The Victorian State election is coming up on Saturday 29 November. That gives us a month-long political campaign during which we will hear of many promises from all parties that will seek to buy our vote – all with money that we don’t have. So, particularly as a Christian, what should I consider on polling day?
I’ve heard some well-intentioned (but misguided) Christians say that they don’t vote because they believe in leaving the choosing of a government up to God Himself. It sounds spiritual but doesn’t take into account that God isn’t registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, and neither is Australia a Theocracy!
Listening to others you would think that God – and Christianity – is always on the side of conservative politics. But sometimes the “Right” gets it wrong. That doesn’t mean that Jesus would necessarily be a labor voter either – nor would He always condone voting for a Christian politician. Some politicians who’ve identified as Christian have brought embarrassment on the church and the Name of Jesus by ostracizing the broader community that God loves and Jesus gave His life for.
So, for whom should we vote on November 29? Let me provide four guidelines for you to consider:
- Remember that you’re ultimately voting for your LOCAL member not the person who will become Premier. Why not contact your local member(s) and ask them two or three questions on issues that concern you? Then vote according to your conscience. (Mentone Baptist Church is hosting a “Meet the Candidates” evening from 7.30 on Monday 10th November).2
- Resist the temptation to criticize your leaders. That doesn’t mean that we can’t disagree or engage in vigorous debate, but it does mean that we choose not to turn the debate into a personal attack. Politicians are human beings, they are people, and they are fallible. Most of them are very good people who have a desire to make this state a better place. The Bible instructs us to respect, pray for and challenge our leaders (see Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Exodus 22:28; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). When the apostle Peter told his readers to “honour the king” he was speaking of Nero. He didn’t say they had to agree with him or even like him but they were to honour the position he held. Let’s resist the temptation to engage in the popular Aussie pastime of pollie-bashing.
- Realize that Jesus came to initiate the kingdom of God. He came for much bigger purposes than Australian politics, but that doesn’t mean He is disinterested in our country. He loves Australia; He loves people, He loves His creation. The entire Bible echoes God’s love and concern for people. In Micah 6:8, the prophet reminds us of three things that God wants to see reflected in every life and thus in every nation: “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Social justice, mercy and humility feature highly in the will of God for humanity. Jesus’ Golden Rule is also an important consideration, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). So our voting should not just be about selfish concerns of personal comfort. Our vote should support those who will reflect love and care towards the poor, the homeless, the marginalised and the oppressed. If we were in their place how would we want others to treat us? Who do you think has the best credentials and policies for managing the economy, developing education & health services, and caring for the environment, the disabled, single parents, the homeless and so on? I understand that it’s hard to actually work out who will uphold these values the best but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try.
- Access and complete the ABC’s Vote Compass at http://www.abc.net.au/news/vic-election-2014/vote-compass/
Vote Compass is an educational tool developed by political scientists. By answering a short series of questions you can discover how you fit in Victoria’s political landscape. It will tell you which party is right for what is important to you.
I encourage you to prayerfully and intelligently consider your vote on November 29, and appreciate the fact that you live in a country where you get to vote. Make your vote count and show up on polling day.