Thorny Topics
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Christians and Politics: A Few Questions to Consider

Given how much governmental/legislative politics influences the lives of people, including Believers, there is often tremendous pressure on getting involved in partisan politics and picking sides. However, in surveying the political scene, a few questions come to mind regarding just how best Christians should navigate the political seas.

1. Planks, Platforms, and Policies

Political parties offer secular solutions for society’s struggles. However, God makes it quite clear in His Word that it is impossible for humans to find the solutions for life’s problems without Him.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14

The strait gate is Jesus Christ.  The narrow way is God’s way, God’s solutions and God’s prescriptions for life. And that way leads to good results. The broad way is man’s way: man’s solutions and man’s prescriptions for life and it eventually results in destruction.

Highway Exit - Matthew 7:13Moreover, we humans are not equipped to function independently of God: We can’t love without God, for God is love; we can’t do right without God, because righteousness comes from God, we can’t be wise without God, because wisdom only begins when we walk with God in humble reverence.

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” ~ Jeremiah 10:23

Consequently, in supporting any political party, a Christian is also giving support to a set of manmade policies that are doomed to fail.

QUESTION 1: “Should Christians support any secular political party, which by definition seeks to implement manmade, ungodly, policies leading to the ultimate demise of the society they seek to govern?”

 

2. Peace, Prosperity, and Panaceas

Perhaps more dangerous than obviously unsuccessful manmade policies, are apparently successful manmade policies. Apparently, successful human solutions give the illusion that mankind has the answers to life: that we can provide our own salvation: that we do not need God.cross 1

In other words, the danger for Believers is that in supporting a particular political party, we (unintentionally?) send the message that success, happiness, even salvation can be found in manmade ideas.  In Scripture we see this warning:

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
…Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;” Amos 6:1, 3-4

The people in Zion (in Judah, the southern kingdom), had come to trust in the governing practices of Israel (the mount of Samaria) because of their economic success (as described in the books of Hosea and Amos).

In other words, they looked away from mount Zion where The Temple (and God’s mercy seat) was, and looked instead towards mount Samaria, the seat of government, which had instructed its people to worship idols it created for their salvation (1 Kings 12). God’s solutions in His Word was usurped by manmade solutions because of the apparent economic success and security of Israel.

QUESTION 2: “By supporting a political party, do Christians risk diminishing the message of (true) salvation in Jesus Christ alone?”

3. Perception, Perplexity, and Pontification

No political party has a monopoly on virtue; no political party has a monopoly sin. Consequently, it is typical that each political party, either in policy or practice, supports something clearly wrong or ignores something clearly right. (Note, this is not to say all political parties are necessarily “equally” evil.) Often Christians are called on to choose between the evils in one party versus the evils in another. However, the Bible teaches clearly that ALL evils/sins are the same. Consider the following teaching of Jesus:

“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
“Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” ~ Luke 13:1-5

choosing lesser of two evilsJesus makes it clear that the size or the egregiousness of the sin is not the issue. Rather the only thing that matters is repentance. Therefore, it is inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching to choose any political party based on the relative size of its sins versus another political party. It matters not whether a political party is on the right side of any issue. Rather the issue, the ONLY issue, that matters is whether the political party adopts and advocates repentance. But this is not usually a policy of any (modern?) political party.

It is possible to repent, to receive God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, and still be wrong on any number of issues. While Jesus works in our hearts to sanctify/perfect us, washing us with the Word of Truth, we still make mistakes and hold misconceptions: e.g., Paul was wrong about John Mark (Acts 15:36-39 and 2 Timothy 4:11), Peter was wrong about the Mosaic Law (Galatians 2:11-21).

It is possible to be saved and be on the wrong side of many issues, BUT remain saved.

It is also possible to be unsaved and be on the right side of many issues, BUT remain condemned.

Salvation is infinitely more important than political/ideological orthodoxy.

QUESTION 3a: “In supporting one political party over another because of its stance on a favorite issue, are we effectively saying one sin matters more than another?”
QUESTION 3b: “Is right thinking on an issue is more important than repentance for a life?”
QUESTION 3c: “If repentance/salvation is infinitely more important than orthodoxy, shouldn’t we spend infinitely more time preaching repentance/salvation than preaching orthodoxy?”

4. Putrefaction, Petrifaction, and Purulence

God does not change (James 1:17). However, man and manmade institutions change quite a bit. Those who are saved are being changed into the very image of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:49, 2 Corinthians 3:18). And those who are not saved are deteriorating, degrading into the image of satan (Revelation 19:20).flower-1042490_1920

Man does not stand still.

Accordingly, unconverted men and their secular institutions, without the sustaining power of Christ, degrade and fail.

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” ~ Psalm 118:8-9

Eventually, the political party one supports will degrade. Eventually, it will become more and more difficult to find sufficient rationale to support it, beyond tradition or that it appears the least of the available evils (i.e., “at least it’s better than _____”).

But [Jesus] answered and said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” ~ Matthew 15:13

Perhaps, like Daniel, if only evil choices are available one should refrain from choosing at all (see Daniel 1). Daniel and his friends rejected ALL of the food offered; requesting vegetables (pulse) instead.

Let us be clear, there is NO Biblical imperative for direct (partisan) political involvement of any kind. Rather, the Bible encourages us to PRAY (to God) for leaders in government (1 Timothy 2:1-6). That is, the Bible directs us to exclusively put our trust in The One Who cannot change: The One Who will never fail us: The One Who is good and is good ALL the time.

QUESTION 4: “Why should a Believer invest any hope in a political party that will eventually degrade and fail?”

Phinally, Phinale, and Phinish

If political parties were full of Godly men, we would have prayer meetings rather than elections. Candidates would be seeking to serve rather than to rule. Solutions would come from Bible studies rather than think-tanks.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." ~Matthew 6:10

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” ~Matthew 6:10

Any political party devoted to God rather than men would spend much more effort campaigning for God’s power than earthly power.

Perhaps Christians should spend more time and effort setting just that example.  This is more than just choosing to vote or not to vote; it is more that choosing who to vote for:  as Believers we must carefully consider our allegiances and our mindset towards political parties/issues.

We must realize that our lives and our well-being do not depend on political parties and/or political figures.  We must look to Christ for everything and nothing matters without Christ.  God alone is good.  Therefore, there is no good without God.  Let us put our trust, our hope, in Him alone.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember The Name of the Lord our God.” ~ Psalm 20:7

6 Comments

  1. Dear friend,

    Your essay is beyond thought-provoking; it is rather disturbing because it stands on a foundation of truth. I agree with the core of the problem you raise: Our political process, designed ideally to call on qualified and courageous souls to serve and to have informed citizenry choose their representatives guided by higher ideals — this process has long been a game of power-hunting for the candidates above local politics, financial influence for the lobbies, and a choice between two evils for the reluctant voters, of whom, by the way, barely half participate. Truly, as you point out, in a better world our governance would have more cooperative meetings on a common spiritual basis and less intrigue and pyramidal structure, even if in such a diverse society our spiritual commonalities go far beyond the Bible (since the politics unite all citizenry, and only some of them are Christian).
    Still, after reading your essay and finding the question of choosing between sin and sin so poignant, I find myself at a loss: As we don’t live in an ideal society yet, what are we to do? What do you propose, realistically, as the righteous and useful social action for the spiritually aware population? Because we do need governance within the confines of the Constitution of the United States, and no matter what, this governance, even if prayerfully informed of God’s law, will be still of human making. Refusing to participate in the process outright will not help matters, especially if this happens on a large scale, on the part of all the people who keep the concept of divine love in mind. Imagine if all the people who prioritized love stepped away from voting or exerting influence on the government — the only influence left, then, would be greed, power-mongering, competition, unbridled curiosity, vanity, and pleasure-seeking. I shudder to think.
    As we watch our country progress in some ways and sink more deeply into darkness in others, I wonder about something you cited: anything not rooted in the divine Love will degrade and fall. We see it happen. Like sin in a person, sin in a party or an organization — or a nation — is the dark place that can eat away at it and take over, or it can be purged by being faced and understood, by repenting and doing better.
    A while ago I came to accept that we love each other whole, trying to love the way God loves: as an entirety, despite the sin we carry. That’s the way we love our families, I think, and our country: they are not perfect, they make mistakes and do evil, but we choose them again and again as ours. Choosing them is not endorsing their sin; it is a refusal to reject them because at their core we recognize the divine light.
    It’s not exactly the same with voting, but there is, perhaps, a parallel in that when I choose a person or a party to represent my positions concerning the governance of the nation, I do not declare myself allegiant with everything they do. I do not endorse their sin. I have my own sin to deal with, thank you very much. In fact, if one is a member of a party, one has an opportunity to fight the dark sides, to speak against that which is wrong, much like we do in our own churches — man-made organizations, too. But for that, of course, the party must be overall on the side of light. I would vote, I think, for a party that may get this or that wrong but that raises on its banner the principles consistent with — more even, principles that grow from — the very heart of what I call Divine Love: compassion, acceptance, equal justice, care for all of Creation, enlightenment, beauty, and joy. They don’t have to call it “God,” but I have to feel that God is happy with what they aspire to. And as they fall down on the way, I should be well to practice another Christian virtue — forgiveness — and try to help them out.
    What do you think about that? Do you feel no political organization exists with aspirations worthy of a Christian’s endorsement? If so, why not start one? You cannot be advocating chaos and anarchy, so something must be done to govern nations, and anything humans do will be human-made. So what should we do?
    Or have I misunderstood what you were saying?

    • Hi Maria-Catherine,

      I was so happy to hear from you again. We haven’t shared together for a long long time.

      First, let me say how WONDERFUL and INSIGHTFUL your response is. In some ways, I wish we could have chatted before the article was written. It could have been so much stronger (though longer) if the points you make could have been addressed within the article itself.

      Indeed, I would like to ask permission to post your comments as a sort of rebuttal… not exactly sure how best to do it… but perhaps something could be worked out.

      Now to the points you made. Without answering them specifically, i would like to answer theme thematically.

      GOVERNANCE
      No, I am not advocating anarchy.

      CHRISTIAN PARTICIPATION
      I confess to being ambivalent on this one. Internally, I am unable to come to complete conclusion. I do not believe voting is wrong, but I also do not believe it is useful. In the Bible, God declares that He WILL CHOOSE. AND He chooses REGARDLESS of the political system, whether a democracy or a monarchy or anything else: He chooses. He chose David and He chose Rehoboam. All to accomplish His divine purpose. Nevertheless, voting is a sort of expression, even commentary on society, so it might be appropriate for Christians to express their views through that medium.

      MY MAIN POINT
      The primary principle i am concerned with is that Christians look to God for the solutions and not to man: “the arm of flesh will fail you”.
      Social change/advancement, therefore, does not depend on the political party in power. Rather, it depends on the conversion of the people. Christians changed the world under the oppressive and hostile Roman governments headed by men such as Nero. Jesus told them to love each other, to be united in Him, and to teach His Word to people. And that is exactly how change was effected in the society they lived in.

      Indeed, my little historical analysis, suggests that Constantine did more harm to the church than Nero. In Constantine, the church gained political power and (gradually) became corrupt. The oppression of Nero did just the opposite, it kept the Body pure and lean. The point being that it is the spiritual climate in the society that matters, much more than the political leadership/governance.

      In a final example, we see the same thing in Judah under the leadership of Josiah. Josiah, the Bible states was the BEST king ever, better than David, better than Solomon. Yet, it was during his reign that the prophet Jeremiah rebuked the people for their unfaithfulness to God. They had the best King, the best government, but it did not change their hearts!

      I hope I have answered your very THOUGHTFUL comments reasonably (if not perfectly). 🙂

    • onmounthoreb says

      Thank you, dear RiW! Indeed, it is good to be talking again. And of course you may use my comments in any way that you believe might be useful for the discussion.

      Now, I could not agree more that we should keep God / our most heartfelt revealed principles as guidance when making any decisions, any choices, especially those that can affect the future of the nation. At the same time, notice that when God says “I choose,” He doesn’t necessarily mean directly. When God says “I act,” he doesn’t always mean by an overt miracle. Just as He chose Saul through a human ritual — that of a lottery — and later David through human hands — those of Samuel — God acts most often by speaking His message through his prophets, acknowledged or not. He acts by inspiring human beings to know the right thing to do. Rarely these days do we see the seas parting or the heavens splitting. God acts through the miracles of the heart: the voice of conscience heard by Elijah, the fire of impetus that burned inside Jeremiah. The booming voice from the sky will not appoint us a president. We must listen for that Voice in our souls.

      This is what I mean, I suppose, when I say that we are not meant to sit back but to make our choices in the real world, though not perfect, good at heart. If we are the body of Christ, then we are the hands, the eyes, and the tongue. We are the action of God in the world. And in this world, like it or not, political action has as much if not more impact on the poor, the sick, the hungry, the incarcerated, the children, the homeless, the migrant, the oppressed — all those “least of His” in whose person we touch Jesus himself — than direct and simple charity. I share your distaste for politics, but we cannot hide from it. If the world is to be cleaned, someone’s hands must get dirty. You know what I am saying, don’t you, my friend?

    • Dear Maria-Catherine,

      I agree completely.

      I agree that God works through human agents; that is undeniable. However, by the same token, human agents do not limit God. Hence, whether we vote or not, whether we vote for the right reasons or not, whether we vote for the right side or not, God’s Will WILL BE DONE!

      We are too frail to deny God.

      And [Jesus] answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” ~ Luke 19:40

      This is NOT a call to sit idly by and do nothing, rather this is a call to keep our focus resolutely on Him.

      Let me put it this way: If we vote, we must make sure that it’s not ALL we do. The solutions for an ailing society is not good government. The solution for an ailing society is Salvation in Jesus Christ!

      It is nice to have good government, Paul instructs us to pray that we will have good government (1 Timothy 2:1-6). But if we have good government without salvation we have nothing. AND if we have salvation, we have everything, good government or bad government.

      AND if we have salvation we will clean up the world, we will get our hands dirty. Salvation is the key, it’s everything.

    • onmounthoreb says

      Ah, yes, precisely. You said it. We’re coming closer. I think I mean to say that good government is part of working on collective salvation in the here and now — part of what Paul meant when he said “Now is the time of salvation.” Because you’re right, if we have good government without salvation, we have nothing, but I don’t know that it’s even possible to have, for the “goodness” in a good government would come from That Which Saves. And conversely, true, we can have salvation even with bad government, but only on an individual level — yet here we are talking about the effort to build the City on a Hill, where the good government would become a natural outgrowth of the salvation reigning in the nation’s heart.
      In short, once again after a protracted discussion, we find ourselves in agreement: Salvation is the key. It’s everything. 🙂
      I wish all debates on all levels were that simple.

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