Suffrage: How Should a Christian View Politics?

A quick definition of suffrage – a right of voting. It has certainly fallen out of usage! Globally, fighting for and significant wins towards suffrage for women in national and local elections ranged in the 1840’s to 1920’s. In the Philippines, the winning date was 30 April 1937 – women were allowed to vote!

Suffrage, as with thousands of English words, comes from Latin, suffragium, which originally meant to pray for or intercede, but which was later broadened to voting.

Incidentally, this fits right in to the era of my current favorite leisure series, Downton Abbey. Set in 1918 Britain, Lady Sybil was their down-to-earth, interesting, and forward-thinking daughter who advocated for women’s right to vote.

So, as I sat there in the Comelec (Commision on Elections) waiting area, all decked in face mask & face shield, expecting to have my voter’s registration transferred to my current city, as well as changed to my married name, it got me thinking about what has transpired through the years before I got to this place.

I mean, being a free country, a sovereign democracy, with a young woman like me having a privilege to vote.

It was not so long ago that women were not allowed to vote. It was not so long ago that our country was in a Martial Law. So it is indeed a privilege, one that is easily taken for granted.

An Ombudsman of the Philippines 10-page Citizen-Voter Education Module entitled “Your Vote, Our Future.,” states that the human right to vote is embodied in three instruments:

We are governed by these documents which all mandate universality of right, equality in access to public service, and secrecy of votes.

What is the Ombudsman? The thought of it takes me back to college days in Makati Med, we were the only college there, right smack in the Central Business District, walking around and eating where corporate workers and executives walked and ate. We frequently passed by the Ombudsman’s office. I didn’t know it then, but it was the government agency tasked to investigate and prosecute government officials accused of crimes, especially graft and corruption.

Waiting Online?

One thing that hit me too was that in the days before the Kindle, the smartphone and Facebook or Spotify, we humans used to do either of two things while waiting in line:

  • stare blankly somewhere, 🙂 or
  • make new friends.

Seeing as I had too many errands and forgot the Kindle at home, I just settled for my usual upbeat lo-fi beats on Spotify to pass the time. Sadly, unlike my husband who is apparently good at it despite his introversion (for purposes of evangelism), I on the other hand wasn’t able to make new friends, as most of the ladies in the voters’ registration queue were absorbed in their phones playing games and scanning Facebook.

In the end I got my details in and was successfully transferred here. I can vote here now! Granted that must be my last government identification to be changed to married name (after 8 years!), and the elections will still be in May 2022, but I’m excited!

But Why Vote?

Most certainly, God is in control, but surely, we can’t just do nothing to further His will. It is our duty and responsibility; to give to Ceasar what is due Ceasar; to do everything as unto the Lord; and to submit to our local authorities (provided they are not making us do anything dishonoring to God).

I understand that even among believers politics can spark heated debates. That’s why our leaders and mentors wouldn’t ever endorse or talk about any political candidates and we don’t do so as well. We simply choose the candidates to vote wisely as to the best options there are, do our part, and trust God for the results.

Voting and positions on issues also don’t have to be choosing just one political party. Timothy Keller would say in a New York Times article: “For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.”

Also, ultimately, it is the Lord that puts people in authority, He merely uses circumstances for His purposes. The Lord even put and used Daniel and Joseph in powerful pagan governments!

"For this has been decreed by the messengers;
    it is commanded by the holy ones,
so that everyone may know
    that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.
He gives them to anyone he chooses—
    even to the lowliest of people.”
Daniel 4:17 NLT

“Political entities are not the savior of the world. The salvation for all mankind has been manifested in Jesus Christ. God knew that our world needed saving long before any national government was ever founded. He demonstrated to the world that redemption could not be accomplished through the power of man, economic strength, military might, or politics. Peace of mind, contentment, hope, and joy—and the salvation of mankind—are provided only through Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

How Should a Christian View Politics, Gotquestions.org

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

Daniel 2:21 ESV

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