Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Choose your values wisely

Very soon Americans will head to the polls to elect a President. Nothing new there. What has caught my eye this time around is some of the thoughts around endorsements and the role of church leaders. It's not a new debate and not restricted the USA. Even in the UK we have discussions about how political the pulpit ought to be or not to be depending upon your perspective. We even get to discussing the case of the opening letter (political with a P or a p?)

The problem with voting in a democracy is that people can vote how they like according to what is most important to them, and that means that they can vote as selfishly as they like too. So our parliamentary elections and American Presidential elections can become more about who will put the most money in my pocket rather than who offers the better solutions to the issues of the day.

Voting according to values is harder than you think. First you have to choose your values, and as if that isn't hard enough, you then have to compromise and find the best fit from the manifestos on offer. And then what do you do when the values you hold dear appear to be better supported by the party for whom you cannot bring yourself to vote!

Anyway, it was interesting to read the other day that the Billy Graham organisation is urging Christians across America to vote for the Biblical values. But which values? Are we talking here about the hot topic values or are we willing to say that actually many of the values we hold dear as evangelicals are not far from being red herrings when it comes to looking for truly biblical values.

If I asked you to list your top three biblical values, what would make your list, and what would be top? Here are my three as I thought about this earlier today:

  • Grace
  • Compassion
  • Equity
When I did a major study of Isaiah I was moved by God's deep concern for these three qualities. How you apply them to the broad, secularised world of politics is not easy, but it's worth some thought. You see I don't think some of the single issues, important as they are, are as important as these. Perhaps they are subsumed into them. And I wonder what shape our political landscapes would take if we looked at our economy from the perspective of grace, compassion and equity.

So, if you're going to vote according to Biblical values in any election, then my I suggest you take you time to weight what is really important to the God who daily renews his compassion, always treats us with grace and regularly calls us to treat others the same way.

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