We live in dark times. And in dark times, there is a pressing need to have leadership that offers a way out of the darkness. In difficult times the need for wise and strong leadership is all the more pressing. Specifically, Christian leadership is needed when a country has abandoned its Christian roots, and wanders in the fog of secularism and relativism.
Fifty years ago most people, whether Christian or not, shared a Christian worldview. They knew that certain things were right and certain things were wrong. But in today’s culture, with its denial of God and absolutes, society is losing its way. Thus the importance of biblical-based leadership.
Of course many fine Christians are already serving in the major political parties in Australia today. They need to be supported and encouraged. And their numbers need to be augmented by other believers who will champion faith and family values in the political arena.
But there can be limitations to Christians serving in the major parties. Often a Cabinet decision will be made that does not reflect a principled Christian stance. Often the leaders of a party will make a decision that individual Christians are not comfortable with. Sometimes a conscience vote is allowed for contentious issues like stem cell research, but usually party members are expected to toe the line and vote along with the rest of the party.
This can often put pressures on Christian parliamentarians. Does he or she do the right thing and vote according to Christian principles, even if it means having to stand against his or her own party? Or does he or she go along with the party, hoping that by not rocking the boat they will be able to have influence with the party further down the road?
These are difficult choices, and they are not just hypothetical situations. Such dilemmas occur often. And I have spoken to numerous Christian politicians when this happens. I certainly pray for them, and try to offer some godly counsel. And I understand how difficult it can be.
Yet I have also admonished such MPs in the past. Sometimes when a crucial vote comes up, and a Christian stance is needed, even if it means defying one’s own party, a believing MP will go with the flow, and not take the hard path of putting faith ahead of party loyalty. They will often tell me, “Well, I went along with the party, so that I can have an impact in the future”.
I have had to respectfully reply, “Yes, but if at such an important time as this you did not make your vote count and do the right thing, then what is the point of wanting to stay in the party? If in order to ensure that you remain in the party it means that at the key moments you compromise your faith and convictions, then what is the point of being there in the first place? If you water down your convictions to remain in the party, why bother?”
Now I know that politics is the art of compromise, and often Christians do have to compromise (or at least abstain from voting) for tactical reasons. Sometimes smaller issues can be passed by in order to take a stand on more major issues. And often one has to choose the lesser of two or three evils in legislative decisions.
But I raise this issue to highlight some of the difficulties a Christian politician will face in party politics. Of course one way to avoid much of these difficulties is to run as an independent, or with a specifically Christian political party. This has the advantage of avoiding the above mentioned constraints.
Of course it has its own draw backs, such as lack of funding that the major parties have, lack of infrastructure, and so on. But those issues can be overcome.
In sum, I encourage all believers to be politically active and aware. And I pray that many more believers will actually run for office. Carefully and prayerfully consider whether it be with a major party or as an independent or with a Christian party. But do keep open to how God can use you to be a world changer in the political arena.