Posted by: thefourwinds | August 23, 2008

Throwing away your vote??

I can’t even remember anymore all the times I have told people I voted for Ron Paul in my state’s primary election and got the following response:  “You’re just throwing your vote away.”  Or even worse were the people that replied, “Yeah, I would have voted for him, too, but that would just be throwing my vote away.”  It was quite a while before I came up with a clear way of responding to people like that.

Admittedly, if all the people who said, “Yeah, I would have voted for him, too…” had actually voted for him, think of how much support he could have gotten.  But, honestly, that’s just a symptom, a superficial point.  And the actual identity of the candidate is irrelevant.   

What’s the rationale such people give for believing their vote is “thrown away” if they actually were to vote their conscience?  “I have to vote for [insert popular candidate here] to make sure that [other popular candidate] doesn’t win.”  Do they actually agree with the candidate they’re voting for?  Often not, or maybe only a little.  But their whole voting pattern is to vote against the person they think is the worse candidate.  If that’s truly your reasoning, then you pretty much have to believe anyone who didn’t vote for the winning candidate threw his vote away.  That’s often almost half the population (or maybe more, given the quirks of the electoral college).  What’s going on here?

The real issue, in my opinion, is that these people, some of whom are professing Christians (some are not, though they may profess a belief in some God) don’t really believe in the sovereignty of God on a practical, day-to-day level.  They’ve put their own voting power (though only in a collective sense) ahead of God’s sovereign rule in their minds. 

My reading of the Bible says that we obey His commands and leave the results (which we can’t ultimately control) up to Him.  Martin Luther said it so well in his famous declaration at the Diet of Worms:  “[M]y conscience is captive to the Word of God…to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”  Of course, it’s crucial to note he’s talking about a conscience held captive to God’s Word, not, for example, a seared conscience that can’t even discern right or wrong. 

What’s bizarre in a twisted sort of way is that if such people really believed that strongly in the collective power of the vote, they’d do everything conceivable to get people on the side of their candidate, rather than just going along with the herd, even against their own conscience.  But, it’s always easier to go along with the herd, isn’t it?

I say, vote your conscience and leave the results up to the sovereign, omnipotent God, before whom we are no more than a vapor.



  1. People are uneducated tools. Check out my post about a couple actual conversations I had with people where I asked them who they are voting for. It’s sad.

    As for throwing your vote away, that’s a joke. The problem is that the media obviously believes there are only 2 parties. Most people decide who they will vote for based on the media. So many people don’t even know a third party exists. There is no such thing as throwing your vote away. Every person’s DUTY to their country is to vote for the individual(not party) that they feel is most qualified to uphold our rights to life, liberty, and property.

    People vote collectively for the same reason as there are homosexuals. They want to feel accepted in a group. If you jump into the conservative or liberal camp, you are instantly accepted and become a tool for the party. You then have people that feel the same as you. It’s comforting.

    p.s. If God actually cared about us, he would strike down obama and mccain and have ron paul elected. Too bad God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass and we’re just ants. 😦

  2. OK, I’ll jump in, although I have to write a paper today, so I probably won’t be able to carry on an ongoing dialogue, unfortunately.

    I think the crux of your argument lies not in the power of God, but in his mind. In other words, we know that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. That means he knows what will happen and nothing happens outside not only his knowing, but also his ability to stop one action or cause another. This is just another way of saying he is sovereign.

    The real question is not “Does anything happen outside the control of God?” The obvious answer to that question is of course not. The question we must ask, however, is “What role has God chosen for himself and for us in determining the events in this world?” In other words, because God can do anything, does not obligate him to. If it does, then God is responsible for sin, which he does not prevent. The bible clearly teaches that man is responsible for his own sin, therefore God has limited his role in allowing us “free-will”, and the ability to make decisions and take actions that, while under the sovereignty of God, are contrary to his will.

    So what then is to be our response to God’s sovereignty and his allowing us free-will? One response is fatalism “It doesn’t matter what I do, God is in control, and he will work it all out.” I believe this is an unbiblical view. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, realizing that God has placed a responsibility in our hands to take part in a work that only he can empower us to do, but that he will hold us responsible for.

    A second response is putting self in the place of God. “If I am not faithful in this area God’s hands will be tied.” This is also unbiblical and denys Gods all-powerfulness.

    I believe the correct response is to acknowledge God’s rightful place and our responsibility that he has put in our hands. Just because all things are under His control does not mean that our actions are meaningless or without effect. We can take hope in the fact that God is truly in control, but must not lose sight of the fact that he has placed a burden of responsibility on us, and allows our actions, good and bad, to have natural consequences.

    I agree with you that one should not take actions that go against your conscience. You seem to imply beyond that, however, that one needn’t put thought into a decision beyond whether it is in good conscience or not, but should instead just rely on God to work his will. This point I disagree with. Not because God needs me to take a certain action, but because he expects me to.

  3. Brad,
    Thanks for the reply. Hope your paper goes well.

    I followed most of your argument, but at the end, I can’t tell whether you think it’s justifiable to make a voting decision just to keep a specific candidate out of office. What do you think?

    Also, I think we differ in our opinions about God’s sovereignty. Although I agree that man has a will and is responsible to God for his own actions, I don’t think I hold to the same concept of “free will” as you do.

    For example, Adam was responsible for his sin, but saying that Christ dying on the cross was God’s plan B (plan A would have been Adam obeying for all eternity) goes against the fact that there were certain things established in God’s mind both “from the foundation of the world” and “before the foundation of the world.” Jesus was the lamb slain from the from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). I don’t believe His atoning death was Plan B.

    Remember also that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will” (Daniel 4:32).

  4. lilburtonboy,

    Thx for your comment. I wish my blog were more organized, because I could refer you to some things about God that might change your opinion about Him. God’s love is shown for us in that, despite the fact that we reject Him and want our own desires above His, He still has provided a “way out.” He provided an ark for Noah and his family to escape the flood judgment, and He has provided Christ as a “way out” of the judgment to come. For now, may I recommend ?

  5. Would I vote for someone to keep another candidate out of office? Yes. Would I vote for that someone if it violated my conscience? No.

    I will say that many people voted for Ross Perot, rather than George Bush, not out of conscience, but because they thought he was the better candidate. Many did so knowing that Bill Clinton was an absolute supporter of abortion, while George Bush was not. If they had voted for Bush instead of Perot, Bill Clinton would not have been president, and abortions would not have received state funding, probably saving many unborn lives. I wouldn’t want the fact that I could have played a part in attempting to keep that from happening but didn’t to be on my conscience, no matter how much better political leader Perot might have been than Bush. And I wouldn’t say “oh well, I have no complicity in Clinton’s election because obviously it was God’s sovereign will” either.

  6. fourwinds,

    As for your post on my blog, I thought you’re a Ron Paul supporter. If that’s the case, then you would no disagree with entitlements. The property that we acquire should have nothing to do with deserving that property or not, but rather that we enter into a voluntary exchange to receive the property (wealth). So if someone is born into a rich family, than they are entitled to that which has been chosen to be given to them. It isn’t that they deserve it, but that is irrelevant.

    How would wealth be distributed based on what we deserve anyways? To me, watching sports is a higher priority to me than my own personal protection. So I think that athletes deserve more than policemen. Many people think different, but who are they to tell me different? The only way that property/wealth can be distributed is the voluntary exchange through exercising our free will. It is just, and that is the role of government.

    However, what I just explained is the moral issue of right and wrong. We have these rights because of self-ownership. People don’t care about any of what I just said. All people care about is the material benefit that they may gain from policies being implemented. They think of politics pragmatically. What we should do, is think of it in terms of what’s right and wrong. If people could gain material benefit at the cost of losing liberty, then they are fine with it. That’s why we shouldn’t be able to vote.

    As for the God thing. I’m a Christian. I just don’t understand a lot about him. For example, he is not just. Justice would be if we had the choice to play his little game and go through trials to make it to heaven. If we could choose to play the game, only then would it be just. However, he forces us against our will to do what he says, or else we will suffer for eternity. Hardly justice.

  7. Hi Brad,

    What I mean by “voting my conscience” is voting for the one I think is the best candidate. So the example you gave about Ross Perot is exactly what I would describe as people voting their conscience.

    As for what would have happened if people had voted for Bush instead of Perot, I think we have to be careful about assuming what would have happened. We simply do not know what would have happened, not just about abortions, but about anything.

  8. Lilburton,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion. Two thoughts:

    1. I think you and I may mean something different by using the word “entitlement.” When I spoke of the “entitlement culture,” I’m talking about the welfare state, where most people think they deserve to live in the lap of luxury without having ever worked to earn any of the things they think they deserve. I am in agreement with you that we ought to have free choices and voluntary exchanges. Right now in our country, there is a huge percentage of people who live in relative affluence by living off other people — that is, the state is forcing ME to pay for their not working and living however they want. I would think if you support Ron Paul then you would agree that’s not a good situation.

    2. The only way to know God is through the Bible. I would say a Biblical understanding of God would say that since He created everything, we cannot attempt to rightly hold Him to OUR sense of justice. Our sense of justice, though it may have its origins in godliness, is not on par with God’s sense of justice because we are corrupt and fallen in nature. We have to allow Him to define justice. Do we dictate to Him how He should be God? What kind of a God would allow His creation to dictate to him what fairness and justice are?

  9. Just out of curiosity, do you lock your doors if you park in a bad part of town, or do you leave it up to God’s sovereignty to protect your car? After all, if he wants your car to not be broken into, he can provent it. In fact, with that line of reasoning, I would assume you don’t try to teach your children scripture, because God will enact his sovereign plan for their lives regardless of your actions. Of course I know this is not true. If you believe he expects you to be faithful in some areas, and not “put God to the test”, then why would it be wrong to take action to prevent someone evil from assuming power in government if you have the ability to do so? We are to be as innocent as doves, but as shrewd as serpents. That implies a certain use of the mind beyond just taking action regardless of the expected outcome. Just because God can do a thing does not imply that he will do that thing. If you don’t believe me, go to the top of the tallest building in town, step off and see if God’s sovereign plan is for you to live. Or better yet, just turn to the scriptures where Jesus rebuffed Satan’s attempt at convincing him that this action was acceptable. God is certainly in control, and he expects us to trust him, but at the same time he expects us to be actively partnering with him in this world.

    I will say that I think many if not most Christians in this nation put far too much stock in the idea that they can change our country through the political process, rather than focusing on the means that God created for changing people: his Holy Spirit and the gospel message. I just think we have different views on how active a role we are to take in thinking through implications of decisions versus just taking action and expecting God to work his will regardless of our actions.

  10. Just for the record, sometimes I do lock my car in a bad part of town, sometimes I don’t. I have lived in some areas that are rougher than most American Christians have ever even seen. So they don’t frighten me all that much anymore. By necessity I had to learn to trust in God’s protection in a strikingly concrete fashion every day. I’m extremely grateful now for that time in my life, although it wasn’t much fun at the time. When you have to trust the Lord with your safety (and that of your family) nearly every minute of the day, it can become quite a habit trusting in the Lord.

    Re: teaching my children Scripture: of course, that is a plain command in the Scripture. There is no debate about that.

    I think the main difference in our opinions lies not so much in the degree of the political process, but in how much we think we can assume about what’s going to happen (“if so-and-so doesn’t get elected, things will be so much better”), or how much the “evil-ness” of one candidate differs from another. Frankly, in my opinion, most of the candidates from the two major parties are all about as evil as each other, just in different outward ways. I voted for GW Bush in 2000, but by 2004, I was unwilling to vote for him again, so I voted for a candidate that had “no chance” of winning. My conscience is clear that I had no part in his victory in 2004, given what I saw were the revealing of what had been some “true colors.”

    By bringing up the danger of assuming things about the future, I think specifically of Prov 27:1 (“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”)

    Ultimately, this post was about how absurd I think it is that most people will simply go along with the herd and deride someone for actually voting for the person who they think is the best candidate.

  11. Greg,
    Thanks for the good debate! It helps sharpen the mind, and to both prod me to think more deeply about what I believe and more importantly, about what the Bible has to say. Talk to you later,

  12. Agreed! Thanks Brad for the thought-provoking comments.

  13. Great post. Christians should vote their conscience. Last presidential election, I didn’t throw away my vote, I vote third party!

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