In 1875 David Lipscomb was asked a question about whether one should exclude those who voted from the local congregation as a test of fellowship, just as some advocated should be done with those who participate in dancing and drunkenness.
Below is Lipscomb’s response in part (Gospel Advocate, 1875, 399-402).
We suppose we have done as much to excite an investigation of this question as any one in the land. But a few years ago, because we did not advise some brethren in Arkansas to excommunicate every man that failed to see as they saw, they charged us with being a mere time server with no independence, and disgusted with our cowardice and infidelity to truth, as they called it, they quit taking the Advocate as an unclean and unholy thing. Well we were sorry for their course, but we think we can quietly bear opposition, both front and rear, when we know we are right.
We are satisfied that voting does much more harm to the church than dancing does. And we are no apologists for dancing. We believe it is lust exciting and is a fruitful promoter of lewdness and other sins.
The evil and wrong of voting is a matter of much stronger faith with me than the evil of dancing. Show me the passage on which the evil of dancing rests and we will show you a score, equally as plain, that voting is wrong. The whole organization of the kingdom of God is based upon the fact that every other institution in the world is of the evil one, is against God–must be destroyed, must be prevailed over by the gates of hell.
While saying this much, we are yet unwilling to say that we think a church ought as yet, to withdraw themselves from one for voting. (The brethren will excuse us for not using the word exclude. It is not a Scriptural word, nor does it convey a Scriptural idea.) The reason for this is, the brethren have not been sufficiently taught upon the subject. The Scriptural means for correcting an evil has not been sufficiently used to resort to this extreme measure. We have spoken upon the subject, written upon the subject talked publicly and privately upon the subject, have come as near making a hobby of the subject as any one, (expect to do it more in the future and have no dread of being called a hobbyist), yet we have never to a single individual taken the pains to present the subject in such fullness and with such earnestness, as to be ready to give him over to Satan for rejecting it.
……To give force to the truth on this subject, it is much more needed that those who believe that Christians ought not to sustain, uphold and participate in human institutions, should teach the truth to others, by every means in their power to force an investigation. When we have access to papers to discuss the question through the papers (when they refuse the discussion, make them feel we regard they have outraged truth), do it in public teaching, do it private conversation. Do it kindly, persistently, earnestly, as believing truly that the kingdom set up by the God of Heaven ‘shall break in pieces and destroy all these kingdoms but it (alone) shall stand forever.” If it destroys the kingdom it must destroy all those in those kingdoms. All supporters and upholders of these kingdoms, must share their fate. We must teach it in all our relationships, we must make all who know us feel that we believe, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church which Christ built. But that they will encompass within their destroying vortex every other church, organization, kingdom in the universe. In prevailing against these kingdoms, the gates of hell will prevail against all that are component parts of these kingdoms, against all work performed in and through them. No child of God ought to do work where it will perish in hell. We have not a doubt that all work done in any other congregation, organization, church or kingdom will be engulfed in hell….
One gets a sense of how important this is to Lipscomb. The kingdom of God stands in opposition to all human institutions, and the most powerful, violent and coercive of institutions is civil government.
In this article, Lipscomb notes how the Christian Standard, the American Christian Review, and the Apostolic Times – all papers located in the north or border states — oppose his position and treat him as a traitor to democracy. Lipscomb’s position was characterized by the Apostolic Times as the position of a “stingy soul-sleeping Dutchmen and sore-eyed, whiskey drinking Irishmen.” Some ethnic stereotypes are embedded in that comment. They essentially say that Lipscomb is simply anti-authority when he is actually pro=kingdom of God.