Why Evangelical Christians can and should be involved in public life

Yesterday, Tim Farron resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats explaining that he felt “torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader”[1]

Today, people are asking whether or not Christians who believe the Bible’s teaching on moral matters such as abortion and same-sex marriage can still be involved in public life or whether their view now in effect bar them from mainstream politics and high office.

My response is to say very firmly that Evangelical Christians can and should continue to be involved in politics. Furthermore, they should do so without compromising their faith or feeling that they have to hide their beliefs or treat them as private, having no bearing on public policy.

This does not mean that Christians will be successful. It is true that they may find that whenever they seek office that the media will stir up a storm against them.[2] So, if the only reason you are considering a political career is because you want to be successful and hold high office then think again.

However, if you are considering standing for election in order to stand up for what is right and to speak for the vulnerable and those who cannot speak for themselves (including unborn babies) then do not be put off by the current media storm.

I noticed a few comments asking the question whether or not people like Wilberforce and Shaftesbury would be able to serve and have an impact today. It is worth remembering therefore (and a little ironic) that when Wilberforce began to campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, he wasn’t putting forward a popular view, he was pushing against the tide. He went to parliament and campaigned and debated tirelessly. He experienced many defeats. It looked like he would fail. It took many years to bring a change in the law. Wilberforce never held high office because his priority and focus was on a specific issue of justice and obedience to God.

I believe that Wilberforce would have been right to take the stand he did even if he had not succeeded. That he did succeed encourages us as it reminds us that God is sovereign and he can bring good even when and where things look impossible.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40281300

[2] Though, whether or not you agree with his politics, Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated that it is possible to cut through in public life even when holding positions that the mainstream media consider untenable.

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