{General Election 2019} How my faith influences my vote

This Thursday is polling day in what is possibly one of the most important General Elections in recent history, and whilst I am decided on where my vote is going, I know many are not. It was always my intention with this blog to display how my faith impacts my every day life, how it shapes my world view, and how it is woven into everything I do, so seeing as this opportunity (supposedly) only comes around every five years, I thought I better talk a bit about what influences my vote as a Christian.

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, and I am not saying that all Christians should vote the same as me, I'm just giving a bit of insight into my thought process!


Political Engagement as a Christian Responsibility

There's a popular phrase thrown around in Christian circles that says "We are in the world, not of the world" which is used to say that whilst I am a citizen here on earth, I am set apart for God, I might not live in the way that others do, I'm a citizen of heaven.

But we're still in the world, right? God has still placed us in this location for this time, for a reason. If we want to impact the world and have influence in society (which I believe that generally, in some way, Christians do want that), then we have to be politically engaged and a part of that is voting.

Not to mention of course, that people have campaigned and died in order that we have a right to vote - obviously us women owe a lot to the Suffragettes, but prior to that, even men didn't have the vote unless they owned property so unless you're from the aristocracy, you owe your vote to someone else's sacrifice. Use it.

Side note that deserves a separate post in itself: Part of being politically engaged is being informed. Inform yourself. Use reliable sources. Research. Read manifestos. Look at track records and voting records. Don't rely on the tabloid press, mainstream biased media or Facebook to tell you who to vote for. Even those websites that quiz you on your values and then tell you who to vote for? Follow the money, check who set them up - some of them were set up by major political donors. Read widely. Watch debates. Look out for blatant bias - it's not hard to spot. 

Person vs Party

In the UK, we vote for the party not the person - now isn't that a relief?! I am very aware that politicians are not most people's favourite type of person (closely followed by journalists - apologies!), but we're not voting for them. We are voting for policies, so it is vital to look past the theatre and the personalities and look at which policies align with our values.

There is no 'Christian' party. This is not the US where Republicans can rely on the Christian vote (rightly or wrongly - that's a different debate!). Our political system is complex and nuanced. We are voting for our local candidate who will then go on to represent their party and their constituents in parliament, generally voting for party policies. The best way I've seen of describing it: voting for a party is like catching a bus. It might not go to your precise destination (aligning with every single one of your opinions and values), so you catch the one going the closest.

Saying that, it is very difficult to totally ignore the key players - which is where the issue of character comes in. I believe we must offer grace for mistakes, we must acknowledge that no person is perfect, we must acknowledge that there are some things that we will just disagree on, and I believe we must pray for our leaders. However, if a person proves themselves over a number of years to be consistently and deliberately deceitful, offensive, untrustworthy, self-serving and greedy then I would find it very difficult to vote for that party.

It is also helpful to remember that party leaders come and go, even within the same term, but the party remains and the policies, on the whole, remain the same.

So what policies should I vote for?

The million dollar question! Obviously everyone has different perspectives, and different priorities, but for me I go back to two points in the Bible regularly.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." Proverbs 31:8-9
"He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18
Orphans. Widows. Resident Aliens (foreigners... immigrants... refugees). They are mentioned multiple times in the Old Testament, why were they singled out as needing specific help? Now I'm not an expert, but I believe that they were the most vulnerable in society. Without a father, husband or family, these people had no protection, no covering, no rights.

We are called to be the voice for the voiceless, to act justly and to protect those who need protecting. We are called to ensure justice for those who are being crushed.

Now - for the purposes of this post I would like to point out that any political leader could choose to implement policies to this effect - this is a human issue, not a party political issue. However, I look around today and there are so many people who are being crushed by the sheer weight of survival.

I want to live in a just society. I want to live in a compassionate society. I want to live in a society where the poor are helped, where the foreigners are welcomed, where children are supported - no matter what start in life they have - and where if the circumstances of life remove someone's protection, there is a safety net there to support them. I want to live a generous life where I might go without so that others can have a bit more.

Why should I care about tax increases? God is my provider! Why should I worry for tomorrow? God is my protection, my refuge and my strength! Housing crisis? God is my shelter! Vote for the society that you want for your children and grandchildren, it might not be the same as voting for the policies that benefit you the most.

What are the big issues?

For me, as a Christian, the big issues are:
  • The NHS (Value is placed upon all life, no matter their bank balance)
  • The welfare state (Protecting the most vulnerable in society)
  • Climate change (Being a good steward of God's earth)
  • Education (All children are precious to God and deserve a decent start in life)
(Brexit: What will be will be. This election is about so much more than Brexit).

But what about the economy?

I get it. Investing in the most vulnerable in society is not a get rich quick scheme. However, if more people are supported, then more people go from surviving to thriving. More people have a small amount of disposable income. More people use that income in their local areas, local businesses begin to thrive and they begin to take on more staff. More job opportunities, mean more people get into work. It is well known that poverty has a direct impact on health. More people working and thriving means less people relying on the NHS for long term, preventable health conditions.

It sounds idealistic, but there is logic and reason, and basic economics behind it. 

No matter what happens...

No matter what happens on Thursday, we can know one thing remains - God is sovereign. He sees the picture. His heart breaks when his children are hurting. But as Christians, we need not fear. We can smile at the future because He is in it. We can know that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, it is a good plan. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He reigns far above Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, or whoever happens to be in power that day. In light of eternity, this is small fry. All we can do, is use our vote and pray for our leaders, and for the society we find ourselves in.


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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