I grew up in a home in which my father believed that as Christians, we should not involve ourselves in politics.
He never voted, he was of the opinion that politics is corrupt. ‘It’s a dark art,’ he used to say. ‘Don’t touch it!’
But much as I admired and respected my father, that was one of his beliefs that I never could go along with.
That said, having been directly engaged with politics for a number of years, and having witnessed at close hand some of the shenanigans that go on, I sometimes reflect on what he said with some thoughtfulness.
For example, the call to criminalise homosexuality that we have witnessed recently is so indefensible that any thinking Christian should disassociate themselves from it.
Similarly, the futile motion to redefine marriage is so bizarre that it can only be a political stunt, as whacky as the attempt to ban prayers at council meetings in case someone might be offended ... maybe my old dad was right.
But no, when you come across a statement or a proposed policy that is corrupt, lacking in any vestige of morality or integrity, designed to win votes with little or no regard to the morality of the issue, the choice is either to walk away and leave them to it, or take a stand and force the question: What would Jesus do here?
To those Christians who argue that it is not our business to be involved in politics, who would say that we have more serious matters on which to concentrate, like getting people to heaven or trying to straighten out a fallen world, I would ask them to think again. There is a view that since God is sovereign, he can be trusted to take care of politics, but this is tantamount to making God’s almighty power a convenient excuse for avoiding our own responsibility.
In this context I often think of Moses as he was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Picture the scene: the people had just escaped from captivity, surrounded by desert with the sea in front of them and Pharaoh in hot pursuit, and the people were moaning: ‘Were there no graves in Egypt? Is that why you brought us out here to the desert to die?’
You can be sure that the poor man was praying, for he feared he was about to be lynched – wouldn’t you? However, the staff that Moses carried was a symbol of God’s authority devolved to him, and so in answer to his prayer what did God say to him? ‘Why are you crying out to me? Raise your staff across the sea and see what happens.’
In other words, I have given you the authority to deal with this situation, it’s your responsibility. Now get on with it.
No, my father was wrong.
It is said that we get the politicians we deserve, and so we need not just to vote for men and women of courage, commitment and integrity, but to be such people and to be prepared to stand as public representatives in support of social justice, integrity and honour, not forcing our narrow doctrinal beliefs down the throats of an unchurched generation, but simply to be one of those people of courage, commitment and integrity.
Are you up to the challenge? Yes? Well, let’s start by voting.