Ok, I know every bloggerman and his dog has written something similar to what I'm about to write but I'm going to write it anyway.
In the light of last month's state election in WA, I've been thinking about Christians getting involved in politics. Should we as Christ followers be getting involved? If so, to what extent? Is there a place for Christians as politicians? Should we be actively campaigning against things which are against God's plan and design? Or should we just concentrate on living God's way ourselves and helping the poor etc at a grass roots level?
To be honest, I'm quite torn in this area. I find voting difficult because to put it simply, there are no parties I like! No surprises there I guess as each will have their flaws, yes even the 'Christian' parties. I feel like I'm voting for the best of a bad lot. Sometimes I even feel like writing my own name on the ballot paper and putting a number 1 next to it :).
Politically I guess I could be called centre-right. I'm only moderately interested, perhaps I should take more interest but I find the whole political process quite boring and confusing. Yet I don't want to be uninformed and complain all the time when I have some power as a voter to have my say. I think that's one of the great things about our country. We can vote! And we can vote without men with guns standing over us. However much we may feel our vote doesn't count....it isn't true. Every vote does count and as much as we feel voting is tiresome, many people living under dictatorships would love to be in our position.
Over the last couple of years, other people have persuaded me the importance of researching my vote. In the years before, I used to vote based on hearsay or 'he looks all right.' Now I go to each party's website and read all of their policies. I cannot say how important this is. I disagree emphatically with the political preferences of some Christians but they have researched their vote and come to their conclusion under God. I may have come to a very different view.
I have heard the views of both 'lefty' and 'righty' Christians I know (I hate those labels but I can't think of anything else right now). The lefties are concerned for victims of oppression that aren't mentioned much in the policies of the Christian Democratic Party or Family First....widows, orphans, victims of war, child labourers etc. On the other hand I, like many righties, do not want to support the Greens either and deliberately vote a party into power that is for the legalisation of prostitution and abortion. Neither really appeal to me but I do lean more right than left.
The trouble is...advocates of each view seem to think their issues are the most important and the others still matter but they aren't as passionate about them. Maybe that is a huge generalisation but it seems to fit many people I've talked to or heard their views. I think ALL of these issues are important. There's just no party that's got it right on all of them but we have to vote for someone. You care about child labour? Then also care about the babies that are aborted. All are victims in my opinion.
I can tolerate Christians with differing political views to mine as long as they've researched and prayed about it. It's Christians that vote for a party simply because it has 'Christian' in the title which get my goat. It's people who ask who I voted for and then lecture me which really annoy me. It's Christians who try to persuade their pastors to promote certain parties at church which make me so mad. It's Christians who fill my email with political propaganda who make me seeth with anger. I do not think it's the role of a pastor to try and persuade people to vote for a certain party. The pastor at my old church simply encouraged us to research each party's policy but that was it. We are each responsible for our own vote and it's really no-one else's business. That's why we vote individually in booths where others can't see.
Duncan and I talked quite a bit about the election in the weeks that followed it. He reckons there is a place for Christians in politics for they have an opportunity to witness to other politicians. God has placed us where he wants us to be. So do I think introducing Christian laws will make people Christian? No way! They might change behaviour but they won't change hearts. They won't change people's standing before God. Yet, on the other hand I do worry about society as we have a responsibility to care for others. Some of the laws that could be introduced may just produce more brokenness.
Personally, I just want to concentrate on living for Christ and loving others. If other Christians want to get more actively involved and protest or become politicians that's up to them. God can use us all. Yet I do hope that each Christ follower will take opportunities to explain why they believe what they believe on certain issues in a way that is helpful, loving and God-honouring not just rant and rave and say "It's bad....it's evil."
Image is from countryporch.com