Why Christians should vote
Views 12 | Time to read: 4 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 24 - 2018 | By: Sam Brakken
Midterm elections are approaching quickly, *clears throat* November 6th (two weeks from now), and it seemed right to me that someone talk about voting. I am also aware that Westmont students range in political interest from those who know the meaning of pork barreling to others who are still trying to sort out the left-right continuum. With that said, I hope this essay has relevance for all, no matter your political fancy or background.
Now for a disclaimer: This is by no means an authoritative position and does not come from any direct revelation from God himself (if that wasn’t clear enough already). On the contrary, this is the thought process that led one Christian to have enough of an opinion to write an op-ed on the subject. Good, let’s begin.
As a political science minor, I’ve had the privilege of taking Dr. Covington’s “Christianity & Politics”, a seminar-style, reading-intensive, mind-and-soul-ravaging delight (highly recommend). As the course progressed, I noticed a trend that pervaded historical Christian political thought: the work of Augustine. St. Augustine was a church father who lived in Roman North Africa just prior to the Western Roman empire’s fall. Toward the end of his life, Augustine wrote prolifically about the impending fall of the Roman Empire and the reasons for this, which became a ridiculously long book called “City of God.”
In this rather lengthy tome, Augustine developed the concept known as the two cities or “the heavenly city” and “the earthly city”. In essence, the heavenly city is comprised of “those who love God,” while “those who love themselves” inhabit the earthly city. Augustine then posited that currently the world is made up of a mix of the two cities in a period known as the Saeculum, or the present age of the world before Christ’s second coming (Also where we get the term “secular”). Just as in the parable of the wheat and the tares, the two cities are all mixed up and will continue to be until Christ returns.
Finally, Augustine contends that even though the two cities are differently oriented, they share some things in common during this period, such as keeping the benefits of an orderly society and relative peace.
Now, how does this translate to today? Well, Augustine’s concepts can undoubtedly be applied to the world we currently live in and provide a solid framework for harmonizing our identity as both Christians and citizens of national, state, and local governments. As those who love God (though not perfectly), the heavenly city does have objectives in common with the earthly city that must be discerned in the public arena.
What does this have to do with voting? I’m glad you asked. Voting is the means by which we come to understand public issues and decide who we think will best pursue and safeguard the proper response to those issues. Voting also offers a chance to observe which issues are not being discussed in the public sphere. As a stakeholder in a community, you have the opportunity to bring attention to neglected issues or safeguard values you believe uphold a just society.
Since elections are right around the corner, the best way to prepare for voting is to first find out which positions you specifically are voting for. Next, read up on the unique issues facing each election and discuss these with family, friends, and mentors. Lastly, vote for you think will best represent your community at the local, city, state, and national levels instead of adding another tally mark for you who think will win. May your conversations be civil, and happy voting!