Posts Tagged ‘submission to goverment’

Voting as a Christian Duty

Voting as a Christian duty

By

Jose de Carvalho

 

 

As Election Day is approaching there is considerable tension in my mind regarding to whom I should be voting for or whether I should vote at all. I am reminded that it is my democratic right not to vote. When I was in Portugal last year during election time I was surprised by the number of ‘no confidence votes’ that were cast – meaning voters go to the poles cast a ballot without a selection. In some constituencies they were so high that it surpassed most of the small parties and independents.

My tension originates out of a conscious to vote for political parties with manifestos that contains serious disregard for Scriptural authority. I further have to admit that previously my voting strategy was to oppose the ruling party, but after careful consideration I believe that this strategy also does not stand the scrutiny of the word of God as I am just voting motivated by my fears rather my hope. Many talk about the ‘civil duty’ to vote, does this mean believers should relax their Christian duty in order to exercise their civil duty?

Believers are misled in their interpretation of Paul’s instruction on submission to the state (Romans 13:1-7). Is it possible that Paul is instructing the Christian body to submit even in situations where policies are marred by gross injustice? When authority opposes God’s order, punishes the good while rewarding evil? Inflicts misery on the innocent for the benefit of the privileged? Threatens its citizens? Is corrupt to the core? Fails to meet its civil duties and dispense criminal justice? Encourages people to participate in idolatry and ungodliness?  Most certainly not! I think Paul would be asking “why are you sinning against the Lord your God”.

Paul’s words concerning the role of the Christian attitude to authorities cannot be heard apart from its context. Paul wrote these instructions during the first five years of Nero’s reign (Aprox.A.D.54) – well before his administration moved to the excesses for which it is remembered. Would Paul utter the same words after Nero’s excesses, brutalities and terror to its citizens? Most certainly not!

A sound philosophy for Christian response to human authority must take into account the full council of God’s Word and witness to the subject including the book of Revelation’s strong criticism to a regime that upholds values contrary to the justice of God. Governments have no quasi-divine status: they have authority only as God’s servants, and they are legitimated by God only to the extent that they reinforce God’s justice and advance God’s purposes for human society.

The believer should then be distanced from national and political ideologies that are contradictory to the final authority of the Word of God and consider the governing authorities from the viewpoint of how they serve God’s purposes. Submission to government does not rule out criticism and prophetic direction, rather criticism non-violent protest and non-participation would be a more appropriate Christian response and duty.

I know most are going to dismiss entirely my reasoning on the basis of misguided ‘ethical civil duty’ so I will provide a real example to emphasize my point:

Again during my stay in Portugal I listened to a lengthy interview on television from a professed devout Catholic on the merits of voting for the Communist party to address social injustice and the misery of the poor!!!!!! At the risk of being inappropriate does all this apply to the ruling party? For me it does.

How about the Democratic Alliance that does not have a policy on moral consciousness issues and won’t comment even though I have addressed it with the Public Liaison Officer.  So what am I voting for? What will they do? Judging by the number of votes that they receive from the segment of the population that is ‘church going’ obviously it does not really matter.

Jose