American Vision has teamed up with The Patriot Update and other concerned Americans to establish the “Evict the Congress” campaign. This is an organized effort to tell our radical ram-rodding representatives and president, “Listen to your constituents, OR GET BOOTED.” A lot of Christians think such political action lies outside the scope of Christianity. Even those who do get motivated to political action sometimes feel uncomfortable linking their political opinions to their faith. I think we should begin with the faith and then move to political action based upon it. We should, therefore, first secure within our hearts and minds the theological basis of political action itself. This article will assay a bit upon at least a part that theme.
The theological basis of political action, including voting, lies in this simple but rarely discussed doctrine: the Kingship of all believers. In Reformed and Reformational circles we have grown accustomed to hearing a lot about the priesthood of all believers, but Scripture speaks just as clearly about the Kingship of all believers. We are not just a priesthood, but a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). Jesus Christ, the “prince of the kings of the earth… has made us kings and priests unto God…” (Rev. 1:5–6), “and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). Paul echoes the prophet Daniel in saying “the saints shall judge the world” (1 Cor. 6:2; Dan. 7:22; cp. Rev. 20:4). Indeed, Paul says, we shall even judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
We exercise this “power” now due to our union with the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Paul confirms the institution, continuation, and omnipotence of Christ’s current rule in Ephesians 1:18–22:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.…
The reader will notice the references to Psalm 110:1 which I have written about before. Note also that the inheritance of power and rule spoken of here is an inheritance in the saints. We share in His rule. Paul tells us explicitly a few verses later that God “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). As Christ is seated at the right hand of God, so are we seated with Him—in Him—by virtue of our union with Him.
So as kings, how are we to rule? We should rule as ambassadors of Christ, spreading God’s word and promoting His law wherever we can in this fallen world. We are to rule not according to our will but His will. And the idea of “will” brings us to a very important point: voting. In a Facebook post this week Gary mentioned that one of the things we can do to “change things” is simply to vote when we have the chance. In reference to the recent defeat of homosexual marriage in Maine, he wrote, “We can change a lot by just showing up and saying no!” I would add that we need to exercise our voices to our local representatives, letting them know that if they don’t vote “no!” when we say “vote no!” then we will work to evict them and replace them with people who will. This is a simple exercise in the political sovereignty of individual kings.
Someone commented on Gary’s post with a challenge, “If voting is such a key instrument of bringing righteousness, why doesn’t it get any emphasis in scripture?” Two quick issues here before we address the substance of the question: first, Gary did not say that voting is “a key instrument in bringing righteousness,” he said it could bring “change.” I think he would say that voting can restrain evil (in this sense it would help the cause of righteousness), but not necessarily bring righteousness itself. Political power can never make other people more righteous even if it forces them to conform to a more righteous set of laws.
Secondly, there is a fundamental awkwardness in assuming that if Scripture doesn’t explicitly emphasize something, then therefore it’s not important. Scripture doesn’t emphasize buying pasteurized milk in plastic gallon jugs. Shall we there stop this great supermarket-imposed evil? Scripture nowhere emphasizes arguments for the existence of God. Shall we therefore not believe in Him? Of course not, because silence on an issue should never automatically be interpreted as dismissal or denial of any certain position on that issue. On the contrary, lack of emphasis on a subject often occurs because of common assent by the audience involved. Scripture does not argue the existence of God, for example, it rather assumes it from page one, because it was the given understanding for those to whom it was written.
Could the same be said for “voting”? Certainly not if we understand “voting” to include the whole system of modern political theory of federalism and representative republics (although this grows directly out of Scripture, and goes through Calvinism historically). But given two things I think we must find a theology of voting in Scripture:
First, understand the idea of “voting” in general. The word “vote” comes from the Latin, votum, which simply means “a vow.” The verb form is vovere and means “to vow, dedicate, promise, will.” At its root, a vote is simply a vow expressing your will. When you vote, you express your will for social changes. As a Christian you must express your will according to the will of your Head, Christ. It’s a simple as that. By voting in the public arena we live out our baptismal and communion vows of faithfulness (devotion) to Christ’s law and exercise our judgment upon social issues according to that law. If our representatives do not faithfully represent our will (Christ’s will) while voting in place of us, then we hold the same power of judgment upon their term in office. The public vote is one historical sanction we can exercise as part of our kingship. There are others—private property, gold, and bearing of arms—but the vote is one, and we dare not fail to speak out for the cause of Christ using every power and right that we have, including the vote. (There remains much to be said about covenant, authority, law, oaths and sanctions, and inheritance in relation to voting. This is a beginning.)
Secondly, Scripture provides more than one instance of the power of the people to choose their laws. God Himself issued his covenant to such a ratification. Even though He essentially demanded its ratification and promised blessings for doing so or curses for declining, He yet left the people free to choose (I am not endorsing Arminianism here, please don’t write and try to out-Calvin me): “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deut. 30:19). Likewise, once Joshua established the people in the promised-land, the ratification of the covenant was a voluntary affair. The people voted unanimously in favor, yet Joshua offered them a genuine choice: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:14–26). God’s people are expected, as He rules their hearts and minds, to express their will according to God’s will. We must make godly choices in society. We are to choose against evil and oppression (Prov. 3:31) and this certainly means voting “no!” when necessary.
I realize that there is much else to say on this matter—ideas further to flesh out, objections to answer, qualifications to consider—but this bare bones background sets us in the right direction. Christ rules, we rule with Him, we must advance His law-order in every area of society through persuasion and through the tools of kingship (sovereignty) that he provides for us in history. Where we can, we must exercise those tools as means of expressing His will.
Right now, among other things, we can vote. If government power continues to grow and welfare programs continue to reduce citizens to dependents, the right to vote will increasingly grow more and more insignificant. Right now, we can get the attention of representatives by threatening their tenure with our vote. This is limited power, but real power. Exercise it while you can. Call and write your Senators and Congressmen at state and federal levels to voice Christ’s will today. Let them know, “Listen to your constituents, OR GET BOOTED.”
 See Douglas F. Kelley, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through the 18th Centuries (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992).