David Lipscomb on voting

As election day nears, this might be a good time to hear a voice from the past. David Lipscomb was a well-known editor, educator and minister in the last 18th and early 19th century. Here are some of his thoughts on Christians and the electoral process:

To the claim that a Christian is bound to vote, when he has the privilege, for that which promotes morality, and to fail to vote for the restriction and suppression of evil is to vote for it, we have determined that, to vote or use the civil power is to use force and carnal weapons. Christians cannot use these. To do so is to do evil that good may come. This is specially forbidden to Christians. To do so is to fight God’s battles with the weapons of the evil one. To do so is to distrust God. The effective way for Christians to promote morality in a community, is, to stand aloof from the political strifes and conflicts, and maintain a pure and true faith in God, which is the only basis of true morality, and is as a leaven in society, to keep alive an active sense of right. To go into political strife is to admit the leaven of evil into the church. For the church to remain in the world and yet keep itself free from the spirit of the world, is to keep alive an active leaven of morality in the world. If that leaven loses its leaven, wherewith shall the world be leavened? or if the salt lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted or saved? God has told his children to use the spiritual weapons, has warned them against appealing to the sword or force to maintain his kingdom or to promote the honor of God and the good of man. When they do as he directs them, and use his appointments, he is with them to fight their battles for them and to give them the victory. When they turn from his appointments to the human kingdoms and their weapons, they turn from God, reject his help, drive him out of the conflict and fight the battles for man’s deliverance with their own strength and by their own wisdom. Human government is the sum of human wisdom and the aggregation of human strength. God’s kingdom is the consummation of Divine wisdom and in it dwells the power of God.” Quoted from: THE ORIGIN, MISSION, AND DESTINY OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT, AND THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATION TO IT by David Lipscomb

Also consider these words from the preface:

“While I failed to see then as I now see, that religion embraced every duty and every relation of man and moulds every thought, purpose and action of his being, the feeling would creep into my mind that even in political affairs man should do only what God commanded him. Finally the years of sectional strife, war, bloodshed, destruction and desolation swept over our land, and the spectacle was presented, of disciples of the Prince of Peace, with murderous weapons seeking the lives of their fellowmen. Brethren for whom Christ died, children of him who came to heal the broken-hearted, to be a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow, were found imbruing their hands in the blood of their own brethren in Christ, making their sisters widows and their sisters’ children orphans. It took but little thought to see that this course is abhorrent to the principles of the religion of the Savior, who died that even his enemies might live. He had plainly declared that his children could not fight with carnal weapons even for the establishment of his own Kingdom. Much less could they slay and destroy one another in the contentions and strivings of the kingdoms of this world. It took but little thought to see that Christians cannot fight, cannot slay one another or their fellowmen, at the behest of any earthly ruler, or to establish or maintain any human government. But if he cannot fight himself, can he vote to make another fight? What I lead or influence another to do, I do through that other. The man who votes to put another in a place or position, is in honor, bound to maintain him in that position, and is responsible for all the actions, courses or results that logically and necessarily flow from the occupancy and maintenance of that position. A man who votes to bring about a war, or that votes for that which logically and necessarily brings about war is responsible for that war and for all the necessary and usual attendants and results of that war.” Quoted from: THE ORIGIN, MISSION, AND DESTINY OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT, AND THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATION TO IT by David Lipscomb

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