Voting Like a Christian This Saturday

Politics is boring. That was definitely my view growing up. I’d say it’s the view of most young Australians. Except for those few vocal friends in our newsfeeds, perhaps. (I might be one of them. If so, I’m sorry. I hate being ‘that guy’).

For the most part, we Aussies feel the same about politics as we do about religion. In other words, awkward. Not sure what people will think if we speak up. Wary of of the consequences. Heck, it took me a lot of courage to publish this blog.

But I’m not sure that’s God’s intention for believers. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul wasn’t afraid to talk about politics or religion. He seemed to think both are important—and both are connected:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Three words stand out to me here as I prepare to vote on Saturday—three words that I think can help Christians vote ‘Christianly’, if that’s a thing. Here they are.

1 . K I N G S

We don’t have a king. We have a Prime Minister. Big deal. Actually, it is.

Until a couple of centuries ago, every person in history found themselves ruled by someone they didn’t choose, and probably wouldn’t if they’d had a say. Good leaders were the exception—tyranny and exploitation were the rule.

I can’t express how thankful I am to be born into a democracy. On Saturday, I along with everyone else in my electorate will get a green piece of paper. The person that the majority of us choose will spend the next three years in Canberra—in the House of Representatives—representing us and our concerns.

Australia has 150 of these representatives. If a majority are from the same political party or alliance, they get to choose one of their own to lead the country. This year, that will be either Scott Morrison or Bill Shorten.

Stay with me here. This is important.

Democracy has ‘checks and balances’ to make sure bad laws aren’t easily passed. One of these is the Senate. It’s a separate house of parliament, made up of 76 members from around the country, who have to approve any change in law suggested by the other house. These are the people you’ll be voting for on your white piece of paper.

Who we send to Canberra really matters. They shape the law that governs us. This is why it’s so important that we pray for them—whoever they are, whatever views they have.

2 . G O D L I N E S S

If the people we send to Canberra shape our country, we owe it to ourselves to know who we’re voting for and the values they stand for. After all, God says here that He wants us to have leaders who promote godliness.

What does godliness look like in 21st century Australia? It looks like lots of things. Strong marriages and families; justice for those crying out for it; good stewardship of the environment; help for those who can’t help themselves; the freedoms that make democracy work in the first place. The list goes on.

Sadly there are no parties that do all of these things well. Christians find themselves either voting “left” for justice and the environment—or “right” for family values and freedoms. Most of us long for a party that will represent all of these concerns well. The Bible tells us that it’s coming, but who knows when the Prince of Peace will return to establish His kingdom. Until then, we have some choices to make.

Here’s how I’ve resolved it. I care a lot about justice and the environment. I recycle, I chat and give to the homeless, I like to buy local and ethical, I eat a plant-heavy diet, I minimise my waste, I try to give generously to the poor, and I live with an open heart to people of other cultures and creeds.

Lots of my concerns about justice and the environment can be addressed by my own choices, with my own money, within my own circle of influence. Not all, but lots.

Voting “left” on these issues will help increase foreign aid, open our borders, and better sustain the environment. It will make me feel better—but I’ll be using other people’s money and resources to do it. This isn’t actually as generous as it seems on the surface, or as they tell you in the media. My rule is first to practice generosity with my own money and resources.

The godliness I can’t so easily influence are these other issues—namely, family values and freedom. Let’s start with just one example. In Australia, some 70,000+ abortions take place every year. It’s staggering to think that the unborn only have a 3 in 4 chance of making it out of the womb alive.

In looking at Australia’s major parties, sadly a Labor-Greens alliance is unconcerned about pre-born children’s right to life. In fact, Labor has promised to make abortion accessible up to birth throughout Australia, denying funding to any public hospital that refuses.

If I have to choose between rainforests and human beings, then as a Christian I will choose human beings who are made in God’s image. If I’m serious about promoting justice and helping those who can’t help themselves, I must lend my vote to these precious little ones.

3 . S A V E D

But I have other concerns that are beyond my ability to influence personally that only my vote can change. Australia’s freedoms are so, so precious. If they disappear, democracy disappears with them. Consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

This is why, as much as I didn’t like Israel Folau’s Instagram posts, all Australians should be horrified when a sportsman loses his job for expressing a tenet of his Christian faith.

We’re used to thinking of our freedoms as a given, but they are not. In small bubbles of the world, for bubbles of time that can be measured in just centuries, these freedoms have existed. Apart from that, they have not. Preserving them must always be one of the main projects of democracy.

Sadly, Labor and the Greens have shown contempt for these freedoms as well.

There are five main equality rights recognised in international law: race, age, disability, sex and religion. The only one not protected in Australian law is religion.

With religious discrimination on the rise in Australia, Scott Morrison’s Liberal party has promised to introduce a much-needed Religious Discrimination Act if they win on Saturday.

On the other hand, Labor and the Greens will seek to remove the right of Christian schools to only hire Christian staff who will teach their values. This follows on from an attempt by Labor last year to change the Sex Discrimination Act so that churches, mosques and synagogues could be taken to court for teaching their thousands-of-years-old beliefs. This is a staggering shirtfront on freedom.

My concerns about religious freedom might sound selfish, like I’m just trying to protect Christians. But in truth, the erosion of these freedoms is bad for everyone regardless of their faith, and it’s terrible for civilisation.

More than that, it’s terrible for the Gospel. 1 Timothy tells us to seek godly leaders so that we’re free to proclaim the Gospel, that all people have a chance to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

If we Christians believe our own message, surely we want this freedom preserved—not merely for our own sake, but for all those God longs to save.

I’m convinced that religious freedom and right to life for the unborn are two of the most crucial issues come Saturday. In my everyday life, I’m limited in what I can do to influence these issues. But I can use my vote.

So I’ve emailed all the candidates who will be on my green and white papers this weekend. (It was so easy—do it for your electorate here). I’ve asked them where they stand on these issues, and I will rank them accordingly.

This is how I’ve resolved to vote like a Christian on Saturday. I don’t expect all Christians to agree. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author:

Kurt Mahlburg is a qualified primary school teacher and a freelance writer. He blogs at Culture, Worldviews and Life with Jesus and writes for the Canberra Declaration and occasionally The Spectator Australia. He has a particular interest in speaking the truths of Jesus into the public square in a way that makes sense to a secular culture and that gives Christians courage to do the same. Kurt has also studied architecture, has lived for two years on a remote island in Indonesia, is fluent in several Indonesian languages, and among his other interests are philosophy, history, surf, the outdoors, and travel.

26 Comments

  1. Jenny Thorpe May 16, 2019 at 7:30 am - Reply

    A very well balanced article, and good advice

  2. Noela Fleming May 16, 2019 at 10:11 am - Reply

    I love what you’ve expressed, Kurt and heartily agree.

  3. Giulia May 16, 2019 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article! I really appreciate what you’ve outlined here. What you have said is so true. We do have a responsibility. Thank you for highlighting Labor’s plans to make abortion accessible up to birth across Australia and to deny Christian schools the right to hire only christian staff… Regardless of our political inclinations, we must identify and vote on what you rightly say are the most critical issues – religious freedom and the right to life.

  4. Steph M May 16, 2019 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    I wish I could have shown this to someone the other day when they said they don’t like politics.

  5. Eileen Hillman May 16, 2019 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Excellent article. I have already voted and handing out how to vote cards for The Conservatives in The Senate. I am very happy with my vote. As I am electorally educated I marked 37 boxes below. the line with I felt the best people! Also have a wonderful Christian independent for The House of Reps who got my No 1 as well!

  6. John Miller May 16, 2019 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    There is an awakening and unity going on among Australian Christians, ignited by this election, and this article is an excellent example of it.

  7. Margaret Anne Box May 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Dear Kurt

    1. You are wrong. You say we do not have a King. We do. Queen Elizabeth 11. You are elevating PM above her, when he only acts under advice and rule of the Gov General as the Queen’s representative.

    2. Israel Falou did not lose his job because of his Christian faith. He lost it because he broke his sworn contract. He broke his own word. He should lose his contract therefore.

    Yours
    Margaret B

  8. Megan Knight May 16, 2019 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Praise Him!

  9. Marilyn Rowsome May 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Great article Kurt. Thanks.

  10. Yvonne Wuttke May 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    I am a pensioner & badly need a hip replacement & will be on a waiting list l can only hope l can handle the pain but the sadness is a innocent baby will be murdered first before us pensioners. Sad Sad world. Von. W

  11. Dilys May 16, 2019 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Very good article.

  12. Karen May 16, 2019 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Thankyou Kurt for your thoughts and encouragement re preparation for the election

  13. Christine May 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    You have highlighted two very important issues which should matter to all voters, the right to life of the unborn in Australia and the maintaining of religious freedom for all Australians.

    Voting to save the lives of 70,000 + unborn babies per year has to be a top priority when casting our votes at the ballot box
    Also, voting for leaders who will work to preserve religious freedom in Australia is a vote to maintain rather than lose the democracy we now live under. Vote for life and democracy!

  14. Peter Coleman May 16, 2019 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    A really important election for righteousness and life

  15. Lloyd H Thomas May 16, 2019 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Congratulations Kurt for your great assessment of this Election and I agree with you very strongly, and as Christians let us all remember that responsibility for the Government, we get rests on the shoulders of believers.And this should make everyone of us very careful about how we vote,
    Yours in Jesus,
    L.H.T.

  16. Daphne Hay May 16, 2019 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you this is a very informative article..

  17. Jonathan Rohrlach May 16, 2019 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    A great article Kurt, let’s all think deeply enough on God’s true values, for its vital to our present and future lives as we elect the next leaders of our great nation… If we weaken & / or change God’s values, we all lose as our society spirals down. Let’s plead with God to guide and move our nation Australia into line with God’s true values, His laws, they are not open for “updating” to modern humans.. His Will is already perfect.

  18. Stephen Jay May 17, 2019 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Good article
    Thanks

  19. Ava De zeeuw May 17, 2019 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Thank you We as Christians need to vote responsibly. Article like this is a great guide thankful for opportunity to make a post it Ava

  20. Joanna Skinner May 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Anyone would think the LNP had promised to end abortion, when they have said exactly nothing on the subject. The early Church would not have been shocked about someone losing their job for being a Christian, to them it was normal and they rejoiced that they could suffer for Christ.

  21. Joshua May 17, 2019 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I completely agree that abortion and religious freedom are vital issues at this election.
    However I think you have incorrectly characterised climate change as a individual issue and hence not an election issue.
    From a moral perspective climate change will harm and kill innocent third parties such as poor children in low lying countries whose contribution to the problem is close to zero. In this way it has similarities to abortion.
    But primarily there is no individual solution to climate change. Unless everyone decides to act charitably most people will fall to deal with the issue individually as there is no benefit for them to do so.
    Unless the majority act we all lose, but if everyone else acts except me I win without paying any of the cost. So most people don’t act. Then we all lose.
    There is no individual solution only cooperation.
    There is also basically no chance of 7 billion individual agreeing to co operate, however 200 governments might be able to.
    Yes climate change is a election issue. If you think it’s a individual problem I think you misunderstand the problem.

  22. Neil Porter May 17, 2019 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I fully agree with this whole article. It is balanced and wise and is also actually non-partisan, focussing only on the points. “Righteousness exalts a nation”.- If non-Christians/atheists bring in laws that are based on Biblical principles that’s ok. We are not postulating a ‘Christian’ government per se. Which parties and candidates will fit the bill?

  23. Anna Soh May 18, 2019 at 1:10 am - Reply

    So very true … we can do a lot to look after our environment using our own money but we can’t do much to protect our religious freedom except through our right to vote while we still have it!

  24. Meredith May 18, 2019 at 6:45 am - Reply

    I agree with you that as individuals we can make a difference to our environment and is something that I challenge myself with. But I think we also need government policies to support environmental protection. But the bigger thing for me this election is abortion. It staggers me every time I am confronted by abortion statistics in Australia. Australian children that are deemed ‘unwanted’ become waste products. We need a ‘War on human waste’. How good would it be if such a campaign gained as much traction in Australia as the current war on waste movement?

  25. Alison May 18, 2019 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Thank God for Australia!

  26. Ian Young June 5, 2019 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Kurt, you put a lot of thought into your writing. However you are seriously misrepresenting the policy postion of the ALP in relation to abortion. There has never been a proposal for late 3rd term abortion, and to simply quote statstics of abortions per year in Australia may be effective in one way – presenting a spectacular, and concerning number – to disregard the enormous range of circumstances, covering every individual case, and the anguish and soul searching that such decisions involve, is to grossly over-simplify this very perplexing issue. In this I feel you could have done much better and been more honest. Probably takes too much effort? I agree with Joshua in relation to the climate change issue. In regard to other matters in play in this election I felt more comfortable supporting policies which would have helped people living below the poverty line, the homeless, given at least some hope of a change to the apalling situation facing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, and whole range of other matters facing disadvantaged people, communities and groups. This sat more comfortably with my own understanding of Christianity.

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