NOT Voting: A Christian Perspective, Pt. 3

In the second post of this series I mentioned the fact that people often see abstinence from voting as civilly irresponsible or morally lazy.  Here, I want to touch on a related matter, which brings me to the next point:

Point #3: Being a good citizen, even a politically active citizen, is not defined by voting.

In this country society has been led to believe that casting a ballot during the presidential election is one of the highest forms of American patriotism.  A narrative has also been created that leads folks to believe that voting in the presidential election is one of the highest forms, if not "the" highest form, of political involvement that one can participate in.  In fact, voting is the only real conscious political activity that many ever get involved in and well, in terms of the presidency, that only occurs every four years.

In my view, however, voting for the president is not the highest form of American patriotism, nor is it the highest form of political involvement Americans can participate in.  Just as well, there are many more opportunities for Americans to be involved in the political process apart from the occasional vote every four years.  Here, I want to suggest that the whole notion from which we get our democratic process, namely, the idea of the ancient Greek polis or city (which looks very different from our present system by the way!), had figuress like Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and others in it who were engaged in the life of the polis and therefore, the "body politic," in important ways.

In Galatians, for example, we find the Jerusalem contingency telling Paul that their one wish is that as he treks from city to city, he only remember the poor (which, of course, included the Jerusalemites themselves as they were in a time of famine).  Just as well, we find Paul speaking before high political officials on a repeated basis in Acts.  In Galatians we also find Peter and Paul both bridging the gap with Gentiles, that is, breaking down socio-political barriers.  In Revelation John seems to take dead aim at the Roman Empire with his very subversive language challenging political corruption.  In Mark's Gospel it can be shown at some level, I believe, that Jesus offers an alternative way of living in God's Kingdom and under his lordship as opposed to Caesar's kingdom and under Caesar's lordship.  In short, being involved politically should not be confined to and defined by the one act of voting for a president.  Enacting creation care by adopting a highway, serving the homeless who have been socially and economically (and politically!) disenfranchised, adopting or fostering children, writing letters and making phone calls to city, county, or state legislatures, penning op-ed pieces in the local paper, standing up against mountain-top removal agencies, attending demonstrations against abortion, participating in debates or discussions about gay rights, etc. are just a few of the ways Christians who do NOT vote can be involved politically.  In short, participation in the polis is not limited to one ballot and thus, deserves a much broader definition.

(Please NOTE: I am currently taking a break from Facebook and will NOT be commenting on responses to this post made there.)

Other posts in this series:  Pt. 1, Pt. 2

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