During the last half of 2022, there has been growing talk of an ‘Indigenous Voice to Parliament’. The Albanese government plans to hold a referendum on the issue. Many Australians believe that a Voice to Parliament is the right — or only — way to recompense past wrongs and bring about reconciliation.
Critics of the Voice note that Indigenous Australians already have a voice to Parliament through their elected representatives in the House and the Senate. Indeed, according to the logic that only Aboriginal people can represent Aboriginal people, Indigenous people are already ‘over-represented’ in Parliament, making up 4.8% of elected lawmakers but only 3.3% of the Australian population.
Those opposed to the Voice likewise warn that it risks creating a de facto third chamber of Parliament and would further entrench racial division in Australian society, instead of unity.
What are Christians to make of these issues?
Australian Christians haven’t seen all the reports yet, and we strongly encourage Christian voters to think and vote in a Christian way. It is vital that we view society and politics — and everything else in life — through a Christian lens first.
Jesus had a particular love for the poor, the downcast and the marginalised. This must inform how we view Aboriginal issues, given the vast disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Just as God cares for the people he created, we should imitate him in wanting the best possible outcomes for Indigenous children, families and communities.
We must also be willing to confront the tough issues that governments often avoid. The epidemic of child sexual abuse and suicide in regional Aboriginal communities is an unspeakable evil and something that will not be solved by more chatter in Canberra.
Similarly, we must follow Jesus’ example in seeking harmony — not tension and resentment — between people of different ethnic backgrounds. In Christ, the hostility between Jew and Gentile has been ended, and history is moving towards that great heavenly scene in which people of every tribe, nation and language will worship God for eternity.
The Bible warns us of the persistent habit of the human heart to ‘otherwise’ evil — to blame the injustices of the world on other people. It is a blame game that began in the Garden of Eden, where Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.
In Australia today, the blame game often involves blaming past generations for their mistakes, or rival political parties for their different viewpoints.
Often this blame game is cloaked in a robe of humility. It is common for Australians to speak ill of their own nation in order to claim the moral high ground on Indigenous issues. Yet on closer inspection, it is a false humility that shifts the blame to other people and other eras.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who survived Russian Communism, understood this well. He saw that sin is not just a pathology we can ascribe to others, but a sickness affecting all of us:
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
In our moments of true honesty, we recognise the evil within our own hearts. In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul affirms that “no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” Our fallen condition is why we need Jesus.
In His perfect life, Jesus fulfilled the law for us. In His death, He took the punishment for our lawbreaking, so that we could be forgiven and stand before God righteous and holy. And in His resurrection, Jesus gave us His Spirit, so that we can now obey God’s law from the heart. All of this is a gift of God’s grace:
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
When we know the forgiveness of God, we no longer have a need to shift the blame to other people. And when we have experienced reconciliation with God, we will long for reconciliation in our nation. Not a reconciliation based on resentment and racial division, but a reconciliation built on forgiveness.
There is no doubt that the Voice to Parliament will remain a contentious issue. Even if it eventuates, it will not solve our deeper problems — we need Jesus for that.
Returning to Christ is the only solution for Australia’s deepest problems. He is the hope of the world. A ‘Jesus Voice to Parliament’ is what Australia needs most.
Australian Christians are the only political party to offer this – we live biblically and authentically. Everything we do and say must be wrapped in love and truth! We must continue to be the light for the gospel in our nation.
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