4 Reasons Disengaged Christians Don’t Vote and How to Change That
Two-thirds of Christians vote—obeying Christ’s command to be salt and light in our world. But a significant minority won’t, choosing to hide their heads in the sand and avoid politics rather than bring the light of their Christian influence into the darkened corners of culture. But that’s precisely the environment into which Christ calls us to take the hope of the gospel.
As CEO of My Faith Votes, a ministry dedicated to helping Christians connect their faith to the culture around them, I’ve noticed patterns among Christians who choose to avoid the public square. Over the years, after talking to hundreds of people across the country, I’ve found a person’s reason for not voting generally falls into one of four categories. But I’ve also discovered a remedy for each.
The Reason - Uninformed.
This response usually sounds like, “I didn’t realize there was an election,” or “I didn’t know enough about the candidates.” This happens more in state, local, or midterm elections. While presidential elections get more cultural attention, local elections often have just as much influence, if not more, on how we live our daily lives. Failing to prepare for an election squanders an opportunity the Lord has provided for us to impact the policies and leaders guiding our nation.
The Remedy: We must inform the uninformed. Many organizations, like My Faith Votes, provide election resources like My Voter Hub and reminders to help believers prepare well for every election. But this is also a responsibility that falls on each of us to remind our fellow believers of opportunities to make a difference in the political realm.
The Reason - Lazy or Apathetic.
Those who don’t vote for this reason usually justify their inaction with a sound bite such as, “My vote won’t really make a difference anyway, so what’s the point?.” Believers in this camp forget how God might work in them and through them in an election. If we are only focused on the outcomes of elections and not on our faithfulness to what God requires of us, it’s easy to fall into this trap.
The Remedy: To those who are disheartened by the trouble in the world, we tell them to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). We should not be surprised when nonbelievers act like nonbelievers. We should be more troubled when believers aren’t doing what Christ expects of us. It’s up to the Church to be light to the world around us in every area of life.
The Reason - Deceived.
Many Christians falsely believe we shouldn’t be involved in politics at all. They’ve been deceived into thinking their faith excuses them from any political opinion or involvement. People who fall into this category can often be heard using phrases like, “Jesus wasn’t political,” or “There’s a separation of church and state.” This is incomplete theology. The truth is that our obedience to Christ means we seek to do his will in every arena of our lives, including politics.
The Remedy: When people complain about the lack of perfect candidates, we should ask them to focus on the policies and the platforms that accomplish the most good. We can rest in knowing that for thousands of years, God has worked through imperfect people to bring about our good and his glory.
The Problem - Self-Righteous.
The disengaged Christian who lands in this category is hopelessly searching for a flawless candidate. Some even go so far as to say, “I could never vote for any of those candidates.” But the reality is that Jesus is not on the ballot, and every politician who will ever be on a ballot will be flawed because we live in a sinful and fallen world.
The Remedy: And to those believing their lack of involvement is counted as righteousness we can encourage them to search the Scriptures and ask good questions such as, “Can you find an example in Scripture where God encourages us to ignore what’s happening in the world around us?” or “Have you asked God how he could use your vote this election cycle?”
As Christians, let’s give God more credit when it comes to elections. I firmly believe He can do more with our votes than we imagine. He is, after all, a sovereign God who chooses to work through His image bearers. Christ has told us that with faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.
I hope all Christians remember that our faith has something essential to contribute to the world around us this election cycle. There will never be a perfect candidate or perfect party because we live in a sinful world. But Jesus never excuses our apathy or inaction as a response to reality.
God commands us to stand firm in our faith despite the culture around us (1 Peter 5:9); to faithfully fulfill our obligations to family and community (1 Timothy 5:8), and to use every opportunity to do good to those around us (Galatians 6:10).
We must overcome the lies and the excuses that will keep our heads in the sand, because on November 8, Christians have a tremendous opportunity to do good. Go vote.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.