A Sacred Duty

This fall Americans will go to the polls and elect a president—one who will influence the direction in which the country’s moral compass will point. But according to a recent report, only a third of evangelical Christians—those who ought to be most concerned with moral values—will actually vote. These are shocking figures. Of all people, we ought to vote, not just as a right, but as a spiritual duty. All it takes is to lose your right to vote, as I did once, to know how precious that is. The Rev. Curt Young in Silver Spring , Maryland, told his flock just before the last presidential election why they needed to vote. Just a short distance from his church is the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the offices of Congress. Young wanted his congregation to know that the Scriptures have a lot to say about our responsibility to choose leaders. It was such a good message that I want to offer you a part of it today. In Deuteronomy 16, he pointed out, Moses tells the Israelites: “You shall appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes . . . and they shall judge the people.” The term judges and officials covered all government leaders. Besides hearing cases and rendering decisions, they set public policy and could even call out the military in a crisis. Given these heavy responsibilities, the criteria for selecting judges were strict. They were to be men who feared God, who were committed to the truth, and who hated dishonest gain. And they were warned: “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality; and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe . . . subverts the cause of the righteous.” When Moses commanded the Israelites to appoint God-fearing leaders, he wasn’t just talking to a handful of citizens who felt like getting involved. Young noted that the command was directed to all citizens. And modern Christians are under the same obligation to choose leaders who love justice. Ironically, the Scriptures warn that if we value prosperity over justice, we’ll end up losing both. Moses told the Israelites to “follow justice and justice alone.” He follows this command with a promise that they will “live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.” In other words, if you want prosperity, choose leaders committed to justice. In the Old Testament, God often sent people to find particular individuals to lead. Today, in our modern democracy, free citizens act as God’s agents for choosing leaders, and we do it by voting. So there’s no excuse for those who don’t take the trouble to vote. But to vote, you have to register. That’s why, in answer to MTV’s Rock the Vote, a group of Christian musicians are endorsing an effort called Redeem the Vote. At Christian rock concerts and festivals throughout the summer groups like Verbs and Jonah 33 will be encouraging Christian young people to register by visiting the Redeem the Vote booth at the concert or to register online at While polls show that Christian young people care about the issues that have an impact on our lives, most of them are not registered to vote. That means they are left out of the political process. Redeem the Vote wants to change that. So register today, get young people to register, and then, in November, get out of the pews and into the polling booth to perform our sacred duty of choosing our leaders.


Chuck Colson


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