I am not about to argue that voting in itself is sacred. Nor will I pretend that democracy is a political system ordained by God. Those sentiments stray too closely into the Civil Religion of our country that is too often confused with Christian faith. But I will say this: voting is a spiritual task and a sacred obligation for us as Christians.
When Jesus is asked to name the greatest commandment in the law, he names two: “Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” and “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31 CEB) Jesus quotes the great confession of Hebrew faith, the shema, as the first great commandment, but then reminds us that our covenant with God is accompanied by a covenant we have with one another, and a duty to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Voting is power. It is the one great leveler in our political culture. Regardless of wealth, education, status, race, or creed we all stand as equals in the voting booth. (Yes, I am aware that for those of us who live in the District of Columbia this isn’t exactly true.) But the exercise of the right to vote is an exercise in political power. And as Christians, we are called to use our power for the sake of our brothers and sisters, for the sake of our neighbors.
If we truly love our neighbors, then we care about their well-being. We care about their health, their safety, their job security, their educational opportunities. We care about all the things that lead to wholeness of life. Voting, then, is not an exercise in insuring that we get what is beneficial to us alone, it is a sacred trust to exercise that power on behalf of others.
John Wesley wrote that to make Christianity into a “solitary religion is indeed to destroy it”. Christian faith is inherently about community. From the Immanent and Economic Communities of the Trinity to the community that is the church itself, we are believers in a God who expects us to be in relationship not only with God but with one another.
Voting is not in and of itself sacred. We are not Roman Catonians who believe in the Divinity of the Republic itself. We are Christians who believe in the divinity of Christ, who calls us into fellowship with him and one another. Who calls us to be “last and servant of all”. Who calls us to exercise power on behalf of “the least of these, my brothers and sisters”. We are given an opportunity on Election Day to exercise power. To do so on behalf of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, is indeed a sacred task.