On Saturday 17th March, South Australians will head to the polls to elect our next State Government. Who should Christians vote for?
I’d love to give you a ‘How to Vote’ card, if I thought the Bible provided definitive answers. But whilst it doesn’t, it does provide clear guidance about the principles we should apply to voting. In a useful article, John Dickson gives us some great tips, which I’ve summarised below.*
How not to vote
1. Precedent: ‘how we always vote’
Christians are called to love God ‘with all our mind.’ This means ensuring our vote is a thoughtful vote. ‘I’ll vote x because I’ve always voted x’ is not a thoughtful vote. Issues change. So do party’s platforms on them. Think about who you will vote for based on the issues, not your generally preferred party.
2. Christian favouritism
Don’t vote for candidates just because they’re believers. By all means vote for them if they are also good candidates! But theologically speaking, good government is not the special preserve of believers. Romans 13 makes it clear that even the pagan government of Rome was ‘established by God.’ Vote for who you think will govern best, not just for ‘one of us.’
3. Economic prosperity
Christians believe economic prosperity is good. God has made a good world full of good things to enjoy. But we don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all of society. Money is good, but the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Remember that when the parties boil down everything to ‘the economy’.
How to vote
1. For the good of others, especially the poor and weak
First and foremost, a Christian vote is a vote for others, not for yourself. ‘Consider others better than yourselves’ (Philippians 2:3). In particular, we should vote for the good of the poor and weak. ‘Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked’ (Psalm 82:3-4).
2. For the moral health of the community
Although Christians have no right to impose our way of life on a secular society (‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?’ – Paul, 1 Corinthians 5:12), we do believe society will do best when it follows the principles of its Creator. As such, ask which parties best promote the values applauded by God.
3. For the gospel
Christians are to live for the eternal good of others. Some forms of government are better or worse for this. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul tells us to pray for our leaders ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives’ because ‘this is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved.’ Clearly, Paul sees living a peaceful and quiet life as a chance to share the gospel. We will do well, then, to vote for whomever we think will give us a better shot at living an evangelistically free life.
And, of course, as John Dickson points out, we should do all this prayerfully, knowing that it is God who sits on the throne of his world, and hence in whose hands all of our lives sit.
*The full article can be found here: https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/mixing-religion-and-politics/