By Afrika Mhlophe — Pastor, author, Gateway News columnist
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Thank goodness we have cleared the hurdle and answered the question of whether or not the Church should be involved in politics. For most of us there is consensus that indeed the Church should be involved in politics but the question is how. Do we become active in politics to a point of running for political office and/or forming Christian political parties? Is a Christian political party something legitimate seeing that other parties also have Christians serving in them?
The general elections to be held on May 7, 2014 are probably the most contentious since the advent of democracy and there are divisions that are also beginning to show in the Church. These became evident after the release of the Public Protector’s report into security upgrades in the President’s private residence. There are sections of the Church who surprised many of us by maligning the Public Protector and accusing her of reversing the gains of democracy.
Politics are about the governance of the nation and as the Church we are called to disciple the nation. The question then is: can we effectively disciple the nation without paying attention to how it is governed? I do not think so. When we become silent on issues of governance the country ends up being misgoverned. We can participate in the governance of the nation and influence its trajectory through voting into public office those who will carry a righteous agenda into government.
As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy we are told that we have much to be proud about but do we? In the last 18 years we have lost R650 billion through corruption and in fact our country has now become synonymous with corruption. Our murder rate is one of the highest in the world with 16 000 people killed every year. As if this is not enough we also kill those yet to be born because since the Termination of Pregnancy bill was passed in 1996 we have killed over a million unborn babies.
Lately we have seen blasphemy rising with politicians vainly using God’s name to gain votes. Superstition has also entered the fray with people being told that if they vote in a certain manner the dead will haunt them. Should Christians ignore these pronouncements and misdemeanours when they cast their votes? If we do not align our values with our vote do we have the right to complain about moral decline?
I believe voting gives us the opportunity to hold our public representatives accountable. If we do not hold them accountable then they rule with impunity. Voting for me is not about WHO but about WHAT a person votes for. Who governs is less important than what governs them. We cannot expect a party that is driving a humanistic agenda to act in a manner that honours God. Jesus said an evil tree produces an evil fruit.
The laws that have passed in South Africa in the last 20 years have clearly demonstrated that we are not governed with a Biblical worldview. We cannot change the legislation framework without changing the system that underpins that framework. We cannot just remain a voting fodder for corrupt leaders but we must stand up to them. We must be sensible instead of being sentimental when we enter the ballot box.
We must think about the future and not only the past. Ask yourself about the kind of a country you want to leave for your children and as well as whether or not your vote honours God. The light of SA is becoming dark and as Christians we are complicit in this. We have enabled this through our passivity and by creating a dichotomy between what we profess and how we act. We have also contributed by allowing ourselves to be seduced into race-based politics.
Are we not hypocrites when we choose a person based on the colour of his skin instead of his values and principles? Why do we preach that in God’s eyes a person’s race does not matter and yet it is at the forefront of our minds? It is because we carry so much baggage and prejudice that I think we should ask God to guide us in these upcoming elections. He must be present with all of us in that voting booth.