Monday, March 7, 2016

Why I Vote... or Don't Vote... the Way I Do

I did not vote in the last two presidential elections.  There, I said it.  I am not ashamed.  No need to blame me for the state of the country.  No need to attempt to convince me that I am obligated to vote because our ancestors fought for the right or I have a biblical responsibility.  I appreciate the right, am very conscious of it, and do not take voting lightly – that’s why I did not vote.

I want to make it clear that I am not “anti-voting” on its face.  I do not believe that anyone should haphazardly withdraw from the political process without any thought.  However, I am anti-irresponsible voting.  I am anti-uninformed voting.  I am anti-race-based voting.  I am anti-party-based voting.  As a Christian, I am anti-throw-Biblical-principles-to-the-wind voting.

I did not vote in the last two elections because I could not in good conscience vote for either candidate.  My criteria for choosing a candidate is very simple.   During any election season, I look to scripture, particularly Exodus 18, to guide my decision-making.  In chapter 18, Moses had been acting judge over all the people of Israel and was becoming overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job.  His father-in-law Jethro counseled his weary son-in-law to appoint other men to judge the smaller matters, thus lightening Moses’ workload.  Jethro advised Moses of the kind of men he should seek out for the job:  “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” (Exodus 18:21)

I look for a candidate who professes faith in Christ and whose life, voting record, and platform support that profession.  I look at his stances on issues that I believe reflect an understanding of the character of God.  I am less concerned with who will put the most money in my pocket than who will uphold biblical principles concerning such issues as the sanctity of life.  I also expect the candidate’s faith to be important to him and that it should be apparent -- not a hidden aspect of his life.  If his positions are not based on faith in Christ, no matter how closely they mirror what I may believe to be biblical, I cannot trust that he will not change his mind on an issue with the blowing of the wind.  There is no sure foundation for what he believes.

I look for a trustworthy candidate.  I can only see so much of a candidate’s  private life, but what I am able to see should be marked by integrity.  Perfection?  No.  General integrity?  Yes.  In his public life, I look for consistency in standing for Biblical principles.  I would also expect him to deal honestly in his personal and professional business.  If he cannot be trusted in his daily affairs, how can he be trusted to run our country?

Finally, is he capable of the job?  Has he shown leadership abilities or does he seem to buckle under pressure?  Does he have knowledge of the issues he will be required to confront, or has he surrounded himself with trusted advisors to help with the learning curve?  Is he a biological male and identifies as such… yes, that’s where I must go in my specificity.  I would not support a woman, especially one who is charged with caring for a husband and children, in a presidential election.  I will leave it at that or this post will be much, much longer.

If I look at the field of candidates and find these qualities missing, I do not vote.

I do not vote for the “lesser of two evils”, as I hope to never knowingly vote for an “evil” be they lesser or not.

I do not see my vote as a vote against another candidate.   By that I mean, I do not think, “Well, I don’t really support either candidate A or candidate B, but I will go ahead and vote for B because I am really voting against A.”  Umm, no, you are casting your vote in SUPPORT of candidate B.  Votes are not counted as votes AGAINST a candidate but as votes FOR a candidate.

I am a conscience voter, not a strategic voter.  If I vote for a candidate, it is because I can do so with a clear conscience, whether they have a snowball’s chance to win or not.  If I vote, I try to vote in way that I believe would please the Lord according to the knowledge that I have at the time.  I do not look at the statistics and try to figure out how my vote for a candidate who has little chance of winning the nomination will affect the chances that an opposing candidate will achieve the nomination.  I no longer have the brain power for such mental gymnastics, nor do I have a desire for such.  If the Lord were to ask me about my voting record, I don’t think he’ll ask me why I didn’t vote for the winning candidate.  I think He would ask me if I voted for a candidate who upheld His principles.

Will I vote this election cycle?  Possibly.  Because we are now settled in our new state, with no moves on the horizon, I am more inclined to consider voting in the primary, as well as the local elections.  Honestly, I never paid the primaries much attention, and by the time the general election would roll around, the two candidates were not suitable, so I would decline to vote.  This time I may indeed vote in the primary.  I have until March 15th to figure it out.  However, as I look at the present delegate count, I have a feeling I won’t be voting in the general election.

I think this election season has brought many people to the point where they are truly considering not voting.  I say pray for those who do vote, pray for the candidates, pray for our country,  and press on.  Let no one shame you or guilt you into going against your conscience.  Let no one imply that you are not fulfilling your civic or biblical duty.  I say, “Poppycock!”  Romans 13:1 tells us that God appoints who He wants in authority and isn’t thwarted by anyone’s vote or lack thereof – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” 

As believers, we must rest in the comfort that God is sovereign over all, including who will be our next president.  We must take comfort that whatever He accomplishes through this election will be for His purpose.  Let us be obedient in walking righteously before God and before all men, choosing that which is pleasing to God.  In Christ, Talya