“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
~ 2 Timothy 2:4
Disclaimer: If you skim this article, you will miss the points made. So I recommend reading it carefully online or printing it out and read it offline.
Some who have read INSURGENCE: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and have joined the Insurgence have asked me the following question:
“Now that I’ve broken ties with the world system and joined the Insurgence, should I vote in political elections?”
While I talk a great deal about the political system (which is part of the world system) in the book, I intentionally don’t say whether or not those who have joined the Insurgence should vote in political elections.
The reason is the same as why I don’t give any rules in the book on any subject.
To tell readers what they should or shouldn’t do on personal matters like voting would make me a legalist. The Holy Spirit is the One who will inform that decision, not me or any other mortal.
What I can do is tell you how some Insurgents have answered this question for themselves as they’ve been led by the Spirit regarding the gospel of the kingdom.
WARNING 1: For those who are reading this blog and haven’t read INSURGENCE, you will most likely misinterpret what I’m about to write because you won’t have the context to fully understand it.
When a person joins the Insurgence, it changes their entire outlook on life and how they view the various aspects of the world system. Insurgents aren’t part of the Progressive Left or the Conservative Right. We, like Jesus Himself — our Lord and Master — stand apart from both.
However, some Insurgents vote in some political elections while other Insurgents don’t vote at all.
In this article, I’ll explain both perspectives. Each perspective is sound with respect to the gospel of the kingdom.
INSURGENTS WHO DO NOT VOTE AT ALL
I have friends who have joined the Insurgence and they don’t vote in any elections. Their reasoning is based on being fully disentangled from the world system. They articulate their position this way:
“I’m part of an alternative civilization (ekklesia) that is not part of the world system. The political system is part of the world system. So I leave voting to those who are part of the world system, and I stay disengaged from it. Just like I have no place voting in the elections of Russia because I’m not part of Russian civilization, I don’t vote in American elections because I belong to a different civilization, the holy nation that Peter spoke of, the colony of heaven.”
One Insurgent went further and stated his position this way:
“Using Caesar’s resources to help some people always means that those resources will NOT be available to assist others. By this I mean that this world participates in an economics of scarcity.
A majority of the resources always end up in the hands of a minority of people and that minority often makes the decisions about how to divvy up the scraps and allocate them among the majority.
Voting is one way the majority gets to feel like they have a say in how the minority will allocate those resources. For some people, especially the poor who are not part of God’s kingdom, how an election goes is the most important factor in how their family is going to fare in the months and years to come.
From their perspective, their very livelihood is on the line. That is not so among God’s people.
Our well being is directly impacted by our citizenship in God’s kingdom and our life in the body of Christ, whose members provide for one another. Because of God’s blessing on our life together (in true ekklesia life), we will never run out of the resources we need to supply one another’s needs. Our cup runs over.
In the world, however, votes contribute to policies that result in some who are not part of the ekklesia faring better and others who are not part of the ekklesia faring worse. So while some disciples of Jesus are voting for what best serves our mission from our perspective, we are simultaneously making life more difficult for a block of people outside the body of Christ to whom God is sending us in mission. All of which is to say, it’s complicated.
In the end, if I have any objection to voting it is that there are so many complicating factors and so many risks, that I am not sure it is worth our time. It takes an enormous amount of time to decipher the media biases and find out what a politician really believes about certain matters. This is time away from doing the work of the kingdom.
Also, God’s sovereignty means not only that He can get His way even if I vote the other way, but that He will get His way regardless of whether I vote. Using a balance of power among and within the nations to keep relative order and peace is what He has been doing since Babel.”
The above view is in full harmony with the gospel of the kingdom and its implications. However, I believe an Insurgent can vote in some elections and stay true to the gospel of the kingdom. But the reasons will be very different from that of the world (and most Christians).
INSURGENTS WHO VOTE IN SOME ELECTIONS
Their voting isn’t for any of these common reasons:
* They vote not because they think human government — which God didn’t create — can solve the problems of the world. It cannot solve those problems because human governments are part of the world system and Jesus Christ isn’t the head of them.
* They vote not because they think it will make their country a “Christian nation.” That’s a grossly misguided hope.
* They vote not because they think it’s their “civic duty” or that they owe it to their ancestors. Insurgents are part of a different civilization that doesn’t belong to the world system and their true ancestry reaches back to eternity past.
* They vote not because they think Christians should take power, sitting at Caesar’s table and wielding his sword.
* They vote not on the basis of whether a candidate is a Christian or not.
* They vote not because their ethnicity tells them they should vote a certain way. (For example, I’m naturally Latin – Italian American – but in reality, I’m part of “the third race,” the ekklesia of God. Thus my true roots and identity are not tied to this planet.)
Reasons why some Insurgents vote in some elections
They vote to give a “voice” to laws and candidates based on how those laws and candidates treat the ekklesia of God.
Before I explain this position, let me offer an analogy to set it up.
Suppose for a moment that Jesus of Nazareth were living on the earth as a visible, individual man today. And suppose He was doing all the things He did in the Gospels — teaching, preaching, traveling, delivering people, training workers, creating kingdom communities, etc. And He used technology to get His message out.
For those Insurgents who vote, their chief criteria for casting their vote would be, “How will this politician treat Jesus? Will they allow Him to do what He’s doing or will they hinder Him from doing it?”
Since Insurgents believe Jesus is the hope of the world and the embodiment of the kingdom of God on earth, how a governmental official treated Him if He were here in the flesh would be the dominating factor in how an Insurgent voted.
Well, as I argued in INSURGENCE, the ekklesia is the kingdom of God on earth today. It is the corporate expression of Jesus Christ. So Insurgents who vote do so on the basis of how disciples of Jesus are being treated. Because the ekklesia is the hope of the world.
No law or elected official can bring the kingdom. No government can either. But they can either hinder or aid the advance of the kingdom.
Even though God didn’t create human governments, He uses them to keep order, which includes punishing wrong doers (see Romans 13).
Consequently, if a candidate believed that kingdom people were doing wrong by enthroning Jesus as Lord, wanted to hinder gathering in homes (or public spaces) in the name of Christ, and sought to limit them from preaching the gospel of the kingdom on social media and public spaces, an Insurgent wouldn’t vote for them.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 sums up the criteria for how Insurgents vote, which is the same criteria for praying for governmental leaders:
“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.”
Notice the last clause:
“That we (the people of the kingdom – the ekklesia) may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.”
Consider also Galatians 6:10:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Note the words, “especially.” Meaning, our priority in doing good is to the ekklesia. So for Insurgents who vote, their priority is how government affects kingdom people first, then the rest of society second.
Therefore, any law or candidate (whether Christian or not) that ensures that kingdom people can (1) live peacefully (free from harm), and (2) live godly and holy (which means following Jesus of Nazareth) would get the vote of Insurgents who participate in the voting process.
That, of course, can be enlarged to other areas that directly affect disciples of Jesus. But most of the hot button issues aren’t chief on their radar because they don’t place their hope or trust in human governments or politicians to solve the world’s problems.
Of course, Insurgents who vote understand that God’s sovereignty overrides their “voting voice.” For instance, while they may vote for those who are favorable toward disciples of Jesus (in line with 1 Timothy 2), God’s plan may be to sift His people through governmental persecution for a season.
So it may be His will that the “bad guys” (those hostile to Jesus and His followers) get in for a time to prune and purify His body.
Therefore, Insurgents who vote, do so with the understanding that the results may be something other than what they believe to be in the best interests of the ekklesia. So they submit their vote to the Lord.
Professing Christians who believe that government is the hope of the world and get involved in the political process will have completely different criteria for voting. That’s true for both the Conservative Right and the Progressive Left, both of whom (as a general rule) place their hope and trust in whoever is in power.
By contrast, Insurgents know that the only hope in this world is Jesus Christ and His alternative civilization, the kingdom of God. And it is to Christ and His kingdom that Insurgents give their time, money, and attention.
(By “kingdom of God,” I’m referring to how I use the phrase in Insurgence. Unfortunately, this phrase has become a clay word, shaped to mean very different things by very different people.)
WARNING 2: One of my friends added these words of wisdom for Insurgents who vote:
“Participation in an election can be dangerous to a disciple of Jesus (beyond causing massive frustration, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, etc.). Many find it difficult to remain respectfully disentangled from the earthly powers and principalities after having invested a lot of time researching which ones might be better suited to sustain an environment that is both friendly to Christian witness and able to compassionately restrain the forces of chaos that sin unleashes on every society.
If you cannot make an informed choice about such matters without getting sucked into political partisanship, thinking less of other people based on their political affiliation, or becoming fearful of what unbelievers fear or excited by what excites them — then it is probably not a good idea for you to participate in an election.”
Questions like, “Should I vote?” or “Can a Jesus-follower join the military?” are not the prerogative of any believer to answer for another believer. These questions constitute territory staked out by the Holy Spirit and Him alone.
The question behind the question (“is this right or wrong?”) is problematic as I’ve pointed out in my Galatians in 3D Master Class.
If you’re part of the Conservative Right or the Political Left, the answer to the voting question is: “Is your IQ below 70? Of course you should vote! How else are you going to change the world?”
The assumption underlying that response is that Christians are obligated to participate in the political process to push their “Christian” agenda, making it into law. And thus creating a “Christian nation” (so they think).
Never mind that the Progressive Left and Conservative Right disagree on what that “Christian” agenda should be, with both using Scripture to support their favorite causes.
Despite their differences, the assumption that both camps (Left and Right) make is the same. Namely, (1) the Christian’s job is to fix the problems of the world and (2) our hope in doing so is through the political process.
Insurgents take a completely different view.
We understand that God hasn’t called the body of Christ to fix the problems of the world. Instead, we understand that He has called us to be part of an alternative civilization called the kingdom of God, which is the better place in a world that’s under Satan’s dominion. (I explain what I mean by this in the book.)
We also understand that the political process is under the power of the devil, and thus it’s under condemnation.
So if you are voting to fix the problems of the world, you’re using the world system to try to change the world system and your hope is misplaced.
For context and detail on this topic, see the following:
Greg Boyd Interviews Frank Viola on the Gospel of the Kingdom (includes a discussion on politics)
A Clash Between Kingdoms (includes audio conference message)
Kingdom of God Playlist on YouTube (contains interviews and conference messages)