"Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." — Romans 13: 7
Six years ago I overheard a man say, "If you’re a Christian you won’t vote this election!" This man was concerned by the poor citizenship that the candidates displayed.
I wonder what that man must think now since things have gone from bad to worse. From the primaries to the general election we have been constantly bombarded by name calling, muckraking and violence and out right hatred. There have been a few examples of good citizenship, but they were the exception.
So, should Christians participate in elections that are so contrary to our Christian principles of love, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, respect and honor? What is our duty as citizens of this United States?
Fortunately we have a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, the Bible to guide us in all things. So what does Scripture have to tell us? Remember the words of Jesus from Matthew 22: 21 where he said in reference to paying taxes to Caesar, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s."
In this statement, Jesus made it very clear that we are not to remove ourselves from the political arena, but to be involved in the whole process. For how can we be salt and light to the world if we are not active participants? Christians are not only to pay taxes but to vote and run for office and to do all that is necessary to be involved and informed. If we are to be good citizens of our country then we must be informed and educated about the candidates and vote for the one who will be the best leader for our country.
The Apostle Paul elaborated on what Jesus said, laying the very foundation stone of good citizenship in his letter to the Romans in chapter 13. In the very first verse, Paul lifts up the sovereignty of God saying, "There is no authority that is not from God." Consequently, Paul said, "Let everyone submit himself to the governing authorities." Paul went on to echo the words of Jesus saying in verse 7, "Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
This is good citizenship. But Paul doesn’t end there. In the very next verse he states, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." Paul tells us how we are to obey the laws of our country, and also to love our neighbors, which is the fulfillment of God’s law. Good citizenship, according to Paul, is duty to God and country.
Therefore, I urge everyone to vote, but not just any old vote, rather an informed, educated vote. Without an educated electorate our democratic republic will fall apart and our hard won rights to vote will disappear. But no matter what happens this election, we are not to trust in man but rather in Jesus Christ who is Lord overall.
Banks is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hinesville and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.