Friday, May 06, 2011

Thoughts for Cooling-Off Day

Post-Workers' Party Rally Jam in Serangoon
How lovely if the crowd that had filled the Serangoon Stadium to capacity had streamed out, not from a Workers' Party rally, but from one of Billy Graham's; if the clusters of people in fiery debates under trees and in the void decks of HDB flats were arguing about things of eternal value.

With everyone talking about the upcoming Singapore general elections on 7 May 2011 - the most hotly contested elections in recent memory with 82 out of 87 parliamentary seats up for grabs, have been wondering how to vote:

The Christian is to be concerned about heavenly things; but that is not to say that the Christian should not be bothered about the present. The Christian should be engaged in his/her community, but the Christian must not think that this world is all there is; for this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). While our vote matters, it matters only for a very short while. Yet, in this fleeting moment in the history of mankind, it is important to act in a way demonstrates God's design and God's priorities for this world.

Therefore, perhaps:
  • we must not vote based on precedent - "I will always be a PAP supporter", "my family has always voted opposition"
  • we must not vote out of fear - even if we do not believe that our ballot is secret and the serial numbers on voting slips are merely to prevent fraud
  • we must not vote based on favoritism - swayed solely by the candidate's race or religion or school affiliation (eg. not voting for Vivian Balakrishnan from PAP because he's an old ACS boy or because someone has seen him at a church service before)
  • we must not vote out of sympathy for the underdog - such trend being part of the tyranny of modern culture
  • we must not vote merely based on current sentiment or just to be contrarian
  • we must not vote for charm or stage presence or content-free rhetoric (from both the incumbent and the opposition) - this isn't Singapore Idol or a Miss Singapore pageant ("world peace!", "low taxes!", "cheap and plentiful transportation!")
Acting responsibly as a Christian might then mean:
  • voting for a candidate who, as far as we can tell, is competent to govern wisely
  • voting for a candidate who, as far as we can tell, is trustworthy
  • voting for a candidate who, as far as we can tell, has convictions in line with the Christian worldview - in terms of ethics and morals, in terms of freedom to advance the gospel for the salvation of others, in terms of care for the poor and weak, in terms of justice and mercy that favour neither the rich nor the poor
(Of course in the Singapore system, if one is in a GRC ward, one might vote for the political party rather than an individual candidate.)

The Bible tells us much about the human hearts of both the government and the governed. In Judges and 1 and 2 Kings, we see how flawed leaders are, sinning even though they had the best intentions, with the worst ones leading the country in the way of their corruption. In Exodus, we see how even when led by God's specially-appointed leaders, the people grumbled and rebelled and found fault with God's own rescue and provision.

We will not be governed perfectly nor will we be willing to be subject absolutely to such government until God himself rules over us plainly and directly and our sinful hearts have been changed. This will not happen until this earth passes away and God creates a new heavens and new earth where those who trust in him in this life will live with him eternally.

Yet, we must not forget that God governs this present world too and puts in place rulers and authorities. Therefore, whatever the outcome of the elections, we are told:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour. (Romans 13:1-7)
and also
that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Our vote is important but our submission and prayers, even more so. The latter demonstrate where our hearts truly lie.



At May 06, 2011 8:19 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

See also David Burke's questions on GE 2011 Singapore:


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