What about Voting?
Are you wondering who to vote for in the 2016 Australia Federal election? Here are some suggestions on voting.
The links for your own research and consideration are at the end.
“They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
This is the passage we keep coming back to throughout this year. An accusation leveled at some of the first Christians, and one we would love to have levelled at us. That our allegiance would be to Jesus first, that we would be God’s allies. Long before we allied with anyone or anything else.
As God’s allies we have faith in God. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have questions. What about…? In this series we look at some of the big questions around faith and how we can begin to understand them. This series is designed to help us understand our faith and some of our own questions. It is also designed to help us engage others in conversations about faith around these difficult questions.
As a church we practice the Churches of Christ in QLD saying: “In essentials, unity. In non essentials, freedom. In all things, love.” This series won’t provide nice neat answers, but will provide some input and encourage the conversation around these questions.
Each week in the series we’re going to have the opportunity for you to ask questions around each topic. You can leave comments on each message on our website or contact us. If we get questions we’ll record a mid-week podcast each week with a response to each of the questions. That will go up on our website and through iTunes during the week. You can listen to the Q & A from this message here.
This week we’re kicking off the series with the question – What About Voting?
My friend Stuart Cameron from Newlife Uniting on the Gold Coast said on Facebook this week:
According to my wonderfully diverse Facebook community, if I claim to be a Christian there is no way I could vote for the Coalition (or any other party with a conservative leaning platform). Nor, according to that same community, could I vote for Labor or the Greens – and still claim to be a Christian. It seems my salvation is at risk come polling day.
That’s how it can feel sometimes. Your Christian friends, or Christian organisations, can make you feel like voting one way or another is the Christian thing to do. And to do anything else is entirely UNchristian! The problem is, good Christian people on all sides of politics will tell you that, no matter who you’re voting for.
So let’s backup a little and talk about why we vote first of all.
Respect Politicians & Politics
If the Bible says anything about our democracy, it’s: Respect politicians and the processes of politics.
The Bible doesn’t talk about how to vote in government elections. Because in the time the Bible was written – there weren’t government elections! We talked about this a couple of months ago when we talked about civil disobedience – when God would ask us to break the law like Daniel did. The Bible was written in different political times. In Jesus’ day Rome was the empire in control of most of the known world. Caesar was the head of the Roman empire. And into this context Jesus’ followers wrote things like this in Romans 13.
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honour to those who are in authority.
That includes voting. Voting is how our political system works, so we should get involved in voting as Christians. Not just because it’s the law. And not just turning up on election day and putting in a donkey vote – an incorrect vote that won’t be counted because you wrote “Jesus” on the ballot paper. But a real, genuine vote for a person or party. Play your part in our democracy, don’t waste your vote or your voice as God’s ally.
Show respect and honour for God’s authority by voting well on election day. Respect politicians and the processes of politics.
Pray for Politicians
In addition to voting, the Bible teaches us to pray for politicians too.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
Even if you don’t like them, pray for them. Even if you disagree with them, pray for them. Even if they don’t like you, pray for them. This is the example given to us by the apostle Paul, to pray for all who are in authority. Intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them.
It’s interested what Paul instructs us about why we should pray for our politicians. For God to help them, sure. But he doesn’t teach us to pray that they would make the decisions we want them to make so that we can live the way we want to. It’s so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives, without being oppressed by the government for our faith.
God doesn’t want everyone today to live life with his values, if they don’t first know him and choose him. Instead, we should pray that we have the freedom to live lives marked by godliness and dignity. Not oppressed for our faith. Because God will be pleased when we live this way, it’s this kind of living that he will use to lead people to be saved and to understand the truth. Government laws can’t save people, only God can do that. So pray that the laws would keep freedom for us as Christians to live God’s way.
Pray for peace and the ability to live a life of godliness and dignity.
Pray that politicians will know God, that God will help them, thank God for them.
How We Usually Vote
When it comes to how to vote as a Christian most people vote in one of these ways:
(this is based on an article by Scott J Higgins)
- Tradition. Some vote purely out of tradition. Their parents voted Liberal and they vote Liberal. Always have, always will.
- Self-interest. Some vote out of self-interest. Their vote will go to the party that they believe will put money in their pocket and public services at their disposal.
- Values. Some vote for their moral vision. Their vote will go to the party that they see representing their values.
Tradition Voter? Vote Carefully
If you are a tradition voter – you’ve always voted this way – these words from Proverbs are a helpful reminder.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
Rather than voting traditionally, vote carefully. Use wisdom when you vote, rather than only using ‘what you’ve always done’.
Do your research
- There are some links at the end of this article to do your own research.
- The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) offers questionnaires filled in by major parties.
- Ask God for wisdom
- Pray together with others (The National Day of Prayer and Fasting is organising #ausprays2016 events through their website.)
Think & Talk
Use the brain God has given you and the wisdom he has given you to think about who is a good person or party to vote for in this election. Talk things over with others. Not just to argue or debate, but to learn and grow together.
Self-Interest Voter? Vote for Others
If you are a self-interest voter, you may be voting based on how fast the NBN is going to be, which bridges are going to be upgraded on your commute, which subsidies will be available to you, r something like that.
God teaches us to not just think about ourselves though, but to consider the needs of others.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Don’t just vote out of self-interest. Vote for others.
Speak up on behalf of others. Consider the needs of others, not just your own needs.
This may be in economic policy. Not just what you are going to get out of it, but what you believe the benefit will be for others, for your children and your grandchildren.
This may be in foreign aid. Not just what Australia is going to get out of it, but what the benefit is for other countries, for the world.
This may be in treatment of refugees. Not just what your neighbourhood is like, but what the lives of refugees and asylum seekers are like in their own countries, in camps around the world, on boats in the ocean, in Australian detention centres.
Don’t just vote for yourself. Vote for others.
Values Voter? Vote Widely
If you are a values voter, someone who votes based on the values that are important to you, make sure you aren’t voting on just one issue. Vote widely.
1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
While this verse is about life now compared to life in eternity, it reminds us that God sees the big picture. For everyone’s life. For Australia. For the world.
It’s easy for us as Christians to get caught up in the media, in our own fears and in our experience and get stuck on just one issue. In this election – marriage equality. It is a big issue, in lots of ways, and we’ll talk about God’s perspective on some of those issues in the weeks to come. But it is just one issue in this election. It is just one value.
Some Christian voting resources are very helpful, but for many of them, their primary issue this election is marriage equality. For some of them it’s their only issue. They have very little, if anything, to say about treatment of poor and oppressed people, or about the impact of our country on God’s creation, for example. Instead of sticking with just one issue, vote widely.
Sometimes a Christian is standing for election. Just because they say they are a Christian, doesn’t mean you should vote for them. That would be a good reason, if God is going to use them in the political system. But vote more widely than just one factor. What are their policies? Are they a capable leader? Instead of sticking with just one issue, vote widely.
Vote Freely with Conviction
Finally, apart from following the links below to do your own research, the last thing I would say is to vote freely, with conviction.
As you pray, research, think and talk about who to vote for, ask God to give you conviction from him about how to vote. Don’t be caught up by who everyone else is voting for. What they post on Facebook, how passionately or aggressively they hand you how to vote cards on Saturday morning, how burnt or uncooked your sausage is at the BBQ on the way in to the polling booth. Don’t worry about answering the question if ‘that person’ asks you later who you voted for. You’ll always find solid Christians who agree with you and solid Christians who disagree with you. So vote freely, with conviction from God.
Midweek Q & A
We recorded some responses to questions about this topic here.
Links for your research
#ausprays2016 for praying together with others around Australia
How to vote Christianly by John Dickson
Religion and politics is like ice-cream and manure: they don’t mix by Jarrod McKenna
Why I Won’t Vote Values by Scott J Higgins
Gospel-Shaped Politics by Richard Glover & Michael Allison
Democracy Sausage to find the best sausage sizzle and bake sale at a polling booth near you!
What About…? series
To listen in or read along with the rest of the series follow the links below: