From the vicarage March 2010
By the time this edition of the parish magazine is published we might know the date of the next general election. So what sort of person do we want as our local MP? What sort of people should MPs be? In other words, who should I vote for? What sort of government do we want?
To answer that question we need to know what government is for. Every society makes rules and laws which its citizens are obliged to follow. The government’s role is to enact laws and punish people when they step over the line. Punishments for acts like burglary, murder and grievous bodily harm are obvious and most people agree these acts deserve punishment. Other things people do, such as choosing which colour toothbrush to use or what breakfast cereal to eat are matters for liberty and tolerance. The government needs to decide which acts should be punished and which can be tolerated.
The question is, how do we decide which acts can be tolerated and which must be punished? Our political parties once stood for various ideologies but today politicians are largely reactionary. Government bends and sways with the times and with public opinion. The BNP is rising in popularity because it is making up laws which suit what some people want and the other political parties are no different, going where the wind blows. The Labour government’s slogan for most of Tony Blair’s reign was “we’re listening”.
The practice of making up the law as we go along can be done a number of ways, either:
- according to public opinion (manifestos and referendums)
- or by having competitions to see who shouts the loudest outside parliament (protests and pressure groups)
- or simply according to the personal preferences of the leaders of the nation and the number of people they have supporting them in parliament (dictatorship)
But there is a true and proper way to make laws. God has crowned Jesus the King of kings and Lord of lords. He rules the world with truth and grace. His law is perfect and all his ways are just. All those who love Christ will obey his commandments. Our parliament should apply its mind to the bible and make laws which reflect the law of God for our times. God has said that he will punish everyone who breaks his law. It is only the grace and mercy of God, shown to us on the cross, as Jesus took the punishment we deserve, that anyone be saved from their just deserts.
So who should I vote for? This is what I look for in a candidate. I do not begin by looking at the political party, there is too little to choose between them. So I want to ask my candidates three questions. First, what is your faith? Then, what do you believe life is for? And, what do you believe government is for?
Any MP who can demonstrate open, active, thoughtful, wise and biblical faith in Jesus Christ as King of kings will get my vote. If the MP knows that the purpose of life is to glorify God in all that we do and that government is God’s agent for the maintenance of law and order then I’ll vote for him irrespective of which political party he stands for.
I want my MP to be positive about the difference the good news of Jesus Christ makes to the lives of people and communities. For too long, the secular politicians and media have said “faith is a private matter”. But this keeps God out of government. Jesus said “if you are not for me you are against me” and so our government at present is not pro-Christ but anti-Christ. I am for openly faithful Christian MPs. If a candidate is not a believer then we need to look for someone with openness and fairness toward the work of the church.
During this election campaign, let’s ask our candidates those three questions, listen to their answers and vote according to their faith in Christ, the good shepherd who pastors his flock with gentleness, wisdom, grace and by his good and perfect law.