LCN Article
“It Is Your Patriotic Duty to Vote.”

July / August 2024

Gerald E. Weston

United States President Abraham Lincoln stated that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Although other nations may not use the same words, the idea of government by the people resonates in the hearts of many—even in the Church of God. But is this God’s way?

How well is government by the people working? Regarding its efficacy, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke cynically before the House of Commons in 1947: “Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time” (Churchill by Himself, p. 574).

The idea that democracy, while not perfect, is still the best of all possible governments has formed the thinking of many in Western-style democracies and republics. This thinking is often true of many members of the Church of God. Some leaders are clearly better than others, which is even seen in how the Bible describes the kings of Israel and Judah, and this can make some members of the Body of Christ desire to make their voices heard to ensure the best leader is elected to office. But, again, is this how God thinks on the subject?

Furthermore, we find that one side of the political spectrum is often on the wrong side of almost every biblically defined moral issue. Should we not then vote against candidates who promote abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, legalization of recreational drugs, euthanasia, and a host of other morally defective stances? Should we not want to see in office the person who professes to be on the biblical side?

There are scriptures supporting human government. The Apostle Paul suffered under the hands of Roman governors, yet he wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1–2).

Does this therefore indicate that we ought to vote into office those who share some, or even many, biblical values? Christian nationalists think so, as explained by Christianity Today: “Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way… that America is defined by its ‘Anglo-Protestant’ past and that we will lose our identity and our freedom if we do not preserve our cultural inheritance” (“What Is Christian Nationalism?,” February 3, 2021).

What about those of us in the Church of God? Should we support the Christian nationalist movement? If not, should we vote for other reasons?

In American politics, it is well known that a politician must satisfy his base of supporters to gain his party’s nomination. This usually means pandering to the extreme of either side of the equation. But once he is the party’s nominee, he must move to the center to capture the votes of the undecided in the middle of the spectrum—in other words, tell the people what they want to hear, whether it is the truth or not. Perhaps this explains in part why politicians are famous for making promises but not for following through on them, though some leaders do better than others at fulfilling their promises.

So, what should you do as a true servant of God? Is it your patriotic duty to vote for the lesser of two evils? Are we to use human reason, or should we look to God for the answer?

Adam and the Two Trees

Mr. Herbert Armstrong often referred to the two trees in the Garden of Eden. What do those trees have to do with this subject? Everything! The 1969 Ambassador College Envoy addressed man’s attempts to build a world on his own. The yearbook addressed the notion that “experience is the best teacher.” It went on to show how worldly education—“the Mother which spawned the Scientists, Captains of Industry and Business, Politicians and Rulers, Leaders in Modern Society, and the Theologians”—has created a “sick, chaotic world of violence.” Addressing the subject of government, the Envoy explains:

The modern world has produced three more or less new forms of government. Each promises peace, happiness, and prosperity for its people.… United States and British-type “Democracy”; Swedish and French-type Modern “Socialism”; and atheistic Communism.

All three are predicated on the theory that every individual has the right to share in the results of Science, Industry, and the modern life. All three are based on a system of Industry, and diffusion of Education. But what do we actually find? We find some heads of state sincerely seeking peace, and the betterment of their peoples. But none is bringing peace because none knows the WAY to peace. But all too often we find also the opposite. We find selfish, greedy men of excessive vanity, ambitious in their lust for RULE, scheming to get their hands on the throttle of POWER for personal aggrandizement and monetary gain. We find graft, immorality, deception, dishonesty, running rampant in high places.

Governments promise PEACE—but bring WARS!

Brethren, do we really think there will be a “knight in shining armor” who can solve our problems, other than the Prince of Peace? Surely not, but some may look for more modest benefits from a candidate they believe will bring solutions to some of those problems. However, the real solution can never be found in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It must be found in the word of God.

Adam chose the wrong tree, and mankind has been following his example ever since. Mr. Armstrong recognized the tendency, even among those who seem to be members of the Body of Christ, to get caught up in this world’s entertainment, education, cultural norms, or systems of governing. Yet the Church of God has traditionally refrained from involvement in voting, jury duty, and the military. Why? Because we are called to a higher mission.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus three times referred to Satan as the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and Paul explained that the god of this age blinds the minds of men from understanding the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). And we must never forget Paul’s words: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1–2).

Why Are We Called Now?

Scripture is clear that God is not calling the whole world at this time. So, if He is not calling everyone, why is He calling anyone? Two reasons: The first is to do His will by proclaiming the good news of His coming kingdom and warning the world of where it is heading. The second is to prepare a few during this age to share in that ruling government. These few are those who learn the way of peace during this life. They will then teach the way to peace, prosperity, and happiness to all during the soon-coming millennial reign of Christ.

Paul explains that we are citizens of a different country. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20–21). This does not say we will go to Heaven when we die. Notice that he refers to “heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior.” When Christ returns, His reward will be with Him (Isaiah 40:10; 62:11). Notice also that we are “registered in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23).

Paul tells us that we as Christians represent that kingdom. “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). While the context of this passage directly refers to Paul and his fellow ministers, the principle of ambassadorship applies to all of us. As he wrote a few verses earlier, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (v. 17). When we were baptized, we pictured the death of the old man and came up to a new way of life. We became a new creation with an eternal citizenship, to become ambassadors of that new country.

Even human ambassadors do not take part in the politics of a foreign government; they live in a foreign land and represent their country in it. This does not mean that they do not have strong opinions about the country to which they are sent, but they do not vote or lobby for a party or candidate— they are expected to put on a neutral face. They obey the laws of that country and show respect for its citizens.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Lesson

The Bible is not ambiguous as to who has the final say in choosing national leaders. It is not you and it is not me. To put it bluntly, we cannot outvote God. He has power over every circumstance that can turn an election “on a dime.” Individuals who looked to be a “shoo-in” leading up to an election have suddenly fallen for more than one reason. The Bible is clear: It is God who determines elections and leaders.

This lesson was brought home to a great king 2,600 years ago. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and Daniel was given supernatural understanding to explain the meaning of that dream—that it is God who “removes kings and raises up kings…. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory… and has made you ruler” (Daniel 2:21, 37–38). Yes, it was God who chose this carnal king for His purpose.

In a later dream, Nebuchadnezzar was told that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). If God sets up even the lowest of men, who are we, with our limited minds, to vote against God? He puts rulers in place who are the best to suit His purposes, often speeding up or slowing down the fulfillment of prophecy. Under inspiration from God, Daniel further explained to Nebuchadnezzar, “They shall drive you from men… till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (v. 25).

Is it not obvious that God is in charge overall, while it is Satan, the devil, who promotes government by the people? Government from the bottom up has never been God’s way. When Moses could not handle the number of cases coming to him from the children of Israel, his father-in-law told him to teach the people God’s laws and statutes, so that they might settle their own disputes according to God’s principles. He then went on to instruct Moses, “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Exodus 18:21). These men, who feared God and were to use God’s laws in making judgments, were selected as secular judges.


The principle of selection, or appointment, is what we also find in the New Testament for ordinations and offices in the ministry. “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5). Notice carefully that Church leaders were appointed, not voted in.

Some have tried to use a few verses in Acts to claim that the people democratically chose their leaders, but this is not being honest with the Scriptures. One example is found in Acts 1, when the Apostles needed a replacement for Judas. Peter clearly took the lead (v. 15). He set the parameters or qualifications: “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (vv. 21–22). From the small group of 120—of which probably half were women, and most others would not fit the qualifications as spelled out by Peter—only two were set forth. After praying about it, “they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (v. 26).

Some have equated casting of lots with bal-lot-ing. This is why some avoid the word vote and substitute ballot, but this is a deceptive and unscriptural word game. Any study of the biblical practice of casting lots recognizes it as a special appeal to Almighty God for a decision “secure from all influence of passion or bias” (“Lot,” The People’s Bible Encyclopedia); it has nothing to do with voting. Pieces of wood, stone, or clay, with names written on them, were cast into a container, and these lots were drawn out to determine a decision. The promised land was divided by lots (Joshua 18:6–10). Specific duties for priests serving in their designated courses were determined by lot (Luke 1:9). And lots were used by the high priest to determine which goat was for the Eternal and which one was for Azazel (Leviticus 16:7–10).

In the case of Acts 1, neither the people nor the Apostles cast ballots. Instead, in accordance with every other such biblical reference, there would be one lot for Matthias and one for Joseph called Barsabas (v. 23). Their names were placed in a jar, bag, or basket, and one was drawn out. This is similar to the modern practice of “drawing straws.” In the case of replacing Judas, this was a special appeal to God, accompanied by heartfelt prayer, to guide the lot that would be chosen. This is also the last mention of the use of lots in Scripture—from that time on, leaders in the Church were always appointed.

“Your Kingdom Come”

Many are familiar with the four beasts that are described in Daniel 7, but Daniel’s vision does not stop with the destruction of these beasts and the little horn that comes up on the head of the last beast. It also gives us insight into a coronation ceremony in Heaven that will take place prior to Christ’s return: “One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven… came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13–14).

A subsequent verse has great relevance for the subject of this article: “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (v. 27).

Notice the similarity to Jesus’ parable of the nobleman going into a far country (Luke 19:12–27). It is evident that the nobleman is Jesus Christ; He goes into a far country— Heaven—and receives a kingdom over which He is coronated and given authority. The saints, servants of God, will be appointed by Christ to reign over cities on this earth to bring about the peace and prosperity so elusive to human rule.

Dear friends, we must leave no part of the old man out of the water of our baptism. Will we still hang on to our carnal past, eating from the wrong tree, thinking that government by the people is God’s way? Do we understand what Mr. Armstrong taught regarding the two trees? The only candidate who truly matters does not need your vote; He has already been selected by His Father, who will also determine who sits on the right hand and left hand of our Savior (Matthew 20:23).