As pastors, we get asked a lot of questions from a lot of different people. It is very common for us, while in the grocery store, the post office, or a restaurant, to be stopped and asked a biblical question from someone.
These questions range from, “What’s your view on the end times?” to “Where did Cain get his wife?” to “What do you think about predestination?” But lately - largely due to the upcoming election - people seem to have another question on their minds: “What do you think about vote-buying in elections? Should a candidate who professes to be a Christian participate - in any way - with the buying and selling of votes? What does the Bible teach - if anything - about vote-buying?” Because so many people are asking this question, and because it is easier to write an answer than it is to have a hurried conversation in passing at the grocery store, we want to answer the following question in writing: What does the Scripture teach about vote-buying?
Disclaimer: There are candidates on the ballot who are members of our churches. But this is in NO WAY an endorsement of any candidate on the ballot in the November election.)
We begin by saying that vote-buying is NOT explicitly forbidden in Scripture. What do we mean by that? You cannot go to a Bible verse and see the statement: “Thou Shalt Not Buy Votes In An Election.” But just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid something doesn’t give us liberty to do it. For instance, the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou Shalt Not Look at Pornography On The Internet;” but we know - or at least we hope we know - that we are not permitted to look at pornography on the internet just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid it. Vote-buying is the same way: While there is no scripture that explicitly forbids it, there are many Scriptures that, if true (and they are!), make the practice of vote-buying and selling (for a Christian) impossible. Based upon these Scriptures, there are 4 reasons why a Christian should not participate - in any way - in the practice of buying and selling votes.
1. Vote-buying is Illegal. It is against the law to buy or sell votes. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” 1 Peter 2:13-14 says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” Christians should be an example of law-abiding citizens. The only time a Christian should break the law is if the law is contrary to Scripture (cf. Acts 4:13-22) - but even then, Christians should not be haughty, arrogant, or disruptive in their disobedience (cf. 1 Peter 3:13-17). As citizens, we must ask this question: If a candidate is willing to break the law in order to gain an office, how can we be certain they will uphold the law once they’ve entered that office?
2. Vote-buying is Bribery. Exodus 23:8, “And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” Scripture is crystal clear that bribes are sinful; they are wrong. While righteousness and justice build up a society, bribes tear it down (cf. Proverbs 29:4). If any group of people should hate bribes, it should be Christians, for it was a bribe (30 pieces of silver) that the religious rulers used - and Judas accepted - in the plot to arrest and crucify Jesus.
3. Vote-buying Exploits the Poor. Proverbs 17:5, “Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker, he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.” It is no secret: Most people who sell their votes are the poorest citizens among us. The money they’re offered is a great temptation for them. For them, $50, $100, or $150 is too much to turn down; it is more than 10% of what many of them make in a month. For a candidate to exploit this for their own political gain proves how little they value humanity.
To them, the people are not people; they are merely numbers on a voting machine. While those who sell their vote are responsible for their decision, those who purposely use their poverty for political gain are doubly responsible: They know better! To take advantage of the poor is insulting to the poor; but more importantly, it is insulting to God.
4. Vote-buying is not Christ-like. 2 Chronicles 19:7, “Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.” Can you imagine Jesus buying votes to win a popular vote? Our Lord will not stoop to such levels. He did not while He was upon the earth. When Pilate asked the people to vote between Jesus and Barabbas, did Jesus attempt to buy votes? Did he exploit the poor among them by performing some miracle before their eyes, or by promising food, clothing or money in exchange for voting for Him rather than Barabbas? While those acts would have sealed the vote-count, He didn’t do it.
After looking at the evidence from Scripture, I think it is safe to conclude that when a candidate (who claims to be a Christian) is faced with the temptation to buy votes in order to win an election, they must ask themselves the following question: “Can I separate by ‘spiritual life’ from my ‘political life’ and buy votes?” If they answer “Yes” to that question, they have proven that they value their “political life” more than their “spiritual life,” and, sadly, they may be proving something else - that their “political life” is all they have.
Pastor Floyd Arnett - Salyersville Free Will Baptist Church
Pastor Brian Bailey - Ivyton Baptist Church
Pastor Kenny Bailey - Little Rachel Church
Pastor John Blanton - State Road United Baptist Church
Pastor Randy Brown - Swampton United Baptist Church
Pastor Mark Campbell - Immanuel Baptist Church
Pastor Richard Green - Licking River Baptist Church
Pastor Michael Hornback - Salyersville First Baptist Church
Pastor Greg Minix - Half-Mountain United Baptist Church
Pastor Larry Patrick - Lakefront Church of God
Pastor William Paul Perkins - New Life Worship Center
Pastor Micheal Tackett - New Generation Worship Center
Pastor Justin Williams - Lakeville Baptist Church