Our civic duty: Following the advice of John Jay


By Daniel Bobinski 

Every year on the first Tuesday in November, cities hold elections. Of course, the “biggie” is always the Presidential election every four years, but guess what? Your opinion still matters in what are known as the off-year elections, which occur every year. 

Why are these elections important? Sometimes these off-year elections are when we get to elect school board members, a mayor, or someone to serve on the city council. You may also be voting on bond issues that will impact your finances. In many ways, the results of these off-year elections impact you just as much if not more than who gets elected President. 

Should Christians be involved in the voting process? 

To answer this question, let’s take a tip from John Jay, our country’s very first Supreme Court Chief Justice. It was Jay who wrote, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” 

Jay was no slouch when it came to understanding the founding and structuring of our country. Not only was he our country’s first Chief Justice, he also co-authored the Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 articles and essays to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. 

So, regarding our question about Christians being involved in the voting process, I’d say the answer is a resounding “yes.” 

When considering the impact of our votes, I can think of several stories here in Idaho where votes were close. In fact, just a few years back, a town in the middle of the state decided the results of an election by a coin flip, because each candidate received an equal number of votes! 

When it comes to Jay’s advice, I agree with him. I think our society is healthier when we have people in office who hold a biblical worldview. So yes, your vote matters. Not long ago there was a city council race in Idaho in which a Bible-believing candidate won by less than 100 votes. As a member of the city council, this person made decisions that impacted the entire population of the city. If the opposition candidate had won, those city council decisions might have run counter to a biblical worldview, and the Bible-believing citizens of the city would have been forced to live with the fallout. 

Here’s another reason to vote: It validates your right to speak your mind. Perhaps you’ve heard believers express their disappointment regarding ballot results or decisions made by their city leaders. Sadly, statistics show that believers aren’t all that great at stepping up to make a difference in the voting booth. Christian researcher George Barna reports that only 25 percent of evangelicals vote. Even worse, 40 percent of evangelicals aren’t even registered to vote. When reading those numbers, I kinda shake my head. It reminds me of something my dad used to say: “If you don’t vote, you forfeit the right to complain.” 

By the way, I should take this opportunity to clarify that when John Jay was encouraging Christians to vote for Christians, he was not advocating a theocracy. He was well-aware that our government was designed as a Constitutional Republic. He simply knew that people who hold themselves accountable to the righteous, relational ruler of the universe would be more likely to be fair and objective in making decisions that affect our citizens. 

Also, when Jay said that we should “prefer Christians” as our leaders, he was not suggesting we choose leaders based upon denominational affiliation. I also think he was warning us not to be deceived by Christian rhetoric. I’ve seen some pretty deceptive candidates claiming the brand of “Christian” to garner votes, only to get recalled when the truth about their character became visible through actions that violated their oath of office. 

Are there verses that tell us to vote? No, because nobody held elections in biblical times. Kings and rulers were either anointed, assumed leadership because of bloodlines, or took control by force. But in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, the Apostle Paul writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 

If voting occurred in biblical times, do you think that Paul would have addressed the subject? I’d also like to underscore the need to be informed about the candidates and ballot issues, referring to Hosea 4:6a: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Personally, I try to study up on the issues and vote every year, but if for some reason an issue appears on the ballot that I’m not familiar with, I don’t vote on that matter. I don’t want to accidentally vote for something that would be contrary to biblical principles. 

So yes, elections occur every year on the first Tuesday in November. Voting in the “big” elections every four years is important, but equally important are the off-year elections. I encourage believers everywhere to follow the advice of John Jay. Selecting Christians to hold office is not only our privilege, it’s also in our best interest. 

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. teaches teams and individuals how to use Emotional Intelligence (more info at MyWorkplaceExcellence.com). He’s also a home fellowship leader, a homeschooling dad, a best-selling author, and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at [email protected] or (208) 375-7606. 


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