Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Ethics of Voting

Some interesting thoughts on politics from Jonathan Leeman, an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church, (currently meeting outdoors in Greenbelt, Maryland) and author of recently posted “The DC Mayor Doesn’t Get to Define Church.” The following is excerpted from “What Makes a Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting.”

“When you vote in a democratic system, you’re actually participating in the role of the “governing authorities” that Paul and Peter describe. Your job is to align your objectives with the purposes which God gives to the government in Scriptures, such as “punish[ing] those who do evil and praise[ing] those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13–14; see also, Gen. 9:5–6; Rom. 13:1–7; etc.).

“Therefore, your vote requires you to make a moral evaluation about what’s good and what’s evil, or wise and unwise (see Prov. 8:15–16), and then to act on behalf of your evaluation. You are morally responsible for this evaluation and act of judgment.

“Suppose then candidate Jack says he believes in positions a, b, c, d, and e, while candidate Jill supports issues l, m, n, o, and p. When I cast a ballot for Jack, I am giving Jack the agency—that is, the power or ability—he needs for turning a, b, c, d, and e into law over and against l, m, n, o, and p. If Jack is elected and succeeds in writing a, b, c, d, and into law, I become morally culpable for those laws, at least in some measure, by the simple formula of cause and effect with my vote as the first cause. Our votes create the requisite agency. We’re handing Jack or Jill the sword of state…

“Suppose you believe issue is wicked, yet vote for Jack because you really care about a, b, c, and d. Still, you cannot discount what your vote does. It gives Jack agency to pursue a, b, c, d, and e, and you remain morally responsible for that. There’s no way to absolve yourself of moral responsibility for the one thing you don’t like and to keep it for the four things you do like.”

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