The Tools of Democracy
History has been indelibly marked by believers, both solitary figures and the anonymous masses, who have challenged the status quo of socially acceptable immorality. The solitary figures have rarely achieved their impact by themselves, but were encompassed by the Church mobilised, activated, empowered and politically organised. Where that ecclesiastical momentum was lacking, they often underachieved and evil prospered despite their bravery.
William Wilberforce fought against the entrenched practice of slavery, but was strongly supported by other believers. They were wonderfully politically organised, handing out pamphlets and books, holding rallies and building petitions. I have no doubt he could not have prevailed if the Body of Christ did not provide the public support needed to demonstrate the collective will which even career politicians eventually must heed.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also had a lot of support from believers. His ability to draw a large crowd reflected the common good he was promoting, the compassion and motivation, like Nehemiah, to want good things for his people – Americans. He believed that the content of a man’s character was more important than the colour of his skin, a distinctly Christian morality consistent with the doctrine that all men are created in the image of God. He too could not have changed as much as he did by himself.
I’ve also written about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Sadly, although he was vocal and strong, he was an example to us of what a weakened, frightened Church does to a nation, and indeed the world. There was a distinct lack of moral courage and loving regard for their neighbour amongst many of 1940s German believers, and they valued comfort and convenience above political participation. How many more Jews may have been saved, how many less nations invaded, how much shorter the Second World War if the Church had rallied behind men like him who said no to Hitler?
The Turning Point
We are constantly at a turning point in our society. The last election certainly was, and the next one promises to be as well. How many will we waste? Each day and year and election is an opportunity to gain ground or lose it, but there is no such thing as political or social stasis. We will go forward, or we will go backwards.
The homosexual lobby has been organised for nearly 50 years, and the small ground they strategically gain each year they consolidate and keep, almost unopposed. Resisting such enemies of the common good practically requires at least equal if not greater determination and strategic organisation.
We must not leave the design and direction of our society in the hands of more passionate people.
The observable passion for trees and whales mobilises people. I’ve personally witnessed old and frail, young and inexperienced people, and everyone in between out there trying to help everyone else vote to save the environment, even a motoring journalist. The irony!
The observable passion for minimum wages and penalty rates mobilises people. I’ve shared election booths with most of the staff from a local public school – because they were politically organised and willing to be inconvenienced one day a year for what they believed to be the best interests of their families and futures.
So where are the people passionate about the fabric of society, the righteousness of government, and defense of the defenseless on election day? For sure, some are there. But the day after election in church, how many of those willing to pray for the election were also observably passionate and willing to be inconvenienced the day before for the marriage and life of their neighbour?
It’s not an either/or proposition. Nehemiah invites us to carry a spiritual sword in one hand and physical tools in the other, together, as we take responsibility for a section of the wall we are rebuilding. The physical tools at our disposal are our vote, organised political participation, letters to candidates, and every social media platform, petition and poll we can make our voice heard in.
We must not leave the design and direction of our society in the hands of more passionate people. There must not be more passionate people than those defending marriage and human life – the Church – you and I.
Let’s Be Passionate Aussies
The word passion is derived from the Latin pati, which means “suffer”. Our passion for something or someone is literally defined and measured by the extent to which we are willing to suffer for them. The Passion of the Christ was not a story about enthusiastic support, but enthusiastic suffering for a greater cause.
The second greatest commandment Jesus explained is to love our neighbours, and He illustrated such love with the story of the Good Samaritan. He was a good neighbour to someone who probably despised him. While others bypassed the need they saw on their way to the Temple, the Good Samaritan loved his neighbour and sacrificially gave of his time, effort, convenience and money. He took a long term interest in the outcome. It wasn’t a suffering comparable to that which Jesus endured gladly for us, but it sure wasn’t how he planned his spare time and budget that day.
Our role in rebuilding the wall is an opportunity we shouldn’t pass by on our way to the Temple. Our neighbours are needing us, needing the prophetic voice of the Church at each election, at every voting booth. Jesus, with this story, is inviting us to insert ourselves practically into the solution. We have time, effort, convenience and even donations to give to help the candidate who’ll boldly support Christian values in our electorate, in the section of the wall outside our homes.
It’s not much to ask, really. We can all afford just one day a year handing out “how to vote” cards for a few hours, or even all day, instead of mowing the lawn or whatever most people’s Saturdays are composed of. It’s worth taking a day off work if you’re really busy.
We can all send half a dozen hand written letters to the candidates seeking our vote, combining our voices to influence them whether we intend to vote for them or not.
Most of us can donate at least a small amount of money to help the Christian values candidates get their message out in ways we may not be comfortable in doing. The small amounts really do add up if every believer going to church any given Sunday chips in. It’s like “keep Australia beautiful”. Yes, you’re little bit makes a big difference, and so does everyone else’s.
It’s important to remember it’s the future of our neighbours’ families that are at stake, not just a local bloke’s political ambitions.
I believe the Church is full of very passionate people, truly willing to be inconvenienced for the love of their neighbours and our nation.
Support Christian Values Candidates
I have a great photo I’d like to share with you, but I can’t. Why? Because it’s a photo of my daughter being the Good Samaritan that Jesus described, inserting herself practically into the solution for her neighbours, helping me to hand out “how to vote” cards at the 2016 federal election. The problem with the photo is that many readers would focus on which party branded t-shirts we’re all wearing, and then try to infer some kind of guerilla campaign for that party. But this project is not about a political party, it’s about the Church and what we can be doing to better love every neighbour in Australia.
So here’s the point to take away from the lack of a photo.
Forget what party you’ve ever voted for before. Find the most godly candidate in your electorate, vote for them and help other people to as well. I didn’t say find a Christian candidate. I said find a godly one: someone who will vote how Jesus would vote. There are deal-breaker issues for Jesus, and they’re the ones He’s already voted for by creating the subject.
Jesus would vote for the biblical definition of marriage and the sanctity of life at every stage – obviously – so any candidate promising to also vote in defense of those values goes to the top of the list. Subsequent issues may then separate any other candidates also committed to supporting Christian values, should we be so blessed.
By the way, if a Christian brother or sister feels someone else better supports Christian values, that’s okay. We don’t want to divide on theology. Unity does not require uniformity. We want to promote Jesus, and He said if they’re not against us, leave them alone. He also prayed that we would be recognisable by our love for each other. We simply want to mobilise and politically organise around promoting Christian values. If there’s more than one candidate doing so, that’s ultimately what we’re aiming for.
Hand Out How To Vote Cards
I’ll write more specifically about how to choose that candidate and how to use preferential voting the way it was designed in the next post. For now my point is that my five foot nothing, 40kg when wringing wet, shy and softly spoken 13 year old girl who’s not even legally allowed to vote is legally and physically capable of helping other people vote for Christian values.
Hannah stood with me from sunup to sundown very politely and meekly offering people her how to vote cards. While most people got to vote for their future once that day, she got to vote vicariously at least a dozen times, maybe two dozen, maybe many more! She didn’t feel like it was her gift or calling. She was simply agreeable when asked to give up her Saturday and help Rebuild The Wall outside our home.
Write Letters To All Your Candidates
When a politician receives one handwritten letter from a constituent it carries far more weight than an email, or an easy to sign petition. Some politicians estimate if one person takes the effort to write them a letter, then hundreds more probably feel the same way. Imagine if every believer going to any given church any given Sunday wrote to every candidate in their electorate at every election and explained what they considered deal-breaker issues and how to win their vote.
I’m inspired to ask myself, do I do everything I can?
Will history reflect on us as the believers who allowed immorality to flourish while we failed to insert ourselves practically into the solutions as an act of selfless love for our neighbours, our nation? Or will we harness the power of one, with both our spiritual authority and the tools of democracy? We need to vote as Jesus would vote, speak as Jesus would speak, act as Jesus would act. We need to rebuild the wall of righteousness around our community, our respective electorates, and subsequently our nation.
If Hannah can do it, I can do it.