The 2020 general election is already upon us. Many states have already begun early voting, and the actual general election day is just right around the corner. And, as in every election, at least three things are guaranteed to be true. One, every Christian should vote, two, many of them won’t, and three, it actually matters. So let’s take time and deal with those things in this paper.
On the first point, the fact that every Christian should vote, there really should not be any debate about it.
In the life of Christ, there came a day when He was confronted by a question regarding the believer’s responsibility as a citizen of a nation here on earth. Christ had made no bones about the fact that He was “not of this world,” and that statement from Him seemed, to His enemies, to provide for an opening to label Him as a disloyal Roman subject. So they plied Him with a question about taxes:
Matthew 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
Christ very skillfully pointed out that we have dual citizenship; we are citizens of heaven, but we are also citizens of a nation here on earth, and we have responsibilities to both. To neglect our responsibilities to our nation would produce a bad testimony before the very people that we are trying to convince to be citizens of heaven with us! For a Christian to not vote signals either indifference or laziness on our parts, and those things will so sully us in the eyes of the world that they will want no part of the God we proclaim when we come calling with a gospel tract. Even worse, it is actually direct disobedience to the One who told us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Not voting is every bit as much of a sin as not witnessing, not tending to the needy, and not forgiving those who wrong us. A Christian who does not vote should feel just as guilty about that as a Christian who curses or lies or steals.
As to the second point of this paper, though, the fact that many Christians will not vote even though they should, this can be easily discerned both anecdotally and by reputable studies. Anecdotally, I personally know Christians who do not vote, and I rather suspect that everyone reading this does as well.
But this is much more than just an anecdote. The Barna research group studied the 2016 election and found that 61% of evangelicals voted, 58% of non-evangelical Christians voted, and 59% of so called “notional” Christians voted. In other words, when all of those segments are taken together and averaged, 59% of Christians voted, meaning that 41% did not. In other words, seventy million people identifying as Christians did not vote. (https://www.barna.com/research/notional-christians-big-election-story-2016/)
So now let us deal with what should be obvious; it does make a difference. How could 70 million voters either voting or not voting not make a difference? Christians could literally determine the outcome of every election, ever ballot initiative, ever amendment at every level if they would just VOTE!
At this point, though, we can cue the “but my one vote out of all of those millions doesn’t matter!”
Yes, it does.
For starters on that one, every batch of “millions of votes” is made up entirely of, and I know this is shocking, individual votes. The idea that you will simply not vote because you are just one out of millions, and not the entire deciding factor all on your own, is selfishness and narcissism. Races at every level literally hinge on exactly one thing: who actually shows up to vote.
But there are two other reasons your individual vote matters, even in places where you think it does not matter.
Let’s take California and New York. These two states are bastions of liberalism; they are much akin to wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democrat party. They almost always in presidential elections end up giving all of their electoral votes to the Democrat candidate. Because of that, through the years many Christians in those states have simply decided it is not worth their time and effort to vote.
But for the last four years, what have we been daily bombarded with 24/7 from the news media? “Donald Trump lost the popular vote! He is an illegitimate President!”
Now, for the record, that makes exactly as much sense as saying “The Dodgers may have won the World Series 4 games to 3, but the Yankees actually outscored them 23-21 during those seven games, so the Dodgers are illegitimate champions!”
No, Donald Trump is not an illegitimate President because he lost the popular vote. The Constitution is just as clear on that as the longstanding rules of baseball that it is not the runs during the World Series that matter, but the number of games won during the series. And yet for four years that drum beat has been used as a pretext for bitterly opposing President Trump in literally everything. And do you know what one simple thing would have prevented that from ever happening? If Christians in California and New York had all shown up and voted, even if President Trump still lost those states, he would have easily won the national popular vote, and that would have preemptively taken that four year talking point away from the Democrats. But to make matters even more interesting, several states have now pledged to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote! In other words, (see the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact) if Christians vote in California, and lose in California, they may still win California’s electoral votes just because enough of them showed up to ensure that their candidate won the national popular vote. Literally, even if you are in a state you cannot win, your vote is more important than ever.
So what to do?
For starters, Christian, vote. Vote in every primary election, vote in every special election, vote in every general election. Second, if you know Christians in states that are Democrat strongholds, give them this information, so they will be encouraged to vote. Third, vote in person, and rather than checking the straight party box, manually vote for each candidate individually. It makes it much harder for fraud to be perpetrated. Fourth, pastors, actually actively get your people to vote. We actually put a large pvc pole in our church vestibule, and as people vote they bring their “I voted” stickers and put it on the pole each week. In the last election 100% of our eligible voters voted! Fifth, check and make sure everyone has a ride to go vote. Go in groups, make a big day out of it.
Vote, Christians, it actually matters.
Pastor Bo Wagner can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.