Political disagreements often end these days with the exclamation, “How could you possibly vote for that person!” We focus on the particular candidates, and as Christians we consider and dispute the wisdom, prudence, and morality of voting for a specific person. But what about voting itself: When is it good? When it is it bad? When does casting a ballot become an act of sin? We asked a range of Christian leaders across the country to consider the question and got back a range of answers.

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 ...

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