Does an individual vote matter?
If God is the ultimate authority, then is voting for political leaders even necessary?
The less encouraging and less motivating answers to these questions may be the reason that more than 39 million Christians did not vote in the 2012 presidential election even though they were eligible. 12 million were not registered to vote while the remaining 27 million were registered but chose not to participate.
It is easy to find reasons not to vote. For example, some of us lack the time to become informed on all of the positions and politicians a ballot holds, let alone get to the polls on election day. Some may feel uninspired by the options and doubtful their vote can really make a difference. Some may be residents of states firmly rested in “blue” or “red” camps and it can appear there is no need to chime in when there are clear probable outcomes. Lastly, and one of the most referenced reasons, some of us have the perception that there is little or no connection between election results and our everyday lives. But as we analyze individual reasons for not voting, there is one thing we must remember:
Voting is not a requirement; it is a privilege.
Not a single person is required to vote. But, in the absence of a compelling political reason, could there be a greater motivation to participate? Brave Church believes the answer is yes.
There is a choice that honors God. And, it’s not a choice for a particular party, candidate, or measure. It is the choice to live out our faith, to respond to our faith with commitment to God’s call for our lives, and to participate in order to honor His creation.
In the absence of time, knowledge, inspiration, or visible direct benefits, our faith still leaves us with key reasons to choose to vote in spite of circumstances.
God made us in His image to be His stewards and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
God has entrusted us with both free will and responsibilities defined by our faith. We, as his people, are called to care for His kingdom, the earth, all people, the nations, states and cities in which we live, our communities, our churches, and more.
With intentionality and wisdom, He placed each of us in our specific communities, with our individual talents and our unique purposes.
Pastor Daren outlined in a recent Sunday talk that we are called to be committed to God, to our faith and to our purpose. The talk emphasized that, “ministry is the path of meaning, and service is the path of significance.”
When asking the question whether our vote matters, we are doubting our individual significance. But, voting is actually one of the many opportunities we are given to serve our communities and to pursue our significance through service. In other words, voting is an act of service.
In Jeremiah 29:7, God outlines our civic responsibility:
“Work for the well-being of the city where I have sent you to and pray to the Lord for this. For if it is well with the city you live in, it will be well with you.” (NLV)
You are here, you believe in His Word, and how you respond matters. Are you committed? If so, as the character President Bartlet of the show The West Wing would say, “What’s next?”
Voting is what’s next. The 2016 election is 5 days away, Tuesday, November 8th.
For Biblical reasons, vote.
For historical reasons, vote.
For our future, vote.
For His Kingdom, vote.
California’s 2016 ballot proposes policies related to the environment, education, taxes, public safety, healthcare, government transparency, and more. Each topic can have a direct or indirect impact on our lives and the lives of our neighbors. In addition to the value of weighing in on important state and local policies, there is great value in the act of participating as it demonstrates a gratitude for the privileges our democracy provides and a commitment to God’s call for our lives.
As believers, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is no vote that changes this. Our hope lies beyond this earth, beyond death, and whoever the 35th president was, the 45th president becomes, or the 55th president will be, none change our eternity.
But, what we do while we are here matters and how we live lives committed to our faith matters.
“Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all- it is dead and useless,” (James 2:17, TLB).
To be useful and to act in response to the grace we have received, voting is a wonderful work we can do. It is a good work that shows both God and the next generation of voters our stewardship.
Voting for the sake of the next generation is imperative. Since the 1970’s, there has been decline in youth voter participation, and while some intervening elections have shown brief increase in youth turnout, there is still a dramatic gap between eligible and actual youth voters. Many political participation researchers attribute these trends to a lack of civic knowledge and engagement during adolescent years.
Fortunately, the first environmental layers that can combat lack of engagement are family and peer groups. So, whether you’re the aunt, grandpa, sibling, youth group leader, or friend, making the choice to vote and to communicate about voting influences youth awareness and likelihood of future participation.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning And Engagement (CIRCLE) conducted research after the 2012 presidential election and confirmed what studies have long revealed, that a child’s parents and peers are key influencers of civic participation. The study also suggested that, “the influence of parents and other adults may be increasing. As more young people live with their parents well into their 20’s and take longer to make the transition to adulthood, parents seem to have stronger relationships with their adolescent and young-adult children than in past generations.”
These facts remind us that voting sets an example for our children, teaching them to participate in order to sustain the freedoms that God has gifted us as citizens of one of today’s leading democracies.
The generational transfer of civic duty and participation is vital for maintaining democracy and freedom.
President Reagan highlighted this well when he said,
“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction,” and President Wilson elevated freedom far above riches when he said, “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”
We often prioritize passing our faith to the next generation and we seek to instill certain values, especially freedom and justice. With equal vigilance, we must also pass along to the next generation the importance of living out our faith well. Imparting respect for our civic responsibility to vote is a central part of teaching what citizenship of His Kingdom here on earth can look like.
There are so many more reasons to vote than the ones we have mentioned. Ultimately, when the specifics of an election cycle cause us to abandon hope or leave us disappointed, we must find confidence that God is bigger than the disparaging details and that He also made us to be the hope-filled details of His kingdom on earth.
You were placed here, in these United States, for this duty along with all the other blessed and challenging duties God wove into your life and specific purpose on earth. In response, live faithfully. Live committed, and Vote!