Some thoughts on voting
by Matt Cairns
The question of ‘how an Australian Christian should vote’ in any election does not have one easy straightforward answer, as not all Australian Christians think alike. Additionally, it is highly possible that there will not be one party that completely fulfils your voting wish-list, as all parties will have policies that you agree with and ones that you do not. Even the ‘Christian’ parties have competing voices because they all have a varying focus (in an Australian context we have the Christian Democratic Party, Australian Christians, and pseudo-Christian party Family First).
So how should we approach casting our vote this election given this policy dilemma?
BE THOUGHTFUL – Approach your decision with the understanding that politics is more than party politics. We must move beyond “I’ve always voted Liberal” or “My family has always voted Labor” and instead look at how our involvement in politics can shape a fairer and more just society regardless of party persuasion.
LOOK TO SCRIPTURE – Look to scripture, but in doing so be aware that we often twist it to affirm our political vision rather than letting it inform our vision. Theologian Dr. Graham Hill explains: “Good political decision making requires biblical literacy. And this biblical interpretation must be complemented by theological enquiry, formation in community, spiritual growth, self-reflection, participation in mission and ministry through community, and passion for the mission of Christ.” Understanding what scripture is saying about how we do our part for the Kingdom of God means we not only read the words, but we reflect, engage, and act upon them. In an election period, we use this wider sense of looking to scripture to help inform our decisions.
CONSIDER JUSTICE – Consider how a party’s overall platform rates for justice. From a social justice aspect, do they make including the excluded easier or harder? Do they challenge cultural practices that perpetrate ongoing abuses of justice and mercy? Do they confront the powerful over unjust behaviour? And do their policies advocate for the oppressed or do they simply solidify the status-quo? Ask yourself ‘does the overall direction of their policies make the Kingdom of God come closer or seem further away’?
LOOK BEYOND – Don’t let you vote at the ballot box be the end of your thinking in regards to politics. Elections rarely solve all our problems, and as followers of Jesus we are called to engage in bringing about his Kingdom here on earth at all times. We are called at all times to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isa. 1:17) and it is through engaging with our political system that we can bring about change that is worthy of the Kingdom of God, not only to Australia but to the world.
ABOVE ALL, BE THANKFUL – We live in a democratic society in which we can freely and safely cast our vote. Millions of people around the world don’t have this opportunity so even when the politicians play their political games, don’t be discouraged. Instead be thankful we have the opportunity to help shape our society.