The need for Christian parliamentarians

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

I wonder if you've ever had a tour of the parliament at Westminster? Back in 2015, after the General Election that year, I was fortunate enough to be shown round by a great friend who was working for a Christian MP at the time. We went through Westminster Hall, across Central Lobby, into the House of Lords, then back and into the House of Commons. I stood at the Despatch box and was struck, as so many are, by how small the place feels!

The tour was fascinating and a reminder that the Parliament is a stunning and beautiful place on the outside. The Palace is impressive, the corridors full of grandeur and you cannot help but breathe in the history of the place. It was on this site that Parliament asserted its sovereignty over the tyrannical King Charles I. It was here that wartime leaders like Winston Churchill made epic speeches to galvanise the nation.

But for all the beauty of the exterior, what about what actually happens inside the Parliament? After all, the Lord looks at the heart. He's utterly uninterested in external appearances.

I suspect your awareness of what happens in Parliament might be limited to social media clips from different debates, what's shown on the news and maybe, if you're more into it, Prime Minister's Questions every Wednesday. If that's how you interact and view what happens in Parliament, I'd not be at all surprised if you have a negative view of the place. PMQs is often just Punch and Judy politics of the worse kind. Social media inevitably captures the most sensationalist clips, without any real context on them.

Add in the growing list of scandals and suspensions due to improper behaviour, plus the deadlock created by the Brexit debates in 2017-19 and it's little surprise many have a dim view of what goes in Parliament.

Yet beyond this media image, there is so much that happens that we do not see and not all of it is unrighteous!

There are genuinely important debates of substance on vital pieces of legislation. There is the work of improving Bills as they progress through the parliamentary process. There is the work of select committees and other committees, which offer detailed scrutiny and highlight problems within our communities.

Parliament is a place where good is done. Take the Online Safety Act, for example. Here is a law that will ensure porn sites are behind age gates for the first time ever! But Parliament is also a place where bad ideas can be diluted or even stopped. For example, in 2015, MPs rejected an assisted suicide bill after a moving and excellent debate.

My point here is that what happens in Parliament is of huge significance for our lives, our fellow churchgoers' lives, and the lives of our neighbours and family as well.

And it is because of this reality that I'm so grateful that there are, in both the Commons and the Lords, born-again followers of Jesus who are working diligently to serve well in their respective roles. I cannot imagine Parliament without this vital witness.

Jesus told his disciples that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is part of our calling to go into every sector of society. We need Christians in business, sport, drama, the arts, academia and so on. And, given the sheer importance of what it does, we need Christian parliamentarians as well!

In the Bible we see clear examples of God's people being raised to positions of public significance and influence. Think of Joseph, Queen Esther, and Daniel. Or think of John the Baptist speaking truth to King Herod, or Paul before King Agrippa.

Part of our work at CARE is supporting Christian parliamentarians. I've observed two distinct ways they prove their incredible value.

Firstly, Christian parliamentarians are often willing to raise issues no-one else wants to touch. For example, attempts to clarify that sex-selective abortion is wrong were led by a Christian MP. Or what about the first ever legislative attempt to ban prostitution adverts? It was led by a Christian peer in the House of Lords.

Secondly, Christian parliamentarians are able to bring the Biblical worldview into every debate they speak at. They bring the great truths of God's plan for human flourishing to the committees they sit on, to the questions they ask, and to the conversations they have with colleagues and constituents.

MPs have an incredible platform and Christian MPs can bring the flavour of Christ to help season the world around them in a unique and invaluable way.

This is not to say that non-Christian parliamentarians cannot do good. Of course, by God's common grace they can and do! But knowing that there are fellow followers of Jesus seeking to uphold God's truth in the corridors of power gives me confidence and hope.

So yes, we need Christian parliamentarians. They help make the work that goes on inside Parliament more beautiful. One of my prayers this election time is that God might raise up more Christians to take their place at Westminster.

Find a range of resources to help you think, act, and pray before you cast your vote at CARE's dedicated election website: engaGE24

James Mildred is CARE's Director of Communications and Engagement.