It’s election time again. I had a number of requests to write something or have discussions on the different ways that Christians tend to vote in SA, so here are my observations…
Initially let me say that many South African Christians are influenced by the so-called “Christian Voters Guide” which was put out by our local Kinist organization. I have addressed their positions previously when I first commended and then later critiqued them. Taking this influence among believers into account, we can now look at the way the different positions over our political debate usually unfolds.
First there is a number of believers who temporarily support a group of political leaders who plan to perpetuate and protect abortion – the dismembering and chemical burning of infants while they are in the most vulnerable state they will ever be in – the womb. This support of child sacrifice is thought to be justified because they see how clearly the Scripture speaks to care for the poor and the widow, the disenfranchised and oppressed. Thus, if child sacrifice will enable people who are disadvantaged (e.g. due to historical injustices) to hopefully make some steps forward in their economic environment then they can forego the whispering screams and jerks of innocent pain. I hope that the sermons of pastors who hold to this view are not consistent, lest they preach situational ethics rather than God’s commands.
On the other hand, there are a number of Christians who see with what abomination Scripture treats such child sacrifice. They see how high God upholds the value of human life, declaring that the only equal payment for taking someone’s life is that of taking another life. However, these believers are content to vote in such a way that holds little to no real hope for others who are also suffering – the offer no political help for the wrinkled faced mothers and calloused hand fathers of ever knowing the kind of comfort and dignity they believe their own parents to be deserved of. They are happy to tell the cold and the hungry to be clothed and warmed, to see the oppressed remain in squalor, so long as an issue of child sacrifice (which will likely never touch them, since education, money and community protects them from its seeming necessity) is done away with.
There are then some who, in a desire to see image bearers most like them cared for, are happy to support someone who doesn’t call for the murder of other bearers of God’s image, at least not for now. A statement made palatable by a historical context, but not by the gospel. In addition, they are willing to grant this threatener of future genocide with complete ownership of the land, so long as there is a promise that it will be leased out equitably.
Begot in the Northern Kingdom
Another group of believers willingly blind themselves to generational consequences of wicked governments. They continue to support those ranks reeking with the same smoke that systematized unkindness and division during apartheid in a way so openly contradictory to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The First wave on Ai.
Finally, there are some Christians who dot their “i”s and cross their “t”s in the “right spots’” They might occasionally claim God told them something or other, like the prophets of Munster once did. They have a track record of effecting change, so long as no one at all opposes them, their numbers being so few. For a longer maternity leave and maybe another bone here or there, some are happy to hitch their wagon to a Balaamite Donkey because it seems like it won’t go in the wrong direction. The trouble is that it doesn’t seem like it will go anywhere of value. It appears that it cannot even go where people most wish it would go. It becomes a fruitless vote.
So how are you going to vote tomorrow? In a fallen world, with no perfect option, let me warn you in at least these ways:
– Don’t push separation of church and state to mean separation of the principles of the Kingdom, which should govern your life from voting for a political party. Let us not pretend that there is a sphere of life that doesn’t belong to God. Kingdom principles should inform a Christians view of economics, justice and governance.
– Don’t condemn brothers who vote differently than you in these complex issues. You might be informed by a single issue and they might be informed by another single issue, both of which are based in Scripture, but both are emphasised differently due to life experiences and personal purposes.
– Voting strategically to end abortion is just as principled as voting principally to end abortion. Except voting strategically actually upholds the desire to end abortion, voting ‘principally’ upholds only the principle of ending abortion.
– Voting based on race alone requires Christians to be confronted by this: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism” – James 2:1.