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Is Politics really a ‘dirty’ game?

Artikel in Afrikaans Hieronder

Maretta Bellingan wrote in Rapport last week: “There are people who when they hear you work for a newspaper, quickly make excuses. No, sorry, I don’t read the newspaper, too much bad news.  What does one say to someone like that?  Carry on regardless, you uninformed ‘palooka’.  Who wants to be part of this life if you prefer acting like an ostrich? Or: No, I understand, the world is evil, the less you know, the less you have to feel.”

Her article once again reminded me of some people’s reaction when it comes to politics.  When they hear you are involved, or even merely interested in policitics, they are quick to remark: “No, politics is just a dirty business, I don’t want anything to do with it, let the politicians go ahead, they are only doing it in their own interests anyway.”  And with this generalisation they easily evade their responsibility.

This attitude is often justified from a Christian point of view.  The greatest part of our country’s population consider themselves Christians, thus a few remarks on this topic.  I am not a minister of religion and don’t want to dwell on the field of theology, but because I also belong to the group who call themselves Christians, I have my views about the matter. (I do, however, accept that many may disagree, and I respect that).

Politics in itself cannot be “dirty”. Politics are about the principles by which a country is governed and managed, and the practical application of these principles.  It is all about the code of conduct; the policies of a government in respect of specific issues; procedures and behaviour.   In the Bible, the issue of governments is a big one. In the Old Testament it is explained in detail which were good and which were bad governments. In times where the leaders served God, it went well with the country, and the opposite was also true.  In the New Testament, it is said that all governments were put in place by God. The Bible teaches that we have to obey our governments and pray for them. I can’t imagine that this means you always have to pray for the “rubbish” . It is understandable that there is a negative perception regarding politicians, but again, we cannot generalise.

No country can exist without a government – no matter how “spiritual” you are. We are still here on earth and it is given to us to take care of, control and manage. People often want to distantiate themselves from politics, but the decisions of government have a direct impact on each of us, whether it be on the level of economics, security or education, or any other level. Whether you want to admit it or not, political leaders have a direct influence on our daily lives. We deal with government departments on a daily basis, which carry out government policies; policies that are set by the legislative authority, consisting of people. Our election system in South Africa operates like those of many other countries – a democratic system by which the citizens of a country decide who their leaders must be. The solution is to get the right people in those positions. However, because people choose their government, it does not mean that God is left out of the picture. It does, in fact, place a greater responsibility on us to be involved and to vote. Why?  Because God uses people to carry out His purposes on earth, and uses us to elect them. 

My question is this – don’t Christians have a role to play here? It is specifically in this area where Christians can practice their morals and values to the benefit of everyone.  I’m not talking about a political party with a Christian name. No matter what the name, morals and values must become evident through policies and behaviour.  (Personally I don’t really care much for a Christian name for a political party – for a few reasons, but that is a different debate).  People don’t necessarily want to hear that you are a Christian; they want to see and experience it. Christians who want to distantiate themselves from politics, to me often seem ‘holier than thou’. “You keep yourself busy with earthly things, and I will keep busy with the heavenly”, . The danger is that we can become so heavenly minded, that we hardly mean anything to anyone here on earth. I would much rather see more “Josephs” and “Daniels” in our government, Biblical figures who held top political positions and had a remarkable impact on the government and population of their time. So much so, that they still serves as examples today. Even Jesus showed His disciples how to pray “May Your Kingdom Come; Your Will Be Done; As It Is In Heaven; So Be It On Earth”.  It surely means that while we are still here on earth, we have an important role to play.

Politics do not apply to matters of government alone, but everywhere: in the workplace, church, sports – you name it. This is not the problem. It is the politics within politics, the politics at work, church and sports that make it problematic. That is what is “dirty” about politics. This is when everything is merely about your own advantage, and where principles and values no longer apply. We are not compelled to have anything to do with that. It was CJ Langenhoven who said: “Eer ‘n man na sy posisie, dit is genoeg dat hy die posisie oneer aandoen”. (Translated: “Honour a man for his position, it is sufficient that he is a discredit to the position.”) We as South Africans are tired of honouring the government and people in positions of authority just because they hold those positions of authority. We would love to honour a person or government because they deserve it.

Politics are about ‘serving’. The call for more Christians to become involved in politics, is not to create a Christian power base. It would hold its own dangers if that were the motive (another further debate). The purpose is always to put the best and effective government in place to serve its country and its people – people who are qualified and competent, no matter what religious views they have. Christians must however be involved.  The fact that things got “dirty”, is precisely the reason why Christians who live their principles and values, must be involved.

Even though we must obey and pray for our government, it does not mean that we can’t differ and criticize them. How could they construct policies without this? It is true that politics may sometimes become slightly robust in order to reach a solution, but this does not mean that we must become enemies and destroy each other in the process. It is in the ways in which we differ and debate that need to be changed in South Africa.  I warned in my previous article against the spirit of bitterness and intolerance which has taken a grip in our land (especially since the split in the ruling party), and if this is not managed well by strong leadership, it could lead to political violence on the road to Elections 2009. This is not something we can afford. The Christian belief is based on forgiveness and love – love for every person – no matter what…Can we handle our politics in the same manner? Yes, a thousand times YES!!!

Barend La Grange                                                                                                  Elections 2009

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4 Responses to “Is Politics really a ‘dirty’ game?”

  1. 1

    Hi Barend, Ek het jou artikels gelees. Ek is ook van mening dat ons as christene nie aktief genoeg betrokke is by die politiek van ons dag nie. Gesien in die lig van ons agtergrond, het ons die politiek vermy omdat ons geleer is poltiek is vuil en dat christene hulle nie daarby moet inmeng nie. Trek jou kruisie en los die vuilspel vir iemand wat bereid is om homself te besmeer. Tog is dit duidelik dat die politieke toestand van ons land juis is wat dit is omdat ware sterk beginselvaste leiers die platvorm vermy.
    Die christen is juis geroep om sout van die aarde te wees waar agteruitgang en korrupsie plaasvind. Of lig in die wêreld waar die duisternis heers. Feit is dat duisternis alleenlik heers waar lig afwesig is. Sodra die lig verskyn sal die duisternis wyk. Die Kerk ken nie meer haar plek op die markplein nie. Ons is nie sigbaar en aanwesig nie. Iemand het eenmaal die aanmerking gemaak dat die kerk altyd uitasem en te laat op die toneel opdaag. Ek hoop saam met jou dat alle christene hierdie verkiesing sal stem om te keer dat slegs hulle wat betrokke is in die “vuil politiek” ons toekoms sal bepaal.
    Ek salueer jou.

  2. 2

    Hi Oom Barend,

    Ek is baie bly en verlig om te sien dat iemand bereid is om op te staan en uit te praat oor wat reg is- veral oor Christene en die politiek in Suid Afrika. Ons as Christene is verantwoordelik om eerstens ‘faithfully’ te bid vir ons land. En tweedens MOET elke enkele person wat hulself ‘n Christen noem, aksie neem om ons land om te draai vir Christus – en ons kan dit doen deur te stem.

    In die New Kings James version se dit mooi hoe ons moet dink oor dit: “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.” en verder aan se dit: “Do you see that faith was working together with [Abraham's] works, and by works faith was made perfect?” James 2:17,18 & 22

    Met ander woorde, Christene moet besef dat God van ons verwag om te bid EN te reageer op situasies – veral as dit kom by politiek. Ons kan net 100% ons geloof uitleef as ons dit ondersteun met werke. Stem en bid is die oplossing vir ons land. As die politieke situasie in ons land onmoontlik vir ons lyk, is dit presies waar God ons wil he – afhanklik van Hom en bereid om te bid. En daarna moet ons Hom vra wat Hy wil he ons moet doen oor die situasie. Ons los dit dan in Sy hande en Hy sal dan de res voorsien en AL die eer kry! Ek hoop ek het my punt duidelik oorgebring.

    Dankie, baie Blessings

  3. 3

    I disagree with your article.

    Religion and politics should under no be combined.

    “This attitude is often justified from a Christian point of view.”
    Doesn’t this tell you something?

    “In the New Testament, it is said that all governments were put in place by God.”
    Cough Zanu-PF Cough. Is God a sadist? Robert Mugabe is a Roman Catholic[1].

    “My question is this – don’t Christians have a role to play here? It is specifically in this area where Christians can practice their morals and values to the benefit of everyone.”

    Haha, are you joking here? The Bible allows slavery[2], rape[3] and promotes genocide[4].
    These are violations of basic human rights!!!! How extremely moral.

    “pray for our government”
    What good is that gonna do?….Doesn’t God already know of our problems?
    ‘Give a man a fish and he’s fed for a day, teach a man to fish and he’s fed for a lifetime, give a man a Bible and he will die praying for food.’

    “The Christian belief is based on forgiveness and love – love for every person – no matter what…”

    Wrong, its love every person if he’s a Christian[5].

    There are more examples……all you have to do is ask.

    [2]Leviticus 25:44-46;Exodus 21:2-6;Exodus 21:7-11;Exodus 21:20-21;Ephesians 6:5;Luke 12:47-48
    [3]Judges 21: 10- 24;Numbers 31: 7-18
    [4]Exodus34: 11-14;Leviticus 26: 7-9
    [5]Leviticus 14:34;Deuteronomy 2:25;Deuteronomy 7:3;Deuteronomy 12:2-3;there are so many just visit http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/int/long.html

  4. 4
    Barend La Grange:

    Hi Bil , Thanks for your comments. As you can see this article was actually my call on Christians not to see themselves as an isolated group of people but to accomodate everyone because we are a Country of people with different believes (“people who are qualified and competent, no matter what religious views they have”). So I do not criticize people with other believes and this is neither a forum where I would try to defend my own. Christianity however is about a personal relationship with Jesus and not about the intrepetation of certain verses in the Bible.

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