Vote for others:
"a Christian vote is a vote for others, not oneself. It is fundamental to the Christian outlook that life be devoted to the good of others before oneself..."
I get that on one level, but I find that hard to figure out on another. For example I take it what's ultimately best for all people is to hear about Jesus. I take it then, that a vote for others has to be a vote for a party that does not have a semi militant secular world-view at its heart no matter how nice their policies are in some areas.
Vote for the moral health of the community:
Basically he says, we need to figure out how our vote will reflect and shape the moral health of the community. A fair point. As an aside at this point, he argues that 1 Corinthians 5:12 "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?" means Christians have "no right to seek to impose a Christian way of life on a largely secular society." This doesn't quite wash for me. Firstly, it's hard to make Paul's statement in the context of church discipline a statement backing up how a Christian should live in a democracy. Secondly, Christians don't impose a Christian way of life on a largely secular society ever or at all. What we do is advocate for the best positions. We advocate that the best marriage is between a man and a woman, we advocate that children shouldn't be killed before they are born, we advocate that euthanasia is more complicated than simply 'individual rights'. We advocate that life is special and that people shouldn't be killed. We advocate that we should be good stewards of our environment. And on and on we go. What happens after we state these positions is the government must make a choice. It is and always has been the government that 'imposes' a way of life on those it governs. If Christians do not advocate their views, then the government will impose/allow what we believe to be poorer ways of living life. As it has done in places already. What am I saying in all this. That Christians should use their vote as part of their role as advocates for a better world. The problem is... no one has the perfect vision.
Vote for the poor and the weak:
Next up, Dickson says that,
"in voting for the ‘other’ the Christian will principally have in mind the poor and powerless. We will use our vote for those who need our vote more than we do."
But I'm in a bit of a bind here too... How do I weigh the treatment of poor people (refugees and overseas aid) against issues such abortion and euthanasia? I leave the marriage question out of this for a moment, because as I take it that these issues I've just mentioned are about the protection of people. Yes the question of abortion and euthanasia might be framed in terms of 'individual rights', but in actual fact these questions involve the protection of people who cannot speak for themselves (babies not yet born, and the elderly who may be feeling rejected by family and society). So too those overseas and fleeing who cannot vote for us to be more compassionate. I have no idea how I can weigh up these things. For me then, my vote therefore must be decided on other categories.
Vote for the gospel:
Here he says,
"Concern for the advancement of the Christian message throughout Australia, therefore, will potentially play a part in a Christian’s voting patterns. Is one party better for the gospel than another?"
That's a good question. And people will go either way on the answer. I don't think the answer to that question can be discovered through individual policies. A broader approach is needed.
Michael Tate (former Labor minister in the Hawke Government and now our neighbouring Roman Catholic parish priest) debated Andrew Wilkie at our church a few months ago around issues of church and state. His view was that in the end the role of government is primarily about the distribution of wealth. That is, the left wants to kinda level the playing field (tax the rich give back to the poor, very crude understanding I know) and the right wants to encourage incentive, some say let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer (though that's an unfair understanding also I think).
And I think this provides something of a window into how I will decide to vote tomorrow. If I'm voting along party lines then what I need to take into account is not policy but worldview. Not abortion vs refugee but which party's worldview is best. Which party has a less troubling set of guiding principles? And in part, if government is primarily about economics, then who has the best economic policy that allows us freedom as individuals to be generous, that creates work for people to do which from a Genesis 1 point of view is one of the best things we can give people. Which party ultimately will not only allow churches the freedom to speak The Gospel but also the homosexual lobby the freedom to speak their gospel.
I'm still not sure how I will vote tomorrow but one thing I do know is this. I will be praying for whoever wins and this is Dickson's final point.
"A Christian vote is a prayerful one. The Scriptures urge believers to pray for leaders and for governments. And, ultimately, believers will see this as more important even than their vote.
I couldn't say it better myself.
What principles or ideas are going to shape how you vote tomorrow?