If Jesus is our king, why do we need a government?
Part 3 of our look at what to think about when voting
I have a local government. I know this because I had to vote for them (and I almost forgot too!). However, I have no idea what they actually do.
Our previous articles in this series have looked at how evangelism should be a key focus when voting, and that Australia is not a Christian country, but the Bible is still a good guide for law-making.
Now, we turn to the question - what is it that authorities are put in place to do? What’s the point of governments?
Upholding God’s justice
Every human authority is put in place by God (Romans 13:1) to commend those who do good and punish those who do evil (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14). So, we should vote for people who will carry out God’s justice - sometimes that will mean handing out punishments that fit the crime (“due penalty” in Romans 13:4b). However, sometimes the punishment is used as a way of changing the wrongdoer so that he/she can “fit back in” with society again (see 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 combined with 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
Policies relating to wars also need to be considered here. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says that there is both a time for war and a time for peace. From the rest of the Bible, it appears that the time for war would be when doing nothing is worse than going to war. If a corrupt regime is causing great suffering to its own nation or to others, then the just thing to do would be to stop this evil.
Finally, God’s justice is impartial - all people are equal in the sight of God (Romans 2:11). Therefore, we should support governments that seek to make sure people are treated fairly and equally.
Protecting the vulnerable
A key element of God’s justice is defending the vulnerable, often represented in the Bible as “the fatherless”, “the widows”, “the stranger” or “the poor” (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 10:18; Psalm 68:5; Psalm 82:3; ). Hence, it comes as no surprise that God commands those in authority to protect the weak in society also (Exodus 22:22; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 5:28-29; Zechariah 7:10).
For potential governments, policies for protecting the vulnerable take many forms. It can be direct, such as
• welfare and social justice programs;
• open immigration policies (to support, not persecute, those who want a better life);
• low taxation for low income earners;
• minimum standards for employment;
• supporting public and mental health care; etc.
It can also be indirect, such as
• building a robust economy (the vulnerable tend to be unemployed first);
• reducing protections on trade (allowing third-world countries to compete globally);
• dealing with climate change (third-world countries are under the most threat);
• improving education standards across the country;
• restricting gambling; etc.
You should carefully examine each party’s policies to see if they are committed to defending the weak. As this is one of the primary things the Bible says authorities should do, this should be one of our top concerns when voting.
In the next article, we’ll be looking at what kind of leader should head up our country. Who should be our PM? Stick around for pointers!