Stay Away From Politics, Christian!

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:

Christians in Politics

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.

That’s bunk.

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. Mayor Quimby 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. Jesus First 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.

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You’re Breaking the Law But You Want the Church to Protect You?

Breaking the Law

Recently I read an article from MSN about a man who was ordered to be legally deported out of the U.S. back to Mexico. Instead of surrendering himself to the authorities, he took refuge in a church and sought sanctuary. As it stands now the government is not immediately taking action.

For some reason I can’t get Homer Simpson out of my head yelling out, “SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY!” and Reverend Lovejoy muttering to himself, “Why did I ever teach him that word?”

In all seriousness, though, I get that how we deal with illegal immigration is a hot topic for many.

The Bible calls us to treat well the foreigner in our midst. At the same time, I believe that Christians are called to be law abiding citizens (when the law doesn’t conflict with the Bible).

I understand the desire to help people, but I don’t think that the church should be getting involved in politically assisting people who break the law. I’m not cold-hearted, and I would see exceptions being granted for unjust, unethical, or immoral laws, but for all intents and purposes, we should not be assisting criminals – even in the name of grace and mercy.

Our primary purpose as the church is spiritual, not to protect people from the law. I’m reminded of the baptism scene from “O Brother Where Art Thou?”

Delmar thinks that his earthly crimes are no longer held against him because of his baptism. Later on his companion has to tell him that, though God may have forgiven him, the state will take a different view.

Ed Stetzer once wrote, “When you mix faith and politics you get politics.” We in the church ought to help the disenfranchised and show kindness to those who hurt and suffer. I don’t think the church should get involved in the political arena as much as it has been (especially in the U.S.). Where do we draw the line? For what crimes will we offer sanctuary? When will we turn people away?

It’s hard to balance demonstrating love and practically governing a nation. I don’t pretend to have all the answers on this issue, and I recognize that good Christian people will have different opinions. So I’m asking you:

What do you think? (keep it civil, keep it nice, and keep it from being racist…)

Related Post:
Christianity and Immigration Reform