The world is a complicated place with many types of problems. In the world's so-called democracies, politicians campaign to persuade us to vote for them so that they can help solve these problems. In the U.S.A., election issues and problems usually include the economy, environment, crime, international leadership, defense, and a host of social concerns. Community leaders with different ideas wish to persuade us that their group's choice is the one that will be best for the country.
Many of these leaders bring religion into the campaign.
Should Christians vote? The Bible teaches that Christians should follow Jesus' example (Phil 2:5). So if Jesus was an American citizen, would He vote? In countries with parliamentary systems, would He vote for a certain party to get a particular prime minister?
In the USA, some seem to think that Jesus would vote for members of the Democratic party, because Democrats are perceived by some to be more compassionate than Republicans. Others feel certain that Jesus would vote for Republicans because Republicans are perceived by some to be more "pro-life" (anti-abortion) than Democrats. Some others, noting hypocrisy in both major parties, feel that Jesus would vote for the candidates offered by the smaller political parties due to their personalities or views on different subjects.
Democracy was known before the time of Christ. In ancient Greece, all the male citizens were expected to vote on the the issues facing their society. The Greeks introduced the concept of democracy to the Romans. The Romans (who were somewhat skeptical of the Greek model) set up a modified form of democracy called a republic. In a republic, elected representatives are supposed to vote for their interpretation of the will of the people. The U.S., other "democracies" of the world (with Switzerland as perhaps the most notable exception as it is more patterned after the Greek model), and even many churches are patterned after the Roman model.
Most people in western societies seem to feel that some form of democracy is the best form of government. Would God agree? The Bible warns us, "there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25). It also warns us, "It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
In Genesis 2:17 God warned Adam and Eve to not partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve did not listen to God. After listening to Satan, they decided that they did not need to listen to God but that they should decide for themselves (Gen 3:1-6). This is the first recorded act of human democracy in action.
Nowhere in the entire Bible do we see God sanctioning democracy.
The Bible shows that God appointed his leaders and made them known to his people. From Enoch to Noah to Moses to David to the Prophets to Jesus and even to the Apostles, we read nothing about God encouraging democracy. Actually according to the Bible, democracy is condemned. When Samuel was God's appointed leader/judge, the majority of the people wanted a king like the rest of the world. Even though there appeared to have been legitimate criticisms of Samuel's leadership, God told Samuel that the people had rejected God and not Samuel (I Sam 8:1-9). The Bible says it was evil in the sight of God for the people to ask to have a government like the other nations around them (I Sam 12: 17).
The Bible teaches that God sets up as leaders whomever He wants (Dan 4:17). The Bible records incidences of religious leaders who felt that they were as good as the ones that God appointed, but God had other ideas. For example, Korah (who was a religious leader and a Levite) was apparently in favor of voting and a republican form of government (which is what, the United States, for example, claims to have). After assembling 250 supporters (who were community leaders/representatives) he said to Moses and Aaron,
You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Num 16:3).
God clearly did not agree with Korah's assessment and God decreed death to Korah and his followers (Num 16:32). When some of the people thought that God's punishment was excessive, God also severely punished them (Num 16:49). Thus, God did not sanction voting in a republican form of government.
If democracy was to be sanctioned in the Bible for Christians, most certainly it would be sanctioned in the New Testament. Greek and Roman ways were widely known. In the New Testament we read of Jesus appointing apostles. Paul writes that God first appoints apostles, secondarily prophets, etc. for the edifying the body of Christ (Eph 4:11,12).
When Judas needed to be replaced (after his betrayal of Jesus and his suicide), the apostles did not have an election, they followed the Biblical example of seeking God's will:
You, O Lord, who know hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen...And they cast their lots. (Acts 1:24,26).
Notice the apostles did not decide that they were qualified to see into a person's heart.
Some have written that various forms of democracy are now acceptable because they believe certain scriptures in the the book of Acts imply it. The primary verses appear to be in the story of Acts 15. In Acts 15 many of the apostles and elders met together to discuss circumcision and Gentile believers. A multitude of counselors was used to discuss the matter. Some feel that using counsel is indicative of democracy. However, the fact that a multitude of counselors was used does not change God's form of government. In the Old Testament we read that not only has God always encouraged this practice (Prov 11:14), we also read that God himself engaged in it (II Chron 18;18-21); thus the fact that some of the Church leadership followed this practice only shows that God's governmental practices from the Old Testament were to be continued.
It is interesting to note something else mentioned in the Book of Acts,
"And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God" (Acts 5:38-39)
Those who vote in worldly elections apparently believe they know aspects of the plan of God that there is no human way they could know. Yet, look at what God said to Samuel, one clearly called and appointed by God, when Samuel thought he knew who should be the next king over Israel,
So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Sam 16:6-7).
It is also interesting to realize that many who believe that the New Testament sanctions democracy also believe that God's future ruling government (in the Kingdom of God) will not be a democracy.
Jesus told the apostles that they would be rulers over the twelve tribes of Israel in his kingdom (Luke 22:30). Jesus chose the disciples, they did not get their positions from any form of democracy (John 15:16; 6:70). God, not man, chose David to be king over Israel originally (Acts 13:22) and has also chosen him to be king over all Israel in the world ahead (Jer 30:9).
By the way, Jesus said that God the Father has reserved who will have certain positions of authority in the kingdom of God (Mat 20:23). The rewards in the kingdom will be Jesus' to give (Rev 22:12); they will not be for the people to take for themselves.
Democracy will not be God's form of government in His kingdom.
One of the many problems of voting is that no human thinks the way God does.
'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways', says the LORD (Is 55:8).
When Jesus was on Earth he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God and told people to repent (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus refused to participate in even the most elementary governmental decisions while he was on the earth (Luke 12:13-14).
Although Jesus taught that we were to pay taxes (Mat 22:17-21), He also taught that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). Jesus taught His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to everyone (Mat 28:19,20). Jesus said that His disciples were to be in the world, but not of it (John 17:16).
The apostle Peter clearly understood this. He wrote that being part of God's people made one part of a holy nation (I Pet 2:9). The apostle Paul wrote that this present world was evil (Gal 1:4). The Bible warns of the consequences of being part of the world's systems and its governments and tells us to come out of it and to be separate (Rev 18:2-5).
Look at what the Bible teaches will happen in the Last Days and what Christians are to do about it,
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim 3:1-5).
Note that God's word does not encourage voting as the solution.
Paul said that Christians are to be ambassadors for Christ (II Cor 5:20). Ambassadors often live in alien nations, some of which are clearly hostile to their beliefs. Ambassadors, though they live in other societies, do not involve themselves in the politics of the societies that they live in. There is a time for God's people to take over the governments of this world, but it is not yet (John 18:36, Dan 7:17-18). It will be after the second coming of Jesus (I Thes 4:16, Rev 11:15).
To Christians, Peter wrote,
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men (1 Peter 2:9-15).
Aliens, of course, do not vote.
Now the Bible does mention one particular vote by the Apostle Paul (while he was still Saul and thus unconverted). Notice what he later said about it:
Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them (Acts 26:9-10).
And while the above is not of itself a blanket condemnation of all voting, it is the only time the word "vote" or "voting" is in the Bible. And it does show that even religiously zealous/conservative individuals do not always vote correctly and can do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Zenit.org, a Vatican-supporting news source, reported the following given by a Roman Catholic priest named Michael Hull:
"Democracy" is difficult to define, and its foundations are difficult to articulate, because the word is used in many and diverse ways, especially by special-interest groups including political parties, the media, and governments.
At its root, democracy means "rule by the people" (Greek: democratia)...
Without the recognition of the primacy of natural law, democracies are condemned to little more than tyranny of the majority, not to mention a plethora of social and moral evils.
The single, clearest example of such evil is found with respect to every human being's right to life. Recall for a moment those millions upon millions of babies legally murdered in their mothers' wombs in so-called democracies like the United States and most European countries...
But we know for sure that something better is coming along at the end of time: the reign of Christ the King (The Foundations of Democracy According to Theologian Father Michael Hull. Zenit.org September 1, 2006 Code: ZE06090135).
While we in the Church of God would have tended to use the term God's law instead of natural law, in general we agree that rule by the majority can lead to tyranny as well as to many social and moral evils. We also agree that Christ will reign, and that form of governance is much better than democracy.
Notice a secular view related to the 2012 USA presidential election as it has some ideas to ponder:
When confronted with the false dilemma of the democratic political process, many individuals settle for the “less of two evils” as a kind of compromise. But one suspects (or hopes) they do so with a certain degree of moral discomfort. Ask a disciple of the Elephant Party, for example, if he agrees with the murderous drone attacks this moment underway in Pakistan and you will likely offend a delicate delusion of “Democrats for Peace.” Similarly, press any Donkey Party advocate on the issue of economic freedom and watch them squirm under close scrutiny of their own candidate’s position vis-à-vis the IRS, the Federal Reserve, the indigestible, 75,000- page tax code, etc., etc., etc….
Contrary to the popular snipe that “only those who vote have the right to complain,” common sense leads us to quite the opposite conclusion. It is only those who have not aggressed against others who have the right to complain when they are aggressed against. Those who, to invert a phrase, “feed the mouth that bites them,” may stand firmly, but do so on shaky ground.
A vote for either evil is nonetheless a vote for evil. (Daily Reckoning, October 19, 2012)
I have documented some other evils that both major USA presidential candidates espouse previously (see Romney and Obama on ‘Social Issues’). It is interesting to see a secular coming to similar conclusions regarding the ‘democratic system’ and the US presidential election.
Of course, many professing Christians believe that they need to vote even though that concept is not endorsed in the Bible. But notice two concepts that are:
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2)
The “lesser of two evils” is still not good.
Neither the current US President nor Candidate Romney has called for national repentance and, even if either did, it is not likely that they would call for repentance for Americans to go to the faith of the original Church of God of the New Testament.
Although many sincerely believe that it is their "Christian duty" to vote (even though that "duty" is not specified in the Bible), some seem to have overlooked some prophecies related to political leaders in the end times:
12 As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.” (Isaiah 3:12)
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed (Isaiah 9:16).
It should be clear that Isaiah prophesied that there would be end time leaders that cause people to err. This is what many politicians, directly and indirectly do.
While it is true, that like the King of Ninevah (Jonah 3:5-6), political leaders could call for national repentance after enough people begin a fast, the reality is that this simply is not something that many of them ever seriously consider, let alone do. It seems that this will not happen (unless perhaps after the prophesied destruction).
Notice also a disturbing comment from a secular source that generally supports democracy:
All political campaigns lie and mislead. We all know that, and that knowledge is “baked into the cake,” so to speak, when it comes to assessing candidates. (Bookman J. GM on Romney: ‘Campaign politics at its cynical worst.’ Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 31, 2012. http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/10/31/gm-on-romney-campaign-politics-at-its-cynical-worst/)
No candidate should lie or mislead. And while I am not agreeing with the statement that they all do, the reality is that it is not godly conduct to lie or mislead, and that not only reflects unfavorably on the candidates, but also the process of modern democracy.
The Bible is clear that humankind, apart from God, cannot solve its problems. Jesus will return and He will be the non-humanly elected King of Kings (Revelation 17:14). Problems all humans have faced will be solved by the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God:
3 "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelation 21:3-5)
No matter which politician gets elected in carnal governments, human political leaders will not bring this about (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).
If Christians are not supposed to vote, what should we do about leaders?
Pray for them!
Notice what Paul wrote:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1 Tim 2:1-3).
Notice that we are to pray for worldly leaders and those that have authority over us so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life. Nothing like this is said for voting that many falsely claim is their "Christian" duty--prayer for leaders is.
We are also to pray for our spiritual leaders. Notice what Jesus taught:
2 The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).
Notice what Paul taught:
25 Brethren, pray for us (1 Thess 5:25).
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith (2 Thess 3:1-2).
We also are to pray:
14 The will of the Lord be done (Acts 21:14).
Similarly, Jesus taught:
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:7-10).
And that, I believe, should be the type of prayer that Christians have about elections. Followers of the true God are also told to:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7).
Voting for one promoting evil (abortion in the case of most USA Democrats and “country first”, in violation of the first commandment, in the case of certain USA Republicans) is not a Christian thing to do.
Many people, however, apparently are not satisfied with the biblical admonitions to trust God to chose political leaders. This is not new (1 Samuel 8:6-7).
And while I can certainly understand that people often feel that they should do more, people often forget that God inspired Jeremiah to write:
23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
Also notice what Hosea was inspired to write:
6 Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually (Hosea 12:6).
Some of those that vote seem to forget what God said:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts..."(Isaiah 55:8-9).
'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.' (Daniel 4:17).
It may be of interest to point out that Jesus suggested that people would take matters in their own hands thinking that they are doing God a service (John 16:2). And while this referred to killing, the principle is still that one should not violate what God instructs and justify it by thinking that God wants one to.
Christians are not to be part of this world (Revelation 18:1-4), but are to be ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20). True Christians "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).
Jesus did not vote while He was on this earth. A Christian ambassador should follow the leadership of Jesus Christ and the Bible and not vote. Neither will I.
The Bible never enjoins voting or democracy. The Bible condemns both individual and republican voting. The Bible teaches that Christians should pray about their governmental leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3)--it never teaches that voting is a Christian duty.
Those truly concerned about the selection of leadership of their countries should pray (and if safely possible fast) for “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14).
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Appendix A: Religious Leaders
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus' idea of governance:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
So God appoints true religious leaders.
Also, God has not left us without any guidance to know who his leaders are. Jesus said that His religious leaders on the earth would be known for their fruits:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20).
Notice He did not say that you will know them because they got the most votes, but that their prophetic and other fruits would show their genuineness.
Jesus also continued with,
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23).
Those leaders who do not preach obeying the laws of God are false prophets even if they talk about Jesus (Matthew 7:15,22,23). Obeying the laws of God certainly includes preaching the gospel to all the world (Mat 28:19,20) in order to bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:17-20). Therefore, the true leaders that God has appointed preach the gospel, do not preach lawlessness, and obey the laws of God themselves.
More on church governance is included in the article The Bible, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government. More on true and false religious leaders can be found in the articles Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? and How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.