Whoever wins, respect them!
...and pray for their time in government. Part 5 of our look at voting.
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” – Winston Churchill
Democracy is a bit of a deceptive thing. We’re told that we get to vote for who represents us, and that these people will then act in our best interests and for the good of the nation. In the end, though, we’re voting for people who belong to political parties; and generally, the party with the most members of parliament wins, along with their supporters.
So, I’m going to be realistic with you: there’s a good chance that the party you vote for will not end up being the one in power. You might have read the previous four articles and decided to vote in line with them (or not – that’s cool too), but someone else ended up getting in. Now what do you do?
Submitting to the authorities
Should you ignore the government because you didn’t vote for them? According to Romans 13:1-7, nope.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (verse 1)
Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Rome. Their governing authority was Caesar, a pagan king, and his representatives. We may think that our governments are ultimately chosen by the people; the Roman Christians might have thought their government was chosen by the devil, given how hostile some Caesars were. Yet Paul says something controversial: no matter what authority they claim and no matter how they act, all authorities are placed there by God.
And Paul becomes even more controversial than this: in verses 2-4, he says that even pagan rulers are placed there to carry out God’s justice. Of course, they don’t always do this (Christians suffered greatly at the hands of Nero and the like), but that’s what they’re there for.
“Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities” (verse 5a). As Christians, we should pay our taxes, respect and obey our political leaders (verses 6-7). We do this not only out of fear of punishment, but so that we are shown to be obeying God’s servants (verse 5b; c.f. 1 Peter 2:13-17). As Christians, we must obey the laws of our country, whether we agree with them or not, to the fullest extent we can without compromising our faith (c.f. Acts 3:1-4:22, especially 4:19-20).
Pray for our leaders
1 Timothy 2:1-2 commands us to pray for our leaders, so “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. We should pray that our leaders will make it easy for us to be Christians, telling others about Jesus (as seen in verses 3-4). And we should pray that they’d look to the Bible for guidance, uphold God’s justice, protect the vulnerable and lead our country well.
So who do I vote for?
If you know Jesus, you’ll know you’re far from perfect (Romans 3:10-12). Our political parties, made up of people like us, are imperfect too. These articles have outlined the Bible’s views on who to vote or not vote for. By now, you’ve probably realised that no party measures up completely. Political parties, like people, fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Here is where the real decision lies: which party gets the closest to matching the criteria the Bible sets for governing authorities? Remember that there is a hierarchy to all this: a party dedicated to justice but also to banning evangelism would lose out to another party that’s okay with evangelism but dodgy on justice. Think about the issues; research the parties; read your Bible; pray about it; talk to other Christians about it. Make sure that your vote is informed come election day.
In the end, God is the ultimate authority over all of us. He doesn’t just make laws all day; he gets down among his people. He doesn’t just carry out justice; he died on the cross to pay for our wrongdoing and to make us right again. He doesn’t promise a successful Australia; if you trust in him, he promises an eternal, perfect kingdom with him.
Therefore, my prayer is that God will use your vote and mine, however flawed we may be, to his glory.