Voting at the Federal Elections 2016
(Distributed as an article at church 26 June 2016)
I thought it necessary that I should give some food for thought as you prayerfully think about how you will vote in the 2016 Federal Election.
Firstly, I want to talk about politics in the Bible. Israel was a political theocracy (meaning that God was recognised as head of state). The new Israel is the church, where God is still the head of our state (i.e. the kingdom of God), but it is no longer tied down to a discrete land but is spread within all the nations of the world.
The lack of direct involvement in the world’s politics is most evident with Jesus. I think it quite telling that although the Roman occupation in Israel was the hottest issue of the time, Jesus’ was rather silent about the matter. When asked about paying taxes to Caesar he simply replied, “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Matt 22:21).” Perhaps most tellingly, he responded to Pilate that, “My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).” The biggest political issue for Jesus (as it should be for us) is always the Kingdom of God, which is coming and is about to come to bring ultimate justice and righteousness. So you won’t find me talking a great deal about politics of the world. This church will be always mostly about the submitting to the just and good rule of God through Jesus Christ in whatever political climate we live in. (By the way, what this also means is that we are not really a Christian nation as such. We never have been and never will be this side of eternity, but of course that is not to say Christians have not exerted significant influence in the past, and may it still be! However, we can’t really think to ever be able to “restore” a Christian-nation as such. Our kingdom is still coming.)
Nevertheless, we need to talk about not just politics in the Bible but also biblical politics. The Bible has something to say about the politics of the day. Furthermore, as opposed to the first century where all Christians were to simply submit to the then authorities with no say on who those authorities should be, we on the other hand, have a say. We have both a privilege and a duty to be involved in that process. So what does this mean? We should joyfully and dutifully engage in the process of taking part in building a government for this country. After all, every governing authority is ultimately accountable to God, and the more righteous the laws of a country are, the more it will reflect God’s good rule which is beneficial for all.
All these things mean that we should to resist the tide of political apathy that seems to be affecting the majority of the nation. This might mean that we consider projecting a “political voice” in the public sphere by voting for a “Christian” party (e.g. Christian Democrats. See the Jefferies for more information if you want to help them at polling booths etc.). But what it will certainly mean that we should be thinking hard about which political party demonstrates the character and competence to govern For example, do they have a coherent and credible system of policies that will be good for economics, defence, education, health, social issues (e.g. their policies on marriage redefinition), immigration, foreign aid, environment, etc? The reality is that no political party will match all our desires so of course we need to exercise godly wisdom.
I have my own views on where the major issues lie, who should govern and how one should vote. But more than telling you what my views are, I am more interested that we are each growing in godly wisdom and putting all things in the right perspective. And ultimately, whatever the make-up of Parliament is, we must remember that God has placed them there, God commands us to submit to them (Rom 13:1), but we have an even greater king who is above them.
Your brother in Christ,
P.S. You may also want to check out Vote Compass on the ABC website to know where you stand on the political spectrum, and the current edition of the Pulse magazine to understand where the church’s stand in the marriage issue.