Why Australia should not be a “Christian country”
Part 2 of our look at how Christians should vote
Our first article in this series looked at how our priority is to defend our ability to proclaim the gospel. This article looks at how “separate” should “church” and “state” be.
Did you know that the Lord’s Prayer has been said at the beginning of every session of Australian Parliament? In fact, Australia has a long history of Christianity. It has been called a Christian country by some. But is it really? Should it be?
Is Australia a Christian country?
I’d say, no. I believe Australia is not a Christian country, and don’t think we should make it one. Let me explain...
While church attendance doesn’t make you a Christian, it is a somewhat-decent measure of how many authentic Christians there actually are in Australia. Research has shown that less than one in five people go to church at least once a month, which means Jesus’ followers are in the minority in this country.
On top of that, the Constitution of Australia forbids the government from establishing a state religion. Hence, by definition, Australia can't be a Christian country. And nor should it be! Jesus wants followers who trust in him (John 3:16,36). Just as you can’t force someone to love someone else, trust is not something that can be forced upon anyone.
We know that those who love Jesus should keep his commandments (John 14:15). It’s silly to try to force people to obey Jesus if they don’t love him! We shouldn’t make laws to enforce people to act like Christians if they aren't Christians. They should have the freedom to either follow or not follow Jesus.
However, the Bible is relevant to law-making
All the above comes with a very important proviso: though we shouldn't force people to be 'Christian', we should vote for right and just laws, based on the Bible. There is no better guide to what is right & wrong than the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:8; Romans 7:12) – indeed it is the definitive guide to justice because it’s the way the judge of the world talks to us (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:16).
As Christians, we shouldn’t support policies that make morally-wrong actions legally acceptable. Imagine for example, that someone wanted to make murder legal. As Christians, we know God says murder is a sin. Therefore, I'm sure God would want us to vote against such a law.
In a similar way, taking into account what the Bible says, I personally would not vote for harvesting human embryos (sometimes called “therapeutic cloning”), elective abortions or homosexual marriage (see, for example, Genesis 9:6; Genesis 2:24; Romans 1:25-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). I believe God would not endorse any of these policies.
At the same time, we should vote for policies that God would endorse - for example, policies that promote justice, seek to look after the poor, or promote a high value of human life in all its forms.
I’d encourage you, when you’re thinking through some of these tricky issues, to ask mature Christians, read the Bible yourself and do some research on the ‘net to try to figure it all out.
In the next article, we’ll be looking at why we have secular authorities, according to the Bible. Why have a government? Find out next time!