08 November, 2006

Christianity and Politics

With every Christian cheering and booing the latest election results in the U.S., it's as good a time as any to step back and really think about whether or not we should be involved in politics.

The first and most obvious point to make is this: We don't know the big picture. God sets governments up and He takes governments down. The obvious danger in voting is we could very well be voting against the will of God. For example, John Smith is running for President of the U.S.. John Smith, though, is pro-abortion. Every Christian in the country puts aside their religious differences, bands together and votes for the other guy on the grounds that John Smith is anti-God. What we don't know however is that three years down the road, God will move John Smith to delare war on North Korea which in turn sends hostile armies into Israel, thus fulfilling prophecy. By voting against John Smith, we're proudly telling God that we know best.

The implications are worrisome to say the least.

Here is the plain teaching of the Bible:
"...he removeth kings and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2:20,21)
"The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Daniel 4:17).

So, quickly then:

Q. Should a Christian help others to gain political positions by voting in elections?
A. No. By voting a man shows that he is interested in politics, and a Christian should not be interested in politics. A Christian should accept whatever rulers God allows to be appointed, and pray that God will help them rule wisely.
See Daniel 4:25; Proverbs 21:1; 1 Timothy 2:1,2.

Q. Should a Christian take an active part in politics in order to help improve his country?
A. No. The Lord Jesus made no attempt to help rule his country. He resisted attempts to make him a ruler, and refused any position of power over others. The Lord knew that his Kingdom was "not of this world", and that his first duty was to preach the gospel. A Christian should carefully avoid becoming mixed up with the affairs of the world. Sometimes governments may do things that Christians cannot support - for example, going to war, or promoting gambling. As far as possible, a Christian should keep himself out of public affairs, and devote his energy to preaching the gospel and doing good to those in need; this was the example given by the Lord Jesus.
See John 6:15; Luke 12:14; John 18:36; 2 Timothy 2:4.

Anything else?

Matthew 26:52. "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

Romans 12:2. "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

II Timothy 2:4. "No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."

God is in Control
We might have assumed that the only way in which things can be put right is by political or social means, or even by believing that good morals will finally conquer the bad. But such is not Bible teaching. There is a much more far-reaching principle revealed in the pages of Scripture. Despite appearances, God is in control and is active in the affairs of men and nations.

The governments and rulers of men are appointed by God, whether these prove to be good or bad. God is working out His righteous and ultimate purpose using the materials to hand among sinful men. Nothing is beyond or out of His control. It might be objected that this is Old Testament teaching and is purely Jewish and altogether out-moded. It is certainly Old Testament teaching but it is repeated even more emphatically in the New.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" (Romans 13:1,2).

These words were written to believers in the city of Rome in a pagan empire. The Christian was not to seek to change the government. Protest, agitation and subversion were out of the question. To resist the government is to resist God's appointment. Let it be noted that it is not a question of whether the government is good or bad. Because God is in control, we should not resist His ordinance.

This is even more telling when we remember that it is almost certain that the apostle Paul was executed by the Roman emperor Nero. He lived and died believing that human governments are in God's hand. This is the only note of hope in our violent and perplexed world. If God is not in control, then man is: if man is in control there is no hope.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you. But I was discussing this with someone the other day and I used the same argument that you have here - that we don't know the big picture and don't want to vote against God's will. They replied "But it's not like God *can't* work the circumstances to further His will, even if you vote against the candidate He wants to win. We probably go against His plans for our life in a thousand other small decisions in our lives, but He can always find a way to make sure that His will is done anyway." They argued that to take that view is to lack faith in God's ability to cause His will to come to pass. I couldn't think of anything to reply to this - what would you have said?

November 09, 2006 6:19 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

First off, thanks very much for your comment.

I admit, it’s a tough situation to be in when someone brings up the points you’ve mentioned. A few thoughts:

1. It can just as easily be argued that Christians who vote also lack faith due to their belief that we need to step in and help God because He can’t do it all Himself. Let's be realistic: If God doesn't want someone in office because of their stance on abortion, we can be sure they'll never be in office.

2. God, and God alone, decides who is in power: "...he removeth kings and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2:20,21) "The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Daniel 4:17). We have no say in the matter. Rather simple ☺

3. Most importantly perhaps, the question must be asked: Who is our king? For the answer to this we first look to Christ: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13) Again, it’s clear: We chose one master. In this case, it’s God or man (Joshua 24:15 says almost exactly the same thing).

James takes it even further: ?“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (4:4)

Finally, Phl 3:20 “For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” As Christians, we are no longer citizens of this world. We refuse involvement in the ruling might of sinful, mortal man because there is no hope in them. Being citizens of heaven however means we’ve cast our lot in with Christ.

4. There’s another interesting scenario to consider:

No one absolutely knows for sure which countries are going to be involved in the final battle that heralds Christ’s return. With this in mind, what happens if, as Christians, we vote in John Smith to be the next President of the U.S.. It turns out that yes, God’s will WAS for John Smith to be in power but for the sole reason to bring the U.S. into the Middle East to ultimately fight against the armies of Christ? Now we’ve got millions and millions of Christians who voted for the ‘right guy’ but in so doing, have aligned themselves with an enemy of God. Imagine the excuse ringing around the country: “We didn’t know!!” And that’s precisely the problem. We DON’T know. Our view on who a good leader is and who a bad leader is is severely limited.

We are moved blindly along by our 21st century passions.

We vote for a pro-life candidate but once he takes office he legalizes homosexual marriages.

We put an anti-gay marriage politician in office who ends up invading a country for their oil and millions die in the process.

We vote for a pro-Bible candidate who then does a 360 and bans the Lord’s Prayer in every public school across the country.

This is the legacy of the Christian voter: putting ungodly men and women into positions of power expecting change but losing even more in return. How else can one explain the declining presence of God in our society?

Christ is our perfect king. He will rule with absolutely authority and justice and mercy. Of this there is no doubt. Our unwavering allegiance should be towards him and him alone.

The affairs of this world do not concern us.

November 10, 2006 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! You've certainly helped to settle the doubts in my mind - I'll raise these points with my friend and see if I can help him understand this viewpoint...!
Once again thanks for your trouble, and for your blog.

November 12, 2006 6:21 PM  

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