The other week, I wrote about the danger of allowing our political philosophy to drive our beliefs and actions instead of our faith and theology. At the same time, this does not mean that we have to absolve ourselves from all involvement in and engagement with politics.
Personally, I find politics fascinating. I was involved in student politics when at University. I am no-longer a member of any party but I love reading about current affairs and watching our leaders in action at party conferences and in the House of Commons. Now, some pastors happily wear their political allegiance on their sleeves. Some have even gone so far as to join, campaign for and even run for office with their chosen party. On the other hand, some pastors are more reluctant to disclose their political position. I certainly fall more into the cautious bracket. However, I don’t think there is a legalistic right or wrong on this. Rather. It is likely to depend upon your context.
However, whether or not, we tell people who we are voting for in terms of party, I think that people will be able to tell where we are coming from generally in terms of politics and that should be okay but so often it is not. In the USA, socialism is a dirty word, here the roles tend to be reversed with the right considered evil.
I think that the problem there is suspicion. In the US, people are suspicious of left-wing and progressive politics because they associate them with a link to LGBTQ and other questionable agendas. Here in the UK it tends to be reversed these days with churches and their members tending to be more suspicious of the right and so more in line with Labour, The Liberal Democrats or occasionally the Greens.
So, it is worth emphasising that it is okay to be on the left. Left wingers are not simply people who like to take your money from you and get you into trouble. At its simplest, their political philosophy is an argument for communitarianism and the belief that we should work with other Christians.This leads to a belief that we should be willing to pay a little extra in taxes so that everyone is looked after. At its most ideal, this approach seeks to ensure that the Government holds their land and wealth for the benefit of the country. However, there are a ranger of moderating positions too.
The point is that the socialist is trying to care for everyone. Their ideas may not be work but they try them for the benefit of others. They are not rejecting God or common sense. They have simply reasoned things through, put their trust in Christ and simply south to care for others and to care for them too when in need.
Now the term “right-wing” tends to be used pejoratively in the UK, a mirror reversal of the situation in the States again. Right-wingers are associated with Brexit, The BNP, UKIP and harsh immigration policies. They are also portrayed as supporting low tax, privatisation of business success solely for their own benefit.
This misses the point. It sets up the division between left and right as a moral battle between good and evil. Yet, there are also reasonable arguments for libertarianism and for centre right politics. The assumption here is that the right and selfish. I’ m sure they can be too. However, people can be selfish on the left too believing that the welfare state absolves them of any responsibility whatsever to their neighbour. Meanwhile for many on the right, there’s no interest in anti immigration stuff or closing the borders. There’s simply a belief that people do better to make it on their own without lots of state interventions. So, they tend to emphasise low taxes, controlled inflation and small government. The belief is that this is a more efficient means to getting help to where it is needed. It is a belief that the State tends to provide lousy foundations to build on. It’s a believe that the best thing the State can do is let people get on with their lives and choose where to help.
Ironically, ethically we assume that the right tends towards a more individualistic/libertarian view but in fact there is often a commitment to working together as a community. This contrasts with those who use collectivist language when what they really means is that they are an individual and so they leave their room to someone else.
The point is that your political views do not mark you out as moral and compassionate or unloving and immoral. They simply point to your views about how best to run things. The real issue is what is motivating the heart as well as how those with power treat others.
I don’t know how you are planning to vote next time you get the opportunity. However, let’s prioritise
- A willingness to love others who hold different views to us
- A refusal not to get drawn into partisan attitudes
- A motivation for our political decisions which is rooted in God’s Word and in compassion