Can I begin by assuring readers that I haven’t lost the plot and decided to post my views on Bucks Fizz. For younger readers, Bucks Fizz is a group of two men and two women who won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest by singing out of tune and the now famous skirt rip. The winning song was entitled ‘Making Your Mind Up,’ and that is really the subject of this post you will be relieved to know.
Today is the final full day of campaigning (do I hear a hallelujah?) and most of us are in information overload. We have had the ‘worms’, ‘bigotgate’, the election debates (I’m resisting the Calvinism/Arminianism jokes), candidates criticising the own leaders and some being drummed out for subjecting that homosexuality may not be ‘natural and normal.’ Yesterday ministers were encouraging supporters to vote intelligently. The term ‘vote intelligently’ is code for ‘please vote tactically to keep the biggest threat out of power’. I suppose if tactical voting is voting intelligently, voting because you really believe in a party’s policies and have an affinity with its aspirations, must be voting unintelligently or stupidly.
Christians have other considerations, if nonbelievers vote out of self-interest or interest in a cause that they care about, believers should act in a way that is honouring to God. I have thought about this a great deal in recent weeks and here are some potential steps that a Christian can take.
You don’t have to vote. This may be seen as the next thing to blasphemy by some today but if you asked Christians fifty or so years ago the view that to vote was to be worldly was widespread. Jesus did say;
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Peter begins his first epistle;
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,”
There are of course many reasons to vote, I’m simply making the point that to abstain can be a principled position. There is an interesting article on the influence of Christians in this election on the BBC website which includes some contributions from J John.
You can spoil your ballot paper. This type in abstention makes the point that the person cares enough about their right to vote to make the protest. It usually involves either placing a large cross across the paper or writing ‘none of the above’ across it.
You can vote. There is more information available on the Christian Institute website. It has an excellent briefing document that goes through all of the major parties and their policies. The decision is complicated in that it is bigger than the big three for Christians; abortion, family and freedom to preach the gospel, Christians feel passionately about the world’s poor and many other issues.
The video shows Steve Chalke interviewing Brown, Cameron and Clegg and asking them their views on the role of the church. To be honest, it’s a bit like asking do you love your mother. The leaders love much of what the church is doing, however all of the parties would pressurise churches on some issues.
In this election, the Christian Party of Wales is contesting a number of seats including Pontypridd. Their website is here and their 2010 manifesto here. There is another debate among Christians as to whether believers should be forming their own party or seeking to influence other parties.
Above all of these things we should pray. Paul writes in 1 Timothy;
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
We should pray for the outcome of the election, for believers involved in politics and for the new government that it will lead in a way that is pleasing to God.
We can be confident in that though governments and leaders will come and go, God is sovereign and is ultimately in control.