Monday, 12 April 2010

Christianity and politics

We have an election here in Australia later this year, and although most of you aren't thinking about it yet, the idea of what it means to vote as a Christian is worth thinking about.

"My own view is that, in respect of the “Big Four” political issues - war and peace, the just distribution of wealth, human rights, the environment - orthodox Christian teaching supports a generally “left-wing” policy prescription. Conversely, in respect of a raft of vitally important social phenomena - sexual mores, marriage, drug-use, gambling, pornography, sanctity of life questions, to mention just a few - the Christian position is decidedly conservative."

On yet other issues, such as crime and punishment and censorship, Christian teaching is impossible to categorise in worldly terms.

Further, even the apparently clear-cut issues have a Christian twist. For instance, the Bible unquestionably takes the side of the poor over the rich, and posits charity as one of the greatest human virtues. But it also encourages thrift, self-reliance and obedience to (secular) law.

Most importantly, while Jesus’ sympathies were fiercely egalitarian, he was not a social reformer. His primary emphasis was upon individual salvation.

With all these considerations in mind, the great English theologian C.S. Lewis once observed that a fully Christian society would thrill almost no one. “Each of us,” he wrote, “would like some of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing”.

Tellingly, and wisely, Lewis added: “That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways.”

Ultimately, the best that each of us can do is to try to obey the dictates of conscience.

The ugliest feature of modern politics in Australia is that our mainstream politicians are discouraged from following their conscience (Christian or otherwise) when voting in parliament. Not to toe the party line on a given issue is to risk ridicule, ostracism, demotion - even expulsion.
Christianity and politics: a problematic mix - On Line Opinion - 1/3/2010

Get ready for the campaign.
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