How should Christians vote?
DR STUART LANGE
Pray As One NZ is midway through 12 days of praying for the election and has been developing an enthusiastic group of prayer warriors from across the nation, with reinforcements from our Aussie brothers and sisters who are also praying for us.
We should vote carefully and prayerfully, with a view not to our own interests but to the long-term well-being of our society.
1 | Parties, policies, and politicians
So many things in New Zealand need constructive and effective new strategies: in public health, employment, housing, the environment, social justice, education, marriage and family, and much else. Every political party has some good policies, and every party has some not-so-good policies. Some policies mean little. Some need to go further. Some policies are unhelpful and wrong. We need wisdom as we sift through all this.
The new abortion law that was passed by the majority of MPs earlier this year highlighted how our Parliament has become excessively swayed by liberal social agendas, with support from across the political spectrum. This was likewise demonstrated in many MPs’ support for the End of Life Choice Act. In both cases, individual personal freedoms were elevated over respect for the sanctity of human life. This is disturbing. The cannabis bill is likewise about personal freedom, and being presented as health-based ‘reform’. Other dangerous legislation is in the pipeline, which could seriously compromise legitimate religious freedoms of speech and action. All this indicates that New Zealand very much needs a higher proportion of MPs who are committed to longstanding and Christian ethical principles. We encourage Christian voters to place a very high priority on voting for those candidates who are Christian, or at least moral conservatives, and who voting records confirms that. A search of the Value Your Vote website quickly indicates which MPs vote in ways we may trust.
2 | The Cannabis referendum
NZCN stands by its key concerns about the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. While NZCN supports moves toward generally decriminalising recreational cannabis use (and retaining penalties only in relation to producers and dealers), we believe the proposed legalisation would damage New Zealand society…
- Cannabis use remains addictive and dangerous for many people, especially those under 25, and can induce psychosis, depression, loss of cognitive function, lung disease, suicidal tendencies, and foetal harm.
- Legalisation of cannabis and its sale would normalise cannabis use and (as overseas) increase its use by at least 30%. That alone should make us vote No.
- Legalising and normalising cannabis use will increase cannabis-related road deaths, work place accidents, educational failure, and domestic violence (and legalisation would undermine society’s messages in relation to all of those things, and in also relation to New Zealand becoming smoke-free).
- Society’s socio-economically disadvantaged groups are those likely to suffer most from the increased availability and use of cannabis.
- New Zealand does not need a new profit-driven cannabis industry with a network of retail shops in many communities (which would most likely be placed in already disadvantaged communities).
- Legalisation would not end the black market in cannabis. In Canada, over 70% of cannabis is still purchased on the black market. Illegal dealers including gangs would continue to sell cannabis at lower prices, with unsafe levels of THC, and to those under 20.
With refreshing candour, former Prime Minister John Key spoke up this week against the proposed Cannabis Reform and Control Bill. He declared he would be voting No: “If you want to see more drugs in New Zealand society, vote yes. If you don’t, vote no.” He dismissed the claim that the gangs would disappear out of the cannabis market as “a load of junk”: “of course the gangs are going [to] be there. They’re going to actually have a cheaper product because they don’t pay taxes”. He likewise said it was “nonsense” to claim that the Government would make a lot of extra tax money: it would instead be spending a lot more on mental health issues. Only vote yes, he said, “if you want a society where there are more prevalent drugs and your kids are more likely to take them”.
3 | The euthanasia referendum
The End of Life Choice Act appeals to many people, and very understandably. Nobody really likes the idea of dying in intolerable pain, and so many like the idea of being offered an opportunity to opt out. But this Act is extremely dangerous, much more so than most voters realise. We oppose the End of Life Choice Act for several reasons:
- It is a very major thing for society to allow anyone (including doctors and nurse practitioners) to kill anyone else, or to assist them to commit suicide. That is a line society simply should not cross, for any number of reasons (whether spiritual, cultural, or ethical reasons, or for protecting public safety). As with most Christians and many others too, including many doctors, NZCN is thus opposed as a matter of principle to any form of euthanasia.
- Once society allows people to be euthanised in some circumstances, it can easily extend that to many other circumstances and conditions. Euthanasia gradually becomes normalised, and becomes steadily more common. Overseas examples (as in Holland and Belgium) show that “assisted dying” soon becomes extended to those with mental illness and depression, the disabled, the frail and demented elderly, the lonely, those with chronic conditions, those who do want to be a burden, those who are tired of life, and even to children. The culture of death gathers an irresistible momentum, and also begins to slip into the toleration of involuntary euthanasia.
- Euthanasia is unnecessary: terminal illness is never easy, but the overwhelming majority of people die peacefully, and nowadays with their pain well-controlled. It is ironic that the euthanasia supporters have been agitating for their cause in an era when palliative care and pain relief is better than ever before. The driving principle behind euthanasia is not medical, but the illusory contemporary obsession with individuals claiming absolute autonomy over their own lives and choices.
- Despite the assertions of its champions, the safeguards in the End of Life Choice Act are in fact far from rigorous or tight. The Act has far fewer protections than most euthanasia laws overseas. There is no effective safeguard against coercion, no ‘last resort’ clause (after treatment has been tried), no requirement to see a palliative care specialist, no mandatory requirement for psychological assessment, no mandatory cooling-off period, no requirement to consult or tell family, no independent witness, and no adequate protection for doctors who object to euthanasia on spiritual or ethical grounds.
So, in all these things, please vote, and do so carefully and prayerfully, with a view to the long-term wellbeing of our society!