ADVERTISING
 
Sunday, September 15   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



John Dickson
 

The ‘Christian vote’

First and foremost, a Christian vote is a vote for others.

SOLAS AUTHOR John Dickson 24 JANUARY 2017 13:18 h GMT+1
building, floor Photo: Sergio Rola (Unsplash, CC)

Much has been said about the ‘Christian vote’, an expression often associated with those nasty right-wing religious nuts imposing their morals on a secular society.



Given that in many democracies around the world the majority of the population still call themselves Christian, at least according to census records, it is important to clarify what the Christian vote really means.



Christians should be willing to change voting patterns after Christian reflection on particular policies. A believer who cannot imagine voting for the ‘other side’ has either determined only one party aligns with the will of God or, more likely, is actually more attached to their cultural context than to the wisdom of scripture. Voting patterns, of believers or otherwise, are sometimes based on little more than family heritage or geographical location. This is unreflective and sub-Christian.



Equally inadequate is voting for a candidate simply because he or she is a Christian. This is religious favouritism. Having Christians in parliament is no guarantee — or even indicator — that a nation will be marked by peace, justice, compassion and truth.



For the first 300 years of Christianity — until Emperor Constantine — believers had no representation in government. That didn’t stop them establishing hospices and food programs and experiencing spectacular missionary expansion. I wouldn’t be the only historian who doesn’t dispute the argument Christianity has often fared better without political authority.



That said, to deny Christians a voice in contemporary society would be ridiculous. Despite low weekly church attendance, recent surveys reveal that Australia, where I live, has high rates of Christian belief. And Australia is certainly not unique in producing these types of statistics; many democracies around the world can lay claim to similar (and in some cases higher) rates of Christian belief. While these countries rightly have secular governments, they are not ‘secular countries’.



So, what principles guide the ‘Christian vote’?



First and foremost, a Christian vote is a vote for others. It is basic to the Christian outlook that life is to be devoted to the good of others before ourselves. In the political realm, Christians should use whatever influence they have to contribute to others, to ‘consider others better’ than themselves.



Typically, the small business operator decides to vote for the party that promises to do more for small business. Union members vote for the party guaranteeing more power to the unions. Company managers with staffing issues tend to support the party offering the most flexible industrial relations policy. Such voting considerations are inadequate for Christians, who will endeavour to put private interests aside and seek to serve the wider community.



Secondly, the moral health of our community will provide another motivation for the Christian vote. This is a tricky one to explain (to believers as well as non-believers). The church has no right to try and impose a Christian moral code on the country. That said, Christians believe a society’s health depends (in part) on living as God designed. You can’t blame believers for pondering which party or policies will promote those values: justice, harmony, sexual responsibility, honesty, family and mercy.



I suspect that most believers are thoughtful enough not to expect a non-Christian prime minister or president to live by Christian ideals in every case. Just because a politician doesn’t pray should not – in the opinion of a believer – disqualify them for high office. It would be different if a prime minister/president were found to be having an affair. That should deeply trouble Christians (and many others) because it would call into question the leader’s self-control, faithfulness and integrity in relationships, qualities crucial for leadership. Christians should not separate ethics from competency.



The moral concerns of Christians invite the designation ‘right-wing’ and ‘conservative’. The tag isn’t entirely inaccurate, though in other respects the Christian view will appear ‘left-wing’ and ‘liberal’. The gospels make clear Jesus was a right-wing liberal and a left-wing conservative.



Thirdly, Christians should think of promoting the Christian message. The missionary dimension of Christianity runs deep. Is one party better for this than another? One day, a particular policy may work against a Christian’s freedom to proclaim Christ. In that case, Christians would be sensible to vote to prevent that outcome.



Finally, Christians will principally have in mind the poor and powerless. The mandate for this throughout scripture is overwhelming. Voting for the underprivileged in society has traditionally been seen as a vote for the party that represents the working class (usually Labour or similar). Others argue the most effective way of helping the poor and weak is to increase prosperity at the top so that wealth can trickle down to those who need it most. This has traditionally been put by Conservatives.



I don’t make a judgment about either model, but underline that a Christian vote is one sincerely motivated by a concern for the disadvantaged, be they elderly, unemployed, homeless or seeking asylum.



For Christians (and, of course, for others too), the bottom line is not the bottom line. If you live in the West then it is highly probable you enjoy the prosperity that flows from living in the developed world. The economic bottom line, then, is just a tool for opening up greater national goods.



Christians ought to resist the temptation to vote for the party they think will shave more off their tax bill or add a percentage point more to GDP. They should be thinking of others. Nothing else can be called a Christian vote.



Dr John Dickson is a director of the Centre for Public Christianity.



This article was published with permission of Solas magazine. Solas is published quarterly in the U.K. Click here to learn more or subscribe.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - The ‘Christian vote’
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process Arie de Pater: Refugees deserve a fair and efficient process

The Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance offers a Christian perspective on the crisis: “We can’t reduce people to just a number that needs to be controlled”.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees

Thousands still cross the border to Colombia every week, and many continue on foot into the interior. Christian young people have set up an aid station along the road.

 
What are some biblical models of social and political reformers? What are some biblical models of social and political reformers?

“As Christians today, we live in a Babylon of our own, but we can be morally distinctive and obedient to Christ”, Peter Saunders, CEO Christian Medical Fellowship, says.

 
How has Christianity influenced the modern world? How has Christianity influenced the modern world?

Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics of Palm Beach Atlantic University, explains how many key features of Western civilization, are the legacy of the biblical faith being lived out by believers in society.

 
Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one' Chinese Homecoming Gathering: Thousands say 'we’re one'

Christians from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and North America, from different ethnic backgronds, came together to pray for unity as the body of Christ.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.