchy. And maybe it’s directly tied to the moral devolution of the American people. I can’t help but be doubtful that such a culture can raise up another MLK, Jr. — his success hinged upon a shared moral compass amongst Americans. I think that’s gone.

    So… come, Lord Jesus.

    P.S. I’m still going to vote. I teach Government, after all. :)

  17. Joe Rucker says:

    Short answer -no. He or she is obeying God’s command to seek the good of the land God has him/her in.

  18. Nate says:

    “It seems to me there are two routes forward for this Christian: either a new kind of party or a new kind of candidate.”

    A vote at an election for a third party candidate is not the time to try and implement your idea or to express it. A vote for a third party candidate (which there isn’t even one to begin with) is a vote for President Obama. If there was another viable candidate (see 1992-Ross Perot), a vote for the third party candidate would take away votes from the candidate most like the third party candidate (see Bush I – 1992). So then, this notion of write-in votes is merely a means to act “righteous” and keep Obama in office.

    Furthermore, in the U.S., for Christians to abstain from voting simply allows non-Christians to determine elected officials and they (the non-Christians) certainly aren’t going to vote with a biblical mindset. So yes, campaign for a new party and a new type of candidate, but start now for 2016. This election has already set itself as Romney versus Obama. A vote for a third party is a wasted vote.

    Not only that, this whole notion of Conservative Christians willingly giving their vote to the Republican party is not a “sell-out” but a means of showing the Democrats that if they are going to continue to place Abortion and now same-sex marriage as planks in their platforms, they are never going to get conservatives vote. That doesn’t mean that Republicans are perfect or are more ethical and moral in every situation, but they are, the only party willing to go to bat for the unborn.

    It is beyond astounding that African-Americans (12% percent of the population, yet 30% of all abortions) will give themselves to the Democratic party without equivocation and so few of their leaders speak against the atrocities of the Democrats, but in this election, want to call out Mormonism, as if Romney is going to govern by praying to the golden plates. Margaret Sanger must be laughing in her grave.

    1. rick says:

      Nate, the suggestion that “A vote for a third party candidate (which there isn’t even one to begin with) is a vote for President Obama.” is completely wrong.

      First of all, there are 3rd party candidates in a majority of the states.

      Secondly, this idea that a vote for anyone but Romney is a vote for Obama is just not logical (though i hear it a LOT!). If it were, I could likewise say a vote for anyone but Obama is a vote for Romney! So by supporting a 3rd party candidate, or by just staying home, I’m really voting for both Romney and Obama! This makes no sense.

      I’m gladly voting 3rd party and I know that God is sovereign no matter who wins.

      1. Nate says:

        Rick, re-read my comment. I said a vote for a third-party candidate “in this race” where there isn’t a valid one is a vote for the Incumbent, which is President Obama this year. In other years (see 1992) a vote for a legitimate 3rd party candidate takes away votes from the Dem or Repub most like the 3rd party candidate (see Bush I and Ross Perot).

        You can feel free to vote for a write-in or some unknown 3rd party candidate (that is your right as a citizen), but historically (since there has never been a 3rd party candidate elected) you are casting your vote for the Incumbent (at least this year). To think that you are not is simply being blind to historical realities.

        1. rick says:

          Nate, “you are casting your vote for the Incumbent”? No Nate, I am casting my vote for the person I support. There is no way in which that is equivalent to supporting anyone else. To think otherwise is to be blind to logic and reason.

  19. Nathan says:

    I’ve argued a similar point to friends, but I think you’re overlooking the fact that Christians have a great opportunity to get a better candidate in place: the primaries. On the Republican ticket, there were a plethora of small government, pro-life candidates that could have been the nominee. They aren’t. This is what we have. There are also 3rd party/independent candidates that we can vote for. The last person to draw a significant vote as a 3rd party candidate was Ross Perot. If there were to be a transformational figure who could overcome the 2 party system we’re locked into, there’s a good chance that such a candidate would be even more unappealing to believers. So vote idealistically for as long as you can. Then deal with the choices you have.

    1. rick says:

      Nathan, no one is locked into the “two party system”. We choose to lock ourselves in because we keep looking for “people who can win” instead of people we’d really want to support. The reason we have the candidates we do is because we continue to buy into this nonsense. We don’t HAVE to choose a lesser evil. Scripture certainly never calls us to do that!

    2. Mel says:

      You are mistaken if you think the people really decide the candidates. Even my swing state Santorum really won but that was not how it was reported. Several prominent evangelical leaders jumped on Romney’s wagon early on. I am not going to “deal” with the choices that have been stacked against us due to people’s lack of faith. End of story.

  20. Kirk says:

    Amen! You’ve certainly articulated my perspective. For a minute,I thought I might be losing my mind.Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  21. lawrence says:

    The question to ask now is what is the churches responsibility? There are a lot of things that need to change but it seems like there are so many barriers to churches influencing the changes needed. There are so many doctrinal differences, demographic differences, traditional differences etc. that stifles moves that influence change.

  22. Dennis says:

    If a Christian is to vote for a candidate who is a person of ideals, upright morals, and righteous to boot, and as President they are to uphold Federal law, should I expect a Christian President to enforce abortion laws? I’m not sure how a Christian can uphold these laws and be seen as being idealistic, moralistic, and one that a Christian voter would want to see in office. How can a Christian voter expect a Christian President to protect the killing of unborn children?

  23. Stephen says:

    Thank you for articulating so well why I’m not able to muster up the will this year to wait in a line so I can vote for the lesser of the two evils.

  24. Eric says:

    “So far, I don’t see evangelical Christians being very shrewd about the political world, shrewd enough to protect their own interests with a candidate who can’t win without them. And that’s the reality. Romney can’t win without you; it’s not that you can’t win without Romney. May we never forget the order of things!”

    That sums up all my arguments with my right-wing Republican friends. Thanks for saying it so perfectly- God bless you Sir.

  25. Robert Wallis says:

    A friend of mine yesterday made a good point: those of us who are voting for alternatives to the main two parties and are pro-life have, in this political discussion, a different definition of what is evil. Most pro-lifers I read believe the greatest evil is to vote for anyone who is not pro-life. We believe the greater evil in this battle is the continuation of the status quo. In other words, 40 years after Roe v Wade not much has changed and we are still talking about presidents and Supreme Court justices as key to pro-life victories. What happens if a series of committed pro-life presidents are elected, the high Court swings pro-life, and Roe v Wade is overturned? We will STILL be in the situation where the battle will need to be won on a state and local level. To say nothing of hearts and minds changing through revival. Be smarter and more strategic pro-lifers!
    After 40 years of linking your pro-life agenda to this arguably failed strategy, isn’t it time to try something different? Most of the comments I read are from people who have given in to the emotion and fear of the present election. The Republican Party has shown that it is largely OK with business as usual in DC. To think that Romney represents a move away from DC-centered, corrupt politics is wishful thinking.
    The third party strategy must be a longer term strategy. Stop investing so much emotional and spiritual capital in the political process! Fight abortion locally by supporting crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming unwed mothers into your life, etc, and stop expecting definitive victory in the pro-life battle by voting Republican. There are other ways of approaching this problem than every four years dancing to the Republican tune.

  26. E. Little says:

    Word. Thank you for a challenging and hopeful post. I look forward on hearing your discussion of the good life and how Christians can live, work, and vote in such a way as to bring some Shalom to our cities!

  27. Becky says:

    “But the right of free speech comes prior to and is fundamental to voting, which is simply another form of speaking. The most necessary thing is that we speak, not that we vote.”

    “Winning isn’t the election of a Republican. Winning is the advancement of the gospel, the sewing of a biblical vision of the ‘good life’ in American life and culture, the strengthening and spread of the cause of Christ through His Church, a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and holiness.”

    Maybe the real question is who will protect our right to free speech? Voting for a third party this election season is really a vote for Obama. The time to build a third party isn’t during the election season…it is every day: preaching the gospel. Will Obama protect our right to free speech (free preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ)?

    1. Becky says:

      But whoever is elected isn’t in control..and maybe the trials that come when ungodly men are in power (and that will be a given either way) will actually drive the Church in America to her knees. The disciples of the first century didn’t exactly enjoy free speech!

      At this point in time, I do see voting as a privilege I want to exercise :)

      1. Melody says:

        We do not need free speech to get the gospel out. They do not have it in the middle east. We simply need to be willing to risk everything to get the gospel out.

        The Tea Party was the result of the last election attacking the conservatives in this country and being vilified by a President that claimed Hope and Change. Did the RNC take into consideration that the Tea Party? No, they hate the Tea Party too. They chose a moderate again and they are counting on people’s fear of Obama to get their socially moderate person in. Paul Ryan was thrown in just like Sarah Palin to appease us. If the party is not willing to represent me truthfully then they cannot have my vote. It’s my privileged right and they cannot abuse it or take it for granted.

  28. Mallory says:

    This is the greatest thing I’ve ever read. Ever. I voted for the libertarian candidate this time because I feel limited government is best for America, and I find the two-party system, along with its abuses, nauseating. But I’m stlil learning and growing, and I would probably call myself an “uneasy libertarian.” Asking God all the time to grant me wisdom as I seek to refine my political beliefs, as well as theoligical ones.
    This essay was a breath of fresh air to someone who is being converted from a tunnel-visioned civilian to a soldier.

  29. RG Phillips says:

    As an artist, I recently did an artwork on this subject. #photography #art Entangled in Civilian Pursuits http://rgphil.com/?s=962

  30. B T says:

    Hello, and thanks for venturing again into these waters. I’ve been where you are now for years now. You may not have been following him, but when you write, “It seems to me there are two routes forward for this Christian: either a new kind of party or a new kind of candidate. The old parties and the old candidates are the problems,” it makes me curious as to your perspective on Ron Paul.

    Most assuredly, he is a different kind of candidate. And, when he had a means to communicate to them about what he believed, many African Americans liked what he had to say. What is your take on his liberty-focused approach to government and politics?

  31. lori says:

    Gets into Thomas Paine a bit in ” common sense “. He talked about choosing the lessor of two evils. No one wanted a war, but it just made sense to them. They however did not fire the first shot. The colonists debated for 11 years what to do.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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