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Christians and politics

By Scott Tibbs, October 27, 2003

Some people question whether Christians should be involved in "worldly" politics, and whether we should instead concentrate on evangelism and ministry. It is a question that Christians must consider. Is it the will of God for us to be involved in political matters? Or should we focus our energies on other things?

We must examine Scripture to discern what we are to do. One of the verses that commands us to action is Proverbs 24:10-12 (NIV): "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?"

In our country, over 42,000,000 children have been legally slaughtered by abortion since 1973. Christians cannot stand by while this bloodshed continues. But it is not only at the beginnings of life where the innocent are targeted. In the state of Florida, the courts have commanded that Terri Schiavo be murdered by starvation. Clearly, We must protect the innocent.

How do we do this? In the Constitutional republic of the United States of America, we have the ability to choose our own leaders through the electoral process. We can work to get pro-life people into office through campaigning, voting, writing letters to the editor, and donating money. We can work to influence legislative bodies to pass pro-life legislation through lobbying or supporting groups like the Family Research Council.

Romans 13:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:13-15 states that the powers that be are ordained by God. In this country, we are that power, because we decide who rules us. Many Christians have been called to serve as elected officials and have won elections. Other Christians have been called to influence the legislative process by being salt and light in this world. The ruling powers "bear the sword" to stand up for the oppressed. Christians should not eschew the calling of God to bear that "sword".

A more basic command is "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself", from Matthew 23:39. (Proverbs 24:10-12 is an extension of this commandment.) If we see our neighbor being oppressed, we should stand up for him, to "bear the sword" as commanded by Scripture. Leftists at Indiana University have attempted to silence Business Professor Eric Rasmusen for his comments on homosexuality. It is important to stand by him and his right to free speech, as explained in Matthew.

In fact, protecting free speech itself is important, because if we lose our right to free speech, we cannot speak against oppression of others. Free speech is the most fundamental way Christians can "bear the sword" in our culture. Totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union prohibited free speech, and the human rights record of those regimes is infamous.

There are Biblical examples of how men of God spoke publicly to scold those who were in power. In 2 Kings 21:10-16 we read of how God used the prophets to publicly denounce the wicked king of Judah. Mark 16:16-20 details how John the Baptist had condemned King Herod for the sin of adultery. (Herod would later have him beheaded.) Jesus publicly rebuked Herod, referring to him by the derogatory term "fox", in Luke 13:31-32. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:11-13 that Christians should not speak of evil in secret, but to shine the light on it. When American Christians use their Constitutional right to free speech to provide salt and light, they are following the teachings of Scripture.

This is not to say that all Christians are to be politically involved. God calls different people into different callings. Some are called to journalism, others to politics, others to charitable ministries, and others to preaching and teaching His Word. Some are called to raise a family. Not everyone is called to wade into the political realm, because God has purposes for them outside of politics. We should trust His plans for us.

This does not mean we are to put all of our faith into politics. Despite millions of dollars and years of effort spent on Christian political organizations, causes and candidates, this decline continues. (Though I shudder to think what America would be like without a Christian influence in politics.) America is in cultural decay, and the only way to reverse that decay is through the Holy Spirit transforming the lives of her people. Christians must obey the spiritual teachings of the Bible and work to evangelize the lost, and to minister to the needy. That, however, does not preclude a political calling.