Well, should they? That seems to be a somewhat divisive question of late. Perhaps it depends on how one defines “politics”. Should those of us who identify as Christians, particularly the “born-again variety”, involve ourselves in the often dishonest and somewhat sordid and divisive “blood sport” known as “politics” throughout much of American history, and especially over the past century or so? Should we allow ourselves to be immersed, to one degree or another, in the “mud-slinging”, the invectives, the anger, the breakup of family and friends, even the violence that is being deliberately induced within our culture over recent decades—and especially in the past year or two-- by the lovers of “politics”, much of it the leftist/progressive/communist version, as they confront the lovers of “constitutional government”, the form that was established for us by the men and women who founded this nation? Is a clash of civilizational survival imminent due to this fascination that a significant portion of humanity has with “politics” rather than with “principles”. Ah, those ARE questions to ponder, aren’t they? Let’s delve into it.
First of all, to somewhat ‘answer’ the question posed in the title to this article: Christians should NOT participate in what I referred to as the “blood sport” of present-day American-style progressive/leftist politics—certainly not the dishonest, venal, hate filled, and divisive version of American politics that has long dominated political discourse virtually since our founding (we didn’t listen to our Founders regarding their dislike and fear of “political factions”, did we?). Does that mean that we should not be good citizens, studying thoroughly the political beliefs of various candidates and the platforms of political parties? Does that mean that sincere Christians should not enter the political fray and pledge to voters that they will faithfully and HONESTLY adhere to the principles of our venerable but increasingly ignored Constitution if elected? No, it doesn’t mean those things at all. All Americans, including all Christians who live in the U.S. should be “good citizens”, voting intelligently in EVERY election for candidates and in support of legislation that will, in turn, support and uphold our Constitutional republican form of government and, if they feel truly called, to run for elected office and offer their PRINCIPLED pledge to stay true to the vision of our Founders. Citizens, particularly Christians, who refrain from voting—who refrain from a citizen’s civic duty to choose those who will represent us in this Constitutional Republic called the U.S.A., are essentially telling those of us who do try to vote intelligently (and we are probably a dwindling species) that we are little more than worldly fools who should not be “wasting our lives” in trying to preserve—in trying to save-- this once God-honoring nation in which most of us were born and which most of us love despite its imperfections. I must confess to thinking quite unkind thoughts of my fellow Christians who assure the rest of us that they are but “Pilgrims passing through” this worldly quagmire, and that they are ‘above the fray’, and all the rest of us should be also. So let’s not soil our hands by participating in all this “worldliness”. What shallow thinking! What MORAL COWARDS are they who believe such!
In addition to striving to be a conscientious citizen regarding one’s civic responsibilities, that must surely include, in my opinion, belonging to and working with various patriotic and educational organizations that seek to accomplish honorable and lawful goals, especially the goal of PRESERVING our Republic as it was transmitted down through time from those who codified our 1787 Constitution. But that being said, we must realize that “politics”, noble or ignoble, will never change the basic moral structure of this nation for the better. Never! Only moral people who are Christians (or at least God-fearing people) who seek to bring God’s Gospel and/or Christian morality to others, and teach them to do likewise, can ever truly change our embattled nation away from the road to perdition it is now on. In other words, Christians (and moral people who aren’t Christians but who adhere to a similar moral code) must have allowed God to change them, first, and THEN they will endeavor to change our culture, one person at a time, because they were “educated”—because they were “changed”. Change the person first, and then positive cultural change will logically follow. Does that make sense? It does to me.
Now, I’m not the first one to claim that our Bible—God’s Holy Word—is somewhat of a political “textbook”. It is, you know. Our Bible is replete with many examples of “politics”. For example:
- Noah was granted authority to execute murderers (Genesis 9:6-7);
- Joseph was made ruler in Egypt, under Pharaoh (Genesis 41:38-49);
- Israel was kept in political bondage by a new Egyptian Pharaoh who “knew not Joseph” and began to oppose God’s plan for His people (Exodus 1:8-14);
- “Case Laws” were formulated by Moses to regulate tribes, families, church, and their new government (Exodus Chaps. 21-23);
- God instructed priests and kings—church and state—to follow His Laws (Deuteronomy 17:14-20);
- The entire Book of Judges details the interrelationships between religion (the church) and government (the state);
- How rejecting God as Israel’s true King led the people of Israel to choose an earthly king over Him, in their rebellious attempts to equate the State with God’s kingdom (1 Samuel 3);
- Scripture is filled with the stories of the rise and fall of kingdoms and their rulers, and certain kings were specially chosen for special counsel (or warnings) by God’s emissaries (Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles);
- God’s servant, Daniel, served as one of Emperor Darius’ three civil commissioners (Daniel 6).
Indeed, the concepts of civil government, or “politics” as people today refer to it, is discussed in detail in both Testaments. Kenneth Gentry, in his article titled: “The Greatness of the Great Commission” (Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on Evangelism, VII, No. 2—Winter 1981, p. 45) wrote:
“That God is vitally concerned with political affairs is quite easy to demonstrate: it is God who ordained governments in the first place (Romans 13:1—Romans 2:21). He is the One who establishes particular kings (Proverbs 16:12, Psalm 119:46-47, Psalm 82:1-2. Therefore, He commands our obedience to rulers (Romans 13:1-3). Rulers are commanded to rule on His terms (Psalm 2:10ff). Even in the New Testament activity of political import is discoverable. Jesus urged payment of taxes to de facto governments Matthew 22:15-22). In response to reminders of King Herod’s political threats against Him, Jesus publicly rebuked the king by calling him a vixen (a fox) (Luke 12:32). He taught that a judge is unjust if he does not fear God. (Luke 18:2, 6). John the Baptist openly criticized King Herod (Luke 3:19-20). Peter refused to obey authorities who commanded him to cease preaching (Acts 5:29). The Apostle John referred to the Roman Empire as ‘the beast’. Revelation 13).”
It seems apparent to me, without fear of meaningful disagreement, that those who deny that God’s Word is full of what we today call ‘political involvement’ is to deny the obvious! Even the Apostle Paul declared that the “saints will judge the world” (in the context of establishing small and ‘saintly’ courts of law. 1 Corinthians 6:2). Throughout world history, at many different places and times, Christians have “judged the world”. We all should know that Christianity is the very bedrock of Western legal traditions. One of my concerns is that as more and more uncaring Christians withdraw from being involved in every part of a nation’s life, including the civil sphere, the deterioration of morality and civic-mindedness will eventually lead to the complete collapse and the demise of our Western civilization. And while some may welcome this as further signs of the “imminent return of Christ” to set up His Kingdom, to the extent that we can (and should) RESIST these various deteriorations (most of which are sins) but fail to do so, is to my mind the mark of spiritual and cultural cowardice, and the condemnation of our posterity to unimaginable repression! It is surrendering to evil without any resistance---with only meek, and weak, whimpers! It is to be a “conscientious objector” rather than a “Christian soldier”!
CAN MAN’S LAWS LEGISLATE MORALITY?
That’s a very old question, isn’t it? Christians know, of course, that the “standard” for running a civilized and humane nation is God’s Holy Word (or it should be). As the Creator of all, only God can regenerate human hearts, and it is futile to suggest that any person can be made “good” merely by keeping the laws of God and of man. The legalistic Jews throughout history did that, and still do. So does that mean that political activities (in the better sense) shouldn’t be directed to try and change or reform mankind? Well, we know that the fear of being punished by the State (some level of government) does exercise a degree of control, in that most people will usually refrain from various criminal activities because of the fear of the laws of the State. (Romans 13). And we also know that political activity of one sort or another is the starting point of the law.
Civil government uses the law to restrain the evil impulses of mankind, to protect our property or our lives, and to provide punishment to lawbreakers and grant some degree of justice for those injured by the lawless among us. But legislating ‘laws’ does not, in itself, guarantee a moral people. So then, what is (or should be) the State’s ultimate standard of justice? Obviously it is God’s Word, as given to mankind in our Bible. It always has been, even though some men throughout the ages have repudiated that notion. When God’s Word speaks to us regarding ‘civil’ matters, ‘civil’ government (at least good civil government) has a duty to legislate by His commands. Our Founding generation knew this. Indeed, much of historic Western civilization operated for millennia on the precepts covered by God’s Word.
If civil government does not heed God’s Word and commands, how can it ever really determine that which is good from that which is evil? In a nation or in a civilization wherein God’s laws are NOT the standard, then what kind of objective standards are the people to follow? Men’s standards? Which men? Which standards? Perhaps the fact that most of Western civilization has departed from God’s law, and has determined to carve its own commandments in the stony hearts of Western man, is the fatal dagger that was long ago thrust into the souls of European, and eventually North American, people by the minions of the Evil One.
As Charles Dickens wrote in one of his novels, today we live in the best of times and the worst of times, for despite having a relatively high standard of living, God’s Word—our Biblical guiding light—has basically been rejected by much of mankind in favor of giving more and more authority to the State, which is always willing to assume as much authority as the citizens foolishly surrender to it. We need no holy men of God proclaiming His Word, assure the wizards of power. Give us a strong king (or President) like the other nations have, said the people of Israel—a king who will give us laws and will rule over us and bend us to his will. So that’s what they—and WE—got. I’m not suggesting that mankind needs to live under a ‘theocracy’, because that will never work until our LORD Jesus returns. But let’s face it: Religious faith and practices and, especially, Biblical law, should never be separated from life in a civilized nation, and especially not from politics, in the noblest sense of that term. That Western civilization has done just that over the past couple of centuries merely demonstrates the power and influence that the Evil One always exercises over mankind.
Since most of Western civilization seems to have( purposely separated the Christian religion from our politics, what we have today, obviously, is IRRELIGION, which is fast becoming its own ‘religion’; man, with all his foibles and faults, becomes essentially his own god, determining for himself what is good or evil. Karl Marx must surely be smiling at us from his eternal barbecue. If we allow ‘the people’s will’—i.e. “democracy” to determine what is or should become law, then in no time all the laws will have been changed by the will—the votes—of the majority of the people, or the MOB. As Gary De Mar once wrote:
“Man bows, not to God’s law, but to the will of the people. Why? The people give him power to rule. The relationship between religion and politics cannot be avoided. The question is not: ‘Do religion and politics mix?’ Rather, it is, ‘Which religion will be mixed with politics, or form the basis for politics?’ Israel was not judged because it mixed religion and politics, but because it mixed the WRONG religion with politics. Today it is no different. The potential for judgment is the same.” (Gary De Mar: “Ruler of The Nations”, Dominion Press publishers, 1987).
MUST POLITICS BE FOREVER “DIRTY”?
What does our Creator tell us in Genesis? “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good”. (Genesis 1:31). Our God told His created ones who would read His Word in the future that all that He had made was very good. So we have to conclude that “things”, in and of themselves, are not necessarily evil. Was ‘the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of God’s beautiful Garden in Eden, evil? No, it was not. Was the fruit that Eve ate and gave to Adam to do the same, evil? No, the fruit was not evil. That beautiful garden was not evil. The decision they made to disobey God WAS EVIL—was sin! What they did with what God had made for them was evil, or sinful, but NOT the garden itself.
Can we not infer that mankind’s political sphere as it has mostly always existed was an entity created by God? Yes, and so was God’s order of the family (husband, wife, children), and so was the long-recognized order of the Christian Church (Triune God, pastor/teacher, laity). Likewise, God instituted all forms of government in the beginning. So for God’s people to claim that they want nothing to do with church, family, or especially political “governments” is wrong. God created these governmental structures for our good, indeed for our survival as a species, for without these structures in our lives there is only chaos and misery and needless death perpetrated upon the helpless by barbarians!
Christians and Jews know that “man” was made in God’s ‘image’. We also need to realize that our God—the Creator of everything—governs all of creation. But He called people, His created ones, to be, in effect, sub-governors under His overall order. HONEST and MORAL civil/political activities, then, are perfectly legitimate for Christians to be involved in, since God created these spheres of life originally. Are you following me? If this civil/political part of our life really is “dirty”—i.e. evil—it is because evil people are engaged in evil schemes. Every human endeavor can be “dirty” since SIN has affected every institution of man. But “man” caused the “dirtiness”, not God.
Now Christians must recognize the obvious: EVERY human institution has been and IS affected by SIN! Every one! Including the sordid world of current-day American politics. Therefore it is also obvious that God calls every human institution into His judgment, one way or the other, one time or another. Especially that sordid world of American politics. Read ROMANS 7:7-12, that amazing ‘confession’ by Paul who said, in effect, if there is no law then there is no sin. So then, does it not become obvious that anyone who denies that God’s law doesn’t judge all areas of our existence and every earthly construction of man, is claiming that nothing of man is sinful (or ‘dirty’), and that man is not in rebellion against God’s Law? However, rationale beings must confess that man’s institutions ARE ‘dirty’ (or created in sin). That fact is as plain as can be. And what is the “antidote” for sin? It has to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because only HE can “cleanse all of mankind” (and by inference mankind’s institutions) from sin. Does that make sense?
God’s Word tells us that Christians are to be “salt and light” in THIS world because sin is so powerful. And that means, at least in my mind, that principled Christians MUST be involved, to some degree, in “politics” even if as a corrupted institution, it appears to be ‘dirty’. I said earlier that Christians should not be involved in “politics”, i.e. not in the sordid and dirty version. But we MUST be involved in the political world to the extent that we can honor the dreams of our Founding generation, who sacrificed so dearly of their present so that we could have a future. Those Founders were mostly dedicated Christians who changed their society for the better. ONLY today’s dedicated Christians have the means—through prayer—through sacrifice—through our money—through joint involvement with those of like mind, to ever be able to clean up the present disgusting world of American politics, to ever be able to turn our “ship of state” from the leftward course toward destruction that it is on.
If we Christians refuse to do this, who will? If Christians continue their suicidal folly of not trying to make “politics” more honest, more open, and more honoring to the vision of our Founders, then they have no right to complain when our world continues down the drain unto ruin and damnation. NO RIGHT! It is because hundreds of thousands of Christians have “washed their hands” of “politics”, and refused to even VOTE in recent elections that our nation is in such a sorry state of disintegration and degradation. Cowardice before the forces of the enemy has only made our societal corruption that much worse! Instead of being real “Christian Soldiers” and facing God’s enemies, the corruption of our society has only become worse, and the “Christian Soldiers” have fled from the field of battle, or more likely, never entered upon it in the first place.
It was said that as General Cornwallis was marching his surrendered troops away from his defeat at Yorktown in 1781, to the cheers and jeers of the victorious Americans, the British band played the tune, “The World Turned Upside Down”. Well, our world has also turned ‘upside down’ over a relatively short time. I believe it is up to Christians, and even God-fearing people, to begin to turn our world “right side up” again. Let’s keep in mind that ‘politics’, in principle, is not inherently sinful. Unprincipled people may make it that way, and some, or indeed most, politicians may be such, but so were all of us before our LORD saved us. As Gary De Mar wrote: “The earth belongs to the LORD and to those whom He gave it as an inheritance. The world has been cleansed by the blood of Christ, therefore , let us not call unholy what God now calls holy.” And, as difficult as it may be to accept, that also includes the world of “politics”!