More on the Morality of Voting

November 17th, 2008

In the comment section of the previous post, I linked to a debate, Is it Immoral to Vote for McCain/Palin?, and the associated discussion thread.

One side was arguing that it is wrong to vote for the lesser of two evils.  (They argued that McCain is evil on abortion, because of his willingness to allow abortion to be left up to the states, along with his support for rape & incest exceptions, and his support for some government funding of embryonic stem cell research.  That this is morally equivalent to wanting it to be legal to lynch black people, or to beat women.  And that wanting something to be legal leaves you effectively guilty of the crime itself.  There was more–you can read their arguments to get the full picture.)

The “morality of voting” issue turns out to be a more difficult question than I thought.  Think about it this way:  Take some heinous evil, and imagine a candidate who thinks it ought to remain legal.  Would that make it impossible for you to vote for him?  (This is single-issue refusal-to-vote, not quite single-issue voting.)  Could you ever vote for an avowed member of the Klu Klux Klan?  For someone who wants it to be legal to lynch black people?  Could you give approval to such a candidate?

Internet debate can be really bad sometimes.  And some of the debate and discussion was painful to read.  But it was good food for thought.  I posted my conclusions to the discussion thread.  It was a bit long, so I’ll just post the major bullet points here, and follow up with the link, if you want to read more.

1.) Do not do evil to avoid bigger evil. In your actions, words, and thoughts, do not compromise God’s standards. Ends don’t justify means.
2.) To figure out this question, you have to figure out what a vote means.
3.) If voting is inherently an act of approval, support, or participation in the proposed policies of your candidate, then you shouldn’t vote for a candidate with any policies that violate God’s law.
4.) If voting is only a tool for affecting what happens, then you should vote to have the best possible effect, according to your best judgment about what everything that will happen.
5.) I’m not sure how to view voting. I suspect there isn’t an objective answer. When Christians differ on this point of political philosophy, then they’re disagreeing over disputable matters–not over the teaching of Scripture or over the demands of God’s Law.

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