Australia, pick your leader
It's time for part 4 of our series on voting
So far in this series, we’ve seen that
• We should vote in line with spreading the gospel;
• Australia is not a Christian country, but the Bible gives us guidance on justice;
• Our government should uphold God’s justice, including protecting the vulnerable
Australia’s political system is such that a single leader is not as important as the governing party. The Prime Minister may be the head of the government, but it’s the policies of the government, not the character of the leader, that affect how our country runs.
That said, today, we get to look at some controversial questions as we think about what kind of leader we should vote for.
(I should say that a lot of this article consists of my opinions. I believe them to be faithful to what the Bible says, but this article is not drawn as directly from Scripture as the previous ones.)
The (un-)importance of gender
The Bible is clear that, in Christian marriage and in mixed groups at church, men and women are equal, and have different roles. Men are to lead self-sacrificially; women are to allow men to lead (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7). But does this carry over to secular leadership? I’m not so sure.
Male leadership in Christian life is always modelled on Jesus Christ. Hence, it is distinctively Christian and uniquely shaped by the Bible. It seems wrong to apply these patterns in a situation where the leader is not called directly to imitate Jesus and where the pattern of leadership is not lifted straight from the Bible. Basically, male leadership is the pattern for Christian leadership only; I don’t believe that gender should matter in secular leadership.
The (un-)importance of religious affiliation
It almost goes without saying that a leader of a Christian group should be a Christian. However, remember that Australia is not a Christian country. Leadership of this country is, essentially, a secular role. Being a Christian may improve the chances of a leader using the Bible for guidance on law-making or seeking God’s justice and protecting the vulnerable.
The character of potential leaders
The Bible has a lot to say about the required character of Christian leaders, but not much about secular ones. There are many verses that nut-out the kind of person we should look for to lead Christian groups (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-16). However, these refer to leaders of churches, not leaders of countries. We cannot use these same criteria for secular leaders.
Common-sense, though, does tell us a few things.
• Voting for leaders who will happily lie to get ahead tends not to be a good idea. We won’t know what they really plan to do until they actually do it.
• Leaders who will change their mind without any notice for political gain are also worrisome because, again, we can’t rely on them sticking to their policies if their policies become unpopular.
• Leaders who make unwise promises or unwise decisions are unwise to vote for. They are heading-up this country, which gives them a lot of room to make big, costly mistakes.
In the final article, we’ll be looking at what could be the trickiest question of all: what do you do when the government you don’t want gets in?