So I was recently involved in a friendly disagreement on Facebook.
WHAT?!? People have disagreements on social media?
Yes, my friend, I’m afraid it’s true. But I digress.
I say friendly argument because a friend and I were disagreeing in a friendly way (there was no name calling or rude behavior – just differing opinions).
Here was his opening:
His basic premise was that Christians should not attempt to change the political climate to reflect Christian values and virtues and be content to remain at the mercy of the government. That’s what I have issue with. I’ve had atheists, humanists, and others throw in my face their old line about how we cannot legislate morality.
We DO legislate morality. The only question is: WHOSE morality are we going to legislate? While we don’t force our religion on people, being citizens in a democratic republic ALLOWS us to vote our hearts and minds. If other people out-vote us, so be it, but we have a seat at the table that ancient Christians did not have. Yes, the Bible DOES talk about Christians being subject to the state. Paul writes in Romans 13:
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. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
In his first letter, Peter writes:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
In the biblical call to submit, however, the writers are talking to people who are subjects under tyranny. There is no seat at the table for expressing opposing ideas. There is no Christian option to voice dissent and to vote conscience. Quite simply, the Bible calls Christians to be subject to governing authorities and institutions.
The institutions have changed.
In a democratic republic like America, the individual citizen has a right (some might even argue an obligation) to participate in the process – at the very least through the power of the vote. The Bible never says not to vote. The Bible says that Christians need to be submissive to the authorities. If Christians can influence the institutions of authority in a legal way, we SHOULD do so.
As I said, someone’s morality is going to win the day. All legislation is based on a worldview and morality. If Christians are passive in government, then the morality of the day will be set by atheists, humanists, and every religious non-Christian who isn’t afraid to vote.
We can still be submissive to the authorities AND loyal first to Jesus while all the while being engaged in a democratic republic. To tell Christians not to promote their distinctive values reduces public Christianity to mere humanism. Our style of government allows for us to engage and to bring our beliefs with us.
It is possible to be respectful towards other people while still seeking to influence government with Christian ideals and values.Follow @chrislinzey
*If any of this post has resonated with you, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email the link to your friends and family. Thanks! 🙂