Being Christian and Voting in South Africa

My view on this article has changed to some degree, particularly with regards to the Christian Voters guide. To read my understanding as it is now please click here once you have read this article

Here in South Africa, municipal elections are almost upon us. As a Christian who believes that Jesus is Lord of all of life, I once again am thinking through the way I vote, as it is a good practice to question the things we do in the spirit of Semper Reformanda (Always Reforming). The reason we need to think biblically about voting is because the only thing that can actually change this country is the gospel, since all social/national/relational problems are actually sin problems. It is like marriage, there is no such thing as a ‘marriage problem’, there are only character flaws and sins that effect a marital relationship, in the same way there is no such thing as ‘political problems’, rather there are sinners (like me) in politics who instead of using God’s Word as a guide by which to rule, they follow their hearts and do what seems right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

As Christians we have been commanded to obey and respect the government (Romans 13:1- remember Paul was writing to Christians who were under the pagan wicked Roman rule at the time, and still this command is given); as such I respect and support the office of the president, as it currently stands with President Jacob Zuma holding office; I pray that God bless him as he works, give him wisdom as he rules, and also that God might save him.

Believers are instructed though, by their God, on how to select who should rule over them when given the choice, In Exodus18:21 the Israelites were commanded to, “select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials…”As Christians we should select (vote for) men who are capable, God-fearing, trustworthy and haters of dishonest gain.

If we are to hold up the two major parties in this country at the moment and compare them to this standard of a godly official, I think we would find them not to be God-fearing, Take for example the following issues:

1) Acknowledging God Almighty in the Constitution

The ANC voted to have the phrase ‘In humble submission to Almighty God” removed from the constitution, and declared South Africa a secular nation, the DA also voted for this change, and does not acknowledge God in any of their policy documents.

2) Pro-life (against the murdering of pre-born babies)

The ANC said, “We are committed to reducing levels of unexplained and unwanted pregnancy[i]” this party then went on to vote for abortion on demand to be legalised. The DA also voted for abortion on demand to be legalised, and as a party stands for pro-choice (which is the euphemistic way of saying we should let people decide for themselves if they want to kill babies or not). [For more information on an excellent group doing something about this scourge in South Africa visit Abort97]

3) Education, should it be state controlled or controlled by parents and should there be religious freedom in education.

The ANC has said, “The state has the central responsibility in the provision of education and training[ii]” On this issue the DA appears to hold to a view of collaboration between state and parent, but still one that is not the Scriptural view of parents being responsible for the children’s education

4) Pro-free market (anti-socialism)

The ANC have affirmed their position of holding to communist principles and redistributing wealth to the poor. They have demonstrated (at least on paper) that they are  anti-free market and a socialist party.

5) Capital Punishment of Murder’s

Both the DA and the ANC are against capital punishment.

6) Opposes homosexual marriages/civil unions

Both the DA and ANC are favourable to the homosexual agenda, both parties deny the truth that marriage is between a natural man and a natural woman.

So What?

These are just a few issues that should be clear to believers. How can someone who believes in the power of the gospel, the truth of God’s rule, the ministry of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit vote for a party that is in the least God-ignoring, open to the murdering of the helpless, in favour of overruling parents in the education of their children, [against honest labour and free-market], against the execution of killers, and in favour of those of the same sex to be married?

Members of such parties are far from God-fearing.

Could a Christian vote for Hitler? He will build major infrastructure, autobahns, support the production of strong and competitive car companies, he would do wonders for the economy, and many people would experience a better quality of life. Of course not, this is a maddening thought. The logic of many voters in South Africa though, is that they would like to vote Stalin in, just to get rid of the Hitler.

Christians, remember those men who have gone before us in history, men like Oliver Cromwell and William Wilberforce, people who have fought for freedom, and political policies that reflect the God of Holy Scripture. Don’t put your trust in man for South Africa, that can only bring a curse (Jeremiah 17:5), put your trust in God, and use your vote with integrity and principle.

For more information regarding the political parties in South Africa and Biblical issues and also to find the source of much of my info, please visit the Christian Voters Guide


[i] ANC Parliamentary Speech (29/10/2996)

[ii] ANC Policy Framework for education and training

  6 comments for “Being Christian and Voting in South Africa

  1. Nils Halland
    April 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Interesting post, T
    I speak from ignorance, but at municipal level what clout do the candidates have? i.e. can the candidate I vote for in my ward do anything about abortion, same sex marriage or capitol punishment?

    I was under the impression this is the precise reason that national and municipal elections are split. That being said what happens in municiple areas lays the ground work/foundation for movements higher up…

    comments?

    • tyrellh
      May 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      Hey Nils, glad I can answer you after the voting has happenned ;). The groundwork issue is really the issue, and also the implementation of certain things the constitution says that the ruling party has not been involved in… for example abortions clinics are suppossed to explain all the risks of an abortion before doing one, and also they are suppossed to show an ultra sound of the baby to the mother. So the need to vote in a party that cares about these issues becomes necessary. Also, if a party has not been given a chance to prove itself municipally it will be hard to convince people to vote on other levels for them

  2. April 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for making this post Tyrell. As you said, it is important for Christians to bring The Bible to bear in all areas of life. I would, however, like to question a particular premise of yours and then see if it affects your answer to my question. You said that the logic of many South Africans was to vote Stalin in to get rid of Hitler. No doubt, this is the thinking of some, but others (such myself) feel that such a notion is simplistic. In South Africa currently our position is not like the USA where the two parties have an equally realistic chance of getting into power. Here (for the time being) the ANC are by far the strongest party and so votes against them are not intended to put others into office but to create a strong opposition so as to oppose an “untouchable” mindset in the ruling party. So my question is, in The absence of any Wilberforces or Cromwells is there not a place for pragmatic voting?

    • tyrellh
      May 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Anton, sorry I took so long to reply, have been seriously considering things. I am working on another post at the moment dealing with the uniquness of SA. I think it will help answer a bit of the question. However the command in Scripture to vote for those who are God-fearing would still take precedence over any kind of pragmatism

  3. Andrew
    October 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    We must be careful not to enforce what we feel or believe in favour of what is the correct option. We are not trying to impress God when we vote and we do well to remember that.
    It has proven over and over – the world over, that when people – especially religious groups, sects and the like get involved in the political arena, it results in the wrong end product. Voting is a duty of all the people and has a significant effect on the country. So, while it is important – and critical to vote, we need to be voting with our head and not what we think or imagine will be the way forward.
    As a Christian, we need to be very careful that we do not use Scripture out of context when we attempt to drive our point home. Then it is of benefit to no-one, neither to our peers, nor ourselves and certainly not to God. When we confuse the gospel with politics, we become like the politicians with whom we are in opposition to – in the first place. Christ did not have a political plan when he came. He came to save the lost – in an already fallen world – with fallen governments. He did not try and get involved in politics and He certainly not try and start a Christian political party. He came to save the lost in an already dysfunctional governmental system and He never lost sight of the goal. He certainly did not instruct his disciples to start a political party. We are commanded to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. Too many people do not do enough – or very little in terms of the great commission (Matthew 28 : 18-20). Then think they can ‘get off the hook’ by voting. They are set on changing the government with their vote rather than using discernment to vote appropriately with the information at hand to allow them to further the gospel. God Has allowed governments into power and we do well to observe this.
    It is as foolish to think we can reverse the government’s policies as it is to return to slavery or racial systems like apartheid or the Crusaders who tried to ‘make Christians by force’. It is equally foolish to force people to comply or to think that we can get Christianity to end up becoming like the Muslim sharia law system by majority vote?
    The passage in Exodus 18 (used in the passage presented) was an instruction from Jethro to Moses. It was from a Jew to a Jew to govern the Jews. There were no other political parties in sight. It was a management decision. It was not the advice given to the varying masses on who to choose for political reasons.
    We need to take care and understand who was speaking and who was being spoken to. And for whom it was meant.
    The passage in question is the leaders (who were already in power) to appoint their own ‘cabinet’ to rule the nation who were all on the same side – in the same camp. This is entirely different to what we have in our country. We have the masses whom have no firm roots, or very little in any Christian belief. Their beliefs are as diverse as they are in number and probably also have as many diverse goals to add to the confusion. Add to that a government who is unable to rule effectively and who have no credentials to make correct decision when we look at the appointments and budget allocations and good governance, etc. To try and marry Christianity with politics is also in antithesis to the Gospel. We are to evangelize the lost, not vote our religion into power.
    This is not only in isolated countries – it is becoming a phenomenon the world over. We are not to think we can gain favour from God by voting for government. We gain favour from God by living a right life and taking the Gospel to the lost – especially in a fallen government, fallen society and a fallen world. Politicians the world over have realized that to remain conservative is political suicide. It is not what the masses want and a government divides itself when it becomes dictatorial. That’s not my desire or my opinion, that’s a fact. We do not get involved on politics. We evangelize the politicians and we evangelize the voters and we do this one by one. And until then we count the cost of voting for the most appropriate party to allow us access to fulfil our calling.
    In times of political unrest – when you urgently need to evacuate your family out on a plane and you need a pilot to fly you out of there, who do you look for? Do you look for someone who is a Christian, or do you look for someone who can fly and land a plane? By making the right decision, you are protecting your family and you may even get the opportunity to evangelize a pilot and give God the glory. And you also get the opportunity to live another day and fulfil your calling to bring more to Christ.

    • tyrellh
      October 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Andrew thanks for your reply.

      Just a few comments from my side. What do you mean by “So, while it is important – and critical to vote, we need to be voting with our head and not what we think or imagine will be the way forward”? Since thinking is what we do with our heads as is imagining. And the way forward is certainly what we want in the country. Since I trust you are not saying we should use our heads to vote in order to go backwards?

      What about slavery, which was a political issue that a Christian (William Wilberforce) using very Christian speeches.

      I agree that passages like the one in Exodus 18 must be taken in context. Every passage has one interpretation that is obvious. However They have many implications and applications. We are able to draw from Scriptures principles that apply in certain situations. The principle I would draw is that if Christians are to vote for an individual who will rule over them, there are certain qualities that should be would be good to be there. If you are saying that the verse has no implications then I assume your method of choosing a political candidate is to find someone who is incapable, God-hating, untrustworthy and lovers of dishonest gain.I know I am being vicious, but that is really the logical conclusion of your refutation of Exodus 18 from having any implications today.

      I agree to try and marry Christianity and politics is not biblical. However to divorce the gospel from every aspect of our lives including our political lives is also unbiblical. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine!” We certainly do not want to try earn anything from God by voting a certain way, the gospel is that Jesus paid it all in our place, we are reconciled to God and in His favour due to the finished work of Christ. However, that doesnt mean we live any old way we want, it means that the love of God has radically change the centre of our being, we now love what He loves and hates what he hates, and how we live is a demonstration of that changed nature (Ephesians 2:8-10 for beautiful summary of how faith saves us unto good works).

      Your final example regarding a plane is helpful but limiting. If I were to say you should let your daughter date someone who is capable of reproducing because that is the aim of marriage you would laugh at me, since that is not the only factor. Marriage is more complicated than flying a plane. In the same way politics is more complicated. Now, we may not want to vote a Christian in (though I am not sure that it would be the worst thing); surly we have a obligation as those who love God to see to it that the things that he hates like murder (abortion) is not encouraged by that government? Surely we would love racial justice as God does and thus not want to vote for someone who is going to be racially indifferent or oppressive?

      You are right, the gospel is the only way the world will change, as I stated in my opening paragraph. However the gospel is not a private thing; its a personal thing, but its not private. We have only to see the times Paul uses political means to further the gospel (like appealing to Caesar in Acts 25:9-12)

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