Election 2017: what’s the issue?

Tim Thornborough | June 7th 2017

How do you decide where to put your cross?

As we go to the polls tomorrow, many people will be burdened by a particular social, economic or ethical issue. It might be poverty or taxation. It might be abortion or immigration. It could be the closure of a local hospital or the opening of a new mosque. Maybe we have even sacrificed our more general political instincts in favour of the promise of another party to support our particular thing.

Last week I was struck by a new discovery about a personal hero of mine. We all know about Wilberforce’s role in abolishing the slave trade. Perhaps less well known is his concern for another kind of slavery. I saw this intriguing quote from John Keay’s History of India:

As everyone knows, Wilberforce was at the forefront of abolishing the slave trade. What is less well known is his concern for a slavery far worse than a physical one. Whilst Wilberforce never visited India, he had a particular burden for her people and once wrote that Hinduism was, I quote, "the most enormous and tormenting superstition that ever harassed and degraded any portion of the human race."

He therefore regarded emancipating Indians from spiritual slavery as every bit as important as emancipating Africans from physical slavery. Indeed, he believed it was more important. Wilberforce regarded missionary access to India to be and I quote, "the greatest of all causes, for I really place it before Abolition [of the slave trade]."

A Christian’s priority must remain the fight to bring the good news of freedom to those enslaved to the world.

Wilberforce’s language might sound startling to our 21st-century ears. But it’s a powerful reminder that, as important as the continuing fight against slavery and people trafficking and every other social evil is, a Christian believer’s priority must always remain the fight to bring the good news of freedom to those enslaved to the world, the flesh and the devil (Ephesians 2 v 1-3).

We might also add that this is the priority we must keep hold of on election day. It’s not wrong to vote on an issue we hold dear; but we must clutch the eternal destiny of the lost closer still.

A prayer before you make your mark on election day

Loving Father,

Thank you for the privilege of living in a country where we can vote, and where our leaders are held accountable.

I pray that, whatever the outcome of this election, your hand would guide and direct our rulers to bring peace, justice and compassion to our land. And I pray that there would remain an open door for the preaching and hearing of the gospel of the only Kingdom that brings true freedom: the Kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ.


The Engaging with… series will help you think through how you can understand people of other faiths and worldview, and how you can start to reach out to them with the gospel.

Tim Thornborough

Tim Thornborough is the founder and Publishing Director of The Good Book Company. He is series editor of Explore Bible-reading notes, and has contributed to many books published by the Good Book Company and others. He is married to Kathy and has three adult daughters.

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