Well, it’s started. The race for Number 10 is well and truly on, and it is by common consent one of the most fascinating of modern times. The favorite by a very narrow margin indeed is David Cameron, but it would be a brave punter who bet the farm on a decisive Tory majority this early in the campaign.
There are various encouraging signs around this particular election. One is that the parties are not polarized in terms of their vision for the country or their prescriptions for the way out of the state we’re in.
We all know what the problems are. The arguments are not so much about the destination as about the route – as it might be, for instance, with a family on its way to the coast on a hot day. This is encouraging because extremists are usually wrong and often dangerous.
Another encouraging sign is the extent to which churches are being encouraged to get involved in the political process – and are being given the resources with which to do so. And the thoughtfulness of many of these web-based resources is an indication of a certain political maturity, which is not replicated everywhere in the world, and is a sign that Christians are resistant to the sort of “dog-whistle” slogans that are so attractive elsewhere.
We will not let one party – Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat or whoever – take the moral high ground at the expense of every other, claiming our allegiance as Christians because of its adherence to certain morally safe positions on the usual issues. It’s all much more complicated than that.
What we should seek as Christians is not consensus on the way to solve our country’s problems, but on the kind of character we bring to the polling booth. There are very few areas in our domestic politics where the difference between right and wrong is so blindingly obvious that a Christian is to be condemned for voting on the wrong side. But there are many areas where we are far too easily led by habit, prejudice, self-interest or tribal loyalty, rather than by our love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let this be the thinking Christian’s election, whatever else it is.
Mark Woods is a Baptist minister and managing editor for ChristianToday.com. He served previously as the editor of The Baptist Times of Great Britain.