“A nation is righteous in God’s eyes because of its Church; when the Church walks in righteousness, there’s hope for the nation. As churches rise up and proclaim the Gospel, the nation will change and be righteous again.”
This is what one Sussex pastor said to his congregation this year, echoing the accepted wisdom among those who pray for revival.
And a survey by the Evangelical Alliance of its members this year has shown that when Christians go into the polling booth, they vote for the common good.
So how does this translate into voting in the May 7 general election? And vote we must, because democracy is precious and we ‘use it or lose it.’
There are issues around justice and the distribution of wealth, housing and planning restrictions, and the need for honesty and integrity in financial services, immigration and caring for minorities. And those are just domestic issues – there is also government foreign policy in the Middle East, defence against internal and external threats and overseas aid.
So how did your MP vote – or how do your candidates say they will vote – on the matters of life and death that most Christians agree on: abortion, embryology and euthanasia by its various names? You can find records of how your MP voted online.
But even these ethical issues can become clouded by the excitement of scientific advances and by slanted secular media reporting, as the recent votes in favour of ‘GM’ babies proved. There was the appeal to vanity – of being the first nation to allow such experimentation – and the fear of appearing unfeeling if you did not care about the grief of a small number of mothers with mitochondrial disease.
The controversial law which dramatically overturned centuries of Judeo-Christian belief and practice (and which gives young Muslims an obvious reason to reject our ‘civilised’ society), was that allowing same sex marriage. If you believe that marriage is divinely ordained as being between one man and one woman for the benefit of children and the whole of society, then it is worth recalling how your MP voted.
Or where does a party stand on Israel? This is a vital issue for those who believe that no nation should dare redefine the borders of the one land on earth whose borders were set over 3,000 years ago.
Will MPs vote to pressure Israel into giving up more land in exchange for ‘peace’ – a tactic which backfired spectacularly after she uprooted her people from Gaza in 2005 and has suffered rocket attacks ever since, culminating in last summer’s war.
The Liberal Democrats are anti-Israel’s further settlements, as are the SNP and Labour; although Ed Milliband is Jewish, and he has spoken out against anti-semitism, when it comes to Israel’s right to exist within her biblical borders, he has almost gone the other way in proving that his blood does not affect his outlook. In fact, David Cameron is the only leader who has spoken out clearly in support of Israel’s right to defend herself as the only democracy in the Middle East when addressing Jewish groups in recent months.
Christians now need to seek out those candidates who will act according to their conscience, who are God pleasers rather than man pleasers. If your MP is seeking re-election, check out what they say against what they did.
A running joke in the political sitcom ‘Yes, Minister’, occurred each time the wily mandarin Sir Humphrey queried minister Jim Hacker’s bolder ideas by asking, “Isn’t that rather courageous?” The look of alarm on actor Paul Eddington’s face always drew laughter, because courage involved going against popular opinion.
Let us now pray for a government of ‘courageous’ men and women who will put principles before party. The only ideology left in politics is the religious one, but if there are enough principled MPs they could turn the direction of their party, of the government and of the nation.
May they be people who care for the materially destitute and helpless – widows, orphans and aliens – whose rights are more easily violated. And may they be those who, consciously or not, adhere to the fundamental principle which shaped our nation: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” (Psalm 111:10)
Could the UK yet break up?
Christians prayed fervently before the Scottish referendum last autumn; based on biblical precedent, they saw the division of the kingdom as a sign of God’s judgement.
Yet the federalists’ dreams could yet come true if there was to be a gradual devolving of power from Whitehall.
This could happen if Parliament is forced to relocate from Westminster – it has even been suggested that it process around the country like a medieval court! A Parliament like this, which has lost its permanent home and comprises a cobbled together coalition whose alliances fluctuate according to the issues before it, would soon lose authority.
Therefore it might be seen as logical to devolve power to the regions to ensure stability. Thus the UK could break up into more powerful regional councils, a model seen in the US and Germany. Many eyes will be on Manchester, where a new statutory body will be set up to take control of its £6bn health budget from April 2016. The new body will link health and social care, so could make decisions on everything from community-based care, mental health services, and public health campaigns – such as action on smoking or obesity.
The Christian Party reclaims British values
Jeff Green, leader of the Christian Party, has redefined the government’s ‘British values’ to include the sanctity of life and respect for those of all faiths.
The party’s website has a section where you can see which of your candidates have already signed up to these pledges: “to respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express their beliefs and to act according to Christian conscience; to protect human life, traditional marriage and British law.”
Candidates’ willingness to sign up to these pledges will “show which of your candidates are most closely aligned with your beliefs, who respect our British traditions, our constitution and the Coronation Oath of our Monarch.”