I know. I was surprised at the notion myself. A tireless champion of Civil Rights, a participant of the Niagra Movement and one of the founders of the NAACP, one would expect DuBois to argue the moral responsibility of voting–particularly for a people recently disenfranchised.

But in a piece entitled, “Why I Won’t Vote,” delivered on October 20, 1956, DuBois made an eloquent case for not voting at all.  The entire speech really should be read; it’s haunting in its description of themes and tensions in 1956 that could as easily apply to 2012. DuBois begins with a kind of biography of his voting record:

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates’ attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt’s attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Then he comes to explain the dilemma of the 1956 election:

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.’s and “Liberals” are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

For DuBois, democracy must entail genuine choice and the proper exercise of voting rights requires actual alternatives. The “lesser of two evils” was not for him the modus operandi but a terrible exception. He would view the now commonplace strategy of voting for the “lesser evil” as a terrible indictment against the entire system. He insisted that voters ought to have a more compelling reason for casting their lot than “this guy isn’t as bad as the other guy.” He denied that a “helpless vote” could restore or bolster American democracy.

So, he protested and “voted” by not voting. This election a small number of African-American pastors are telling their congregations that there is no “lesser evil” with the two parties. These pastors recommend that their members not vote. For their efforts, a much larger collection of ministers will vilify them and proclaim they betray the long struggle for the franchise. But I wonder what the majority would say to DuBois? I wonder if the majority see with as much clarity, insight, and foresight as DuBois did in 1956? I doubt it because no one seems to see the continuing deterioration of the country. Oh, I know that people on both “sides” decry the other side as the rot weakening America. But that’s just election year rhetoric, partisan prerequisites, senseless soundbites–not real analysis and thinking.

And as DuBois could see in 1956, there’s no real difference between the two parties. Bush bailed out banks; Obama bailed out auto manufacturers. Bush responded to 9/11 by taking us to war; Obama has continued the war. Bush didn’t put an end to abortion; Obama would multiply them. The differences are slight to non-existent. Both parties are destroying America because both parties live, not for America, but for the party.

Is this despair talking? Some might think so. Apparently DuBois faced the same criticism. He answered it head on and eloquently:

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union “to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience.” Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only “review” of literature has wisely dropped “literature” from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich–to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

Those last lines are quite remarkable, are they not? Pundits tell us that third parties have no chance, and the vast majority of voters believe them, not stopping to think that they are the vast majority. Like mindless cattle herded to slaughter, the majority simply shuffle along cooperatively to their own execution. There are two lines that lead to slaughter, one labeled “D” and the other “R”. Would that cattle could read and see the future! Would that cattle would only sell their votes for integrity and principle, not for platform and party politics!I am sometimes asked, “Who are you voting for?” I can hear the questioner’s curiosity, driven by the dissonance of my black skin and my conservative evangelical belief. Will it be “race” or theology that tips his heart at the polls? Which is the truer self? I never answer the question, but I do appreciate the tension that prompts it. It’s a tension that serious African-American Christians feel. But, I’m actually with DuBois. And I’m glad for his article, because it simultaneously demonstrates (a) that it’s no betrayal to either African-American history or an incumbent African-American president to follow one’s individual conscience against the cultural tide and (b) that blind loyalty to either party makes little sense when you can hardly slide a sheet of paper between the two. A vote for the “lesser evil” is still a vote for evil. I can’t make that vote. I know there are no perfect candidates, but I do know there are perfect principles. And neither party or candidate stands for them. I’m not moved by the harangues of a Sharpton or Jackson for not voting. Neither of those men could carry DuBois’ books.

I would never presume to tell others how to exercise their conscience on this matter. I would simply ask, as DuBois did, “Why are you voting the way you are?” Unless something dramatic happens in the following weeks, something far more substantive than tonight’s over-scripted debate, I’m “voting” by not voting. To quote Luther: “My conscience is held captive by the Word of God. And to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

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Comments:


114 thoughts on “W.E.B DuBois Would Not Vote in This Election”

  1. John Bruner says:

    Thanks for the post…However, I would say that regardless of your insinuation that there is hardly a difference between the two parties, there is. You even stated the difference in that while Bush didn’t stop abortion, Obama multiplied it. So, just because abortion wasn’t banned doesn’t mean there is no difference between the two parties. In fact, while one party is openly pro-life, the other touted in its platform the need for taxpayer supported partial birth abortions.
    Thus, not voting inevitably equates a vote for the greater of evils. Even so, not voting just doesn’t seem like an actual solution. It is easier to have some ethereal sense of principle in not voting than to actually make an informed decision and take some responsibility as an agent of change.
    Thanks again for your post; I always enjoy reading your material and enjoyed the 9marks conference this past weekend.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for the comments, bro, and for joining us at the conference. I hope you were as encouraged in our fellowship as I was.

      Absolutely, there’s a difference between not ending and expanding abortion. That’s an unfortunate rhetorical flourish that, on reflection, I want to amend. What I’m thinking most in the entirety of that section is that neither candidate or party is a savior and that presidents don’t have all the ability to change things we sometimes assume (or at least gets put in ads) I assume we probably agree on that.

      I don’t think not voting equates to a vote for the greater evil. That argument only holds true if we think the ‘greater evil’ (usually the ‘other’ candidate, not ‘our guy’) wins the election. And, it only holds true if in fact those who didn’t vote would have voted for ‘the lesser evil.’ All of which is a great set of assumptions. Nor do I think not voting is ducking responsibility. It’s taking responsibility and exercising a freedom. Voting isn’t compulsory in this country, as it is in at least one other. So in our system not voting is, in fact, an action–even if not a popular one in a political culture that tries to deepen the meaning and value of voting by extolling the moral dimensions of it. But it’s the moral dimensions that make it difficult for some persons to vote. It’s not ducking responsibility but embracing it more fully. That’s my opinion anyway.

      Grateful for your engaging in such a warm spirit. I usually avoid public discussion of politics altogether because the “conversations” so often lack warmth and plain old civility. So, I’m grateful for both your comments and your tone.

      Much grace to us all,
      T-

      1. John Bruner says:

        Thabiti,

        Thanks for your response. I wonder if you were speaking of pastors and their congregations in the black community specifically when it comes to not voting? If that were the case then I would at least have some better perspective in regards to not voting being a plausible solution.
        If you were in fact writing predominantly to African-American pastors and voters, then I feel as if the solution you offered was simply a way to give them the option to not vote as opposed to voting against Obama. It would seem that it is a cop-out for believing African-Americans not to vote; this way they don’t have to make an informed decision in light of the candidates’ records and Scripture. Instead of going against the undercurrent of Obama support in the African American community, people can simply not vote and “feel” as if they have voiced their opinion.
        Again, thank you for your response and I pray that you continue to do well brother. If I am completely off-base I won’t be surprised and welcome your correction.

        1. Thabiti says:

          Hi John,

          I’m not interested in “cop-outs” for anyone involved. The term “cop out” can only sensibly be used if a person thinks that voting (even voting for the lesser of two evils) is a moral responsibility. As I said in the post, I’m not interested to have anyone do anything other than what they think is right, and perhaps to prompt them to think about why they’re voting or not voting.

          Now, like it or lump it, most African Americans feel they have more “skin” in the game than others. To vote or not vote for Obama will raise for most African Americans identity issues and loyalty issues that I don’t think any white person has had to face in elections prior to 2008. I don’t think “cop out” does justice to the emotional, spiritual, and psychological factors at play for African Americans. The phrase risks making light of a very real dilemma. Let’s face it: Neither in his platform or his comments has Romney done much of anything to court Black voters. So, that doesn’t appear to be a choice at all. And conversely, many African American Christians, tied to biblical assumptions about the world, find little on offer in Obama’s platform either. That’s the dilemma. It’s no easy dilemma. Frankly, pro-Romney folks don’t make the dilemma easier or Romney more appealing by acting as if it’s not a dilemma or as if it’s unimportant.

          So, many thinking African Americans have a lot of thinking to do in order to live faithfully in this political season. And truthfully, many thinking Whites, Asians, and Hispanics have a lot of thinking to do, too. Perhaps the only folks with no thinking left to do tend to be folks died pretty darkly in the wool of their party’s positions.

          So, I don’t offer anyone a cop out. But “faithful presence” doesn’t look to me like the lesser of two evils.

          Grateful for you, brother.
          T-

          1. John Bruner says:

            Thabiti, thanks again for your response. I wonder in what way would you suggest Romney court African-American voters? This is said with no sarcasm, but with a genuine intent to discover how African-Americans would like to be courted. Do they want to be spoken of as simply another member of society or do they want to be singled out via courtship? It reminds me of how often people with disabilities claim that the last thing they want is to be labeled or pandered to. When people cater to those with disabilities it seems that they can actually be hindering and not helping.

            Just some thoughts and thanks for keeping me awake on a VERY slow day at work.

            Blessings.

            1. John Bruner says:

              By the way, I could not agree with you more that this is something that white voters have never had to deal with.

            2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Hey brother,

              Thanks for the question. I’m sure there would be a variety of responses to that question from different African Americans, just as there would be from different Latinos/Hispanics, Asians, etc. For my part, I would like to see a couple of things:

              1. Endure the resistance and press through the hostility at major AA events. I know it’s a hostile market for many Republican candidates. But it’ll always be that way unless someone show enough mettle to conquer bigotries and prejudices.

              2. Try to address questions AA communities care about. Spend major time in said communities, shaking hands, meeting neighbors, reflecting their concerns in speeches, etc. In that sense, yes, treat AAs the way you’d treat veterans, seniors, auto workers, etc.

              3. Stop demanding that AAs care only about “Republican” issues. Make the party big enough to include other voices without making it a requirement that folks first care about the “Republic” issue. For example, make abortion and marriage the main thing, the major thing, the largest thing in the social agenda. But don’t make it the only thing. Can’t we also care about children born into deep distress and poverty? They’re vulnerable, too. Show that empathy with a real policy approach.

              Those would be a couple things for a start. I’m sure there are other and better ideas. I’m grateful for your question. I hope I’ve written something helpful.

              T-

    2. DeShoun says:

      Would you rather choose between your loved one dying by being forced to drink small amounts of poison until it kills them or have someone torture them until it kills them? That is not really a choice. Our loved one (America) is being forced to continue to swallow small amounts of liberal poison or let the other party completely cut “47%” of American people off/up until they suffer and die… America is no where near as great as she once was, the world is laughing at us because at least their “dictators” are open about it…

      1. John Bruner says:

        Unfortunately DeShoun, I don’t really see how your analogy of a loved one and poison applies to this particular situation.
        Anyways, I think that it is intellectually facile to claim that the “other” party is desirous of 47% of the country being “cut off”.
        In regards to your analogy, if I were to apply this column correctly then the best option would be not choosing how our loved one dies at all.
        Thanks for sharing.

  2. David Reimer says:

    Fascinating. Some — perhaps many — of those lines really could have been penned this year.

    And he was 88 years old, and spoke with hope.

    There is a slightly nuanced version of “I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered.” It’s possible to go to the polling station, and deposit a blank ballot paper. That really is a “no choice, won’t vote” vote.

  3. John Botkin says:

    I appreciate the post and am reminded of some of the very reasons my father doesn’t vote. Yet, I cannot help wonder if there isn’t value in still voting for the “lesser of two evils”?

    Would it not have been right to vote for a man who would not advance black rights if the other man would have surely lessened those rights? Is it not right today to vote for a man who won’t end abortion, if the other man will multiply the practice? Is it not right to vote for a man who may not dramatically ease the burden of the poor and middle class if the other man will dramatically increase it? Is is not right to vote for a man who will simply “hold the line” and prevent further moral decay and a general decline in our society if the other man will surely advance by his policies? I ask these things, not as a rebuke, but as honest questions that I struggle with. Your thoughts would be welcome.

    Blessings, brother.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Blessings to you, too, brother. Thanks for stopping by and engaging the post with pointed rhetorical questions. I appreciate the questions, though I would question the premise of most of the questions.

      I really resonated with DuBois’ line where he recalls voting for a candidate who promised nothing and delivered nothing. I think I could vote for that guy. But neither of these men or there parties are promising “nothing.” Each has an agenda, and I don’t find either agenda morally defensible. For sure, a pro-life position is morally superior to an abortion agenda. And I understand why abortion makes many people single-issue voters.

      But, for me, there are other moral issues at play, including the dynamics of a big-money two party election itself. The deepest part of DuBois’ critique is that the two parties are really one party that doesn’t advance a broader moral agenda that includes, yes, justice for the unborn as well as justice for the living. Personally, I think that critique is spot on, and I don’t think another round of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic makes sense for a lot of people, myself included.

      So, I take the point of your rhetorical questions. A good Democrat friend would most certainly fire back with a list of rhetorical questions that presume the superiority of their positions on issues where Republicans are weak. But it’s not rhetoric I want in my candidate, faux images and focus-group-tailored soundbites. I want to elect a man, someone who stands flat-footed and leans into the cross-current of moral drift with conviction and courage. If he’s out there, he has my vote.

      T-

      1. Louis says:

        “I want to elect a man, someone who stands flat-footed and leans into the cross-current of moral drift with conviction and courage. If he’s out there, he has my vote.”

        Well said my brother. If we just step back and be honest for a moment (evangelicals), we’d have to admit that he’s NOT out there.

        Thank you for posting this bold statement. I always appreciate how you are willing to take the hit for many of us, who either lack the venue or boldness to do so.

      2. John Botkin says:

        Thabiti,
        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I was a little surprised that you seemed to assume I was a Republican. I tried to intentionally balance the examples with issues typically known for both parties. Obviously, I failed! ;-) Truthfully, I consider myself an independent, but the abortion issue does provide a strong pull for me. That being said, your words (and DuBois’) have caused me to rethink some things and that is a very good thing.

        Grace and peace to you and your ministry,
        John

        1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

          I saw what you were doing John. It takes a great deal of perceptiveness to be able dissect clearly different political points of view. Which is why more discussion is necessary? Not less.

  4. Jim Rector says:

    Interesting thoughts Thabiti. From you and DuBois. While he does sound a little like a lefty I get his points. I also find Dan Phillips commentary on the same subject interesting. http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2012/10/this-elections-choice-romney-third.html

  5. Doug says:

    “And as DuBois could see in 1956, there’s no real difference between the two parties. Bush bailed out banks; Obama bailed out auto manufacturers. Bush responded to 9/11 by taking us to war; Obama has continued the war. Bush didn’t put an end to abortion; Obama would multiply them. The differences are slight to non-existent.”

    Wow, Thabiti! Really? The differences are slight to non-existent? You had me with the rest of this post, but not this comment. I can accept (while perhaps not fully agree with) a claim that both are evil options… but to say or imply that both are pretty much indistinguishable from one another is not an analysis that I can accept.

    1. AC says:

      Doug,
      You left no examples of why Thabiti is wrong in this statement. I will leave a few to show that he is right in saying that the differences are non-existent – at least on the most important things:

      1. Obama supports mandates requiring citizens to participate in state endorsed health coverage.
      Romney supports mandates requiring citizens to participate in state endorsed health coverage.

      2. Obama supports military intervention abroad regardless of whether conflicts are a direct threat to our national security.
      Romney supports military intervention abroad regardless of whether conflicts are a direct threat to our national security.

      3. Obama and Romney both believe in Quantitative Easing (bail outs). They disagree on which ones.

      4. Neither have proposed any real cuts to the budget, but have both expressed interest in cutting proposed increases, but neither has expressed details of downsizing and cutting current spending.

      5. Both support federal funds being used as foreign aid to nations that we currently occupy. Both support corporate welfare – allowing corporations to acquire taxpayer’s money for international business.

      There are a few of many issues that they agree on…some of the biggest issues of our time. They are economic twins, they both represent reprehensible disregard for civil liberties and warmongering, and frankly, if there wasn’t a third party candidate that I agree with (Gary Johnson – who I don’t care much for personally but at least would point to a more Constitutional approach that I can agree with) I’d follow the article above and not vote for evil.

      1. Doug says:

        AC,

        The differences sited in the quote were between Bush and Obama, not Obama and Romney.

        And no, I didn’t offer examples… my intent was not to engage in political sermonics, but simply to highlight and challenge (i.e., Did you really mean to say that the differences were slight to non-existent?); to prod reflection, as it were.

        On issues that divide so radically, and generate as much heat as they do, am I really expected to believe that the differences are negligible to non-existent? Non-existent???

        Okay, I’ll mention one example; Abortion! That was not on your list of biggest issues of our time though I think it ought to have been. I will not expand on it as it has been done far too many times already for anyone to claim ignorance, and I think the word stands on it’s own. That is a difference between the Bush and Obama presidencies which I see and find to be of great and significant difference. I have not been deaf or blind to Obama’s emphatic push to see legislation and laws passed to clear the way for this national travesty to continue and flourish. ‘Nuff said.

  6. Daniel Hill says:

    Thanks so much for this post! It definitely voiced some of my own personal bottled angst. As an African American, attacks on the current administration often do seem tainted with racial connotations. And yet, certain issues such as gay marriage and abortion at times shackle my vote. I honestly don’t want either man to be president. As you put it: a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.

    One thing that has amazed me is the number of people I have heard claim that either party has predominantly Christian values. Can a man who denies the existence of the One True God have Christian values? Is he not inherently working in service to the Prince and Ruler of this world? In other words, as long as political parties are dominated by men with unrepentant and unregenerate hearts neither can do anything but that which is evil. It only becomes a matter of what we’re willing to qualify as the “greater” evil. Abortion is horrible. But is it any more dangerous than someone promoting a false image of Christianity that leads millions of Americans professing to have a relationship with Christ yet having placed no saving faith in the Only Living God? They seem to be opposite ends of the same spectrum.

    I think, ultimately, this election (as any other election…) makes it painfully clear that we are awaiting a Savior and Redeemer to return and that our hope should be fastened to him.

  7. Amisho Baraka says:

    Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen….Thank you for giving DuBois and this matter a proper evaluation. I love your quote, “It’s a tension that serious African-American Christians feel. But, I’m actually with DuBois.” I find that my friends and I share this same plight. Dealing with the double consciousness of our race while viewing everything through lens of a biblical worldview. That being said I don’t believe that many people understand my political views but Dubois understood and I hope that others, who frequent this site, will now understand because of this post….#Talented10th

    Grace and Peace.

    1. Joshua Miles says:

      Amen Sho. I was blessed by this article as well!

    2. Steve Ross says:

      There is so much truth and honesty to be grateful for in here. I need not say more.

      -double conscious friend of Mr. Lewis.

    3. Trey Harris says:

      Sho! What up brother. Haven’t seen you since the days of playing dominoes in the One O’clock Lounge at UNT.

      This post is so timely I have a hard time finding worthy words for it. I must say I get so tired of living in the constant peril of being ousted as an “uncle tom” “uppity n****” because I don’t get down with Obama and I call a majority white, reformed church on the “white side” of town my covenant community. I find myself perplexed about this whole election and the current state of affairs in America. O’Lord how we long for Your coming…….

  8. Anon says:

    Voter suppression? really?

  9. Doug says:

    “You don’t have to do anything but die and pay taxes”; a tongue-in-cheek remark we’ve all heard implying that we have to pay taxes just as sure as we will one day die (i.e., for about such we have no choice in the matter). About many other things, however, we do have choices; such as whom to vote for, or whether to vote. Both are “choices”. And to NOT make a choice, as many have reminded us, is a choice.

    Voting is not synonymous with choice however. While it may be true that “not choosing” between candidates is indeed a choice (for a choice has been made), it is not equally true that “not voting” between candidates is a vote (since a vote has not been placed). Choice is a part of being human (for how does one avoid making choices?) but voting is not. Voting has qualifications (citizenship, of age, registration, etc.), choice does not. Votes are tallied; they must be placed before being recognized. It is a misnomer to say one is voting by not voting. This is a contradiction in terms.

    I am somewhat sympathetic to your cause, however. I have long felt that one should vote one’s conscience; voting for the person one feels would best fill the position. I have twice voted for 3rd party candidates, and twice written in candidates. So I can and do sympathize with some of what is being said. But how does a non-vote “say” anything? Who is listening? Maybe that’s the point but is one then just screaming into the void?

    What if you were to write in a candidate of your choice? One is certainly not limited to the two primary candidates. And if not even one person would be worthy of your support, perhaps consider another tack and write in (as many other do) Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. I would suggest that they are making a point just as much as you are “attempting” to, and to greater effect.

  10. Thanks for the perspective. I agree with most of the post, but have decided on a different action. Unless something major changes I will write in a candidate of my own choosing.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Well, now, there’s a reasonable alternative. Thanks for joining in!
      T-

  11. Jack Day says:

    If you were not so conniving, you would actually be funny! To misrepresent a speech given, by W.E.B DuBois, in reference to the 1956 elections and his displeasure with the two party system and its flaws during that time in history, is disingenuous and manipulative. I am 62 years old and have experienced some of the same issues that Dubois spoke of and yes I did refused to vote for the lesser of two evils on a couple of occasions, but only when I realized the deck was stacked against any third party candidate even having an impact on the results and the two nominees were not acceptable. When you use, out of context content of Dubois’s speech to support your own lack of reasoning like “Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair?”. In 1956 the answer was no because we were such a minute voting group that it did not matter how we voted. In 2012 as with 2008 the answer, to you would be yes you are operating in a counsel of despair; just stop trying to recruit other people of color to join you in your journey back to 1956. One thing W.E.B. Dubois was not was stupid and he would not only have identified the correct choice in the coming election he would no doubt be assisting Obama from an advisory position to make sure he was elected to a second term. How could you possibly assume that educated people would fall for your conclusion regarding “W.E.B. Dubois voting preferences in 2012, while using conditions in 1956 as the argument for your model? If you and a few cronies plan to have a not voting club in 2012 that’s your right but please come up with your own reason and hopefully use data from or at least include 2012.

    1. Louis says:

      “One thing W.E.B. Dubois was not was stupid and he would not only have identified the correct choice in the coming election he would no doubt be assisting Obama from an advisory position to make sure he was elected to a second term.”

      My friend, not only have you borrowed from 1956 as you accuse Thabiti of doing, but you have raised the dead. Maybe we should be voting for you.

    2. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      Jack, while I don’t agree with every premise in your response. I do agree with your assertion of the incorrect use of Dubois speech. At best Thabiti’s use of Dubois speech is intellectual dishonesty and at worst I believe it’s a mask to cover up a greater cowardice. Such tactics should not be acceptable in today’s political climate when there is a great amount of disinformation.

      Thabiti, you of all people have a duty to clearly provide a reason behind such an action that could possibly have wide ramifications. Does the gospel free you from being a citizen of this great United States where it is considered a great privilege to vote? Does the gospel give you the freedom to completely ignore the great fight that many in the civil rights movement fought so that you might have the chance to stand up in this country and even get a decent education? How can you sully that my friend? How can you encourage a great many people, black and white, to not take advantage of this great privilege that many Americans enjoy and the whole middle east is in uproar over?

      Does your faith lead you to completely diminish everything of value in this life? So that you can feel finally feel comfortable with your displeasure and do away the great tension of being a believer and an American.

      Sir, you have greatly disappointed me. I am a young black man looking up to others in the Reformed tradition who will hold to the faith with great tenacity and at the same time acknowledge the great difficulty of race in this country. I now know that I must look elsewhere.

      1. allend says:

        I think your response illustrates one of the ideas being discuessed here. Yes, voting is a privilege. But I don’t think voting has as much moral weight as some people assign to it. Thus I don’t think it is wrong to not vote, maybe irresponsible (you can argue that), but not morally wrong. I think there is a space where one can thoughtfully choose to not vote, and as fellow believers it would not be right to judge a person who has done that.

        on a side note, I will say the tone of your response felt hostile and ungracious. “Does your faith lead you to completely diminish everything of value in this life?” I find this accusation rather unfair.

        (spoken in love and grace)

      2. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Hi Peterson,

        Thank you for joining the conversation and sharing your perspective. I appreciate your taking to time to do that, especially since you disagree with men. In the best of all fallen worlds, we need to hear the voices of dissent so that we might profit from criticism. So, I appreciate your comments even though I’m saddened to hear your disappointment.

        You’re obviously a very eloquent young man with a gift for writing. I pray you’ll always put that to good use for our Lord.

        If you’re still reading, let me offer you one thought. The full exercise of freedoms earned for us is not a betrayal to those who earned them. The full exercise of freedom is the fulfillment of freedom’s wish and promise.

        It’s not freedom to say, “We want AAs to have the right to vote, only they must vote or must vote a certain way.” Isn’t that to exchange one master for another? Freedom, in the American civic context, means you and I have one master: our own conscience. In the spiritual context, which matters most, there too we have but one Master: the Lord Jesus Christ. And Christ has not bound us to vote a particular way or to vote at all. It is a great gift that we have the privilege. But is it not also the case that the Christian teaching on freedom often requires us not to use the freedom? So, when I choose not to vote, am I not both expressing the fullest possibilities of the freedom struggle and doing something entirely within my liberty as a Christian enslaved to the Lord?

        I pray you might further consider these things. What does the fullest exercise of freedom look like?

        Dear brother, I am not disappointed that you would look elsewhere for models. I am quite certain there are better men to look up to. I do hope to be a better man with God’s help, and a better model for those who in some way look to me. I am not the man I will be when Christ finishes His work in me. So I am not surprised or, in that sense, disappointed that you would be disappointed in me.

        I am disappointed, however, that you feel “greatly disappointed” over an issue nowhere defined in or proscribed by Scripture. I’m happy to be taken to task by young men (and old men!). I’m happiest when the rebuke has the loving severity of the Lord’s counsel.

        Praying the Lord would lead you to men who would love and guide you well. Your brother and servant until He shouts,
        T-

  12. Rachael Starke says:

    Oh, dear brother Thabiti. The moment has finally come when you’ve written something I strongly disagree with. I appreciate God using this to remind me that only His words are infallible. :)

    In seriousness though, I am saddened that you take this stance, particularly in light of your recent defense of Propaganda’s Puritan song. It seems as though Propaganda’s (very important) argument that God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines somehow is being overlooked here. God’s Word is replete with stories of exceedingly crooked people (Balaam, Jonah, Samson, Pharaoh, Xerxes, Saul), whom God used to accomplish His purposes.

    On the issues of the defense of the unborn, and the defense of religious freedom, the stakes could not be higher, and the differences between these two men (party affiliation aside) could not be starker. The fact is that our current President is the most pro-infanticide, anti-religious freedom president we’ve yet seen. His policies have, for the first time in my memory, caused many churches and other religious institutions to have to consider the coming likelihood of civil disobedience, jail sentences, or closing of ministries, should our nation’s current trajectory continue. That makes this election not so much about the endorsement of one set of views over another, or of one man over another, but about the repudiation and rejection of a set of views.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said “Not to speak, is to speak. Not to act, is to act.” I am concerned that, in your consideration of the fact that voting is, yes, a freedom, the issue of whether it might also be a responsibility, and even a God-given means of restraining evil, is not being considered.

    All this is offered up with humble love and thanks for your willingness to speak, even when we disagree.

    1. Vikki Bell says:

      Rachael, would you please give factual examples for the following:

      “The fact is that our current President is the most pro-infanticide, anti-religious freedom president we’ve yet seen. His policies haveefirst in my memory, caused many churches and other religious institutions to have to consider the coming likelihood of civil disobedience, jail sentences, or closing of ministries, should our nation’s current trajectory continue.”
      Thanks

      1. Rachael Starke says:

        Hi Vikki,

        Thabiti has again characteristically done a courageous thing in thinking thoughtfully about an important issue like how to vote in a consistently Christian manner. I’d hate to be one of those who makes him regret that decision by the two of us sidetracking things into a back and forth on a candidate’s particular position on an issue. That tends to get ugly fast. So, without at all meaning to dodge the question, I’d simply invite you to do some Internet research on the freedom of conscience implications of his healthcare plan that have compelled institutions like Wheaton College to sue the government, and his longstanding and heartbreaking voting and speaking record on abortion, particularly partial-birth abortion.

        Once you’ve done that, consider that the next President will nominate at least one, but possibly two, Supreme Court justices, who serve lifetime appointments. The balance of the current court is already pretty tenuous. Consider what choice President Obama might make that would be consistent with his philosophy and policies, and how that choice could affect our religious freedoms, and our ability to continue to fight for the unborn.

    2. Thabiti says:

      Hi Rachael,

      I appreciate the push-back, lovingly and graciously done. Grateful for your many interactions on the blog–more grateful than you know.

      I’ll think more about what you and others have written here.

      One clarification though: I’m in no way abandoning the notion that God can and does use crooked people. It’s the only people He has! ;-) I further assume that He will do that despite (or, better, using) the votes and non-votes cast. I have no doubt that God’s good will prevail.

      What the post challenges, in part, is whether we should be comfortable with “lesser of two evils” approaches. I’m not. Interesting to note in the debate tonight how many times someone said, “We’re not that different…” or “We’re pretty close…” on this issue. They didn’t debate abortion, of course. So, perhaps we’d have seen greater differences if they had. But, then, I’m left wondering: Why isn’t Romney championing the cause rather than living with it? Why isn’t he inserting it in health care discussions, for example? Maybe we’ll see him do that later. I hope so. But right now, it’s not showing very strongly and naturally. We’ll see.

      Again, very grateful for your iron sharpening.
      T-

      1. Rachael Starke says:

        Thanks brother.

        I do definitely agree with you that holding to the “lesser of two evils” approach as the leading or initial principle seems not to jive at all with a gospel-kingdom mindset. It seems as if both you and DuBois view a vote as an expression of being for a particular candidate. Being a California resident of over twenty years, I don’t believe I’ve ever had the blessing of voting “for” a candidate at all. Sadly, I’ve had to employ my vote as an attempt to vote against another candidate.

        Perhaps a parallel could be made with Jesus’ dining with tax gatherers and sinners. The Pharisees viewed Jesus’ actions as an inherent cultural expression of His approval of and friendship with them – Jesus was “voting for” them with HIs presence at their table. But we know differently – that he was voting against the loveless tyranny of the Pharisees’ legal code, and for the seeking and saving of the lost.

        As to why Romney hasn’t made his support for life more vocal, well, I’ll regretfully assume that he already know who his base is, and that to reach those infamous undecided independents, he must demonstrate that he cares about what they do – namely (God have mercy), their wallets. I believe one of the other two debates will focus on social issues – it will indeed be instructive to see how each candidate tackles them.

  13. RG-X says:

    It’s NOT just a President we are voting for – but whoever is President this term gets to replace 2 members of The Supreme Court Justices – who ever is President between 2013-2016 will get to put 2 people that “THINK” like he does.

    So people need to really consider the effects of this election – it’s NOT just a President but 2 Supreme Court Justices that replace 2 that are stepping down in the next 2 years AND will maintain what ever beliefs of the next President not just for the next 4 years but for many years, long after the next term is over! Think about it – but think urgently – time is running out!

  14. Jacob Hantla says:

    I honestly can’t believe that we are even having this dialog. Josh, Thabiti: Barack Obama has the explicit agenda to make the murder of defenseless babies more commonplace. He and his party desire to make homosexual marriage both legal and normal. Please read the article by Al Mohler here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/09/06/the-great-american-worldview-exercise-the-2012-election/. Mitt Romney wants the exact opposite: Abortion to be illegal and marriage protected. This post terrifies me because if it gains traction in the Church, we have lost all that much more influence (and unborn children) in the name of “having influence”.

    I do not understand the logic. I wonder why in this election there is this new push to not vote that is coming out of the black community. I wonder if it is the tension that Thabiti acknowledged; it feels wrong to vote against and incumbent African American President. Why does that feel wrong? I, like my wife, was overjoyed at the inauguration of Barack Obama that our nation could move beyond race and elect an African American to be president. I was horrified that it was this man who was our president. I fear as I read so many African Americans calling for us not to vote that we have not moved to the color blind nation that I had hoped for in my joy at the inauguration, but rather that race (and racism) is what has driven many to vote for Obama and what may drive many who fundamentally disagree with everything he stands for to rather not vote than to vote against him. I could be missing it altogether, but I just wonder why it is the African American church from whom this recent cry is rising against all logical odds. If we want to move beyond racism, we must move beyond racism. Don’t vote or not vote because of a man’s skin color; that is the standard I hold myself to and would hope that we would all hold ourselves to. There is a racial history that we have in this country that we can’t ignore; but we do not move beyond it by elevating it to the degree I fear Thabiti is here (and in his comments) and that other might be doing as well. Please examine your hearts.

    I am not calling you to vote for the lesser of two evils; I am calling you to vote against the evil of abortion, the evil of racism, and the evil of rejecting God’s definition for marriage. Thabiti and others call for us to consider not voting as a way of changing things; that is a sure fire way to not change anything at all…AND even worse, the result I fear is that it will result in huge segments not voting who otherwise would have been voting against Obama because of his anti-Christian mentality.

    When you choose not to vote, it probably doesn’t affect anything. You are just one vote. But God has given you a very influential platform, and you must consider that you may be using that influence to facilitate a man staying in power who desires to further THE MURDER OF CHILDREN, A great percentage of whom are black (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/when-is-abortion-racism)

    All of this, I must put in it’s proper perspective. This world is passing away, and there is eternity. Regardless of who is in the oval office, the King is on the throne and he raises and puts down rulers. None of this is beyond His control; in fact, it is 100% under his control, for his purposes, and for His glory. And as we live in this world, as His children, as His ambassadors, our first call is not to be politically active. As MacArthur writes in Why THe Government Can’t Save You, “[Jesus] did not come to earth to make the old creation moral through social and governmental reform but to make new creatures (His people) holy through the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.” Nevertheless, I agree with Grudem’s critique of a position that would encourage a Christian to ignore politics.

    Part of the Christian’s commands in the gospel is to teach people to observe God’s word; and true religion according to James is to look out for the helpless (orphans and widows). There is none so helpless as the unborn. Please make your devotion to Christ drive you to be devoted to care for the helpless. This must go beyond voting against abortion and voting for pro-life, but I cannot imagine how it couldn’t include AT LEAST voting. Please don’t let race, don’t let anything else, get in the way of at least this.

    Please understand, I am not saying that every person who is saying that they don’t want to vote is driven by race to do so. I am not even certain that any are. But given the racial make up of those who are saying it in the Church and the way in particular in which Thabiti said it, I wanted us to at least think about it.

    1. Daniel Hill says:

      I understand that abortion is a touchy issue. But if Obama is anti-Christian because of what he does. Isn’t Romney anti-Christian because of what he believes (1 John 2:22)? And since orthodoxy and orthopraxy are linked, can someone who actively denies the God who is (both men) do anything but serve the one they’ve pledged their allegiance too (the ruler of this world)? The book of 1st John makes it exceedingly clear that anyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. So are we debating which one is less of an enemy of God? Are there degrees to depravity?

      I understand your concern for the unborn and the aborted but I don’t think the article is advocating anyone to ignore politics but rather to fully examine the reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing.

      1. We’re not voting for a pastor or theologian but for the chief executive of the federal government. What is relevant is what how his values and policies will effect the decisions he’ll make.

        Anyway, the other candidates theological back-ground, apparently black-liberation theology (judging from Wright) is equally problematic.

  15. Dwight McKissic says:

    T.,

    You knocked the ball out of the park with this one. Thanks.

    Dwight

  16. jeremiah says:

    Thank you T, for speaking this needed message.

    Every 4 years we hear the same alarm that ‘this is the most important election of our generation’. Really, so in 4 years the alarms are going to die down?
    If Christians were as motivated to get to the prayer meeting as they are to get out and vote, then there would be much more fruit unto the Lord from the body of Christ in America.

    1. Justin says:

      This is true. Every four years it is the same “end of the world” message. Would we all would preach the gospel with such fervor. The “end of the world” politically only lasts 4 years, the “end of the world” for men’s souls is eternal.

  17. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

    I think the entire premise of not wanting to vote is a form of cowardice. Of all people, preachers must be able to provide reasons for the actions they make, and describing accurately why you vote for a particular party would be one of those choices.

    My friend, this is cowardice and cowardice alone. And as a black man myself I think the notion of not voting speaks of great betrayal of a heritage that I will never know, but have benefited greatly from.

    It’s hard work to pick a candidate and have your decision based on a scriptural foundation. But isn’t a great deal of life’s decisions similar to this decision? Why not shy from all sorts of duties that aren’t expressly described in Scripture?

    I am frankly disappointed.

    1. Grace_Reply says:

      It seems posting an article like this would prove that the author is not a coward, especially in light of all the hateful remarks made toward him.

      “why not shy from all sorts of duties that aren’t expressly described in scripture”

      I might suggest that there is no duty of man that is not expressly described in scripture. If it is not God’s expressed will, then what obligation do we have to do it, albeit the liberty to do it if we choose?

  18. Speak_Life says:

    I would like to start off by thanking Thabiti for writing this thoughtful piece on W.E.B. Du Bois who I’ve always loved (almost as much as Booker T). The “almost as much as Booker T”, is an inside joke for us black folks that know our history. LOL. Now, I promise not to be long-winded but my jaw was on the floor while I read this. I enjoyed reading Thabiti’s book “Decline of Afr. Amer. Theology” and listening to some of his sermons, but I almost couldn’t believe what I was witnessing as I read this. As a person who at times likes Reformed teaching (especially Keller), but is NOT Reformed, and loves black history I can really appreciate this from sort-of a third person perspective. Hee Hee.

    I’m not attempting to stir up the racial pot here, but my question/impression/thought about this article was… “Is Thabiti attempting to propose this idea of not voting based on the work of a pro-black, Pan-Africanist, who believed that Capitalism was one of the chief causes of racism, and who openly supported Socialist policies – to an almost all white evangelical Reformed audience.” I mean, I dig Du Bois, but his beliefs on the social gospel, his ideas that black oppression and struggle were tied to the suffering of Christ, I just don’t find these as ideas that would be embraced by the Reformed crowd. Again, I can relate, but did he expect his audience to embrace this? While I would guess that most of the audience here do not know much about Du Bois, I am incredibly curious to see how the TGC will embrace this. While it’s obvious that many new-Calvinist or neo-Reformed leaders are being quite intentional in their attempt to attract more diversity to Reformed circles (i.e. – the embrace of Hip Hop even by the older guys, LOL), it’s crossroads like this that really test the waters on how much people are really open to embracing “diversity”. Meaning the diversity of opinions, viewpoints, cultural perspectives etc. that come along with ethnic and social diversity. You can’t add people like Propaganda, Thabiti, LaCrea proudly to the Reformed fold without having to wrestle through the complexities that different cultural perspectives naturally bring to the table. You can’t do that anymore than placing minorities on your praise and worship team in an all white or all black church without changing the dynamics of the praise and worship and how the congregants interact with the music and the new dynamic. This is why I do get a slight chuckle sometimes when I overhear conversations from very homogeneous groups like Reformed believers who are often sincere in their hopes to integrate their churches. I often wonder – “Do they really understand what that means, and the practical implications of what that looks like?” In other words, while Thabiti may be seen as one on board with the larger group, his upbringing (not putting words in his mouth, but assuming based on this article) brings some different perspectives to the table. Put simply, telling an all-white Reformed/Conservative evangelical crowd that you see the Republican party as an equal evil to the Democratic party is just shy of blaspheme in their world, and to be more fair to many white evangelicals (non-Mainline). As minorities we’ve seen/observed this equity in evil from both parties for decades, possibly because we are more sensitive to the more social aspects to the gospel.

    Kudos to Thabiti for calling a spade a spade. I just hope that he can endure the tide that may come against him for even hinting at the fact that he’s not aligned with the status quo.

    1. Jim Upchurch says:

      From some of the comments, it appears political water is thicker than spiritual blood. Ugh.

  19. Scott says:

    This all presupposes the lie that there are only two choices. There are more than two parties out there, and if godly people of conscience would back one, like say the Constitution Party, it would be a landslide. But we’ve “drunk the kool aid” fed to us by the two major parties and the media that only the big two count. Need you be reminded that the GOP started as a third party? It can be done, has been done, and should be done again. Time for real change in this nation and it will never come from the two main parties. But don’t stay home, go vote your conscience and support a candidate who stands for your values even if it’s a third party. If enough folks did it, we would get over this whole “a third party can’t win” ideology.

  20. Lucas says:

    So many of you are making the very points Du Bois and Tab are making. Your comments here reveal party is indeed more important.

    But Tab, you did a wrong here. I began the article saying “Finally! My view exactly!”, only to find nowhere a mention of Mormonism being the chief reason for not voting. You are a brave theologian – one of a kind, actually – and you missed the mark.

    As a result, it truly is despair talking amidst magnificent verbiage, both yours and Du Bois both.

    1. John Bruner says:

      So would you say that Obama is a Christian? If it is unthinkable for a Mormon to be elected to a civic office then wouldn’t it be worse for a man claiming Christianity yet offering policies to the contrary? I would think that if a Mormon takes the Oval Office then there would actually be more opportunities to distinguish Biblical Christianity from Mormonism. Conversely, when there is a President in office who claims to be Christian yet supports gay marriage and abortion (i.e. murder) the distinction is less clear. It is easier for Christians to assert the differences between them and Mormons than it is for Christians to point out the differences between them and the “Christian” in office who is endorsing this sort of legislation.

      1. Speak_Life says:

        A few issues to address in your post above:
        1) The current POTUS DOES NOT support abortion. It’s intellectually dishonest to play these types of slanderous semantic games. Supporting abortion is completely disparate from believing in free choice under a secular Democracy where no one religion or belief reigns supreme. Blame the Founding Fathers for setting up America as a Democracy where people get to vote on righteousness, instead of a Democracy. But, let’s not play word games. It’s unfair. Are you pro-divorce, since you’re voting for Romney and he’s made no mention of outlawing the sin of divorce? The same goes for homosexuality. saying that you’ve evolved on a position about gay marriage is not a wholesale endorsement of the act of homosexuality.

        I have no problem with evangelicals like us voicing our opinions about policies, but it’s incredibly frustrating when not enough energy or thought is placed into how we choose to make our point. You disagree with the policies of making gay marriage legal, and any legislation that makes abortion a more feasible option for people. That is a fair statement. The US did not allow blacks to vote until 1964 (by truly enforced Federal law). If your grandfather was born in the U.S. is he a racist because he didn’t beforehand appeal for the voting rights of blacks? In other words, were all people at that time complicit racists, because they didn’t change the laws that oppressed people? NO!

        My simple point, let’s be more fair and even-handed about the terms a phrases that we use.

        2)Is it logical to appt. someone that denies the divinity of Christ into office for the sake of pointing out the distinctions between their cult and Christianity? Furthermore, is it fair to deny the Christian faith and salvation to the sitting president because you disagree with his secular social policies, yet he openly claims Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior. This one of my chiefmost complaints that I would sincerely say that I’ve found with people who hold strong to Reformed doctrines and in particular Calvinism. You are incredibly selective about whom you extend grace to. To yourselves you ‘ll quickly cling to your depravity as it relates to personal orthopraxy and the same grace is extended to Jon Edwards and other Puritans that you esteem highly. But, when it comes to a black Democrat? Well, your not so sure that he can get a pass as a person who’s just “growing” in the Lord. See, Puritans get off the hook for owning slaves, because they were just innocent bystanderds of the times. “The weren’t aware of their sins, but God’s grace is sufficient to cover them because they were “Reformed”. But Obama, nah! God’s grace can’t cover someone who promotes social policies that you dislike. God, can;t change his heart and the Holy Spirit can;t continue to lead him into all truth. That’s where his grace ends ;-)

        1. He is pro-abortion. He is in favor of judges who will defend abortion in even the most extreme cases. That’s the reality.

          We’re electing a president, who has the power to nominate Supreme Court justices. We’re not electing a pastor or theologian.

  21. Lauren says:

    This is my first time in voting in a presidential election, and I will be honest and say that I’m very disappointed by the options.

    I’ve told people that I don’t want to vote for either candidate, and got the response that if I didn’t vote, then I didn’t have the right to complain about who gets voted, and what they do.

    I don’t want a liberal OR a Mormon in the White House, and they look like Scylla and Charibdis to me.

    1. Grace_Reply says:

      @Lauren – “…then I didn’t have the right to complain about who gets voted…”

      I’ve heard that also, and it makes no sense to me. What if you were in a church that was voting to allow drug use in their services. The two options are cocaine or meth. Just because I would not vote for cocaine or meth does not mean I lose my right to stand against both as being a horrible for Christians to use.

      Since people under 18 do not vote does that mean they have no opinion? Since people in other countries do not vote do they have no opinion? Of course not.

      Our right to speak against evil comes from being servants of righteousness, not whether or not we went to the voting booth.

  22. l3gi0nnair3 says:

    Thabiti,

    Your logic frankly astounds me. Can you seriously envision *ANY* election in which you’re *NOT* voting for the lesser of two (or three, or four, or any other number of) evils? Simply put, your abdication of responsibility hear bespeaks a skewed anthropology: there is, in fact, exactly ONE person who could NEVER be the lesser among other evils…but I doubt you’ll find Him standing for a human election. So ultimately, your argument doesn’t just say that it’s a responsible choice not to vote in the present election–it’s an argument for not participating in ANY election.

    So how faithful are you willing to be to your own logic? At the next SBC elections, your choice will once again necessarily be for a lesser among available evils–does that mean you’re not willing to vote then either?

    I usually appreciate what you have to say, brother, but frankly I find this logic to be deeply ill-conceived.

  23. Sharmayn says:

    Quote: “There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”

    Thank you for this powerful post brother Thabiti. I agree with J. Upchurch, it would appear that political water is thicker than spiritual blood. :(

    There is so much more going on in this election– and the world — than the average person seems to care to explore (and understand). It’s been said that the god of this world is gold, oil and drugs. This election is a farce. The two parties are essentially two sides of the same coin. I think it’s time for us Christians to stop looking so intently to *Capitol* Hill. Where does our help come from?… Politics? Policies? Government? I don’t mean to minimize the gravity of the real issues and challenges that we’re all facing in this country right now but I say it’s time for Christ followers, right in our own homes, our own communities and our churches, to truly BE the Church.

    Thank you again for so fluently articulating exactly what has been on my heart and mind. I’m with you.

  24. tsotsoo says:

    Thank you Thabiti for penning my thoughts. @ Jacob , I, like you feel very strongly about abortion and marriage. I however do not think they should be the deciding factor. Yes this is a lesser of two evils because sin is sin. Your argument postulates that we as christians must rebuke abortion by voting republican. Why? Because it is the most evident of the lesser evils? I think the point of the post was to ask us to examine our hearts and motives. To not vote is not an endorsement of aborti

  25. l3gi0nnair3 says:

    And while I’m at it, let me point out something else that I actually should’ve brought up first. In all honesty, I’m frankly surprised that no one else has brought this up yet, Thabiti, but let me simply observe that in rationalizing your decision here, you have not ONCE made ANY effort to appeal to Scripture. Instead, you have (if your argument here can be taken to be the WHOLE of your argument) allowed yourself to be informed by the earthly example of a self-described agnostic.

    So here’s my question: if Du Bois’ example is really what’s encouraging you to act this way, Thabiti, can I ask how it is that you hope your decision will ultimately glorify God at all, other than accidentally? This is what grieves me the most about your post here–I’m aware of enough of your thought that I can’t imagine you’d encourage your congregation in this way about any other matter under the sun. Would you tell them to follow the marriage example of a couple of atheists? Or to go to Donald Trump for financial advice without consulting Scripture?

    See, that’s the real issue here: the argument that you’ve made in this post amounts to nothing less than a practical denial of the Authority of Scripture, and that’s something I frankly find SHOCKING coming from someone like you.

    With all that having been said, can I make a couple of requests?

    1. If we would be wise to follow the example of Du Bois here, can you explain why it is you think it wise for Christians to allow their political decisions to be informed by the example of someone who has rejected the Gospel and the source of all true wisdom?

    2. Could you actually make the case (as you have not done so far) for acting this way by means of a sound exegetical appeal to Scripture? Specifically, I’d like to hear from you about how abdicating our right to vote in this election would be in any kind of comportment with the kind of wise stewardship of all of our other resources to which the Bible encourages us.

    Thanks for hearing me out–I’m looking forward to seeing your response to this.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Friend,

      Thanks for dropping by and for expressing yourself. I’m grateful you would (a) take the time to read the post and (b) take the time to engage in a direct and forceful way. Both are welcomed and appreciated.

      Let me try to respond as succinctly as I can:

      1. I don’t buy the whole “It’s always a choice between two evils” argument. Here’s why: There is such a thing as righteousness. Not perfection, mind you, but real honest-to-God righteousness that the scriptures commend (see Proverbs, for example). Classing all men as essentially evil and disallowing for both an imputed righteousness and a practical righteousness is a straw man of the worst sort. If we really believed that all we had were a choice between evil and lesser evil, then as Christians especially we should fold our cards, close our churches, and lock ourselves in secluded mountain monasteries. The reason we don’t do that is because we do believe in salt and light, in a righteousness that God will make shine like the noonday sun, and genuinely good men doing good deeds. So, I reject the “they’re all evil” argument.

      2. As for DuBois, that’s an ad hominem argument. You’re attacking the man rather than the idea. It would be like my saying, “I’m not voting for Romney because he’s a Mormon.” There are plenty of people who feel that way, but we should not pretend they’re engaging his platform and ideas when they say that. They’re dismissing the ideas by attacking the man. It’s not a legitimate argument. The question is: “Is this or that statement true?” Or, “Is that a valid argument?” etc.

      3. As for the Scripture, I assume we both assume we have sufficient basis for our position. We could have a sword drill if you like :-). You ask specifically about the right to vote. I would say two things briefly, and I well understand that others may see this differently. First, the Bible nowhere maintains a “right” to vote. in fact, none of the Bible writers lived in a democracy with free elections. What the Bible establishes is the right of rulers to rule and the responsibility of the governed to submit (Rom. 13). Now, in God’s kindness, we live in a participatory democracy that extends the “opportunity” to vote, and I take it from your comments that you think this a moral obligation. That leads me to my second comment: I would simply say that not voting is voting and is as much a morally acceptable exercise of a freedom/opportunity/right as voting. We don’t live in 1 of the 23 countries with compulsory voting laws. We’re free to not vote, however dismaying that may be to some. And, brother, I just want to say, I don’t take this lightly. Part of the angst in this piece is fueled by a very keen since that the right to vote was and is a hard fought war for African Americans. Some may have grown up quite comfortable assuming that opportunity. Many of us grew up feeling the uncertainty of this freedom. Personally, I think that requires even more conscious attention to the exercise of the vote–not less.

      Sorry this is longer than I’d intended. Even if we don’t agree at every point, I pray we disagree in a spirit of brotherly love and patient grace. All for Jesus,

      T-

      1. l3gi0nnair3 says:

        Thabiti,

        Thank you so much for your response–and thank you more still for the way you’ve made me really wrestle with this issue.

        1. I don’t think that the appeal to practical righteousness (while I agree with what you’re saying) really fixes the problem here, because your fundamental argument (at least as I understand it) is that in this election, you’re not voting because “there is none (practically) righteous, no not one.” And I really, really get that.

        However, it seems to me that even on the level of practical righteousness (such as we see in Proverbs), you’re still going to be stuck choosing for one of among a host of candidates of varying degrees of practical righteousness. There’s simply no way around that, so it makes no qualitative difference whether we say “you ought to choose for the lesser of two evils” or “you ought to choose for the greater of two (still flawed) practical righteousnesses.” Really, what’s the difference in that?

        2. With respect, I think you missed my point about Du Bois–and if that’s anyone’s fault it’s most likely my own. My argument isn’t that Du Bois’ choice was flawed; it’s that the example of Du Bois ought not to be the sole example that informs us on this.

        Your post here (and you’ve ameliorated this a bit with today’s follow-up post) only gave us Du Bois’ example and your resolution to follow that example. But that’s a Really Bad Idea, in that Du Bois’ perspective on this was inevitably skewed by a worldview that asserted that if there is a God at all, we can’t know Him or know what He would want of us.

        But of course you and I both know better than that–and I know that you know better than that better than I know better than that. :-) So my argument about Du Bois simply boils down to this: That’s Du Bois’ example? Fine. But the reality of the situation is that there really IS a God, and He really HAS made Himself known, and–glory to God in Jesus Christ!–we really CAN know what he would want of us (Micah 6:8, anyone?). So at the very least, our reasoning and our discourse about this issue have to take those brute facts about the universe (that Du Bois sadly and to his eternal regret never appreciated) into very serious account, and your original post never did that.

        As I said, though, today’s follow-up addresses this to a degree, but I’d like to chew on that one a bit more before commenting further on that.

        3. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying here, but I think that where I was ultimately thinking about this is more in the orbit of, say, the parable of the talents in Matt. 25:14-16. Does Scripture declare that we have a right to vote? Of course not. But in God’s grace and in His sovereignty we’ve been placed in a position where we’ve been entrusted with an opportunity to make our voices heard, so my objection isn’t so much that we have a moral obligation to vote as it is that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of the right that God has given us by virtue of where He has placed us.

        I’ll admit that you’re right about not voting really being a way in which you are making your opinion known–that’s an idea I frankly hadn’t considered at all. That being said, however, it’s just not clear to me how casting NO vote is a better investment of the privilege we’ve been granted than making a choice for the better of two deeply flawed men.

        I’m really grateful for you, Thabiti, and for the way you’ve engaged and challenged me on this issue.

      2. It seems to me that the moral issue that looms over all others is the issue of abortion. I see no other logical conclusion but that abortion is murder (except to save the life of the mother, in which case it’s justifiable homocide.) That being the case, then our votes ought to be guided by how they will help end this holocaust.

        Not voting won’t help at all.

  26. Robb says:

    Here’s a simple video showing why America is stuck with a two-party system, choosing the lesser of two evils:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

  27. JD says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I agree with so much of this, and yet it strikes me as oversimplifying the matter to say that the difference between Bush and Obama was “slight to non-existent”, especially when talking about abortion. Perhaps one of the most practical steps a president can take in the effort to bring an end to abortion is placing a justice on the Supreme Court. If there was truly a “slight to non-existent” difference between Bush and Obama, then one could realistically expect the difference to be equally suspect regarding their Supreme Court appointees. Ideologically, however, there couldn’t be more difference between Roberts/Alito and Sotomayor/Kagan. One could easily make the argument that shaping the Supreme Court does more to advance conservatism or liberalism in this country longterm than a four year presidential term. Certainly we can’t claim that there is almost no difference between candidates when the difference between their appointed justices is so sharp. This provides me with more than enough reason to pull the lever, so to speak, in support of a candidate who does not always prove to be ideal in every category. I think that there is a lot to say for a strategy that looks to take small victories toward advancing conservatism rather than an all or nothing strategy. Just my thoughts.

  28. christopher says:

    Thabiti,

    Perhaps i don’t know enough about history, but from what i’ve read Dwight Eisenhower was quite good on the “Negro problem.” Further desegregation of the Armed Forces, desegregation of D.C. public schools, ordering the 101st Airborne to escort the Little Rock Nine, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960. Am i missing something? Apparently everybody liked Ike but DuBois.

    As for the question “Who are you voting for?,” you seem to accept the questioner’s assumption that voting in modern American presidential elections engenders a dissonance between black skin and “conservative” evangelical belief. Why? Is this assumption self-evident? i think not, and i see no reason why black skin and “conservative” evangelical belief or “race” and theology cannot point in the same political direction.

    1. christopher says:

      P.S.

      Nevertheless, i think it’s very wise that you, as a Pastor, never answer the question “Who are you voting for?” And for the same reasons, i think it would have been equally wise of you not to answer the question “Who are you NOT voting for?” (Romans 14:22)

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Always good to hear from you, bro? How are things in DC?

        So, the gag order only restrains those who think they may not vote? What kind of “free” political discourse is that? C’mon man.

        I think the questioner’s question springs from recognition of the very real fact that 90+ percent of AAs vote Democrat. In the face of that reality, and assuming a political conservatism based on my theological conservatism, they’re left wondering–even hoping–when it comes to how I might vote. I don’t recognize an inherent contradiction between black skin and conservative evangelical belief. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought voting behavior for conservative AAs wasn’t complicated by the notion of voting against the first sitting AA president. Let us at least be honest about the fact that many AA Christians find themselves feeling the pinch of a kind of group loyalty on the one hand and an ideological/theological loyalty on the other. We’re not helped by pretending that dilemma doesn’t exist. That some see there way through it confidently doesn’t diminish the fact that others don’t.

        You know your history as well as anyone I know. So you also can recount the number of candidates who have failed AA voters in various ways. Doesn’t mean folks shouldn’t vote. Just means, imo, we shouldn’t be naive or misplace our hope. That, too, weakens the political system. Have we not arrived at the point where we’ve come to expect our politicians to lie or break their promises or blame-shift once they’re in office? Personally, I think we need to call for a higher standard.

        I fully respect that others disagree–even strongly. I’m fine with that. And nothing that happens will prevent me from doing the most powerful thing of all–praying for those in authority over us.

        T-

        1. christopher says:

          Thabiti,

          Based on your blog post, you should know that “things in DC” are a mess. LOL! But seriously, i’m thankful that i have dual citizenship, because things in Heaven couldn’t be any better.

          i am certainly all for free political discourse. But what i intended to communicate in my postscript, perhaps not clearly enough, is that i think there are good reasons for a pastor not to publicly state that he IS voting for Candidate A or Candidate B. And i think those same reasons could (imo, should) apply to a pastor not stating publicly that he IS NOT voting for Candidate A or Candidate B.

          i receive your point about not diminishing the reality that many AA Christian “find themselves feeling the pinch of a kind of group loyalty on the one hand and an ideological/theological loyalty on the other.” Even though i don’t personally feel it (for various reasons), i’ve certainly witnessed this “pinch” among family and friends.

          So thankful for your presence in the blogosphere, brother!

  29. Below is the URL of a short satire I wrote about a year ago on this dilemma.

    http://differentbugle.blogspot.com/2011/07/lesser-evil.html

  30. Bruce says:

    More, more, more! Christians need to be saying:

    A vote FOR the lesser of two evils… is still a vote FOR EVIL! I will not do it anymore. I can no more torture my conscience into support for the whole system that is now so far compromised as to no more offer a God-fearer a Christ-honoring choice. The two-party system (that has squeezed out all rivals) doesn’t even pretend to be interested in honesty anymore–only power.

    –It’s time for Christians to start conceiving of themselves in Kingdom terms, always.

    –It’s time for Christians to identify with their fellow believers, suffering more than ever in places where the past decade of US foreign policy has effectively brought an end to the visible church in places where 14 centuries of Islamic domination did not.

    –It’s time for Christians to start recognizing that for the true church and faith amidst the world of the 21st century, existence resembles more her 1st century experience with Jerusalem and Rome, than perhaps at any other period between the times.

    1. Bruce says:

      Oh, and can’t we please drop the third sacrament… of voting?

      When the day comes for MANDATORY patriotic display in the church, and obligatory fawning for Caesar in the pulpits, how many of our sanctuaries will finally pitch that flag they’ve prominently planted for so long? How much you want to bet the issue “splits the church” almost every time?

  31. B Duke says:

    If you feel the need to vote, then do it and leave the rest of us alone. And once you have given your approval, by voting, to a system which will continue to oppress you and others, do not complain, for you have agreed to be bound by the results.

    You can vote all you want and it won’t make this country a better place. We should be living in a utopia already if it did.

  32. Melissa Wild says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and the comments. Thabiti, I think what most impressed me was the grace you showed to those who both agree with you and disagree with what you have written. The arena of politics can be so ugly and filled with sinful attitudes and sorely lacking in grace. Thank you for the Light that you shine into this heated topic. Grace-filled for sure.

  33. Frank Aderholdt says:

    W. E. B. DuBois showed his true colors and finally joined the Communist Party in 1961. He was a lifelong radical who hated the American system. He has nothing to say to me. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

  34. P Osborn says:

    3rd Party candidates cannot be elected? Wasn’t Lincoln a 3rd party candidate?

  35. Matthew says:

    Thank you Thabiti. I appreciate your courage in expressing these accurate views in spite of the huge opposition and animosity it generates.

    I, too, will not be voting in this election. If the majority of evangelicals refused to participate, that would do more to bring about political change than voting ever would.

    The parties are the same. The republican pro-life stance is just pandering. They controlled Washington for six years. Nothing changed. I no longer believe their lies.

  36. bill royland says:

    can we all agree to use the write in option of, lets say, ” None Acceptable” or something along those lines. By not voting we won’t be counted, so the numbers of the unsatisfied won’t be known. It can be like Brewsters Millions ” None Of The Above” #epic2012

  37. The key to voting correctly is to follow God’s own instructions in that regard. I just finished an article examining Proverbs 16 in the light of our current election season. I think that Christians will find it rather interesting.
    http://www.increasinglearning.com/biblical-voting.html

  38. jcubed says:

    Thabiti you sound defeated. You sound like I did in 2008, when I threw away my vote by voting my “conscience” and “principles.” Now I and thousands like me are living with the aftermath of our principled votes; Barack Obama. Our principled votes did not bring about a greater good, but rather allowed a greater evil to flurish!

    By not voting, you are really casting a vote. Apathy will not bring hope, change or good or thwart evil. Sometimes there we are only presented with the lesser of two evils.

    We are “between a rock and a hard place,” similar to Aron Ralston’s predicament. If you are familiar with the book by the same name or the movie 127 hours. You know this canyoneer had to make a life or death decision. He could remain pinned between two rocks until he starved to death in a remote desert canyon, or he could sacrifice part of himself. He chose the latter, which involved severing his own arm from his body using a dull pocket knife. We, are pinned between a rock and a hard place and we have some difficult choices to make. Sometimes the lesser evil produces the greater good.

  39. Yolanda says:

    @Matthew, many pro-life laws were enacted under George W. Bush, including conscience protections for health care workers, of which I am. Of course, abortion remains legal because it will take a completely different Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade.
    On the matter of abortion, there is a stark difference between the candidates. Is Mitt Romney as pro-life as I want him to be? No. But Obama is intent on expanding and protecting abortion. One hour after he was inaugurated, he changed the White House website to reflect his agenda.
    I will never tell someone to vote against their conscience. As a pro-life activist, speaker, and obstetrics RN, my conscience is telling me to vote for Romney.

  40. Brent says:

    “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

    “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

    “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

    If the verses above obligate us as Christians to protect those who are defenseless and who are being led toward slaughter, and if candidate A opposes the slaughter of unborn children and is committed to ending it, while candidate B fully supports the slaughter of unborn children and is committed to perpetuating it, then do I not have the obligation before God to vote for candidate A, knowing that in so doing, I may be helping to save the lives of countless children who would otherwise be murdered? If Scriptures call on me to obey authorities as wicked as Nero (Romans 13), and if Joseph and Daniel could serve pagan kings, can I not, in good conscience, vote for a less than righteous candidate today if it will mean saving lives and promoting greater religious freedom?

    1. Excellent comment. You’ve put it very well.

  41. Bob Ford says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on the subject matter. I realize when an article is posted it becomes a target and others may pick and choose some part of it to fire upon; however, this normally leads to dis-contexting the article. Having said this and acknowledging your piece wasn’t about this, my comment is simply this: It frustrates me when Obama is referred to as an “African-American.” His linage is not that of those Africans whose lives were stolen from them, removed from their home lands and redistributed around the world. He’s not in that category. I don’t like the “hyphen” used on anything that has “American” following it. I percieve it as a divider. It amazes me that the world sees us just as “Americans” and we hyphenate ourselves. When we all become just “Americans” only, then the breachs can begin to be repaired. Obama is a mulatto. He’s not a full black man. The court is still out on him being an American. Great deception rages in the black community based soley on his skin color, which you mentioned. I believe that voting in America is a God given right (based on the Mayflower Compact). I believe men and women, red, yellow, black and white, have given their lives to protect this right. To choose to not vote, even though they may choose not to, in my opinion, is a disregard to those who paved the way for us with their blood. Is this Republic in a disarray? Yes. Is this Republic perfect? No. But this Republic is still way ahead of whatever is in second place. This nation was built on a solid foundation; when you refuse to vote, you’re relocating it onto sinking sand. I say we should “vote at the polls as they pray at the altar.” (taken from:”the minutes of the “Thirty-Seventh, General Assembly of The Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church, held at Nacogdoches, Texas, May, 1911″ a report, brought to the floor by a three man committee assigned to report on temperance and the upcoming election, “Therefore we do hereby recommend and advise the colored people of this state, and especially those who are members of the Colored Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and others who side with the members of our Church to vote when it comes to the forthcoming prohibition election in this state, to ‘vote at the polls as they pray at the altar.’” (single quote marks to emphasize statement, mine). http://www.cumberland.org/hfcpc/cpca/cpcaga1911.htm)

    Thank you for allowing comments as well as informing us with thought provoking information. See you when we get home…

  42. Take this election choice:

    Candidate 1 is in favor of keeping slavery, just of preventing it from expanding.

    Candidate 2 is in favor of allowing slavery to expand.

    Is voting for Candidate 1 a “lesser of two evils” and so an indictment on the whole system because we weren’t able to get a pure candidate who would impose what is right? So are you going to sit out this election because Candidate 1 isn’t as doctrinaire as you would like?

    You’ve just skipped voting for Abraham Lincoln and just missed the opportunity to end slavery.

  43. Aaron says:

    Everyone is crying anti abortion but no one is crying for pro life for those babies born in these African American communities who because of injustice and generational racism (not the only reason problems exist in my community… personal responsibility is equally important so don’t go there with me)don’t get an equal opportunity. I believe abortion is genocide and i hate it and I wish it never existed!!! But i also believe educational injustice,racism, and corporate greed is genocide as well only slower and more thorough! Let’s make just a big an outcry for the “born” as well because they still don’t have a voice either!

  44. Aaron says:

    Everyone is crying anti abortion but no one is crying for pro life for those babies born in these African American communities who because of injustice and generational racism (not the only reason problems exist in my community… personal responsibility is equally important so don’t go there with me)don’t get an equal opportunity. I believe abortion is genocide and i hate it and I wish it never existed!!! But i also believe educational injustice,racism, and corporate greed is genocide as well only slower and more thorough! Let’s make just a big an outcry for the “born” as well because they still don’t have a voice either!

  45. J.C. says:

    It’s true President Bush didn’t end abortion, but at least he didn’t make us participate in it. Thanks to President Obama’s new HHS mandate, we all will. This is one of the evils that prevail when good men do nothing (Edmund Burke).

    John Piper says he will vote. Here’s why: http://dsr.gd/Wwyad5

  46. N. Rodriguez says:

    What I get from this post is 1. Deceiving Christians into believing that there is little or no difference between the candidates. 2. That neither candidate will fix America. 3. That you should make a statement about true democracy by not voting. All are poor thinking because they miss the Gospel.

    Not voting has absolutely no impact on society. It says that you didn’t like either candidate, but no reason why since you did not tell them by not voting. We can speculate that you did not vote because you’re pro-life or because you’re pro-abortion. It doesn’t advance anybody’s point of view. All it does is making a statement that neither candidate is chosen. But the reason why is unknown since we did not tell them when we refused to vote. It has not impact on society. It only says we need better candidates. This is what the Gospel says: it says the perfect candidate will never run for president. We’re always obliged to do good by choosing the lesser evil.

    To say that there is little or no difference between the candidates is just not true. It’s also not merciful to the 3000-4000 babies that are murder every day. If one baby is saved vs. none by voting for one candidate, then that is a big difference. The Good Shepherd left the 99 to rescue the one. That one baby is made in the image of God. But that fact is that even if Romney is not a real conservative, Obama is so far to the left, that he creates a big difference between himself and almost every other president to run for office from either party.

    Here’s a quote from Greg Koukl: “If you vote for a pro-abortion candidate for personal reasons (like economics) that are not more weighty than justice concerns (the wholesale destruction of children), then you are doing something profoundly un-Christian. If this happens often enough, you are either not a Christian or your Christianity completely fails to inform your political life. One wonders if it informs any other aspect of your life as well, and if it doesn’t, then by what right do you call yourself a Christian?”

    This makes this election crystal clear to any bible-believing Christian. The choices are simple from God’s perspective. To say there’s little difference does not love the victims of murder and to society’s destruction through the homosexual agenda.
    Also, quoting Dubois in his self-centered, race centered voting is anti-Gospel. I’m a minority, but when voting I don’t look for the good of my own race. Especially, in this case, at the expense of abortions. When we vote, we take the Gospel with us, where Jesus gave himself up for us. The gospel informs me that when voting, I don’t look at my own wallet, or my own race. I look for the good of others, the nation. My wallet and my race come second. We vote for the good of others. If we look through the lens of the Gospel, then the choice is simple, we vote for the one that is not pro-abortion and same-sex “marriage”. I vote in favor of saving millions of lives and the building up of society. This is other-centered. This is the Gospel.

    But this blog is self-centered. So now, Romney has to tell African Americans what he would do for them in order to get their vote? This sounds selfish and more like secular political mentality instead of Christ centered.

    This is one of the easiest elections in recent memory. One is pro-abortion and gay marriage. The other is not. Not voting means giving half a vote to each candidate. Any Christ honoring Christian should be able to make this distinction and cast their vote. Having this blog on Challie’s website discourages many gospel-centered Christians who would have made the right choice into making no choice at all. So telling Christians to not vote is helping the pro-abortion candidate.

    What about making a statement by not voting? “…it’s critically important we make decisions at the polls that go beyond token moral gestures (something that looks right, but has no impact). We must make choices that have the greatest chance of actually saving children.

    The question we’re faced with is this: If we were forced to choose between looking virtuous but having no further effect, or appearing ignoble but accomplishing some good, which path should we take? When we must choose one or the other, are we obliged by God to make a moral statement or to have a moral impact?” Greg Koukl

    Christ on the cross looked ignoble, but what did He accomplish? Going for making a “statement” with no impact in this election is self-righteous thinking. I’d rather make no “statement” if it means that millions of lives of innocent babies will be murdered if this president is re-elected.

    We should care about saving lives, not merely making a statement. So I’m obliged to vote, and vote against the candidate who is pro-abortion and gay “marriage”. Not voting is irresponsible and anti-Christian because not voting is giving the pro-abortion candidate half a vote. As if the issue of murder and marriage is not clear enough for me to make my choice

  47. I discovered his purple nature and needed to write which they will be smart. This writing are the readings which they has feelings for above his lives. I want you to produce intense patches! Lightning.

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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