Saturday, August 7, 2010
Some Thoughts Leading Up to an Election
In his book, 'Conscience Voting,' Jeremy Lee wrote:
'Fourteen years ago (1966), the retiring Liberal Member for Franklin in Tasmania, Mr Charles Falkinder, made some pertinent comments in his final speech. He said that the relationship between the executive and the parliament was gradually but surely militating against parliamentary democracy. Members were giving away their right to express their views on what became law. The trouble was that "members sublimate their minds to the wish of the Party." Once elected, Members of Parliament are bound to vote on Party lines -- "the fate of the man who tries to pursue an independent course is pretty certain." The result, said Mr Falkinder after 20 years of the system, is that "Parliament as such has lost its real touch and ability to be a law-making force."'
'One year earlier, in 1965, the former Clerk of the House, Frank Green, warned: "With increased party organization and discipline the initiative of the private member has gone, ... it has divided parliament into two disciplined forces, a major force whose primary objective is to keep the government party in office, and a minor force whose aim is to discredit and replace it. Because the Opposition will seize every opportunity to discredit the the government, the government party must swallow its objections to government policy and support it, abdicating the duty of frank and candid criticism. That debate is unimportant, because whatever is said, that the division will be on party lines is well understood. But there is a deeper implication -- the futility of modern party debate in itself ... neither party is anxious to discuss the issue fully for fear that such discussion would reveal its own divisions ..."' (p. 13)
As Christians, it is evil for us to vote on Party lines. Our Westminster style, Representative Civil Government was designed for representatives to represent the will of their constituents to the Monarch [whose practical authority is exercised by the Governor-General and the Governors], who has covenanted, in a solemn church service, to rule in the fear of God, and in the light of His Law and His Gospel.
It is incumbent, then, for Christians not to vote in the coming election in the light of Party Policy, or with the question of "Who is to be the Prime Minister?" on their minds. As Christians we must vote in the light of God's political injunctions. Our vote must be on the basis of the character of the man to represent our will to the Monarch.
On page 49 of his book, Mr Lee further writes that Christians should cast a vote according to conscience, not according to policy. A Conscience Voting Manifesto could perhaps look "something like this:
"I believe that my vote is a right I have been granted by Almighty God, to be used in His Name and His Service.
"I believe that my vote should not be used on any account to sanction evil -- great or small.
"I believe that my vote is my own responsibility, and I therefore believe that any attempt to cajole, buy, pervert or restrict my vote is an attack on my God-given liberty.
"I believe that I have not only a right but a duty to withhold my vote completely if I feel that the choices I am offered do not conform to what I believe is God's will.
"I believe it is my lawful right to voluntarily associate my vote with the votes of others in seeking right choice and good government.
"I believe that I can only use my vote to its fullest potential by humbly relying on God's grace and guidance for my actions.
"I believe that my prayer for those in authority should be matched with my action in seeking good government, and that to do so is a responsibility which God expects me to fulfill.
"I believe that my committal to a lawful and right use of my vote is not a vain one, and that God will at all times and in all places comfort and help those who seek to serve Him.
"In the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord -- Amen." (p. 49)
The Bible does not leave us in doubt as to the nature and character qualities of the person that we should vote for. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, the qualities of a candidate for Civil Leadership are:
1. Someone who is "chosen of the Lord"
2. Someone who is a member of the community of the Redeemed
3. Someone who is not of a foreign religion or culture
4. Someone who is not in covenant with others who are of a foreign religion or culture
5. Someone who is not a philanderer, but who is proven by having raised a family
6. Someone who is not given to self-indulgence, but is generous to others
7. Someone who knows the Law of God, studies the Law of God, lives the Law of God
In Leviticus 21, some of the qualities of a person who can be appointed to leadership are:
1. Someone who can grow a beard
2. Someone who can marry a woman
3. Someone who has testicles
4. Someone who is the son of another
5. Someone who is set apart by God
In I Timothy 3: 1-13, the qualities that someone must possess before becoming a Christian leader in any sphere are:
1. they must have an aspiration for leadership
2. they must be above reproach
3. they must be the husband of one wife
4. they must be temperate
5. they must be prudent
6. they must be respectable
7. they must be hospitable
8. they must be able to teach others
9. they must not be addicted to strong alcoholic drink
10. they must not be pugnacious (quarrelsome and inclined to fighting)
11. they must be from the love of money
12. they must be able to manage his household well
13. they must not young and inexperienced
14. they have a good reputation in the local community
15. they must not be double-tongued (they should keep their word to their own hurt)
16. they must hold the mystery of the Faith with a clear conscience
17. they must have had their character tested
Titus 1:5-9 adds to this list:
18. someone not self-willed
19. someone not rebellious
20. someone who is a lover of the things that are good
21. someone who is sensible
22. someone who is just
23. someone who is devout
24. someone who is self-controlled
25. someone who holds fast the Faithful Word which is in accordance with the Apostolic teachings
26. someone who is able to refute those who contradict God's Word
Elsewhere, Jesus said that Christian leaders are to be "servant leaders" (Matthew 20:25-28; Mark 10:42-45; Matthew 23:6-12; Luke 22:25-27). Members of a Political Party are disciplined by 'whips' who ensure Party loyalty. Whereas, Biblical Christian Members of Parliament will be obedient to the commands of Jesus, and faithful to the wishes of their constituents (to the extent that those wishes do not contravene God's Holy Law) - they will be servants of all, not slaves to the Party machine.
As Christians, we need to know the members of God's Covenant Household. Those who aspire to Civil Office, need to live a transparent life so that the Redeemed Community can confidently elect them to represent their community at higher echelons of civil government.
Under no circumstance are we to vote for people simply because they belong to the Party of our preference, or because they are members a Party that will block the Party that we do not want to see in office.
A Christian community that will not exercise its voting rights in the light of God's Word, will get the Civil Government it deserves. On the other hand, if Christians will take care of their responsibility to vote for godly candidates in their own community, then the Sovereign Lord will take care of the bigger picture, and work all things together for the general good, for the glory of His Son, and for the extension of His Kingdom in time and on earth.