17 June 2024

Apathy during the General Election is sin

Written by James Mildred

This article first appeared in In Touch, our bi-annual magazine. You can download this issue of the magazine for free here or order printed copies by completing this form.

Photo credit: martin-dm – istockphoto.com

After months of speculation, the Prime Minister has announced a general election for Thursday, 4 July. In a rain-soaked statement, Rishi Sunak framed the election as a choice between the Conservatives, who ‘have a plan’, and Labour, who he claimed do not. Labour leader Keir Starmer responded that this election is all about ‘change’.

From my conversations, it’s clear that Christians will be voting, but many face a double challenge: they do not know who to vote for and they are not enthusiastic about the prospect.

The feeling of apathy

I want to address the apathy many feel about this election. Why is it there, and how can we view it from a biblical perspective? Diagnosing this apathy is straightforward. Politics has been chaotic and unimpressive over the last few years, marked by instability, power grabs, and scandals. The relentless 24-hour media exposes us to these issues up close. When a Conservative majority of 80 is reduced to under 40 due to scandals and defections, disillusionment and apathy are understandable.

No party represents my view

What is there to get excited about as we contemplate which party will govern our country? This form of apathy is real and understandable. But as a Christian, I care about my nation (Jeremiah 29:7) and pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I see the connection between politics and people. Laws and social policies have consequences. I want a society where God’s wisdom and word are honoured.

Thinking biblically

I believe apathy about the election is a sin. That might strike you as bold, but I want to make you think! I could list reasons to care about elections, but I don’t want to be disingenuous. I have felt the same apathy.

In the Bible, I am commanded to love my neighbour (Mark 12:30-31) as myself. I am also commanded to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4) with the aim of seeing freedom for the gospel. An election is an opportunity to follow our prayers for godly leaders with servant-hearted action by carefully and wisely voting for candidates who will bless our neighbours.

I am also told to keep my spiritual fervour (Romans 12:11), that I am salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:13-16), and that I should speak up for those without a voice (Proverbs 31:8). With Christ, I am to fulfil the Great Commission of making disciples (Matthew 28).

Apathy about the election is sin

Given these realities, surely apathy about the election, a significant moment in our nation’s life, is sin. This attitude needs to be challenged and changed, with God’s help and relying on his Spirit and grace. Apathy can lead to anger and cynicism, also sinful attitudes. If you look at the fruits of the Spirit, apathy is as far away from them as you can get.

So, my suggestion is to repent of our apathy and pray for wisdom and help from the Lord to engage in politics with optimism and hope. We know politics is not the ultimate in this world. As citizens of the new world, we are free to engage well, investing in God’s kingdom, knowing that in his power and providence, some good laws will be passed and some bad ones will be stopped.

CARE’s election website, engage24, provides resources, from prayer points to manifesto analysis and voting records, plus a quiz to help you align your views with the main parties. I encourage you to use this site.

Love my neighbour

Often we view voting as an individualistic exercise, fuelled by the ‘me and my vote’ mentality. Instead, what if we approached voting through a ‘love your neighbour’ lens? Ask yourself what your local constituency needs. Apart from the spiritual problem, what are the practical, environmental, economic, and other challenges? And what can you do to engage with these issues?

So, there you have it. Resist the sin of apathy. Pray for God’s help and wisdom. And approach politics through a people-centred lens.

Written by
James Mildred
James Mildred is CARE’s Director of Communications and Engagement. He started working in politics in 2014. He moved to London to work for CARE that same year and also completed a two year church based training programme.

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