Thoughts on Voting


I have a lot of respect for David Servant. I came across his ministry more than 10 years ago and his teaching helped me through a very vulnerable time.

Therefore I was very interested to see what he had to say when I received his articles with the title “For Whom Should You Vote”.

While he and I are in different countries with different political systems, the way Christians approach elections shouldn’t be too different, and like Servant’s homeland of America, we are also facing a federal election this year in Australia

The teaching has (to date) been presented in two parts. The first addresses the question of whether a Christian should vote or not (Servant stands on the “yes” side). The second part turns to what kind of candidates Christians should support.

The first question perhaps has less significance in Australia, where voting is compulsory. While some believers might still choose not to vote, their choice takes them outside of the law – so they have to consider the consequences for their decision, not only the civil law they break, but whether they are taking a valid spiritual path in breaking it.

It has always been my choice to vote.

The second question has wider significance, and is one that Christian voters can’t avoid. Having chosen to vote, how do we choose between candidates and political ideologies that are imperfect, and heavily flawed?

In this matter I disagree with Servant. He takes the single issue approach, focusing on attitudes to abortion. His choice would be to vote for an anti-abortion candidate above anyone else. To me that way is short sighted and is liable to make us overlook other serious policy problems – some of which can actually create pressures of poverty that add to the increasing number of abortions.

Yes, abortion is a serious evil prevalent in society today, but it is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. And rather than looking to politicians to legislate against abortion (something that experience shows that even those opposed to abortion won’t/can’t do anyway), a more effective way of approaching it would be to address the extreme poverty that makes abortion seem a necessary option for many.

In the current day there is a strong tendency for the political system to favour the rich. For at least three decades now, dominant political ideologies have looked to lowering taxes (particular for the wealthy) and making up the shortfall by cutting social and community services (which impacts the poor).

We’ve seen policies introduced that favour big corporations, allowing them to cut jobs in our own countries so the work can be outsourced to the “third world” where pay rates and working conditions don’t meet the standards required in our own countries. Those pushed out of work by these policies are then demonised, more or less labelled as lazy parasites, while the corporation bosses and shareholders profit from the lower production costs enabled through that outsourcing.

The increasing poverty created can be a strong motivation for seeking an abortion, making it hard for low or no income women to consider bringing a baby into the world in which the mother would struggle to survive and provide.

When I consider who gets my vote, I put aside that one issue standard favoured by David Servant and others, and I try to look at the whole picture. Recognising that no earthly government can legislate righteousness and moral behaviour, I try to consider who would be most likely to work towards a more equitable society where temptations towards immoral actions are reduced. As a general rule, fewer people are tempted to steal when they have access to honest work with adequate pay. And many women won’t feel the need to kill their unborn baby if they are more confident of providing and caring for a living child. (Of course there will always be those who choose immorality no matter what worthwhile opportunities are available to them – or what the law declares as unacceptable).

Servant recognises that he needs to make some kind of concessions with his vote if there are no anti-abortion candidates and so he turns his eyes to a wider view and looks to other issues to determine his vote.

That is the situation we generally face in Australia where anti-abortion politicians seem thin on the ground. And sadly those few Australian candidates who DO have an anti-abortion platform either have to compromise their stance to follow their party’s line, or they combine that stance with some very questionable philosophies and policies, often aligned with highly questionable religious beliefs.

And that is a very good reason to be cautious about basing one’s vote primarily on a candidate’s claim regarding their positon on abortion – that single issue stance can easily cover up a vast number of other issues no less destructive and immoral than abortion.

abu grahib

David Servant’s articles can be found here:
http://www.heavensfamily.org/ss/e_teachings/for-whom-should-you-vote-part-1
http://www.heavensfamily.org/ss/e_teachings/for-whom-should-you-vote-part-2

17 thoughts on “Thoughts on Voting

  1. Thank you Ian and David.
    Nothing related to politics is simple. It’s a world rife with lies, half-truths and broken promises. What you are encouraged to see isn’t always what you get, so voting decisions will never be easy.

  2. In NZ, whilst it is compulsory to enroll (on the electoral roll), to vote is not compulsory. Under the MMP system, we have two votes in our national elections, the first for an individual local candidate, the second for a political party, so we can either cast two votes, one vote (for either individual or party), or no votes.

    Our first choice is whether to vote or not, as Ian says: “…not easy”, and that may be influenced by the ‘beliefs’ of the individual candidates in our electoral area, as well as the policies of the various parties. Prayer is required for all those choices, as well as our own consideration and investigation.

    I note that the Davids – Servant and Pawson – are in agreement when they speak of the future millennial reign of King Jesus on Earth, that He will select those who are proven able and trustworthy in this current life, to fill any role that He may have for them at that future time… and I believe that He will take into consideration ALL choices we make, looking at the why and how we came to those choices. 🙂

  3. Hi Roger, we are in a unique position of belonging to one Kingdom (His) and being given a voice in the political system of another (where we live): but we should not confuse the two.
    Australia, NZ, the USA etc. are all secular nations with secular governments, ruling over predominantly non-believing populations. There will never be a perfectly Godly kingdom on earth until Jesus returns to establish the Millennial Kingdom you mention in your comment. Until then I try to base my political choices on what I see best reflects the nature of God’s Kingdom as a whole.

  4. One more thing Roger, while it’s compulsory to vote in Australia, in practice it means that you are required to attend a polling station and have your name marked on a copy of the electoral roll and be issued with a voting form. What is done with that form is up to the individual.

  5. “..Until then I try to base my political choices on what I see best reflects the nature of God’s Kingdom as a whole…”

    I’m in agreement with that 🙂

    “..What is done with that form is up to the individual…”

    Even with non-compulsory voting in NZ, we have a certain % of ‘spoiled’ voting papers.. 😉

  6. It’s the deuced question for Christians in democratic nations, isn’t it ? If we’re in (however miniscule) part responsible for the government of our nation: knowing that that government is not, and never will be, the Government (Kingdom) of God: “how do we choose between candidates and political ideologies that are imperfect, and heavily flawed ?”

    Given that every human factor in the political process is certain to be flawed, it seems unwise to predicate our choice on how we (with our own flawed nature) perceive the personalities, ideologies, parties, or professed “principles” of politicians. I’d consider the politicians’ (and ultimately, satan’s) manipulation of “issues” also makes that an untrustworthy guidepost.

    Even “issues” which embody a truly foundational Christian value, as abortion does, are so heavily manipulated to partisan advantage by both “sides” (the invariable fate of all political “issues”), that the spiritual truth of the matter is attenuated to the point of meaninglessness. I’m skeptical that voting for a candidate because he professes a Christian stance on an “issue” witnesses Christ. The manifest purpose of the candidate…even a sincere candidate…is self-advancement: and that’s nothing whatever of Christ.

    Increasingly, the only criteria that makes sense to me is God’s mandate to earthly “authorities.” If we talk about who we should choose as our human rulers, it makes sense to choose those we believe would DO what God says human rulers SHOULD do. We should vote for those who would be “a minister of God to you for good” (Romans 13:4). We should vote for those who would be “a minister of God…who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (ibid).

    blessings, Steve

  7. I guess “all that” makes Trump’s response to a question at one of his rallies as to whether or not Sanders is a follower of Jesus moot. His answer was, other than saying he didn’t know, “I’ll look into it.”

    My reaction is that there is no requirement to claim to follow Jesus in order to run for President of the United States. But I’m annoyed by some people who DO claim to. As for wrath on evil… hmmmm.

  8. It’s sad that many would vote according to a candidates CLAIMED relationship to Jesus. Some would be more likely to vote for someone like Trump if they profess to be a Christian than they would vote for someone with good policy, a demonstrated good morality and compassion, with an overall desire for a just and equitable society, if they made no claim to be a Christian.

    It’s another aspect to the single issue standard used to measure the worthiness of a candidate, where their professed stance on abortion is the sole deciding factor.

    I like what Steve said:

    … the only criteria that makes sense to me is God’s mandate to earthly “authorities.” If we talk about who we should choose as our human rulers, it makes sense to choose those we believe would DO what God says human rulers SHOULD do. We should vote for those who would be “a minister of God to you for good” (Romans 13:4). We should vote for those who would be “a minister of God…who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (ibid).

    In taking that view we need to recognise the SECULAR nature of earthly Governments; that secular politicians will operate out of a degree of ignorance. However, as Paul shows in Romans 2, man’s conscience bears witness to God’s expectations even when His “law” is absent.

    when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them

    Romans 13:

    For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

  9. I think we need to have order among those with “the sword” — observe this isn’t only swords.

  10. I think we need to have order among those with “the sword” — observe this isn’t only swords

    And that’s a good reason to hold politicians and authorities accountable to more than single issues.

    How many political administrations found themselves in power because Christians voted solely on an anti-abortion platform, and yet those “right to life” politicians have been responsible for countless executions and wars?

  11. “How many political administrations found themselves in power because Christians voted solely on an anti-abortion platform, and yet those “right to life” politicians have been responsible for countless executions and wars?”

    Amen ! How sincere, or thorough, how heart-deep, is a “pro-life” stance that’s OK with capital punishment and war ? Or, as you highlight in your original post, with inhumane economic (and social) policies ?

    And I HEARTILY agree that some who make no claim they’re qualified for office because they’re a Christian, are more qualified by the “secular” (which it’s not, of course) spirit of honesty and altruism in their heart.

    blessings, Steve

  12. An example of manipulating an “issue” as if there are just “sides” is Trump’s early appearance with a police union. This was for show… and the votes of those in such unions, and as many other votes as possible, of course. But it was mainly a showy move, and clever. It’s not like there are real politicians who are against the police (although libertarians and reactionaries among Republicans sometimes approach or cross such a line if they’re not careful). Later, when someone within his campaign was charged with a possible crime, Trump’s response when he was being interviewed on the news was, “Yeah, the police; how often are THEY right?”

  13. The picture you have included with your original posting, Onesimus, keeps reminding me of Klan’smen (if that is how it would be spelled). Clearly, the person is in back rather than white. I saw a presentation on CNN a few days ago wherein a somewhat famous black man visited several KKK locations to talk to the adherents about their thoughts and beliefs. One thing that stands out to me is that they ritually asked, “Do you receive the light of Jesus Christ?” “Yes, I receive the light of Jesus Christ,” they would say. And they used “crusade” terminology.

  14. That little photo come from the Abu Ghraib photos of American torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Several low-level military personnel were punished after the exposure of the treatment, but considering official US government policy of the time those punished were probably only following orders, or at least doing what they had been led to believe they were supposed to do.

  15. There’s a line of poetry that goes:

    Some of those that work forces
    are the same that burn crosses.

    A lot of what goes on in basic training is pretty horrible. Well, that is… to me, someone who has rhetorical values that go beyond “kill all outsiders” (to simplify the mentality). [I wont get into the fact stuff gets stolen; not such a big deal. You just buy more. I can see how that could become a problem.] On the CNN show, the klans’men said the white hoods mean they’re all equal (those in the group — the white superiors). Black hoods, I’m extrapolating, would mean THEY (outsiders/Arabs/Muslims/whoever) are “all alike.”

    The soldiers in training are marched around sing-songing, after their sergeants, terrible things to say. So, as “bad” as the rhyme I quoted from is, it’s in proportion and proper response to reality. And that’s not to mention plain ol’ terminologies they are trained to have. I don’t remember the current ones, but think along the lines of the old man in “Gran Torino” — don’t just chalk it up to him being an old man. He was a soldier who learned that stuff as a “kid” (or young man). And now it’s women too. But, yeah, sometimes it’s way worse than rhetoric and rhymes and ridicule. Like you really shoot people (whereas you don’t in training), hating and disrespecting people gets applied too.

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