In te United Kingdom we are facing one of the most closely contested elections in our history, the opinion polls are all united in one fact no one and that is no one can predict the outcome. With the arrival of UKIP and the Greens as national parties and the increase of nationalism in Scotland and Wales the next Parliament could look very different from the present one. Some suggest that we will end up with minority government. In this context Christians need to consider how they will vote.
Some organisations are trying to mobilise Christians to vote on a one issue basis, emails are being sent out telling us that we should vote for this one because they opposed gay marriage or because they are anti-abortion. This is not a sufficiently broad basis for us to make our minds up on. We are faced with the fact that the leaders of the three major parties all support both gay marriage and abortion. That is why it was so easy for parliament to change the marriage laws so that we now have departed from our Christian foundation in this area. Some Christians are taking the attitude that all parties are bad so I will not vote, this leads to the fact that our voice as Christians will not be heard, we need to vote and take part in the democratic process in accordance with Christian principles. Let me spell out some principles that should affect our decision making.
Firstly God is Sovereign over all thing and that includes the United Kingdom, the ultimate sovereignty that we recognise is not the Queen or the people but that of God, as Christians we are called to live out lives in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are therefore people who realise that the principles that should guide us are found in the pages of the Bible.
Secondly, The dignity and importance of all human life, all people are made in the image of God and must be treated with the love and respect that God has commanded us to give. There is no room for Racism or totalitarian ideas in the Christian framework. The Christian view is naturally pro-life but this must not be seen in a narrow sense. To be pro-life logically means to be opposed to immoral armaments that cause mass destruction as well as being opposed to abortion and euthanasia. To be pro-life means to seek true justice for all. The danger is that if we conceive the idea too narrowly we will end up electing people who will have unjust policies in other areas. For more on this see http://pneumaandlogos.com/2012/10/18/what-does-it-mean-to-be-pro-life/
Thirdly, Economic Justice, the Bible is concerned about the plight of the poor and indeed in the Laws of Jubilee sets forth a mechanism for the redistribution of wealth. The prophets denounced those who exploit and called for justice in society, Jesus came with good news for the poor. This means that we must oppose the whole concept of zero-hours contracts where people are exploited not knowing whether they will be able to work or not. On the other extreme bankers and other business men are lining their pockets with unjust bonuses even when their companies are being bailed out by the government. I wonder at times if we should introduce a maximum wage to stop this unjustified income.
International Justice, We need to maintain aid to poor countries to suggest otherwise is to avoid our responsibilities as a nation, for years as a colonial power we exploited these same nations and we should make amends through giving aid to them now.
We also need to remember that we serve the Prince of Peace and we must be seeking true wholeness in the world. This world is a dangerous place and it is our task to be agents of the Kingdom of God as such we are called to bring truth and reconciliation to bear in the in the international situation. In the West we have been quick to condemn other nations for having weapons of mass destruction yet we cling onto our nuclear weapons. The use of nuclear weapons can never be justified from a biblical point of view, their use goes against any just war theory let alone the Biblical injunctions, to not destroy fruit trees etc. This nation was wrong in its way that it bombed Dresden in the second world war, nothing can justify such carnage. So we need to ask of our political parties will they work for peace.
Thirdly caring for people. The National Health Service is under threat from many quarters and we must strive to protect it, so that it can go on providing first-class medical treatment to all who need it. We must make sure that it stays a free service so that medical bills are not added to everybody’s daily concerns. The NHS I was always taught and I believe today enshrines so much of value from our Christian past.
We need also to be active in supporting any attempts that deal with the modern day slavery of human trafficking, We must make sure that those who are doing these things are brought to Justice but we must seek the restoration and healing of the oppressed.
I can not and will not tell anyone who to vote for but these are among the principles that I will apply to reading the Party Manifestos when they are published in the coming few days.
We need to be praying that the number of Christian Members of Parliament will be increased and that the group “Christian in Parliament” may increase in numbers and through that the cause of Christ will be advanced in Westminster. For more details about the work of Christians in Parliament see their website http://christiansinparliament.org.uk/
For more useful information see the Christians in Politics website http://www.christiansinpolitics.org.uk/showup/
and also the Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics website