Why I’m Not Going To Vote!

The General Election has been announced and I am, admittedly, following it with interest. However, I am not going to vote. This may surprise you, but I have good reason to take this course of inaction.

Society needs government to ensure order and prevent anarchy. We even see that God is behind the appointment of governments (Romans 13:1 – Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.).

The rule of government is the establishment of laws which must be obeyed by the society. In the case of democracy it is the imposition of rules by a society upon itself. Such rules only have relevance because of the power behind them – the power of punishment. After all, if there were no punishments then laws would only be suggestions! Ultimately punishment is only enforceable because of the threat of violence to those who do not toe the line. Even if you do something as small as shoplifting the only way they can stop you from walking away free is to use violence against you, in order to apprehend you and then punish you. Violence is only unnecessary when the kindly criminal is happy to co-operate – and if there is no threat of force then the criminal will happily walk free.

I am a pacifist and therefore refuse to participate in physical violence. I see no record of Jesus being physically violent or even encouraging it – in fact he is recorded to have opposed violence.

Christ did not come to free his people from the Roman occupation. There were many injustices in his society and Jesus did not participate in those injustices, he practised justice. However, he did not spend his time trying to force change on society, instead he invited individuals to change. He did not come to set slaves free in the natural sense, only in the ‘real’ sense of setting people free (by opening up the possibility of us a relationship with God).

Christ did not come to establish a moral law in society which everyone would have to abide by. Christ came to establish the law in our hearts, to change us from the inside – he recognised that change could only come from God in our hearts and not by law from the outside. He recognised the failings of ‘The Law’ and came to make the most incredible change in the history of mankind, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Democracy is the idea of finding a common morality to abide by. All members of a democracy are prevented from doing what they want to do – whether that be speeding, murder, being noisy, dropping litter, meeting in large groups etc. Democracy also imposes taxation on the society – money is redistributed according to the democratic choice. I’m not hear to make enemies by forcing people to do my will, or even by forcing people to do God’s will (is that even possible?). I will make enemies if I impose morality on people. Why do you think politicians are widely despised?

We have a tendency to judge how ‘good’ a society is by our own set of human values. ‘Good’ however, is in God’s eyes, not ours. ‘Good’ is only when we do God’s will. People cannot do God’s will by following ‘Christian’ laws, they can only do it by knowing him and loving him. Our mission is to show God’s love to people and be an example of this counter cultural way of life.

I am not going to vote in the elections. I am very happy for society to decide for itself what they want to do, but I’m not here to be part of that system. I am in society, but I hope that I’m not of it.

Vote for God’s love – don’t vote in the elections! Serve, don’t rule.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Going To Vote!

  1. Dave Swain said…

    Some interesting thoughts, I did wonder whether you actually meant all that or whether it was a provocative post to spark thought and comment. If unsure i tend to take people at face value so i do with ur post. I can see where ur comming from on vatious aspects. I actually feel a need to voye in order to serve my community. My socialist beliefs are linked to my spiritual beliefs and faith. I am a realist and recognise that the election usually comes down to a choice between 2 parties Tory and Labour (although the Lib Dems seem closer than ever to being the 2nd party) So I have always voted for labour as a way of voting against the tories. I see the damage the toriesd have done to society and there focus on the rich not helping the poor as something i shouold make a non-violent stand against. I wonder what a pacifist has left if they remove their main political non violent voice in society. i wonder if if we lived in a country where the ruling party was in someway cutting accross some of your main beliefs that you would be motivated to vote?
    7:41 AM

    Richard Passmore said…

    my main complusion to vote is because of the history and pain people went through to gain the right to vote. But mark has certainly got me thinking. The key question for me is How can we be truly counter cultural and model a kingdom community by either voting or not voting. Knowing Marks life choices I can see the links but how does that grow/get the word out or should this be even be an issue. Jesus created his cultural revolution with 12. Perhaps we have gone so far from the Christ like models we tie ourselves up in knots around issues like this. I also like Marks blog because at least by voicing that he is not voting it is a political statement
    11:52 AM

    Mark Porthouse said…

    An important point that I find in my faith is that the end (fruit) is a side affect of the means (motive).

    The end can never justify the means, or should I say the fruit cannot justify the motive. Our justification is related to a change in our motive, not a change in our works (but, of course, our works are changed by our motive). (aargh! sorry if you have to read that slowly!)
    6:55 PM

    Anonymous said…

    Well there is something there, Mark.

    I would argue that your logic is flawed though. We cannot hope to influence society if we refuse to participate in it – although reading into what you said about being a servant, I am assuming that you mean that serving the community is more important than contributing to the decision making process. Which I agree with, although if you do not make a statement in favour or against particular policies or behaviour of those in power, you have no right to complain when people do things you don’t like.

    As the saying goes ‘When they came for the communist, I did not speak out because I am not a communist. When they came for the trade unionist, I did not speak out because I am not a trade unionist. When they came for the Catholic, I did not speak out because I am not a catholic. When they came for me, nobody heard my cry because there was nobody left.’

    Christians should be fully engaged – in fact more engaged than the average person – in the politican process. This is far more than voting. We should be writing to the MPs (and not just about things like Jerry Springer). We should be standing up for the oppressed. We should be standing for parliament and putting our money where our mouth is. We should be getting our hands dirty and getting stuck in. Joe
    7:56 PM

    Mark Porthouse said…

    Hi Joe,
    Yes, I do believe that we have something to say about our society and we are definitely called to participate in it, in a very ‘different’ way. Firstly we have something to say to influence our Christian family then we have something to say in society.
    What we have to be careful to do, in our comment on society, is to not judge the sinner, but instead judge the sin. We should speak out against injustice and act against it, but I feel that we shouldn’t point fingers at people. When we start judging people (which is part of being the government/law system) then we are perhaps taking it too far???
    2:20 PM

    John Walker said…

    You say you want to be “in the world but not of the world�, but instead you appear to be acting to remove yourself from it. You are not “in� the world when you choose not to vote, you are isolating yourself from it.

    Democracy is massively flawed, and a two/three party system is moreso. However, you need to offer an alternative system to replace it if you are not going to participate in it. Boasting that you’ll happily allow everyone else to vote but will refuse to yourself completely denies any meaning behind your act.

    If you opt out of voting, you opt out of any relation to the political system. Democracy offers a small voice – you are choosing no voice. Are you arguing that Christians should have nothing to do with politics? That they should be silent within this system? That they should hide from it, while living in countries driven by it? Because voting is our connection to it, and you aren’t even engaging in that.

    Have you considered spoiling? If you want to make a statement, then for God’s sake make a statement – go and spoil your paper in protest. Because otherwise you are obscured by your silence, refusing to be in the world you want not to be of.
    4:47 PM

    Anonymous said…

    this will be the 1st general election that i’m old enough to vote, + while i want to use my vote, + to use it wisely, i don’t have a clue which party to vote for!
    i have been told that both tony+ cherie blair are christians, + also gordon brown as well apparently, though i have also been told that the blair’s are also into spiritualism etc, +i’m very unsure about how the 2 of these can mix without compromising ur faith!
    i always struggle with the time comes for a general election, cos the Bible says that God appoints the earthly leaders and rulers, which must then mean that whoever comes into power is the person that God wants. however is that only if we, as God’s people, seek his heart for who to vote in?
    i’ve also heard recently that u can abstain from voting for any of the parties as ur vote, in a sense registering ur dislike of any of the options, which at the mo, seems the option i’m most likely to go with. i certainly want to use my vote + not just not vote, because that could just be taken as apathy + i am interested, just don’t know whos beter than the rest of them!
    7:09 PM

    Mark Porthouse said…

    Hi John W,

    The political system is MUCH bigger than just democracy. I DO have a voice in society, I am not isolated from society. I choose to serve society.
    I just don’t want to impose my morality on others – it doesn’t make people ‘better’ to force them to do ‘good’.

    I have considered spoiling, however, I see no point in criticising the chosen system when I am choosing to not propose an alternative (I don’t believe that the church is here to govern). I do have an a belief that God is behind the appointment of governments, so if I’ve got a problem with secular rule then maybe I should speak to him!
    10:24 AM

    Mark Porthouse said…

    In response to the person who is now old enough to vote:

    No-one we vote for is going to be perfect. If we were up for election we wouldn’t be perfect.

    I do believe that it is God who establishes authority. He has ultimate power. You will note that these authorities are rarely (if ever!) religious. I’m not sure if a Christian government is actually possible. The government of society seems to need violence, war and power. I think that God is very practical when it comes to government! Which is why I think he wishes to keep it out of our hands!
    8:41 AM

    Richard Passmore said…

    As an undecided I think to say God wishes us to keep our hands off maybe a bit strong, but I know where your coming from Mark. I think there is a danger that at election time we see voting as the only political action we take. where we shop, how we use our time and what clothes we wear can all be political actions. So to anoymous don’t just vote or not vote but engage in the coversation with your friends, neighbours and even the politician which then means wether you vote or not you are still using your right to vote well
    1:34 PM

    John Walker said…

    “I just don’t want to impose my morality on others – it doesn’t make people ‘better’ to force them to do ‘good’.â€?

    How does voting – making a choice of leadership – “force [people] to do goodâ€?? I cannot see the link.

    If such a link were to exist, you do appear to be advocating the right of others to impose their morals upon you. I can’t see the logic of this.

    “I have considered spoiling, however, I see no point in criticising the chosen system when I am choosing to not propose an alternative (I don’t believe that the church is here to govern).�

    But you ARE criticising the system! Your initial post exists only to do so. If you thought there nothing wrong with the system, you’d perhaps use it, and certainly not make a noise about how you weren’t going to on a public blog.

    “I do have an a belief that God is behind the appointment of governments, so if I’ve got a problem with secular rule then maybe I should speak to him!�

    I’m guessing, but I’m assuming you’re refering to the comments made in the Old Testament to this effect. A couple of things about that:

    1) If this were the case, then democracy would be a farce, our votes would be irrelevant, and God would be forcing people to vote His way. I don’t see a way around this – you appear to be making an ultimate denial of autonomy, and denying free will. Which is quite a statement.

    2) Since Hebrew makes no distinction between God’s causing something to happen, and God’s not preventing something from happening (eg. “God hardened Pharoah’s heart,� is also equally translated as “God did not prevent Pharoah’s heart from being hardened,�) it would make a great deal more sense to translate God’s involvement in the appointment of government in a similar way. He doesn’t prevent us from choosing a leader.

    Otherwise you appear to be arguing that dictators, tyrants, and despots are God-appointed, and I would be interested to hear the theology of this.

    I have no great campaign to convince you to vote. However, I cannot comprehend your closing statement in the initial post where you suggest others should also not vote in God’s name, without presenting an argument to this effect.
    10:07 AM

    Mark Porthouse said…

    Hi John W,
    The ‘link’ is that anything government does, does impose on people. E.G. provide a benefit here means you take a tax there, provide a right here and you infringe a right there. I can’t think of anything that govt. does in terms of law that isn’t like that. In fact, that is the whole point of govt. – to moderate society.
    I just don’t beleive that we are here to moderate society.
    The thing is, you aren’t just ‘making a choice of leadership’ you are in fact mandating that leader to actually do stuff.

    Next point (giving others the right to impose their morals on me – which I don’t agree with): GOD can ‘impose his morals on me’ AND I can submit, where appropriate to OTHERS. That’s good isn’t it. However, I’m not going to submit to doing evil just because society is instructing me to do so – take Paul & co getting chucked in prison for not submitting to the authorities because they instead had to submit to God.

    I’m not criticising the system at all – I challenge you to find that in my original post. What I am criticising is our involvement, as Christians, in that system. As far as I can tell, the system is what God was happy to establish – I don’t have a problem with the system (and I realise that most do!).

    Re. God appointing govts, note my post – Romans 13:1. I’m not referring to the Old Testament at all. NB: note that Israel was the only nation that belonged to God and was supposed to be ruled by God – the OT concept of God’s rule cannot be applied to the rule of nations today, BUT can be applied to God’s rule in the church today.
    For the sake of the discussion I shall assume that this means that your points 1 & 2 do not apply.

    It is probably irrelevant whether God appoints, or God allows govts, because in practice (i.e. the rule of nations) the result is the same – but it does mean that God allowed Pharoah, Hitler, etc. and therefore allowed them to do their dastardly deeds. This is very similar to the ‘God diciplines’ concept – where it seems that God allows stuff to happen to us – he isn’t the one who is doing it, but his sovereign will allows it (and he has the ability to stop it if he so wishes). I think that we both see eye to eye on this point.

    All of my arguments were to the effect, that we, as Christians should not impose our morality on society. I recommend Stuart Murray’s latest two books on after Christendom with regards to this.
    8:35 PM

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