“Can a Christian vote for a candidate who is not pro-life?” This question has been put to me repeatedly in regard to the current federal election. In one media interview – where my position was not reported in the final article that was published – the reporter asked the question several times, rephrasing it as if I hadn’t understood the first time.
Certainly, the assumption seemed to underlay an article in the National Post to which I replied in an opinion editorial comment (see Don’t dismiss the so-cons).
Last week, a similar question was asked by Leslie Mackinnon in preparation for her piece on “Politics and Religion” that appeared on Sunday night’s CBC The National. Ms. Mackinnon was not pre-occupied with the question and quickly moved to other questions related to her reflection on Christian engagement in the electoral process.
First, the short answer to the question, and then a bit of explanation.
A Christian can vote for a candidate who is not “pro-life.”
To be clear, I think those asking the question were limiting the concept of pro-life to the question of limiting or prohibiting abortion in Canada as part of the recognition of the humanity and personhood of the unborn child. However, being pro-life covers a broader spectrum than pre-birth just as human life itself is a conception to death timeframe (plus the questions of eternity).
So, a candidate might touch on several issues of importance on the full pro-life spectrum without being prepared to engage on the matter of Canada’s lack of laws restricting abortion. A quick look at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Election Kit 2011 notes several such issues, including: Protection of Children; Poverty and Homelessness; and Respect for Human Life – Euthanasia.
In addition, there are ridings where there is no candidate who holds to a position that would recognize the right to life of the unborn child. In those instances, Christians are still encouraged, as in any other riding, to cast an informed vote based on their understanding of the personal and party positions of the candidates.
Some ridings offer the difficult choice between candidates who share Christian values but are not likely to be elected, or if elected not likely to have influence in Parliament, and candidates who belong to the likely to be elected parties. In those instances, a number of Christians choose to vote for the less likely to be elected while others choose to vote for the more likely to be elected.
The bottom line is that Christianity is not about belief in the cause of the unborn – although our faith informs our perspective on life. Christianity is about a personal relationship with God, made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection days later. This past weekend’s celebration of Easter wasn’t about chocolates and bunnies or even definitive timelines and dates. The celebration of Easter was about a remembrance that God has made a way for us to know freedom from judgment for our sins and has provided His Spirit to assist us in living life in real time (and for eternity). Like voting, this is a personal choice.
Yes, Christians have a concern for the unborn. We also have a concern for the born, the developing, the suffering and the dying. And, as our brothers and sisters in Christ make choices about how they will vote they deserve to be as free from our judgment about their decision as they are from His judgment for their sin.