In case you hadn’t noticed, our country has been plunged into yet another federal election campaign. The TV ads are rolling, the partisan speeches are spewing, the promises are coming, and most people aren’t paying attention. We live in a culture where Canadians, for the most part, are so fed up with politics that they’ve just decided to tune out most of it. I don’t blame them.
I’ve got a problem though. My problem is a unique and unfortunate appetite for Canadian politics. In fact, I enjoy Canadian politics so much it was my major at St.FX University. I know, I’m warped. I actually thought about being a politician one day. I thank God He had other plans and called me to the business of Truth.
But what about all this election nonsense? Is it fine to just ignore it and not bother voting? Or maybe you will vote, but you’ll vote the way you always have in the past just because that’s how you always vote, regardless of the issues. Is that okay?
In February of 2009 I attended a lecture series by Dr. Ron Sider at Acadia University. In one of the lectures he talked about politics, and he made some very good points. Here are some of his thoughts combined with my own…
Christians should be politically involved.
If we say that Jesus is the King of Kings, then we have made a political statement. And if we truly believe that Jesus can transform our communities, our provinces, our country, then Christians must take a great interest in these places and who is running them. The leaders and governments are the people who make decisions that affect us all. It is important that we play our role in electing godly men and women, and getting involved politically in other ways when issues arise that we should speak to as believers.
Christian political involvement should be informed from a Biblical worldview.
We have to guard against the habit of voting according to political party affiliation. Instead of aimlessly voting for the same party every time, it is vital for Christians to thoroughly look at all the issues, and to vote according to where the parties stand on the issues in light of the Word of God.
Ron Sider suggested these key Biblical paradigms that should inform how we vote and what we stand for as Christians:
1. The sanctity of human life. God is the giver of life, and all humans are made in the image of God. We are precious to him and no human has the right to take life. We can ascertain from Scripture that life begins at conception, since King David understood that he was known and loved by God even while he was yet in the womb. The abortion debate is obviously one that we must consider – where do the parties stand on this? Of course, sanctity of life goes far beyond abortion. Life begins at conception, but it doesn’t end at birth. Which parties are promoting other “pro-life” ideas such as feeding the hungry, supporting health care and healthy living, etc?
2. Freedom of religion. As Christians (and especially as Baptists) we thoroughly enjoy our freedom of religion. It gets a little tricky when it comes to allowing others the same freedom. But, in fairness, if we want to be free to worship Jesus, we must support freedom of religion for all. Are the political parties standing up for this principle?
3. Strong families, sexual morality and heterosexual marriage. In all honesty, we’ve lost the debate on this one. No government would ever get away with reversing laws such as gay marriage… and that’s okay. It’s not our job as Christians to legally force people to abide by our moral standards. That would be obnoxious. However, we have moral standards nonetheless, and if we believe that all we do should be done according to our Biblical ethical worldview, then we should know where the parties stand on Biblical principles of family and sexuality, and vote accordingly.
4. Justice. Justice is a huge theme in the Bible. God is just and he wants us to be just as well. Justice refers to fair courts, fair economic relationships, and so on. Sometimes we think that justice means criminals “getting what they deserve” – but of course, Jesus taught and demonstrated forgiveness and restoration for those who have done wrong – in a sense, “restorative justice.” Which political parties seem to understand Biblical themes of justice?
5. Special concern for the poor. This is another huge theme of Scripture. God loves the poor and needy with a special kind of compassion and insists we, his people, do the same. Jesus was homeless, said it was tough for rich people to go to heaven, and spent most of his time with poor and average people. Where do the parties stand on policies that will help the poor and needy and marginalized?
6. Responsible care for creation. The environment is God’s handiwork. Though God has given humans authority over creation to use for our benefit and enjoyment, he never gave us permission to wreck it. He still owns the planet – we’re supposed to be looking after it for Him. How does each party balance our freedom to gain from creation, with our responsibility to protect and care for it?
7. Peace. Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Jesus wasn’t talking about war when he said this. I highly doubt Jesus was a pacifist, since He plans on returning to earth as a warrior and fighting the Battle of Armageddon. He was talking about “shalom-makers” those who bring peace between people. Those who don’t cause divisions and fights but those who bring unity and a spirit of cooperation. I think if our Parliament wanted to learn any Biblical lesson they could stand to learn this one. At the moment, they look more like spoiled kids fighting in the playground than Right-Honourable elected representatives. Which parties and leaders are interested in cooperation in Parliament for the good of the Country?
I hope that every Christian examines the platforms, visions, and track records of each party and leader and makes an informed decision stemming from a broad Biblical worldview. That’s how we ought to vote. I wish it was easier, but it’s not.
Unfortunately, there’s no party who currently represents a Biblical worldview completely. I wonder if I should rethink my calling…