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.
David Servant’s articles can be found here: