I get why the creative cat ladies are angry. The ACL's Jim Wallace recently said society should not encourage the homosexual lifestyle because homosexuals have the same life expectancy as smokers. And then a few weeks ago the Australian Democratic Party's Fred Nile appeared on ABC's Q&A. I was squirming in my chair; he tried in vain to explain the gospel in-between his overly critical analysis of homosexuality.
It's all a bit of a 'shemozzle, a hullabaloo', to quote Hairy Maclary.
Christian's in politics are making a loud racket. But we can't bury out heads in the sand and bemoan the good old days, if they ever existed. September is coming. And we will all have to trot down to our local polling booth and tick a few boxes. So it got me thinking. How should Christian's view politics? Should I be on the left side of the ideological highway? Or the right?
My Early Years
I was 10 years old. It was 1996 and an election year. John Howard was leading the coalition against Paul Keating's Labor government. One day that year, my Grade 4 teacher asked us what we thought of the whole circus that is politics.
We kids didn't have much to say. Except for a girl named Jenny.
Jenny said her dad doesn't vote. Nope. 'My Dad believes in leaving the choosing of a government up to God Himself,' Jenny eloquently explained to us. What Jenny said generated a 'light-bulb' moment for me. 'Uh huh,' I thought. 'That makes perfect sense.' And I was deliriously happy as I hurried off home to tell my family all about this great political ideology. Back then, I guess you could say, I thought being Christian meant being some type of non-voting anarchist.
But I grew up. And I realised Jenny's Dad was many things. Brave. Radical. Well intended. But wise? Unfortunately, no. Bless Jenny's Dad but Australia is not a theocracy.
My Teenage Years
My next phase of political shaping came when I was in Grade 10 at a different school, although it was also Christian. It was 2004. A dad of one of the students was running for the then new Family First party. The school's weekly newsletter included exciting updates and advice of how to assist this candidate's progress. We heard 'a lot' about this candidate's campaign. Students would pray for his success in our home room class. This man did win a seat and there was a celebratory announcement in my school's newsletter. Teachers were excited. Students were thrilled.
I absorbed this political atmosphere. And as a 16 year old I thought conservative politics was wedded with the Christian religion. Back then I viewed Jesus as a political conservative.
Year 12 Politics
I did politics in Grade 12 at a secular school. It was 2007. "Kevin '07" were the most common rhyming words on everyone's lips. And, of course, I was very suspicious of this man named Kevin and his too keen t-shirt wearing followers.
But my classmates were heralding him as the long awaited messiah. To them, and my teacher, the conservatives were akin to, say, 'megalomaniac dictators'. I was taught that the Christian vote was commonly thought of as right-winged. And often the Christian vote was about imposing archaic morals on the rest of society over and above care for social justice (that was what I was taught – not an entirely fair assessment).
Well an 'archaic moralist' who didn't care about global warming and asylum seekers didn't fit my image. By the end of the year I wasn't sure where I stood. But I was no longer a conservative. A guy named Sam even organised a class party to celebrate my backflip. Thanks Sam…
Then I started to see the world in a new prism. I studied theology. Got married. And eventually moved to inner city Melbourne. I suddenly attained a new group of friends. People that, you know, would enjoy a good old chat over a spicy chickpea stew.
One day in 2010 I was at a large aid and development charity's publicity night. A lovely lady I had been talking to lent over. She whispered something that was incoherent at first. But after a moment I realised she had whispered to me 'I'm voting Greens this year.' That lady wasn't the first to tell me such secrets that year. And as it happened I was somewhat influenced by my friends. To me, Jesus continued to have quite a leftist look about him.
What To Do Come September
But Jesus isn't a Labor voter. And he isn't a die heart Liberal voter. I think putting him into these titles is a bit misguided. He came to initiate the kingdom of God. He came for much, much bigger purposes than Aussie politics.
So what am I going to do this September? Ignore Jesus altogether as I decide which box to tick? Not exactly.
The Theology of Voting
I guess understanding a Christian's purpose in life helps me know who to vote for. A Christian is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6 verse 8). So these two points help guide my voting.
1. Firstly, I think the Christian vote should be an altruistic one. I guess this is not a popular idea. Gosh. Let me confess. I have a two year old daughter. If tomorrow a party announced their only policy was to give every little girl of Australia a Shetland pony; I would be very tempted to vote their way. Yes, I'm good at looking after the interests of my little family and forgetting about everyone else in this country. But Christians are instructed to look out for others as well as for themselves (Mark 12 verse 31).
2. I think the Christian vote should be one that upholds the Christian notion of justice. Sometimes I wonder if the Christian vote focuses on Christian morality and skims off issues of social justice. 'FAT COWS', that is what God called the wealthy when they forgot the poor (Amos 4 verse 1). Although I guess it's quite hard to know which party does this more effectively. But we ought to try to work it out. And if we all come to different conclusions? That's fine, if you ask me.
Dani and Dan Stott are Bible College graduates who live on the Gold Coast.
Dani and Dan's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/d-and-d-stott.html