Another election is upon us and the question we’re all now called to answer is “Who should I vote for?” In case you are wondering I am not going to answer that question for you!
Instead, I thought I would share some thoughts over the coming weeks on the sort of things Christians should be thinking about as we consider politics in general and specifically how we should vote.
The first thing that must be said is that there are no how to vote cards in the Bible! Nowhere in the Bible is there a passage that says this is how you should vote. Why is that? We have to remember that back when the Bible was written government was very different to today. There was no democracy. Instead, the Emperor or King was the authority and he appointed his governors and rulers however he wanted. Who you voted for was a moot point.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Bible has nothing to say on the topic. Instead, what it means is that we have to take the teaching of the Bible and apply it to our different situation. The Bible must still set our agenda.
Even so, the silence shows us that the Bible is less concerned with questions of choice or who we vote for and more concerned with our attitude to the government. There are two key passages on that question in the New Testament that you might like to read (Romans 13 & 1 Peter 2).
In those passages we see some important things about Christians and their attitude to government. Most importantly, Christians are called to submit to the government. There are no exceptions to this. Even if I voted for the opposition or disagree with the policies, as a Christian I am called to submit to the government. Why? Because the Bible is very clear that God has established all earthly authorities.
Kevin Rudd thought the people of Australia elected him. Julia Gillard thinks that she came to power by the will of her party. And now Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister again by the will of the ALP Caucus. In an earthly sense they were both right, however behind all of this politicking is God’s hand is at work. Every authority, whether we think it is good or bad,is put there by God.As a result, when we fail to submit to those authorities, we are actually rebelling against God himself.
Of course the key question is, what does that submission look like? First and foremost submission means respect and obedience.God has set our government up to keep order in our country. They do God’s work of rewarding good and punishing evil. As a result, no matter how much we might disagree with them on some issues, they are worthy of our respect.
Sadly, Australians on the whole and even Christians are better at whingeing about our government than re- specting our government. The Australian way is to mock and disparage our government leaders. As we come to this election, well before we come to decide who we will vote for, as Christians, we should make sure that we honour and respect those who govern.
(Next week we will consider some more of the Bible’s teaching on Chris- tians and elections).