When Is It a Sin to Vote for a Political Candidate?

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Christians consider the moral weight of the ballot.

Michael W. Austin, moral philosopher, Eastern Kentucky University:

Christians must follow their conscience, as Romans 14 describes. That conscience should be informed by the Holy Spirit, Scripture, reason, and wise voices in the church. We have to accept that followers of Jesus vote differently as they seek to be faithful to him.

It is wrong, however, to vote for someone who isn’t a morally decent person, whose character falls below the minimum standard required to handle the responsibility of governing. And Christians must focus on those who are marginalized and oppressed in our society: the unborn, minorities, women, the poor, and others who suffer injustice.

There will always be tensions in voting our values. We need wisdom and grace to navigate that.

Kaitlyn Schiess, author of The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor:

Voting for someone is a sin when it is done out of misdirected love. We will all make wrong political decisions because both our knowledge and discernment are imperfect. But all our votes should be cast, however imperfectly, out of love for the coming kingdom of God. When our vote is cast out of warped love—for security, prosperity, national identity, or white supremacy—it is sinful.

This does not mean motivation trumps impact; it means the desires that motivate our political action change not only how we vote but what kind of flourishing we seek for our communities. The desires that animate our political participation are dangerous not only for the way they can inspire wrong political action but for the way they can corrupt our communities and our own souls. Misdirected love results in policies and people that harm our neighbors.

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