So … election time is upon us and many will be wondering why, a whole week on, I have not made any comment. That is partly because I have been reflecting on the whole election stuff and my views (which are well known to many of you) and it has been an interesting time. My reflections, which will become clearer below, have challenged me to seek to understand the other side of some arguments that are bouncing around in the worldwide church at the moment as well. For me it has been quite challenging time in seeing things from the other side of the arguments of sexuality and women bishops in particular. I believe sexuality should not make any difference and look forward to seeing women bishops, but I am aware there are other Christians who see things very differently.
It is clear to us all that at election times in the UK we all see things differently. I will speak bluntly (but please hear me out before you jump to the bottom of the page to make a comment telling me I am wrong). I truly believe that as a Christian there is no other option but to vote Labour. I seriously cannot see or understand how any Christian can vote Tory. I know I am only talking about two parties here – but realistically we all know that Number 10 will be occupied by either Gordon Brown or David Cameron in a few weeks time.
I think it is our duty as Christians to support all, with a particular preference for the poor and marginalised, and I can only see the Labour Party being the political party that is interested in doing that. I am totally convinced a Conservative government would make things worse for the marginisled and poor of our country and so I cannot ever entertain the thought of myself voting such – even if that would mean I was voting for policies that were not particularly in my interest. I believe the Tory party to be totally disinterested in the poor and marginilsed of this nation. I read scripture and feel to vote Tory goes massively against how I interpret the living out of gospel values. For me, as a Christian, voting Tory is so so wrong!
And yet ….. I know lots of Christians who will be voting Tory. These people are not just names or acquaintances but are people I value, love and respect. Most of them I have counted as close friends for the best part of 20 years. For the last decade I have been drinking with some of these friends before footy games in the Conservative Club in Gillingham High Street – but I still cannot see, and I do not understand, how they combine their faith with their voting intention – but I know that they do and that they do so with integrity.
I know these friends take their Christian faith just as seriously as I do; they will pray as I will and they are voting in the way that they believe God is calling them to vote. I don’t understand how, and if I am totally honest I don’t even like it; but I can, and do, accept it. And before you point it out; I am fully aware that there are lots of Christians very active in all three main parties within Christian-political organisations like Christian Socialist Movement (CSM), Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF )and Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF) which can all be found via the Christians in Politics website. No one party has more Christians than any other and I guess that simply confuses me in light of the strong convictions I outline above.
So … why the ramble …. well I think election time offers an important reflection time for all of us. Within Christian politics strong views can be held by individuals but those strong views do not result in cold stand offs where fellowship, communion and love cannot be shared. Those strong political views do not stop MP’s being friends and nor do they stop me spending time with good friends of different political persuasions. But … with doctrine disagreements this is exactly what seems to be happening.
Christians can believe different things and still be Christians. Election time highlights that fact quite profoundly and I believe if people took this on board in the current church scene then opposing viewpoints could be held together.
My Tory friends do not see me as any less of a Christian because I have a different political view to them. I do not see them as any less of a Christian because they have completely different views to me. If this can be the case in political beliefs, can it not also be the same for doctrinal beliefs? Surely we need to realise that none of us have the monopoly on truth or being correct – we all have shaded of it and it is when we combine that a fuller, more accurate, picture is achieved! Well …. that’s my thought anyway!
By the way I have seen some Chritians talking about not voting. That is ridiculous – please consider carefully and vote for someone …. if you are thinking of NOT voting then you should watch this little video where each of the leaders of the main three parties addresses Christians after an introduction by Archbishop John Sentamu. Please … whatever … use that vote!