After considering some helpful feedback on my previous post, I would like to clarify and correct some unhelpful material that I wrote there.
First, a clarification: in attempting to communicate the small relative significance of the political world – that voting is to be a relatively small part of the Christian life in comparison to other things we have to do – I spoke in sloppy terms (“it doesn’t matter that much”) that could imply that God doesn’t really care at all about our vote. In reality, there are a lot of “small things” we do that may not have the kind of large-scale impact we wish for, but that doesn’t mean that they are insignificant in God’s sight. We don’t have to change the world for our action to be pleasing to God.
I would like to clarify, then, that voting doesn’t end up being meaningful only if we cast the deciding vote; everything we do matters before God, including this activity.
Second, a correction: while speaking of the impact of an individual vote, I should not have spoken as if the world only consists of individual voters. Yes, it may be true that one vote is unlikely to be the deciding factor. However, collective groups of people can do things that matter even when their own personal part seems insignificant, or would actually be insignificant on its own. Few single soldiers ever won a battle on their own (David and Goliath may be the biggest exception!), and yet each soldier’s individual part in such efforts is significant in contributing toward the whole. When we aren’t the only one involved, we shouldn’t necessarily consider our own individual impact alone. So it is with lots of other things, including voting.
Combining this with the idea I acknowledged in the post, that elections can be quite consequential (albeit only directly in a temporal sense), I was wrong to dismiss the significance of a single vote in a way that could easily be construed to say that we should simply stay home because our vote has no impact.
To put these points another way: I’m not telling anyone they have to vote, but I’m also not telling anyone not to vote!
What I did originally hope to communicate were the things that can actually be drawn out and defended biblically, including these primary ideas:
– Our attention to politics, and our concern for how we vote, should be much less than what it often is for many people.
– We should not follow the influences around us in determining how much value and time we give to a matter, but rather, we should be intentional, and driven in our decisions, based on what the Bible says about it.
– There are many other things that we should not neglect for the sake of giving attention to matters surrounding our voting, because they are things that God has spelled out explicitly in Scripture.
– We should beware of assigning a moral right or wrong assessment to matters which are not clearly defined or implied as such by God’s word.
– We should be alert against developing ungodly attitudes that can be caused by inordinate attention to electoral matters (or anything else!).
So I offer my apologies for these errors and for distracting from my main points in the original post. I hope that this follow-up has framed things in a more helpful way and that the two posts put together have been useful in thinking more biblically about this issue.