Voting looks different for most of us this year than it has in years past. As you know, the state primary election is being conducted entirely by mail. But regardless of what this election looks like, it is still true that Christians have a biblical responsibility to vote.
The biblical origins of this duty were highlighted by Thomas Hooker, the famed Gospel minister and founder of Connecticut. In his renowned “Election Sermon,” preached in 1638 before an assembly of the fledgling colony, Hooker gives a couple biblical lessons on exercising the right to vote:
1. “The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.”
God has given citizens the responsibility to choose their leaders. This truth is revealed in Deuteronomy 1:13: “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” Even when Israel transitioned to a limited monarchy, the Israelites still needed to “confirm” the king as their ruler (1 Sam 12:1; 2 Kings 14:21; 2 Chron 23:3; etc.).
Exercising our right to vote is therefore our sacred duty. As Samuel Adams said, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
2. “The privilege of election which belongs to the people must not be exercised according to their humors but according to the blessed will and law of God.”
We are not to choose leaders based on our own subjective preferences. Instead, we should choose civil officers based on the qualifications God sets forth in Scripture. These characteristics are listed in Exodus 18:21: “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.”
These four biblical qualifications – capable, Godfearing, trustworthy, and hating covetousness or dishonest gain – should guide our votes.
Thomas Hooker taught the people of Connecticut that God had given them the responsibility to choose who they would entrust with the weighty responsibilities that accompany public office. Let’s make sure we exercise our sacred duty wisely and biblically this election season.