Is “Non-Voter” a 4 Letter Word?

We’re four days away from election day. It feels like the countdown has lasted forever. For me, I’ve tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to avoid the worst parts of this election season. The campaign adds, the news sound bites, the talk shows, the radio shows…I find no joy in any of it.  In a world that’s battling all sorts of real and devastating things (remember Haiti?), it feels as though giving any brain space to the election conversation is somehow wasteful.  Full disclosure: I’ve been on a journey for almost ten years that has landed me within a growing tribe of people who call themselves “Evangelical Anabaptists”. Part of the Anabaptist heritage involves abstaining from roles in public office, military service and participation in voting, though many Anabaptists now vote and may hold the occasional public office.

So here I sit today, considering my options come November 8th in light of my sorrow and convictions. I’ve been having a consistent internal dialogue where I mull over what Jesus has to say to us about voting and from that conversation here’s where I’ve landed.

I have concluded that my participation in this election would make me complicit in what I consider to be an empire that is, part and parcel, contrary to the Kingdom of God. My job as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be a proclaimer of the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM, a kingdom that, unlike earthly ones, will not pass away.  I’m fighting off the urge we all have to be distracted from this mission of proclamation. My non-vote is not a vote for one side or the other, it’s simply what it is, A NON-VOTE. And I don’t think we have a biblical paradigm for any “lesser of two evils” conversation.

I’ve had close friends tell me that if I don’t vote I have no right to complain about who gets into office.  I’ve told them that, as a Christian, I have no right to complain regardless of who is in office. Christians aren’t complainers (at least they shouldn’t be), but are instead witnesses to the truth of the gospel.  By God’s grace may we all throw off the shackles of complaint and live into our counter-cultural call to be truth tellers no matter who is in office.  May we all bear with each other though our approach to voting may be different.  May we not allow the kingdoms of this world to distract us away from the Kingdom of God.

As always, I invite polite, thoughtful conversation!

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