Voting our conscience as Christians includes the potential conclusion that God might have us refrain from voting. The lesser of two evils, unfortunately, still has us voting for evil. In the event that none of the candidates satisfy our thirst for justice and hunger for righteousness, than not voting could be a viable option.
But a more important point about our vote should be made: our “vote” is just as important the day before and the day after Election Day. Our everyday actions are votes for and against things: what we eat, where we pursue education, and how we care for our bodies are all political actions that vote for some things and against others. Even our money that does not go to a candidate or their many Political Action Committees (PACs) has a political significance.
Therefore, “Who did you vote for?” is the wrong question to ask. Instead, the real question is “How do you vote?” since voting is on-going, not restricted merely to Election Day, but also to the work day, Veterans Day, and every other day of the year. What Francis of Assisi said of preaching is equally true of voting; do it without ceasing, and do it on Election Day only when necessary.
I am not saying that our electoral vote is worthless, but it is not as ultimate as campaign ads would have you believe. How you voted yesterday and how you will vote tomorrow, is just as important. What products, ideas, and activities you sanction before and after you fill that little circle in or pull that lever are every bit as politically significant.
Here is where it gets even more tricky. One of the most direct passages that deals with how Christians will be judged is the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25: 31-46). The sheep are surprised to be called good and faithful servants. The goats, on the other hand, expected to be saved and were not. The difference was not in what the goats did, but what they failed to do. Even our inactivity is a vote, as it indicates what is underneath the surface of our characters – it points to the orientation of our hearts. If our hearts are right, it takes no thought to do good, as it is part of who we are, to be good is in our very nature. But if our hearts are weak, if our character is not very strong, we overlook things that we are commanded by God to notice: the widows, the orphans, the sick, the imprisoned, the vulnerable.
How you vote everyday reflects your character and how it has been formed. If you think voting has more to do with a pencil or a lever, I urge you to pause and consider how else you might vote your conscience, on Election Day only when necessary.
Logan Mehl-Laituri is an Iraq veteran and a student in the theological studies program at Duke Divinity School, where he is a founding member of Milites Christi. He also acts as the Executive Officer of Centurion’s Guild and is the author of Reborn on the Fourth of July (InterVarsity Press, 2012).