Next month we get to vote for our government, as well as two referendums. One about the ability to choose assisted dying, and the other about legalising cannabis.
A while ago I pondered writing a post about why my faith is leading me to vote the way that I am in the referendums. But I have since decided that that is actually extremely unhelpful.
Because as I've explored the topics more and more, I have seen really well written, well thought through, and faith grounded views being expressed on both sides of both issues.
I have also, however, seen really poorly thought through posts from people claiming that if you are really a Christian, of course you would vote X not Y...from both sides of both issues!
Take cannabis for example. If (and that's a big if) we can agree that the Christian gospel is a message of wholeness and well being, we can hopefully agree that we want to be encouraging ourselves and others to live in the healthiest ways we can. But even then, some would see the way to do that is to criminalise the things we believe are harmful, such as cannabis use, in order to show that this is not a desired way to live. However, with the same heart, some may also say that the best way to do this is to treat cannabis use as a health issue, not a criminal issue, and find ways to deal with the underlying trauma that leads many to look for stability and comfort in the form of cannabis.
Now of course, the above is a massive over-simplification of each viewpoint. And there are hundreds of other perspectives. But my point is that we need to do our research, prayerfully consider the options, and then make a decision. And we then need to own that decision as our own rather than placing that decision on God.
Personally, I don't think the question Christians should be asking is whether God wants us to legalise cannabis or not. But rather, he wants us asking what are the best strategies towards wholeness for people, communities, and the nation. He also wants us to be able to engage in dialogue around that without condemning those who think differently to us, and without claiming God as being on our side.
The Crusaders claimed God was on their side as they went to commit genocide. The Church, in opposing the scientific discovery that the earth wasn't flat, claimed God was on their side as they stood against this science that opposed the truth found in Scripture and was therefore a dangerous lie. Time and time again, Christians have claimed to have God on their side, and in hindsight, it wasn't pretty. And all it does is cause harm and division. As soon as you claim the 'God' position, you are condemning all those who think differently to you and are building a wall in between you. A wall God is working really hard to tear down!
So as the elections come, do your research, consider your options prayerfully, engage lovingly with others who think differently to you, and then make a decision.
Then own your decision and don't blame God for it!