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Faith in the election

Monday, 6 June 2016  | Nils von Kalm


You may have heard that there is an election coming up on 2 July.

We generally tend to roll our eyes these days when talk turns to politics. It is a very sensitive issue that brings out both the best and worst in us. For the Christian, it is no different. We need to be sensitive in how we talk about our political views. The following therefore is how I think a Christian ought to think when deciding their vote.

First, none of us can be so arrogant as to claim to know who Jesus would vote for, but there are particular biblical principles to keep in mind when deciding which way to cast our vote.

Second, we are amazingly privileged in this country. We are a peaceful democracy where we have the freedom to vote for who we wish. We have never had a civil war, and when a Government loses an election, power is transferred without conflict.

Third, Christianity is not a set of values. It is about the transformation of creation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. When talking about an election and how we should vote, our faith obviously does relate to a set of values and which party we think will live that out. But ultimately, Christianity is not about that.

Fourth, there are Christians of all persuasions who are politically active, and Christians have a right to vote according to how their faith informs their vote. There are Christians in all political parties, which just shows the different ways in which our faith is expressed, and what God has called different people to. God is not a Liberal, nor Labor, nor a Green, nor tied to any other party.

Fifth, it is vitally important for Christians to be involved in the political process in one way or another. God loves this world and we are called to love what God loves and seek the betterment of the world around us. The word “politics” in its Greek root means of and for citizens – for the people. So political involvement in some form or other can be a godly way of living out our faith.

Sixth, the pulpit should never be used to endorse any particular political party, either subtly or overtly. The pulpit is for preaching Jesus, not promoting our political views.

Seventh, any reading of the Bible has to be done in context, and therefore the issues that Christians claim the Bible has a clear statement on need to be looked at in the context in which they were written and in the context of the overall message of the Bible. We often read the Bible too devotionally ie. we take little passages or verses and don’t read them in the light of the overall message of what God is saying to us through His Word.

No political party is perfect. That might seem obvious, but we do need reminding that whenever we get a candidate who finally seems to be different from the rest, she or he has a habit of disappointing us. Whoever you vote for, they are going to disappoint you at some stage.

Every party is going to have some policies that you won’t agree with. You might vote for a particular party with your Christian conscience and someone might ask how you could possibly be a Christian and vote for them.

One of the issues that arises amongst Christians in an election campaign is that of voting for someone because they are a Christian. To vote for a candidate because they are a Christian reveals an ignorance of human nature. Tim Costello sometimes tells the story of the South African government during the apartheid years. They were all Bible-believing Christians. They believed all the right things but they were inherently racist. A wise vote is a vote for a party not because they are Christian, but because of their policies. Real faith is lived out, not just proclaimed.

Ultimately, for the Christian, the core of voting means voting for the party that will do the most for those who are most disadvantaged in the world, not the party that will do the most for ourselves.

It has been said over the years that the measure of a society lies in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. When we go into the polling booth on 2 July, let us vote prayerfully and with our conscience.

Nils von Kalm is a freelance writer. He works in church and community engagement with Anglican Overseas Aid in Melbourne, and previously spent 14 years with World Vision. He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nils.vonkalm and at http://soulthoughts.com. 


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