Morality, Politics and Government
The Role of Conscience, Values and Human Nature
Priority A - The distinction between conscience and legal provision
Any discussion of public policy should take account of the need to recognize that there will be a necessary difference between such moral values as honesty and faithfulness and the legal provisions required in any civil society.
Priority B - Tolerance and respect
Politicians should initiate and nurture a culture of robust debate in matters of conscience. This would be evidenced by a spirit of tolerance, grace, respectful listening, and attentiveness to cases of personal conscience. This should affect the way in which the entire democratic process is pursued as well as shaping the emergence of any manifesto.
Priority C - Freedom to vote by conscience
Individual politicians should be allowed much more freedom of conscience on any key votes that deal with issues of contentious morality, without fearing or suffering political censure and disadvantage.
Priority D - Personal integrity
These priorities should be complemented by a renewed emphasis on the need for the highest standards of morality in public life, whilst recognizing the fact that human nature renders every individual imperfect.
Priority E - Policy statements.
Policy statements should be framed within a transparent and informative description of a party’s underlying values and standards, and of the personal integrity expected of its members. Reference should also be made to party discipline and how it would be applied where necessary.
The Bible affirms the dignity of humankind (Genesis 1:26-28), the dignity of the human mind (Romans 12: 1-3) and the primacy of conscience (Romans 14:10-12).
It presents us with a tried and tested basis for moral values, and an understanding of what pleases the life-giving and life-enhancing God who has revealed Himself supremely in Jesus of Nazareth, whose character is therefore one of truth and love.
The Bible also offers us a realistic and continually relevant assessment of human nature with its potential for good and for evil and shows us how power can become both destructive and idolatrous.
The diminishing impact of the Bible in our contemporary culture has resulted in a corrosive atmosphere of cynicism, apathy as well as a growing distrust of politicians and the political process in general. There is a real need to address these issues and a renewed emphasis on the importance of conscience and the value of debate will help address the growing crisis in the contemporary democratic process.