(An article for my local paper.)
Politics is defined as “the theory and practice of government, especially the activities associated with governing, with obtaining legislative or executive power, or with forming and running organizations connected with government” (Bing Dictionary).
“Politics” is a ‘loaded word’ for some people. One prominent pastor, Mark Driscoll, became so frustrated in an interview about Christian involvement in politics that he exclaimed, “If you want to influence politics, go have a bunch of kids and teach them how to vote.” (The other extreme would be the activism of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority during the 80’s.)
We should be involved in politics in ways that reach way beyond our family. This article will suggest three very important ways in which Christians should be involved in politics according to the Bible: submission, prayer, and moral activism.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Rom. 13:1–2)
We are required to submit, or follow the orders of, the civil authorities God has appointed over us except in matters where the Bible clearly says that we should do otherwise. If God has commanded us to do something that the government forbids or commanded us not to do something that the government requires, we cannot submit to the government’s authority. However, that is not the case in many instances. We should go the speed limit, buy a hunting license, and pay our taxes honestly, among other things.
Honey always attracts more files than vinegar, and, similarly, those who follow the laws have a greater say in government and politics. Civil disobedience, where a citizen disobeys an unjust law and then submits to the government penalty for having done so, is most effective when those who disagree cannot readily criticize those who are disobedient.
“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
Secondly, we are required to pray for those in our government who have authority over us. Prayer is a God-ordained means to bring about change. God moves in response to the prayers of His people. God can and will affect change.
“Prayer is not protest. It is petition, which realizes that even the hearts of President Obama or Prime Minister David Cameron are not out of God’s control,” said Rev. David A. Robertson, minister of St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland. (We might add President Bush to the list.) After all, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
The last of the three areas is moral activism.
“And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die ford his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:16-19)
This is a solemn warning for the Christian who will not speak up to those in authority when the moral commands of the Bible are broken. Christians must be bold enough to speak out on the major moral issues of our day no matter how others perceive those issues in the political arena. Abortion, the government’s printing of money leading to inflation, homosexual marriage; immigration and social justice are all areas where the Christian must bring the Bible’s moral injunctions to bear. We have a duty to call our leaders to account, no matter what the outcome.
There are limits to what politics can do. In all these involvements, we should follow Cal Thomas’ caution, “…followers of Jesus, whose kingdom is not of this world, should not think that having the “right” person in office will somehow restore righteousness to a fallen and sin-infested world. How can a fallen leader repair a fallen society? He (or she) can’t. Only God can do that through changed lives. And lives can be changed only by the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it has always been so. As revivals of the past have shown us, the social impact was astounding. So if believers want to see a culture improved (fewer abortions, less drunkenness, fewer divorces, and so on), let their objective be to lead more people to Christ.” Politics should never be our primary means of bringing about change, but we must do what we can in the political arena.