Jesus Politics: Why Christians Should Not Vote – By Tripp York

 

 

The final guest post in the Jesus Politics synchroblog comes to us from Tripp York. Tripp is a PhD who teaches in the Religion Department at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, VA. He is the author and editor of ten books, including The Devil Wears Nada. Visit him at The Amish Jihadist and/or Eating Anarcrow.

 

The revolution will be drowned in the ballot boxes—which is not surprising, since they were made for that purpose. – Jean-Paul Sartre

There are few things imagined more dutiful in this life than the so-called “responsibility” of every North American to vote. Despite the fact that many decide, for whatever reasons, not to vote, the very idea that voting is an indispensable requirement that falls on each individual goes largely unquestioned.

Let me state at the outset that any qualms I may have about voting stem from neither apathy nor indifference. It simply makes little sense to me, given that we are, as Aristotle claimed, political animals that anyone would or should be indifferent to voting. Christians, whom I am here addressing, should be concerned with the goods that constitute the temporal cities of this time between times, and voting is but one means of attempting to seek those goods.

Nevertheless, I often wonder if what has been passed down to us as an unquestioned duty is the only way, or even the primary way, to be political. To be more specific, is it possible for a conscientious abstention from voting to be understood as an act of politics concerned with the good of the polis? Could it function as a witness to a different order, one not predicated on the enforcement of legislation, laws, and the lording of power over one another? If so, what would be the rationale for such an objection, or at least a hesitation, to the act of voting? What sort witness would this attempt to make?

To answer these questions I have jotted down a few points in a modest attempt to put forth reasons why voting might be problematic for Christians (especially for those who think we should ‘vote with our Bibles in our hands’). If nothing else, at least dealing with these possible objections could make us more conscientious voters—if that is what we decide part of Christian witnessing entails.

 
1. Romans 13 demands subordination to the government. Which government? All governments. Paul demanded Christian submission to powers that be because, despite how fallen they are, God ordains them. Rebellion against such powers is understood as rebellion against God and thus not permitted. It makes no sense, therefore, to perpetuate any order founded on explicit disobedience of Scripture. The United States of America only came into being through rebellion against the God-ordained powers of English monarchy. (The irony of this is rich, as the most patriotic of souls love to use this text to demand obedience to every whim of their beloved nation-state without recognizing the hypocrisy that made it possible for it to come into being in the first place.) To vote for the maintenance of such an order seems to entail approval of disobedience against God, or at least renders Paul’s command nonsensical as it can be disobeyed if enough time has elapsed from the inception of said rebellion/revolution.

2. Jesus requires that his disciples not be like those Gentiles who lord their power over others, even if it is for some sort of “good” (Matt. 20:25). Christians are, as he says in verse 26, not to be this way; rather, they are to be slaves to and of one another. It might be one thing if elected officials of this nation were forced to take office; instead, these are individuals who desperately want to be in power and beg and plead with the common folk for their votes, all to the tune of countless mil- lions of dollars—spent to convince us that we should exalt those who would be like those Gentiles who lord their power over others. If we were forbidden to be like them, why would it be permissible to place them in the kind of posture Jesus decries?

3. Capitalism, the socio-economic order that underwrites this culture, is predicated on the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride). Without just one of these sins, capitalism would fold and collapse on itself. For instance, if there were no greed this economy would be destroyed. We are taught to never be satisfied, to never have our fill, to never be satiated, to remain in a perpetual state of want, all in the name of the common good. How is this even remotely akin to the kind of desires that should be produced by ecclesial formation? Goods are only good if they are shared goods, at least according to Scripture and early Christian history. Sharing goods in this culture would be a sin.

(An aside, but pertinent: Let it not be lost on us that immediately after September 11, 2001, the president of the United States demanded that we the people respond neither with prayer nor patience but by . . . shopping. The interesting thing is, this was actually a morally legitimate command (as it would have been for any president for that matter). Had people ceased spending money, the economy would have collapsed. Therefore, in such a culture one responds to terrorism via trips to the mall (along with many missiles and the country’s young people). This is our way of life? This is what Christians are willing to both die and kill for? How can we vote for any potential Caesar under this sort of politic?)

4. While we are on the subject of the seven deadly sins, let’s look at one more: pride. Pride is a term that falls again and again from the lips of U.S. leaders. Both Scripture and tradition remind us that pride is purely representative of the fall of humankind. Because of this, there is nothing to be proud of except, inasmuch as one can boast with St. Paul, hope in Jesus. Pride has become the very means whereby we Christians are co-opted into our culture. Pride has robbed us of the resources to practice repentance, confession, humility, and servant-hood—all of which are at the heart of Christianity. Voting is, de facto, an exercise in pride (especially if you find yourself on the winning side).

5. In the gospel of Luke, Satan takes Jesus up to the mountain top and offers him all of the kingdoms of the world:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4:5-8)

Though the powers may be ordained by God, they are (as with all of creation) in rebellion against God, and according to this passage it is Satan leading this rebellion. Satan offers the kingdoms to Jesus because they belong to Satan. Satan gives them, or at least offers them, to whomever Satan pleases. All Jesus has to do, to rule the world the way most of us imagine how we are to rule it, is to worship Satan. Thus it appears that all of the kingdoms of the world, though rightly ordained for the maintenance of social harmony, are currently satanic. All you have to do to lead them is worship Beelzebub; hence my reluctance to vote for this sort of person.

6. The U.S. Constitution tempts us toward idolatry. Though written by humans (right after the rebellion against the God-ordained powers nonetheless) to protect the interests of a few wealthy white men, we are taught to understand all of life in this socio-politic through its lens. It becomes the all-encompassing hermeneutical device that enables us to determine what constitutes a good life. This is a life that leads us into hyper-atomization, self-interest, and ownership of private goods (even as it deprives others of the basic necessities of life). Through the Constitution private interests are served and protected against any claims of common ownership of God’s good earth. We are to imagine that this is a good thing.

7. Ezekiel 16:49 says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” Our economic order requires all of us to practice the sin of sodomy. What is sodomy? According to the Bible, it’s screwing the poor. Class-led consumer capitalism simply cannot thrive without an impoverished class. Indeed, the very basis of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of the Nations, the quintessential text that underwrites our order, is the promise that we can all be rich – which, ironically enough, is the very state of being Jesus seems to think a huge impediment to our salvation.

You can take that up with him.

8. Regardless of which leaders win, they will demand my unadulterated allegiance. That is, of course, a problem in and of itself, as Christians are called to serve only one master. How this, arguably, affects Christians the most is that leaders of empires simply cannot enact the radical kind of peace Christians are to offer their enemies. Rulers, history has shown, must take up arms against their enemies. They must engage in warring, or at least threats of warring, to secure certain goods.

This is a far cry from that which Jesus calls his disciples. Jesus demands that those who would follow his lead must turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute us. (Ever heard a president pray for enemies—except that they be destroyed?) Jesus’ followers must refuse to inflict vengeance, as that belongs to God. Yet all nation-states demand the exact opposite. To be socially relevant and responsible is to forego the literal imitation of Jesus. I argue that any order that demands that a Christian not imitate Jesus is a demonic one in- deed, a stumbling block for God’s children.

9. Someone once said that the United States may be the greatest Babylon on the planet, but she is still a Babylon. As William Stringfellow astutely pointed out, if we are to read all nations biblically then we must recognize that they are all Babylons. None are the Heavenly Jerusalem; if they were, then they would be the City of God. They are, therefore, parasitic on the good that is the heavenly city, and the church, as the image of this city on earth, is called to show the state that it is not the heavenly city.

That, I think, is the church’s task. It is not to buttress the powers that be but to show them, through the church’s wit- ness, that whatever the powers that be are, they are not the church. One way to resist being co-opted by the powers that be, I imagine, is by neither voting nor taking office.

10. Voting is saying that you want these persons to enact your will, legislate it, and force it on others. Then inasmuch as these persons do this, you will support them. That is, you demand that they do what you want them to do for the betterment of how you envision the world (even as rather than seeking the peace of the city, as Jeremiah demands, this often results in attempting to secure the peace).

11. Voting and the system it entails spares Christians the burden of actually having to be the church, because now we can have the state require of others all that we think it should. We don’t need to work on creating alternative communities, we don’t need to be prophetic to the powers that be through the act of radical discipleship because we have become the very powers and principalities Paul claims Jesus has defeated.

12. By the simple refusal to vote (or, to at least consider it), perhaps we can at least better see how such power has seduced us, and has both compromised and domesticated our faith by putting it in the service of one of this world’s chief idols: a nation-state.

These simple musings are but a few reasons I am currently hesitant to cast my vote for yet another Caesar.

 

(The above post, with slight modifications, was originally published in Christian Ethics Today #70 and the author’s book, Third Way Allegiance).

 

SYNCHROBLOG LINKS

In Defense of Christian Anarchism – Keegan Osinski

Why I No Longer Vote – Mark Caudill

The Powerful Witness Of Not Voting In National Elections –  Rodney Thomas

 

If you agree with Tripp, that Christians shouldn’t vote, then write a post about it, send me the link, and I’ll feature it here. 

If you disagree, leave a comment and let me know what you think. REMEMBER: It’s ok to argue your point vigorously, but do so with civility so your comment doesn’t disappear from the thread.

 

31 Comments
  • Jay
    October 25, 2012

    As a Christian, can not stand back and do nothing as a coward either. I pray my vote brings more Godly principles. Jesus always does not want us to sit on our hands and do nothing. So I will voice my biblical beliefs in all ways possible with faith it will help others and my children. I can not vote for a man who supports abortion nor is an accessory to murder leaving Americans and our military out to dry (Libya). How any pastor or Christian can vote for someone who supports abortion is sickening.

    • ZackHunt
      October 25, 2012

      A couple questions to keep the conversation going:

      Does not voting necessarily mean a person is doing nothing about the state of things in the country? Could there not be alternative to change other than voting? Likewise, this sort of alternative approach to the norm seems to be very similar to Jesus’ refusal to participate in violence. So, was he doing nothing and if so does that make Jesus a coward?

      Look forward to hearing what you think.

      • Mark
        October 25, 2012

        Of course the world would call Jesus a coward and much worse. And this came from within his own religious traditions more than anywhere else. I don’t see how much has changed. The Church is full of Peters who still would defend Jesus with the sword. And Jesus’ reaction — I believe — is still to respond to violence not with violence, but with a redemptive act of healing.

    • Greg Dill
      October 25, 2012

      How does voting and using government bring about the change that God has tasked us as the church to do? That’s what’s wrong with today’s American Christians. They are no longer soldiers getting dirty in the trenches of life, rather they are merely just another social club belonging to another political action committee. It’s no wonder many people want nothing to do with the American church.

    • Mark
      October 25, 2012

      As many do, you are confusing not voting with doing nothing. This sheds more light on your perspective than on us non-voters. It gives evidence that you do see voting as THE way to effect change. Understand that voting is participating in a fallen system in a manner that validates and props up said fallen system. Think outside of that box.

  • Greg Dill
    October 25, 2012

    Of all the posts on this political synchroblog, this is by far the one that matches my own personal ethic and convictions the most. I myself will not be voting this election year and will likely abstain from voting in the near future for several reasons:

    First, voting is merely an illusion that we can influence the fate of our nation’s political system. God’s word says, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1) This is a clear indication that it is not man who place/votes individuals into authority, rather it is God. Therefore, no matter what button we push on election day, God has already established who will be President.

    Secondly, in agreement with the author of this post, most (not all) politicians generally do not have the best interest of individuals and our country in mind. Most, of them cater to special interest groups and those with BIG money. Greed and power is the clarion call for today’s politicians, not duty and honor. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience vote for any individual who lacks integrity and does not accurately represent the same values I adhere to.

    Lastly, I am not a citizen of this world. I reside in God’s kingdom and I am merely a sojourner passing through this kingdom. The men and women in our government, although I do submit and obey them, do not represent me, my beliefs, and God’s kingdom. The nature of their weapons are carnal and worldly, while mine are of a spiritual nature. Injustices are fought not with politics, government bills, and lobbying, rather with the elements of the full armor of God… best envisioned with the Body of Christ… the church.

    I too choose not to vote. And, I approve this message.

    • ZackHunt
      October 25, 2012

      “I approve this message.” – That made me chuckle. Yeah, I said chuckle.

    • Kenna Greenough Smith
      May 26, 2016

      You are RIGHT ON!!

  • Joshua Shope
    October 25, 2012

    I have to say I LOVE the “America never should have become a country in the first place” point. Never heard that as a defense for not voting before.

  • David Mantel
    October 25, 2012

    I don’t vote. People think I’m a terrible person when they find out. Conversely, I’m pretty political. However, I am not disillusioned into believing that our system actually works, or that it is somehow ‘God’s Government’ or whatever it is people say these days.

    Conservatives, like “Jay” in the comments, have turned voting into a one issue cause: abortion. Hardly ever do we Christians talk about human rights, war and diplomacy, climate change, or the poor. Or any other matters, frankly. The anti-abortion cry is loud and dominates churches around the country. However, I refuse to believe that God is a one issue God. So if you vote, I pray you look into more than just a single issue to make your choice. But that’s off topic.

    I also refuse to be forced to pick between a few incarnations of Mammon every time there is an election so I can “do my duty.” I cannot serve God and Mammon. So I use my time loving people in my neighborhood, in my church, work… That single pregnant woman that comes through our doors- she needs love. Not legislation. My gay friends? Love. Not legislation. The guy begging on my corner? Love. Not legislation. So I try to spend my time loving. I fail at it considerably. But I’m still learning.

    -Dave

  • Kevin Qualls
    October 25, 2012

    On the point of not voting being equivalent to doing nothing, many activists, while encouraging folks to vote, will point out that educating yourself and your neighbors is by far the most important action to take. Also, to my favorite blogger name, Amish Jihadist, I don’t understand some of your reasons for not voting. First, you say that Americans should never have stopped giving allegiance to England, as it was God-ordained. Notwithstanding that several paragraphs later you imply that Satan is also the sole leader of earthly governments, are we to take this to mean that any group of people that ever left their native land or created a new system of government were wrong? By this logic, Israel would not exist, as the Palestinians held the right to that land, the Roman empire should be restored to its former glory, and surely there was no reason to interfere with German aggression; they never attacked us, we should have accepted that government’s decisions as sovereign, because it was ordained by God? Most Christians accept self defense from oppression/aggression as an acceptable reason for some form of revolution. Most of the arguments seem to stem from unhappiness with the human condition, but it is very easy to condemn capitalism as an uninspired system feeding on man’s base desires, without giving an alternative system that somehow brings out our radiant sainthood while dealing with the inevitable “undesirables” that don’t agree with the Christian lifestyle. Certainly, governments are not perfect, but no government has ever been, and even when the Israelites enjoyed a theocracy ruled by an omnipotent God, they pleaded for something else; perhaps our faith calls us to lead our families and communities in the Christian spirit more than it necessarily condemns all forms of government attempting to create common ground for people.

    • Mark
      October 25, 2012

      I think the difference between “God ordained” and “God approvingly ordained” should be noted.

      • Kevin Qualls
        October 25, 2012

        Admittedly I have always wondered why God invests His authority in governments He does not approve of.

        • Stefano Mugnaini
          October 25, 2012

          David Lipscomb addressed this a bit. He argued that God set up human governments, as far back as Babel, as a means of punishing man’s disobedience. Not a blessing, but a burden.

      • ZackHunt
        October 25, 2012

        Out of curiosity, how would you differentiate between the two?

        • Mark
          October 25, 2012

          I don’t think any human government is approvingly ordained by God. Even the first one he ordained (Saul) was done somewhat begrudgingly. It’s hard to understand why he allows the Hitlers of the world, and it’s even harder to understand how this could be ordained. But I know that he loved me [and is intensely interested in my well being] even while I was still a sinner and so I hold onto his goodness. But I don’t believe that God smiles on the Hitlers when they take power.

          I’ve also theorized that God-ordained authority is simply something that’s derived from the authority given to man over Earth.

          But I’m no scholar so this is all possibly nonsense.

          • ZackHunt
            October 25, 2012

            If I hear you rightly, you’re saying there’s a difference between God allowing something and God approving of something. Makes sense to me. Well, the differentiation at least. Not sure it will ever make sense to me why God allows certain things to happen. 🙂

          • Mark
            October 25, 2012

            Exactly. I think it’s easy to get caught up on the definition of ordained and the church hasn’t done the greatest job of that. I don’t think it means endorse. And yeah, bad things happening doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. But neither does the crucifixion and many of the other things Christ did.

  • Shawn
    October 25, 2012

    Blah, blahblah, blahblahblah!

  • Tara Porter-Livesay
    October 26, 2012

    I did not vote in the 2008 elections. I got an email from a woman that had been reading our blog and she said, “I have always found you to be a great witness for Christ – *until now*.” Abstaining from the process and not voting somehow made me anti-Jesus. Truly, I have no response to that. Voting or not voting is between God and the individual. I (of course) don’t believe it is Biblically mandated but I do think everyone should pray and seek God and do exactly what their conscience tells them. I would never say voting makes you unChrist-like …. I don’t think abstaining does either.

    • Kenna Greenough Smith
      May 26, 2016

      If Jesus didn’t vote, it’s wrong!

  • Tripp York and you
    October 27, 2012

    SICKOS LIKE YOU IS THE REASON WHY THIS COUNTRY IN IS SUCH A MESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jesus Politics: Why Christians Should Not Vote – By Tripp York THIS IS A LIE OUT OF HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU DON’T VOTE YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMMENT ON ANYTHING DEALING WITH THE COUNTRY YOU LIVE IN…. THE REASON WE ARE IN OUR MESS IS BECAUSE OF THE SO CALLED CHRISTIONS KEEPING THEIR MOUTHS SHUT AND LET THE SICKOS LIKE TRIPP YORK AND THEN YOU FOR POSTING HIS SICK ARTICALS.

    SEE YOU AT THE POLLS OR YOU SHUT UP ON YOUR SO CALLED CHRISTIONS VIEWS THAT COME RIGHT OUT OF HELL AND WHY DONT YOU LIVE WITH THE CAMEL JOCKIES BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT YOUR ATTITUDE CAUSES.

    DON’T CALL YOOURSELF A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE YOU ARE A TOOL OF THE DEVEL WITH THE ATTITUDE YOU HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    VOTE OR SHUT UP SICKO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Verble Gherulous
    October 28, 2012

    I agree with all your points, and I thank you eloquently illustrating how consumerism is by its very nature at odds with following the teachings of Jesus Christ. For me, I vote to exercise a right given to me by human powers. I vote simply because so many in the world cannot. However, I completely respect your call to abstain from voting on the basis of our faith and honestly I can not disagree with your very erudite argument. Well said and well presented and thank you!

  • bryan c
    November 1, 2012

    This was fantastic. Thank you for writing it. Having abstained from voting for some time, I have to say I’m much more aware of my addiction to power and control [through voting] than before, and by abstaining from voting it makes me more conscious of ways that I actually want to use my life and actions to impact and love the world around me on a daily basis. I particularly like #10 above, that by voting, I am encouraging a political candidate to enact, legislate, and force my will on others – the exact opposite of what I would like to do. Thanks again!

  • Marcus Hurlbert
    November 4, 2012

    The following is response I made to someone who posted this article on facebook. I wanted to post it here as well. I would like to make qualifications. First, I do not have a college degree of any kind. Second, this was written in my spare time during a single afternoon. That said I hope it will cause you to more carefully examine Dr. York’s article.

    Before I begin, I would like to clarify that I do not disagree with his questioning of the “duty to vote.” It is better not to vote than to vote in violation of your conscience (Not voting can send a message). However, I would argue that Christians are often faced with “lesser of two evils” elections because of their failure to truly participate in politics (remaining informed, actively supporting candidates in primaries, engaging in political discourse).

    1. I was immediately astounded at Dr. York’s use of Romans 13 to say that “Rebellion against (the powers that be) is understood as rebellion against God and thus not permitted.” The English rebellion against the monarchy (as well as the American Revolution that followed) was based on two Calvinist principles: first, that all men are under the law (Leviticus and Deuteronomy) and second, that there is no mediator between God and man (priesthood of believers). In his work Lex, Rex, Samuel Rutherford explained that, although rulers derive their authority from God, God grants this authority to rulers via their people. (II Samuel 16:18, Judges 8:22, Judges 9:6, 2 Kings 14:21, 1 Samuel 12:1) The English came to believe that God was the only Sovereign and, thus, kings (which even in the Old Testament were not established by God but rather chosen by the people) had been granted limited authority. A ruler who violated the laws of God is acting outside of his divine authority and, therefore, could and should be removed from office. This belief is what lead the American revolutionaries to believe that their rebellion was an act of obedience to God. For more on this topic I would recommend Christianity and the Constitution by John Eidsmoe, Liberty, Order, and Justice by James McClellan, and The Origins of American Constitutionalism by Donald Lutz.

    2. Dr. York seems to automatically assume that to vote is an attempt to “lord power over others.” He seems to totally miss the fact that American government was designed specifically to prevent men from lording power over one another and that supporting political candidates who believe in limited government (I admit they are rare) is the best way to prevent power hungry people from attaining office. If it is the Christian’s duty not to lord power over others, than they should actively oppose politicians who attempt to do so. To withdraw from the arena simply because the majority seek to do evil, seems rather un-Christian to me.

    3. I almost vomited when I read this point. What is his basis for that statement? As a Christian he should know that the seven deadly sins are a part of human nature rather than a result of an economic system. Sin exists in EVERY economic system because all economics systems are composed of people, and, while it is not perfect, it is the Capitalist system that best manages human nature by restraining greed and minimizing the negative effects of human nature on society. The Nobel laureate Milton Friedman does an excellent job of explaining this (I would highly recommend his book Free to Choose). The following is a video clip of Friedman in which he briefly touches on this issue.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A&feature=share

    4. Here, Dr. York automatically assumes that it is not possible to vote for leaders who exemplify personal humility. I would strongly disagree. Although they are rare today, there are still political figures in this country who are not consumed with pride. A politician’s humility can be assessed by their honesty, admission of failures, and recognition of their limitations.

    5. It is logically impossible for ruler to receive their authority both from God (as the author asserts in point 1) and from Satan. Either God appoints leaders, or Satan does. It cannot be both ways. (I would strongly maintain that for God to allow Satan to choose rulers is quite different from God granting His authority to rulers)

    6. Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I suppose I must first take issue with Dr. York’s assertion that the purpose of the American Constitution was to “protect the interests of a few wealthy white men.” What?! If the purpose was to protect a powerful few, why would a system of limited government be established? These wealthy white men already had political power. If they were solely concerned with their own interests, why would they not attempt to do the opposite by solidifying and expanding their power? The first ten amendments did not protect a select few. In fact the amendment process allowed for the expansions of rights and freedoms. If the founders were concerned solely for their own interests, why include an system to allow a majority to add amendments?

    Also, Dr. York assumes that common ownership of the earth is a desirable thing. I find no Biblical basis for such an assumption. In fact, God established private property as one of the foundations of Hebrew culture. When the Christians in Rome pooled their resources and shared all this was never presented as an example or mandate for other churches. (In fact, Paul’s gathering of a collection for the church in Rome may be an indication that this communal sharing led to poverty for all.) Dr. York’s criticism of the supposed “hyper-atomization, self-interest, and
    ownership of private goods” in this nation is illogical. If his analysis is
    correct he should rejoice that Christians in this nation have such freedom and autonomy to use their property for the glory of God. (For a good defense of private ownership I would suggest reading Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.)

    Finally the capitalism does not “deprive others of the basis
    necessities of life.” Capitalism promotes the efficient use and effective
    stewardship of property and resources, which benefits everyone. History has shown us that “collective ownership” is much more destructive. (The starvation in Jamestown and Soviet Russia comes instantly to mind). Excellent authors on this topic include: Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, and Friedrich Hayek.

    7. Again, Dr. York asserts that capitalism/free enterprise is based upon oppression of the poor, and his statement that our economic system “requires all of us to practice the sin of sodomy” is ludicrous. In this nation an individual is free to use their income (the half that the government does not take) to help the poor. In this nation I can give all of my money to help those in poverty. The fact that I choose not to is a mark against me, not the economic system.

    This is somewhat trivial, but I’d like to point out that the “guilt of
    Sodom” is different from “Sodomy.” “Sodomy” is a clearly defined word in our language. (check the dictionary).

    8. “Regardless of which leaders win, they will demand my unadulterated allegiance.” Nonsense! In this nation no leader has ever demanded the “unadulterated allegiance” of his or her constituents. On the contrary, in this nation politicians are in many respects the servants of the people, developing their platforms to appeal to people’s interests and concerns. If that leader fails to perform in the way we desire, we can freely and easily vote for someone else in the next election. Political allegiance must be earned and can be easily lost. Even if a American politician demanded allegiance, there is currently no way for that politician to coerce it.

    Allegiance is expected, but not allegiance to an individual but rather a compact. Our constitution is our society’s compact, a set of rules by which
    we all agree to play. (This concept has its roots in the covenants of the Old
    Testament. When we say the pledge of allegiance, we pledge our loyalty to this nation and the ideals upon which it was founded. But even the pledge is not coerced and requires no commitment to violence. It is our military that
    requires and oath to protect and defend the constitution. This oath is taken by volition. Except in the case of a draft (which I believe to be
    unconstitutional), in no way is an American Christian forced to “not imitate
    Christ.”

    I would like to state here that I disagree with Dr. York’s application
    of Christ’s instruction to turn the other cheek. I think it is clear from the
    context that this applies to personal injury. This differs from your duty when
    others are injured or threatened with injury. (Isaiah chastised the Israelites
    for there failure to “defend the oppressed.”) I disagree with Dr. York’s
    pacifist views, in that I believe it would be sinful to stand by and do nothing
    to protect my countrymen from a foreign enemy. I refuse to accept that the
    Jesus who flipped tables and drove out money changers with whips would
    want me to stand down from an aggressor who desires to harm others.

    9. I whole-heartedly agree that nations are sinful and imperfect and that the job of the Church is to remind them of that. However, as Christians, we believe that the gospel is the most powerful force in existence and is capable of redeeming hearts and minds everywhere, even our leaders in government. Dr. York is correct to warn against being “co-opted,”
    but he is wrong to advise that we retreat. Christians should participate and even seek office for the purpose of sharing Christ. I believe that
    political office is a great opportunity for Christians to demonstrate the
    servant leadership of Christ.

    10. What about those who run for office seeking to restrain government power to ensure that no one’s will is forced onto others? Are the protection of individual liberty and freedom of conscience not the very heart of the American constitution? If it is wrong for a person to legislate their will on someone else, shouldn’t we as Christians be ardent defenders of a
    system that prevents (or at least hinders) people from doing so? The fact that people vote for the wrong reasons is a mark against them not the political system.

    11. This one just seems silly to me. Christians make excuses not to live out their faith all the time. Voting does not remove the responsibility to live out the gospel, even if some Christians think it does. The problem is the flawed thinking of Christians, not the act of voting. We are free to vote for candidates who do not believe the government should carry the Church’s burden (or not vote for those who do).

    12. Personal analysis is good. Certainly, Christians should be wary of idolizing power. However, power is not inherently evil and neither is a nation state. They are only idols if we fashion them as such.

    To summarize, I agree with the most basic message of the article, but I object to the fact that it was terribly written. I am especially critical because it was written by a PhD. Dr. York’s other works may be better (I will add a couple of them to my reading list), but if I had to judge him solely on the basis of this article I would say he is a fool. When addressing such a large audience (American Christians who are eligible to vote), I find it inexcusable for an author write a piece with so many generalizations an so little substance. (Not once did the author address any of the reasons why people might consider voting a duty.)

    It is true that acts of commission (voting) can be sinful, but so can acts of omission (not voting). Think about your decision carefully but use a careful and logical analysis of Scripture, history, and our constitution to come to your decision. Don’t decide not to vote simply because someone with a PhD told you it was okay not to.

  • Jason
    November 8, 2012

    I must say that I very much agree with Mr. York. As Christians we should know full well that our “home” is not this planet, country, let alone it’s political system. Our governments on all levels are corrupt. The democratic system does not accuratey address all of our problems. We have a majority who get their way on what they “think” is right. That is the problem. What “we” “think is right” is horribly off target for the good of this country. Politics has become a game of feeding the masses “it’s all about me kool-aid” without truly thinking of the consequences. Illegal immigrants have influence on the elections when they shouldn’t. The poor have influence that they continually want more and more without understanding the costs involved. The government workers all want their “guaranteed pensions” when in many states they are underfunded. (it is quite arrogant of government workers to get such a plan on the back of the taxpayers, many of which don’t have pensions.) This and a slew of other issues that americans don’t want to address or government does not have the spine to change. We are weak and selfish. Nothing is going to change. That is why I am done voting. Christians are to follow Jesus and not the broken system of man and his government. Remember, when you vote, you keep the broken, corrupt machine going.

  • Wondering...
    December 7, 2012

    I have a few issues with some of your points:

    First, you use Romans 13 to argue that all Christians should respect whatever government happens to be in place, and then later claim that all these governments are owned by Satan. How is this possible? How can we be expected to obey implicitly the authority of the powers established by Satan?

    Second, I expect this is an innocent mistake, but your definition of sodomy is entirely mistaken. Sodomy does not have anything to do with the poor, it has everything to do with certain intimate relations. If you want to argue that Capitalists want to “screw the poor” then exercise your free speech and do so, but don’t accuse of sodomy 😉

    Third, you say that political systems demand of their participants absolute obedience. You don’t defend this statement, you just lay it out there, and then begin to argue that leaders demand pacifists go to war. I actually believe that America is one of the best nations in the world for not demanding allegiance to any leader – or even to herself – allowing nearly absolute free speech (and of action in this instance). We owe very little in the way of loyalty to this country – just don’t betray her into the hands of her enemies, and we’re free to hate her as much as we like. We can even go to work to change her (one argument in favor of Christian activity in politics) In answer to your argument that political leaders insist on Christians participate in war: the US does not demand that pacifists go to war. Yes, taxes support it, but pacifists are not required to supportive of the war or to go to war themselves.

    Fourth (I’ll limit myself here ;), I assume from your post that you are a pacifist, and I respect your right to be so. I wonder, though, that you insist all Christians must be. Jesus did tell us to turn the other cheek, but He is also the God who commanded the Israelite armies into battle, giving them victory there over their enemies. Perhaps your conscience will not permit you to participate in wars, but participation in politics is not sinful because states go to war. War is a regrettable, but sometimes necessary, course of action.

    Thank you for laying out your opinions. Please don’t think that because I’m questioning (and trying to refute) some of your arguments, that I’m hating on you 😉 I do appreciate your post. I’ve been searching the internet lately for anyone who could explain to me some of the arguments against Christians’ involvement in politics, and I found yours helpful.

    • Randy Holmes
      October 18, 2015

      When God commanded the Israelites to go to war, he was creating the kingdom for the Christians at that time, but when Jesus came into the world he gave us a new covenant, and a new way. We are not of this world where to become more Christ like. We are to pick up our crosses, and follow him. He showed us the way. Only a true believers in the Father and Jesus Christ will be able to understand , for we know that we are not of this world, and we are not to see anything that pleases this world, it was handed over to Satan. He runs to and fro, up and down. hello he is allowed to rule here, also true faith in God is knowing we will join him in his kingdom, if we can endure all things here. This is why we pray and put all things into the hands of God. All matters, He does not want us to be involved with the worldly this is not his kingdom. Only the Christians to do not seek to protect the flesh, or their life in this world. We are to look foward to his true Kingdom, after all he didn’t even have his own son stand up against them. Why do you think it should be better for us. We’re lucky we’re not being put through the tests that job through. I thank God everyday that I’m in America, yet I still cannot stand behind all that America stands for. Spirit of democracy is what is holding God back from setting his kingdom up on earth. We still have lost sheep that we need to retrieved. The very thing you are standing up for is interfering with God’s plan. Only when all the followers of Christ, allow Satan to rule, all kingdoms, will Jesus come, only then, for this is what has been prophesied, and all his words will come to pass. I’m not going to interfere 1 vote would bean interference for God’s kingdom.

    • edwitness
      May 9, 2016

      Wondering,
      What you are having a problem with here is the fact that this author seems to be infected with the “social gospel”. That is why I also saw several problems with this post. I will name just a couple to prove this point.

      1. Rom.13 specifically tells us that the powers that we are to obey are those who work for the good and persecute evil. Not just any gov’t. Vs.4- “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? **Do that which is good, and you will have praise of the same**”. Does this sound like Paul is telling us to obey an evil gov’t to you?

      2. His definition of sodomy is expanded to unbiblical areas because he believes that “injustice” is the basic problem God has always been trying to address. This is a symptom of the social gospel.

      3. The founders said that “our form of gov’t is only good for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the gov’t of any other”. What they were saying is that it takes responsible, decent, God fearing Christians to make this gov’t work.
      If any other were allowed to come into positions of power here the Constitution could not restrain them from the evil they would force on the people, because it was not meant for that purpose. Especially when the people are as immoral and unfaithful as the evil rulers.
      Capitalism requires responsible, moral behavior. Where Godly people who are truly their brother’s keeper trust in the fact that they are responsible to God for their treatment of others. Without it there is nothing left but the greed and selfishness of the natural man. The scripture teaches capitalism in the story of Ananias and Saphira. Peter said “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power”? There is no other form of gov’t other than capitalism that makes allowance for this principle.

      The social gospel is not the gospel we Christians adhere to. It is a lie from Satan and he uses it to enslave mankind as much as any sin. It is seen in this post in the interpretation of Rom.13 being the command to be obedient to **all** forms of gov’t. When Paul was teaching no such thing.

    • Kenna Greenough Smith
      May 26, 2016

      Satan rules this world. We are to respect anyone who is evil.

  • Pilgrim
    October 6, 2014

    Politics by nature is divisive and partisan. The Bible speaks of a “party spirit” and that is what this world’s political system does; divide people. Divide and conquer, set one against the other. Make a certain party (which represents people) the bogeyman, deflecting attention from the true root cause of division and variance. Jerusalem was inhabited by a foreign nation/army and I find it interesting that Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church never resorted to the “arm of the flesh”, the political process of their day, to achieve the will of God. New Jerusalem is not being built by a party spirit.

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