Politics is boring. That was definitely my view growing up. I’d say it’s the view of most young Australians. Except for those few vocal friends in our newsfeeds, perhaps. (I might be one of them. If so, I’m sorry. I hate being ‘that guy’).
For the most part, we Aussies feel the same about politics as we do about religion. In other words, awkward. Not sure what people will think if we speak up. Wary of of the consequences. Heck, it took me a lot of courage to publish this blog.
But I’m not sure that’s God’s intention for believers. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul wasn’t afraid to talk about politics or religion. He seemed to think both are important—and both are connected:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Three words stand out to me here as I prepare to vote on Saturday—three words that I think can help Christians vote ‘Christianly’, if that’s a thing. Here they are.
1 . K I N G S
We don’t have a king. We have a Prime Minister. Big deal. Actually, it is.
Until a couple of centuries ago, every person in history found themselves ruled by someone they didn’t choose, and probably wouldn’t if they’d had a say. Good leaders were the exception—tyranny and exploitation were the rule.
I can’t express how thankful I am to be born into a democracy. On Saturday, I along with everyone else in my electorate will get a green piece of paper. The person that the majority of us choose will spend the next three years in Canberra—in the House of Representatives—representing us and our concerns.
Australia has 150 of these representatives. If a majority are from the same political party or alliance, they get to choose one of their own to lead the country. This year, that will be either Scott Morrison or Bill Shorten.
Stay with me here. This is important.
Democracy has ‘checks and balances’ to make sure bad laws aren’t easily passed. One of these is the Senate. It’s a separate house of parliament, made up of 76 members from around the country, who have to approve any change in law suggested by the other house. These are the people you’ll be voting for on your white piece of paper.
Who we send to Canberra really matters. They shape the law that governs us. This is why it’s so important that we pray for them—whoever they are, whatever views they have.
2 . G O D L I N E S S
If the people we send to Canberra shape our country, we owe it to ourselves to know who we’re voting for and the values they stand for. After all, God says here that He wants us to have leaders who promote godliness.
What does godliness look like in 21st century Australia? It looks like lots of things. Strong marriages and families; justice for those crying out for it; good stewardship of the environment; help for those who can’t help themselves; the freedoms that make democracy work in the first place. The list goes on.
Sadly there are no parties that do all of these things well. Christians find themselves either voting “left” for justice and the environment—or “right” for family values and freedoms. Most of us long for a party that will represent all of these concerns well. The Bible tells us that it’s coming, but who knows when the Prince of Peace will return to establish His kingdom. Until then, we have some choices to make.
Here’s how I’ve resolved it. I care a lot about justice and the environment. I recycle, I chat and give to the homeless, I like to buy local and ethical, I eat a plant-heavy diet, I minimise my waste, I try to give generously to the poor, and I live with an open heart to people of other cultures and creeds.
Lots of my concerns about justice and the environment can be addressed by my own choices, with my own money, within my own circle of influence. Not all, but lots.
Voting “left” on these issues will help increase foreign aid, open our borders, and better sustain the environment. It will make me feel better—but I’ll be using other people’s money and resources to do it. This isn’t actually as generous as it seems on the surface, or as they tell you in the media. My rule is first to practice generosity with my own money and resources.
The godliness I can’t so easily influence are these other issues—namely, family values and freedom. Let’s start with just one example. In Australia, some 70,000+ abortions take place every year. It’s staggering to think that the unborn only have a 3 in 4 chance of making it out of the womb alive.
In looking at Australia’s major parties, sadly a Labor-Greens alliance is unconcerned about pre-born children’s right to life. In fact, Labor has promised to make abortion accessible up to birth throughout Australia, denying funding to any public hospital that refuses.
If I have to choose between rainforests and human beings, then as a Christian I will choose human beings who are made in God’s image. If I’m serious about promoting justice and helping those who can’t help themselves, I must lend my vote to these precious little ones.
3 . S A V E D
But I have other concerns that are beyond my ability to influence personally that only my vote can change. Australia’s freedoms are so, so precious. If they disappear, democracy disappears with them. Consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
This is why, as much as I didn’t like Israel Folau’s Instagram posts, all Australians should be horrified when a sportsman loses his job for expressing a tenet of his Christian faith.
We’re used to thinking of our freedoms as a given, but they are not. In small bubbles of the world, for bubbles of time that can be measured in just centuries, these freedoms have existed. Apart from that, they have not. Preserving them must always be one of the main projects of democracy.
Sadly, Labor and the Greens have shown contempt for these freedoms as well.
There are five main equality rights recognised in international law: race, age, disability, sex and religion. The only one not protected in Australian law is religion.
On the other hand, Labor and the Greens will seek to remove the right of Christian schools to only hire Christian staff who will teach their values. This follows on from an attempt by Labor last year to change the Sex Discrimination Act so that churches, mosques and synagogues could be taken to court for teaching their thousands-of-years-old beliefs. This is a staggering shirtfront on freedom.
My concerns about religious freedom might sound selfish, like I’m just trying to protect Christians. But in truth, the erosion of these freedoms is bad for everyone regardless of their faith, and it’s terrible for civilisation.
More than that, it’s terrible for the Gospel. 1 Timothy tells us to seek godly leaders so that we’re free to proclaim the Gospel, that all people have a chance to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
If we Christians believe our own message, surely we want this freedom preserved—not merely for our own sake, but for all those God longs to save.
I’m convinced that religious freedom and right to life for the unborn are two of the most crucial issues come Saturday. In my everyday life, I’m limited in what I can do to influence these issues. But I can use my vote.
So I’ve emailed all the candidates who will be on my green and white papers this weekend. (It was so easy—do it for your electorate here). I’ve asked them where they stand on these issues, and I will rank them accordingly.
This is how I’ve resolved to vote like a Christian on Saturday. I don’t expect all Christians to agree. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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