Saturday, September 5, 2020

Kacer’s Biblical Politics: Who Should Be Allowed To Vote?

A serious question 

If you do internet searches on biblical qualifications to vote, there’s a lot on “how” to vote biblically, but not “who” should be allowed to vote. Since representative government based on the direct, informed vote of the people was not commonplace in biblical times, does the Bible have any insight into the question of “who” as opposed to “how”? 

Who can vote today? 

Although “voting rights” has a checkered history in the United States, the current qualifications include: being at least 18 years old, a citizen with residency established, not in prison (or on parole) for the conviction of a felony (varies by state), and not currently found mentally incompetent by a court. 

That there are no voting restrictions based on race or gender shouldn’t be a surprise, since it reflects the triumph of scriptural truths countering mankind’s sinful nature (see Jeremiah 17:9) which degrades and marginalizes anyone seen as inferior. What are those truths? Scripture says that everyone was created in the image of God with the same intrinsic value (see Genesis 1:27); but we’re also accountable to that same God for how we deal with each other (see Romans 2:6-7). This great biblical leveling also removes wealth, land ownership, social status and degree of intellectual prowess as discriminators for having voting rights. 

These rights are also granted independent of one’s faith; whether the voter is Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, or anything else since our nation is based on a Judeo-Christian understanding of justice founded on God’s Word (see Micah 6:8). That ethic treats everyone under the law equally, independent of doctrinal beliefs, and is consistent with the 1st Amendment to our Constitution which protects religious freedom. 

What about age? 

There’s a maturing process to leave childhood and become an adult. Jesus even grew in wisdom as He grew older (see Luke 2:52); and Paul said when he was a child he spoke, thought and reasoned like a child, but when he became a man, he gave up childish ways (see 1 Corinthians 13:11). One marker for adulthood, therefore, is when a person thinks like an adult and is responsible towards others (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). 

However, biblically and practically age appears to be the useful threshold, as opposed to some qualitative measure of maturity. In the United States, a person must be at least 18 to enter the military. Willingness to commit one’s life to defend our nation at such a young age helped justify the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the national voting age to 18. But for Old Testament Israel, 20 was the age God declared that men were mature enough to go to war (see Numbers 1:3) even though many were not able to do so (see Deuteronomy 20:1-8). Twenty was also when men: began bringing their own offerings to the Temple (see Exodus 30:14), were able to oversee the work of the house of the Lord (see Ezra 3:8), and were accountable (and punishable) for major sins (see Numbers 14:29-30; 32:11). Even financial vows based on the “valuation” of a person were higher for a 20-year-old than for children (see Leviticus 27:1-6). If age is a reasonable voting discriminator, biblical “adulthood” at 20 years of age appears far more prudent than 18, with any attempt to lower it even further (i.e. 17 or 16) appearing unwarranted and ill-conceived. 

What about citizenship? 

To protect foreigners, God required Old Testament Israel to apply civil laws equally to the native born and the alien (see Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 18:26; 24:22, Numbers 15:15-16). However, Israel had several obligations that applied to those born to their own people that didn’t apply to foreigners. The most precious had to do with national remembrance (see Exodus 12:1-28) and recognition of the transcendent God (see Ezekiel 44:6-7). When foreigners formally committed to Israel’s prevalent core values and beliefs, they could fully participate in these obligations as if they were natural born citizens (see Exodus 12:48; 1 Kings 8:41-43); but this was a serious commitment! 

The same general principle applies today. To participate in the direct governing of our nation, a foreigner must show a commitment to our values and fidelity to what our nation represents, with citizenship being the qualifier. Therefore, to casually allow non-citizens to vote either through fraud, incompetence, or unaccountable voter registration processes (i.e. without valid identification, or with the use of driver’s license applications) is trivializing a high privilege and duty and creating opportunities for abuse. 

What about felons? 

Jeremiah’s letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon summarizes the duty one has to the nation they live in: “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you … for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (see Jeremiah 29:7). Those who steal or harm have a callous disregard for others, and are rejecting their responsibility to be a blessing instead of a curse to the community. As a result, society has decided that serious criminal acts (felonies) deserve severe punishment, generally with the temporary revocation of voting privileges. This appears just, since it recognizes a level of irresponsibility that is inconsistent with the maturity needed to vote on weighty matters of governance. With that said, biblical mercy is also shown to most felons by giving them the opportunity for reinstatement of voting rights after they’ve served their time. Whether that time includes parole or not is a wisdom issue that varies from state to state. 

With that said, current attempts to let imprisoned felons retain their voting privileges sends a wrong message. Felons are imprisoned because of a profound lack of respect for others and to prevent any further criminal acts; keeping their voting privilege says they are as responsible as other citizens to decide on matters of governmental import. 

What about the mentally incompetent? 

Scripture has little to say concerning the loss of mental faculties other than the natural decay that comes with old age (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-7). If one is insane, they’re not competent to rationally govern themselves and legal action to restrain their activities (including voting) is appropriate. Let’s be clear, this isn’t the same thing as believing someone is “crazy” if they have a different opinion or view of “truth” (see Mark 3:21; John 10:19-20). Unfortunately, through poorly supervised “ballot harvesting” many individuals that are mentally infirm (those that are incapable of making independent decisions) can be “helped” by third parties to fill out their ballot.  

This help may be well meaning, but it is also prone to easy exploitation of the defenseless (see Proverbs 22:22a). After helping someone to vote, these ballots can then be collected by the third party to deliver to a polling site. It’s naïve to think this voting approach won’t be abused by those willing to win at any cost. 

Two competing approaches 

Elections have consequences, and voting is a major citizenship responsibility. As expected, both ends of the political spectrum claim to be concerned about voting integrity, but they differ radically in how to achieve it. 

One side claims: voter fraud is exceedingly rare, sees attempts to clean up voter registration rolls as trying to disenfranchise certain voter demographics, believes voter registration should be open to any who are “contributing” to our nation, wants the voting age to be lowered, wants voting rights for felons automatically reinstated after release from prison (or not taken away in the first place), pushes for ballot harvesting to “help” marginalized people, and wants mail-in ballots to be the norm everywhere for every election. 

The other side wants: trustworthy evidence of identification and citizenship status before a person is allowed to register and to vote, “clean” voter registration rolls, direct voter to polling place integrity without any possible intervention, to deny any opportunity to vote multiple times, and believes voter fraud is much more common than is being reported. 

Given the sinful nature of mankind (see Jeremiah 17:9), the more numerous the options for voting and the more complicated the processes, the greater the opportunity for both fraud and error resulting in legitimate voters being disenfranchised. We know massive voting confusion is inconsistent with the very nature of God (see 1 Corinthians 14:33), and does not accomplish the noble purposes an informed electorate wants. Unfortunately, attempts to prevent the manipulation and use of the uninformed (such as many of the homeless), the incapacitated (the mentally compromised), and the ineligible (e.g. illegal aliens, felons, impersonators, non-residents, multiple votes) is often condemned as voter suppression and thus difficult to implement.  

Our biggest election threat 

Whether or not complete confidence in the legitimacy of elections will ever be achieved, there are election influences far more destructive than any direct voter fraud. The worldview that dominates academia, the major news media, the entertainment and sports industry, social media platforms, and much of the political discourse in our nation is a secular, self-centered, godless, amoral one that is anathema to a biblical worldview. These influencers are not only powerful, but they actively denigrate, marginalize, and even prevent any open dialogue with conservative, biblically-based thought at any level. 

The tactics of these influencers shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re the same as those used in the greatest miscarriage of justice in human history: the sending of Jesus to the cross! Contrary to all reason and evidence, Jesus was condemned (voted against) by common people after being incited by wicked leadership to have Him killed (see Matthew 27:15-23; Mark 15:6-15). In our day, vial, deceptive, false, and late-breaking claims are destructive to the efficacy of our election process and emanate from the same source that condemned Jesus (see John 8:43-44). What are our best counter weapons (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5): to diligently speak truth (see Ephesians 4:25), expose evil for what it is (see Ephesians 5:11), support godly candidates for office and vote biblically (see Matthew 5:13-16), pray fervently (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), and entrust the results to God. 

Feel free to forward this article to whomever you think would benefit from it. Also, you can provide feedback or subscribe to these articles using the email below. 

Your servant in Christ,

Frank Kacer


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