Thursday 24 November 2011

Results of survey of the Biblical prophets: How should leaders lead?

As I said earlier, in the light of the upcoming election I've been trying to work out how God might want our leaders to lead.  I've been somewhat surprised by what I've found.

As I see it, Christians in the anglophone West tend to adopt one of two political positions: 'family values' or 'social justice'.  I have always been part of the 'social justice' camp.  In doing this Biblical survey, my aim was to allow scripture to challenge that.  To my considerable surprise, I didn't find a single statement in the prophets that categorically seemed to support the 'family values' viewpoint.  Instead, what I found was material on the importance of leading the population in following God and material on the importance on caring for the weak.

I decided to ignore the stuff about leading people towards God: I don't live in a theocracy and it feels deeply inappropriate to me for our politicians to require Kiwis to follow a particular religion.  That then left a bunch of statements about caring for members of vulnerable groups and two statements that may have been about sexual ethics or may have been about worshipping other Gods.  The first was a statement on God hating divorce.  It came in the context of men leaving 'the wife of their youth' and marrying foreign women and worshipping their gods.  I was unclear if it was more the divorce or the foreign wives that was the problem, so I decided to leave it out of my consideration.  There was also at least one negative mention of men having sex with prostitutes, too, but at least some of the prostitute seemed to be temple prostitutes.  I was unsure whether the use of prostitutes or the participation in pagan worship was the real problem, so again I decided to leave it out.

So, this is what I found from the Bible passages listed in my previous post that seemed to be relevant to our secular context.

Firstly, character seems to be at least as important as actual actions.  These are the character traits that good leaders were described as having (or the character traits that I think are the natural opposites of those that bad leaders were described as having):

  • humble (8)
  • truthful (7)
  • there to serve (7)
  • honour God (2)
  • caring (2)
  • not ruthless/aggressive (2)
  • wise (1)
  • love what is right (1)
  • good (1)

(the numbers in brackets are how often that particular trait came up.)

In terms of actual 'policies', this is what came up:

  • will make sure the poor have access to justice (12)
  • will care for vulnerable groups in society (12)
  • will bring just laws (4)
  • will rescue people trapped in bad situations (2)
  • will offer mercy to those who have done illegal things (2)
  • will make laws that do not oppress vulnerable people (2)
  • will look after good people (victims of crime?) (1)
  • protect employees from employers who want to take advantage of them (1)
  • consider the impact of policies on the needs of  those outside the country (1)

So, now all I have to do is compare the policies of the various parties with that list and see how they match up!

Incidentally, I'd be really interested if someone of the more 'family values' persuasion could explain to me how they have arrived at that position.  I can't begin to imagine that it isn't in the Bible - so many very Biblically literate Christians believe it, after all.  But I was surprised not to find it in this wee survey and I'd love to hear about where it is to be found so I can add it into my considerations for the next election.

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