DO WE HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO VOTE?

Had anyone asked, I would have said the word “vote” is not in the Bible. I would have been wrong. When he preached the word of God to King Agrippa, the Apostle Paul used the word “vote” as described how he had once persecuted Christians.

Acts 26:9-11 (Today’s New International Version)

“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.

Of course, Paul did not vote in a general election. Yet vote he did, at least that is the most literal translation. Paul voiced his support for the punishment and death of Christians. He supported and worked for a regime which punished people for practicing their religious beliefs.

Fortunately, Paul repented. Thanks to the example of the people he persecuted and words of Jesus, Paul changed. A reborn Paul stood with the people he had once persecuted. At the risk of his own life, that Paul advocated the teachings of Christ.

What relevance do Paul’s words have for us? We too cannot choose to stand apart. As Christians we have the obligation participate in the governance of our nation. That is particularly true because our nation is founded on Christian beliefs. Consider this one sentence from the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We each belong to God. Our Lord Jesus commanded us to love each other as He loves us. Therefore, we have no right to abuse each other. Such love gave Paul the strength to stand before the leaders of his day and give voice to the teachings of Jesus.

Eventually a tyrant put Paul to death, but we need take no such risk. We need only take the time. In fact, because we can cast a secret ballot, we can keep our vote a private matter. Nonetheless, we can vote prayerfully, and we can each use our vote as an opportunity to defend both our faith and the God-given rights of our fellow citizens.

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