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Who do Christians vote for? - Part I Last update: August 2013

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In our country voting in the federal election is compulsory. So, there’s no ‘opting out’ – you have to vote. But who do you vote for? Before you can answer that question you have to first know what you will be trying to achieve? This, in turn, depends on whether or not you are Christian? Because, for Christians, what you are trying to achieve likely is different to what non-Christians will want to achieve.

What distinguishes Christians from others is that they singularly and primarily hear what God says about an issue and then do it. Christians – irrespective of whether or not they are ‘good people’, or whether or not they have a ‘generous heart’ or even whether they acknowledge that Jesus is a real person – have the ability to hear God’s voice directly and for themselves. And then, as they have heard, they have the conviction of their hearts to do as He says without delay. Thus, Christians have faith, which is a function of hearing God and doing what He says. Non-Christians do not do that.

As such, success for a Christian is when he or she gets to hear God right and then adequately carry out His assignment for him or her notwithstanding the social or economic (or political) consequences thereof (refer Romans 1:16-17).

Non-Christians define success much differently. They rely primarily on other means to achieve their objectives. As such, they may rely on their natural abilities, or their training, or their experience, or even their contacts. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, it is not the way Christians primarily go about. Christians hear what God wants them to do and how, and then follow suit in the faith that what He is doing through them is the right thing.

And so, if that is how Christian politicians and non-Christian politicians go about, Christian voters and non-Christian voters do the same. Christian voters hear from God who they are supposed to vote for and then proceed without delay. Non-Christian voters, or perhaps disobedient Christian voters, look at the policies of the particular candidate or party, his or her qualifications or experience and then – for themselves – decide who the best person will be to achieve their idea of a suitable society. It is about their decision, not God's. As noted, this is not what Christians do.

You might wonder how I could be so ‘black and white’? It is simple really; the Bible is black and white about this issue. It does not leave anyone wondering about it. And, there is no in-between ‘shades of grey’. By "Christians" the Bible simply means those who count themselves under the covenant which God introduced with mankind following Jesus’ death and resurrection. According to this new covenant, God will pardon the sins of His people – that is His end of the deal. Our end of the deal is that we will hear what He says to our hearts individually and personally and then we will do it in humble obedience.

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12)

That is it. That is the new covenant. Christians have a part of it. Non-Christians do not.

And so, when candidates to a federal election put themselves out as “Christian” but privately define the Faith as, in essence, good moral behaviour or following a christian code of conduct, then you can know that such a candidate is not truly Christian. Because, Christians know how it is that they are Christian; they hear God and do what He says. Still, that does not stop you from voting for him or her. What stops you from voting for him or her is not the party they belong to or even how well they have represented the constituency in past years, but what God – through His Spirit and directly to your heart – tells you to do in terms of your vote.

So angry are we, sometimes, at the present government or the present candidate that we arrest the voting decision out of God’s hand and follow our own will on the issue. That is not only folly, it is disobedience. Christians look not at the policies, nor the history, nor the experience nor even the character of a person, but we hear what God says to us about it instead.

Last night I got to hear several candidates, during a ‘Meet Your Candidate’ community meeting arranged by a Christian lobby group, declare themselves ‘Christian’ on the basis that they follow Christian principles, or that they follow Christian traditions, or that they subscribe to a ‘Christian culture’. I am not exaggerating when I say that these people are deceived. Christianity is not defined in that way. Yet, what was of greater concern was that the Christian lobby group – who moderated the session – did not ask nor facilitate even one question about the candidates' personal convictions concerning the Christian faith. Not one. I know this because I submitted two questions in this regard. Neither were put to the candidates. Nor did the moderator come up with any of her own. And so, I have to conclude that even to the ‘Christian lobby group’, Christianity seems to be defined as the pursuit of Christian principles or Christian traditions or even Christian laws.

Then Jesus' words become clear: Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also (Matthew 23:26). Our community will not be clean on the basis of 'Christian laws' or 'Christian traditions' or 'Christians principles'. It will be clean when the people who live in it are indeed Christian - righteous before God: he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God (Romans 2:28-29).

Then makes sense my reservations about such 'Christian' initiatives; nowhere in the Bible does it actually say that the Christian Church should be involved in participating or sustaining the political landscape of any nation. On the contrary, the Bible makes three distinct declarations about Christians and civilian rule:

1. Soldiers of Christ do not get entangled with issues of this life (the social, political sphere we live in). (2 Timothy 2:4)
2. Submit wholeheartedly to the governing authorities placed by God over you. (Romans 13:1-2)
3. Pray for the governing authorities whom God placed there out of His own wisdom. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Period. No questions asked. Why? Because, so the Bible says, then:

1. we will live peaceable lives, and
2. it is good and acceptable to God in this way.

I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

No justification sought to ‘restore Christian traditions’ or to pursue the ‘Christian principles the nation was built on’. None of that. No justification. No personal wisdom. No deep political insight. None of that. Just obedience: 1) don’t get entangled with civilian (public) issues but be primarily concerned with godly, spiritual issues instead, 2) submit to the government of the day which was appointed by God, and 3) pray for that same government in all earnestly and sincerity.

It is simple really.

That is why it is disappointing, then, that all I needed to hear at the Meet Your Candidates session, as arranged by a Christian lobby group, was who hears God and who obeys Him? Yet, that is not what I got. What I got was ‘who has the best policy’ and ‘who will ensure the greatest economic growth for the region’ – the way a non-Christian approaches things.

Then springs to mind what Jeremiah records:Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5)

When we pray 'God bless our country', let us do that which indeed brings His blessing; let us hear God on who exactly to vote for, and let us do it without questioning.

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A typical response:

Dear Gerhard, 

I found that article quite intuitive, but didn't really help me with my decision making as to this election. I have a hard time deciding between the different parties since, it seems a little more chaotic this election and no one seems to be a perfect candidate. Any advice would help, since at this moment I don't have a clue as to what I should do. 

Regards, 

John 

My answer to a typical response:

Hi John,

Thanks for your response.

The ‘Who do Christians vote for?’ article is really designed to get you to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance on this and every other (important) issue in life. The key, therefore, is to get to learn to hear Him, which is a challenge at the best of times. That is why, as a Christian, you will strive to get this aspect of your spiritual walk in particular, very much right.

I have written other articles that relate to the above (Are you born again?, Enter His rest, Heavenly places). Answering the question of whether or not you have truly being born again, therefore, is step one.

Still, despite being born again, we have to cultivate listening to the Holy Spirit. I am doing this by doing chaplaincy services at the hospital – that way I have no choice but to listen to what God says to me because I do not always have the right words to share with people. I can say that the Holy Spirit has spoken to me very clearly at times. I am very appreciative of the fact that I have the opportunity to learn to hear Him in this way. It has been good. Now I can ask Him about other stuff, like what the Bible is saying, elections and so forth.

If you do not find yourself in that place, you can still ask Him and He will still answer you. God gives wisdom to anyone who asks Him in genuine faith (James 1:5-8). Thus, ask Him simply and in faith.

If you still do not hear Him, then write to the candidates and quiz them on their personal faith. The one(s) who hear the Spirit and does what He says are the ones on your shortlist. From there, use your own discretion to choose which candidate will bring what is good, not necessary what is nice. You need to be accountable with your vote. If not one of the candidates hear God and is obedient to Him, then consider the character of the party and the character of the person in question in addition to the policies you believe they will deliver. The party with the least hypocrisy, disingenuity and corruption is likely the right one – Jesus said by their fruit you will know them (Matthew 7:20). Of this the media should be helpful. In the United States PolitiFact is helpful. In Australia PolitiFact does the same thing.

I trust that helps. If you have other questions, please let me know. I can't say that I will have the right answer but I’ll try my best.

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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