GE2017: Biblical priorities in voting

When it comes to a matter of public policy, Christians have to assess biblical priorities. We can distinguish those political issues on which the Bible is absolutely clear from those where the Bible is not clear.

The Bible is not clear on how to improve access to GPs’ surgeries or the most appropriate level of university tuition fees. To decide on these issues involves a detailed assessment of the facts and the exercise of judgment based on experience. Many situations we encounter in ordinary life are at this level and so are many political issues.

But at the other end of the spectrum the Bible is “clear, direct, and decisive” about a whole host of political issues. For example, a vote for abortion or euthanasia is a vote to break the sixth Commandment on the law of murder (Exodus 20:13). These are the kinds of issues that we focus on in this briefing – straightforward matters of right or wrong.

Archbishop William Temple famously used the analogy of an engineer who wants to build a bridge. Christians can preach ‘make a safe bridge’ – that’s a clear moral principle, but it’s up to engineers to come up with the particular design.

There is a very large proportion of political issues where making a Christian judgment depends on the wise assessment of several biblical principles. This can result in Christians arriving at different conclusions. For example, we know for certain that the state has a right to levy taxes (Romans 13:7). But Christians who hold to biblical truth can legitimately disagree on the level of individual taxes.