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Should Religion Inform Your Politics?

Should Religion Inform Your Politics?

by Derick

 

As I get more into writing, I’m going to play it safe by starting a blog series, covering 5 of the least controversial subjects people talk about:  Politics, sex, money, religion, and sarcasm.

Should Christians be concerned about politics?

Yes.  At the very least, we should strive to be informed voters. Biblically speaking there are many reasons we as Christians should involve ourselves in the voting process. Here are 3 that I find especially compelling in my own study of Scripture:

 

  • To be a good steward (manager) of what God has given us.
    1. When most people think about stewardship, they think of material things, but I believe Scripture is calling us to manage everything well that we have control over, including situations, knowledge, intellect, talents, processes, opportunities, etc… that can be used for good, to the glory of God. Even if we don’t like the government and drama associated with it, I think that Christians should definitely take advantage of the voting process.  We fall short if don’t take what we’re given and make the best of it.
    2. This point could also relate to our call to do all to the glory of God in Colossians 3.
    3. Ecclesiastes 9 also talks about the importance of making the most of the time and working hard at whatever your hand finds to do. Again, most people think about vocational work in this passage, but I posit that “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” in verse 10 could apply to voting as well.  Voting is a means by which we can contribute to the progress toward finding the best people to represent us in government, and if we abdicate that responsibility we are not using “all our might” so that good may triumph.
  • The example of the apostle Paul.
    1. Paul was resourceful, taking advantage of the privileges of his Roman citizenship in Acts 22 for the cause of Christ. This allowed Paul to further his testimony before the chief priests and the council.
      1. As I mentioned in a previous point, this appears to be an example of Paul being a good steward of all God had entrusted him with.Each of us are born at a particular time, in a particular place, to a particular family, with particular opportunities.  There are many things about our lives that we cannot control, but we can control how we respond, by whether we do what we can with what we have.
        1. God does not view everything the way that man does. This is why Jesus said that the poor widow of Luke 21 had given more than all of the rich people.
        2. Likewise, this is why my parents did well to teach my brother and me that life was less about what was thrown at us and more about how we chose to respond to things.
      2. God will hold us accountable for what we did with what we had, and I want to strive to hear my Lord say “Well done, good and faithful servant”
  • Not voting may be a sin for some people.
    1. James 3:17 says that “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
      1. Furthermore, we are without excuse if we try to deceive ourselves or others. Proverbs 24:12 calls us to account by questioning “If you say, ‘behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” We can fool ourselves or others by claiming ignorance for the sake of personal preservation, but God, the creator of your soul, knows your heart fully, and he can never be deceived.
    2. For example, if you realize that the legal killing of unborn babies is an advocacy issue, recognizing that the right thing to do would be to contribute to a process that could be used to fight against such atrocities, while at the same time failing to do anything about it, you are sinning.
    3. Like I said, not voting isn’t always a sin for everyone, but as Christians, we should realize the responsibility that rests on our shoulders and be careful not to be quick to make excuses not to vote.

 

How should I vote well?

 

I mentioned above that we should be informedvoters.  “Informed” is certainly the key word here.  When you do your research on political candidates, you are evaluating the qualifications and determining to what degree they line up with your interests as a citizen of the US.  Essentially, it’s a job interview for our public servants, and “we the people” are the boss.  An elected official’s job is to do what’s in the best interest of her/his constituency. I usually try to focus on a few main factors when informing my vote.

 

  • What are the candidates’ views on issues that I care about.
  • To what degree do I care about certain issues? On this point, it’s somewhat more about evaluating myself.  There are definitely some hills worth dying on, so to speak, and some that just aren’t worth it.  I weight some views more than others when I’m trying to decide who to vote for.
  • Look at their ability and likelihood of accomplishing what they say they want to accomplish.

 

It’s important to realize that there are no perfect candidates, but it is important to evaluate who you think the best candidates are, among the choices you have. If you consistently find that you don’t have anyone on your ballot that aligns with your views, then maybe you should consider running for office yourself.

 

Unrelated to voting, but on the topic of being a responsible citizen, one of the best ways to advocate for yourself or others is to contact your representatives in government, and let them hear your voice.

 

If you’re an Arkansas resident, I would encourage you to check out the link below to a non-partisan publication, to learn more about your candidates in the upcoming election.

 

http://arkansasvotersguide.com/?page_id=13

 

9 Comments

  1. CARLA

    I have read and reread your essay. And it seems like you have really stretched scripture to apply them to your Ideas concerning religion informing your politics.

    I am going to point out a few things first about the Kingdom of God or Heaven and the earthly kingdom.

    * Many Christians have been deceived into believing that they can somehow “convert” the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of God. In the process they have put their energy and hopes into bringing about the Kingdom of God by working towards getting more influence with government in order to transform government. Some even believe that Jesus will return once we have transformed the world and created the millennial Kingdom.

    *When Satan tempted Jesus he “showed Him all the kingdoms (political establishments of rule) of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:5-6). Jesus did not deny that this was in the Devil’s power to do and thus He acknowledges that the kingdoms of the world do indeed belong to the Devil. There are many theories as to how and when the Devil acquired them, but the fact remains that they are his to give. Several times Jesus refers to the Devil as “the ruler of this world” John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), confirming Satan’s dominion here on earth.

    *At no stage do the kingdoms of the world morph into the Kingdom of God. There is not a single Scripture to support this popular misconception. The kingdoms of this world are so evil that they are completely destroyed (Daniel 2 and Revelation 18) and they will be replaced by God’s Kingdom. This will be a work of God and not of man or the church. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). (See also Revelation 18 and 19).

    *Just like many Christians today, Jesus’ disciples also did not understand the difference between God’s Kingdom and political kingdoms. They too thought that Jesus would merge His followers with the world’s kingdoms and thus bring about His Kingdom. But in response to these ideas Jesus clearly said to them: “indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). In other words His Kingdom is spiritual and in the hearts of His people while the world’s kingdoms are political and have physical boundaries. (His Kingdom will ultimately become a physical kingdom, known as the Millennial Kingdom, but as said above, that will come about in a single cataclysmic event when He sets up His Kingdom.)

    *When Pilate questioned Jesus about His Kingdom, Jesus explicitly stated “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It cannot be clearer than that. Jesus is indeed a King and He has a Kingdom, but it is not of this world. The god and ruler of this world and its kingdoms is Satan. These two kingdoms do not overlap, they do not merge and the one does not become the other. They are totally different in substance and have different kings.

    Now that you have read that, it should change how you feel about our political kingdoms here on earth. I pray you have a softened humble spirit.

    As per your essay you somehow used Paul’s right as a Roman citizen to further the Gospel as a reason somehow to expound on the fact that if you are a Christian you can use your American citizenship to further the gospel? Have a leg in politics? Use it as a right to vote? Your use there is confusing as it does not allow any premise to be used other than Paul not being beaten as it was against Roman Law (lex Sempronia) for a citizen of Rome to be beaten without speaking for himself. To wrongly claim Roman citizenship was a serious, even capital offense (Suetonius Claudius 25.3; Epictetus Discourses 3.24.41). He was not an Egyptian as they thought, but was a born free citizen of Rome. As for furthering the gospel he was speaking to his own kind. He was speaking to whom he was a member. Not the gentiles.

    The The Sanhedrin was composed of the priestly and lay nobility of the Sadducean theological persuasion together with scribes of the Pharisee faction. Paul finds himself on trial because of the Messiah’s resurrection and the new realities it introduced. For if Jesus had not risen from the dead, he could not have appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road, or in the temple, and commissioned him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 22:15, 21). Paul would, then, not have promulgated a message or lived a lifestyle that his fellow Jews would have opposed.

    It is an ambiguous argument to use this portion of scripture to promote religion and civic duty.

    James 3:17 You have pulled this verse completely out of it’s context to promote an agenda about politics that is not even remotely close to anything written in this chapter. Although this verse may be regarded as standing independent of what has preceded, and as being in the form of a more or less inexact quotation, it is quite permissible to take it with what has gone before. Those to whom the words have been addressed had, to some extent, erred through thoughtlessness; now that things have been made quite plain to them, they are in a position to know how to act; if, therefore, in spite of knowing now how to act aright, the proper course is neglected, then it is sinful.

    proverbs 24:12 Again taken out of context to promote a political guilt trip. 11,12. If a man know that his neighbour is in danger by any unjust proceeding, he is bound to do all in his power to deliver him. And what is it to suffer immortal souls to perish, when our persuasions and example may be the means of preventing it?

    Trying to persuade folks to feel guilty into civic duty by somehow leading us to believe it is furthering the gospel is ludicrous. Your thought patterns are scattered all over the place trying to pull something together that is not meant to be together. It is trying to piecemeal parts, or trying to force puzzle pieces together that don’t fit. Moreover it is adding to scripture and meaning that is not there. And that is a grevous offence. Rev 22:18-19

    The only indication in the New Testament about Government to is obey the authority God has placed over us and pay your taxes. It is concise and clear. Romans 13:1-6

    Romans 13:8Pay everything you owe. But you can never pay back all the love you owe one another. Whoever loves other people has done everything the law requires.

    I don’t suppose you would post this correction as you do not appear to have a humble heart. Which is sad because you will be accountable for every word and deed and leading people astray on that day of judgement. Peace be to you.

    Reply
    • Regina Shea

      Surprise! Your comment is here.

      Reply
    • tania

      Wow, do you have a blog?! Because that’s something I would love to read! Amazing

      Reply
  2. Regina Shea

    Greetings Derick! While I appreciate what you wrote I do respectfully disagree with some of what you wrote. I don’t want to try and explain because I don’t want to violate scripture where it says women are not to teach men. 1Tim 2:12.
    In this case I don’t feel it’s my place to correct. I hope you are doing well in your studies. Many blessings to you and your sweet family.
    Oh and by the way, if my comment proves to be controversial amonst the egalitarian women please feel free to delete it.

    Reply
  3. Christine

    I am not a Christian or a practicing Catholic, but I do have a belief in God. I am a law abiding citizen and an active member of my community. I’m wife and mother. Also an American. As an American, I believe that everyone has the right to practice whatever religion they choose and to not feel threatened or afraid. We can disagree and still be respected by each other. I don’t think there is any place for religion in American politics. This is not the Middle East where they govern there people by religious laws.
    Keep the church off my ballot and out of my body.

    Reply
  4. Brian

    One thing that motivates me as a Believer to be concerned with politics/government is gratefulness to the Lord for His gift of Liberty! Americans are indeed blessed. Statesman Edmund Burke said it well: “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
    The Bible says much about human government. The book of Proverbs alone has approximately 80 verses from 17 different chapters dealing with government, rulers, citizens, law and justice.
    In considering a candidate, I start with his view of human life. If he is not 100% pro-life, there is no need for me to consider that candidate further.
    Well written piece, Derick.

    Reply
  5. KATHRYN tURNER

    I like the quote that “the kingdom of heaven is within you” That sums up the personal relationship Christians can have with their Savior. So much of the Bible is from another time…..the political pressures on people in Biblical times were different. Democracy wasn’t practiced in ancient Israel, technology was totally different, science had not been invented. The moral challenges that modern science throws at us weren’t even imagined. But I hold onto and thank you for reminding me that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, not dependent on conservative or liberal politics. I won’t tell you whether I’m liberal or conservative just that I believe in the inner peace and joy that comes with knowing God.

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
      • Justin

        While this is quite a while after this blog post was written. Here is my two cents.

        When we discuss the church as it relates to politics, we must split the discussion into two groups. The church as a whole and the individuals freedom to make choices within the boundaries of scripture.

        The church as a whole has a mission to spread the gospel. The gospel saves souls. The church has no license to organize or support specific candidates in an organized fashion, such as “the churches for …”. Even if we make the argument that it could if a candidate supported the Bible, no candidate has ever run on the platform of the Bible alone. So, it’s a moot point. We never see a point in scripture where the Body used politics to convert people. It would take a while to type more, so I will leave it at that.

        That is not what is posted in this blog though. The blog focuses on the individual Christian’s decision to get involved in politics.

        The fact is that every one of us gets involved in politics in one way or another.

        How many have said “That candidate…”? If so, you have gotten involved in politics. The question is the approach that we use.

        Many times we complain about the laws enacted and yet don’t vote. We complain about candidates and politicians, or downright insult them, and don’t vote.

        I am not going to tell you that you have to vote, and it doesn’t seem like the blog does either. It seems that the intent is to give some considerations in how you choose to contribute to politics. So, here are a few more considerations.

        First of all is our involvement through words.

        1. Respect for each other.

        Remember that candidates can, and likely will, have platforms that include good and bad things. There are Christians who are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc. throughout the U.S. When we insult a specific group of people for their political view, we are likely insulting a fellow Christian, which is not a good example to the world, nor does it adhere to 1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”.

        He says to be holy in ALL manner of conversation.

        We also see in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

        Is it edifying when we insult others ideas? I think not.

        2. Respect for Authority

        We can read in Romans 13:1 “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.”

        Those in power are there because of God. When you want to insult and blame them, stop and remember that we are told to respect them.

        We see that when Peter and John faced affliction by the leadership, they did not insult them or retaliate, but instead they prayed for them in Acts 4:23-30 “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.”

        Not only that, but we are commanded to pray for those that despitefully us in Matthew 5:44. Do you feel despitefully used by the government? Pray for them.

        This doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions about our differing ideas, but keep it respectful and humble. If you start to recognize it degrading, stop it gracefully.

        Second, you have the right to get involved or not.

        1. Employment

        Is there an example of Christians who were involved in the government? Yes there is.

        We see that the man commended in Matthew 8 was a centurion (military officer).
        We also see Cornelius, who was also a centurion.
        The Ethiopian Eunuch was a very high ranking member of the government in his home country.

        We see that each of these individuals were involved in the government.

        Do you want to get involved in the government, then as an individual you have that license. Just keep in mind your priority as a Christian is to serve God, and don’t let it fall to the side.

        Also consider your motives for getting involved.

        A couple of good motives might be
        -to protect or help others
        -to be a Christian influence

        A couple of bad motives are
        -power and/or fame
        -Selfish reasons (money, to push a law simply for your own benefit, etc.)

        2. Following the laws

        Looking back at Romans 13, we are to be subject to authority. That means following the laws whether we like them or not. That includes driving the speed limit or other laws that seem silly. The only laws we have the license to ignore are laws that hinder our duty as Christians. We see this in Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

        Lastly, some concluding thoughts.

        We have a democratic republic here in the U.S. which means that our leaders are chosen by us.

        It could be said that part of our respect for our government is taking advantage of the right to vote. But that is your choice.

        When you do choose to vote, look at the candidates and do your best to choose one who leans the most towards good moral policy.

        And the biggest thing? Whether you choose to vote or not, don’t complain. Sometimes when we see complain, we think it means discontent, but a study of the Greek word used in Jude actually means blaming fate. Jude 1:15-16 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words , having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”

        He talks about murmurers and complainers as being ungodly.

        That means discontentment and blaming fate are ungodly.

        Something you might want to consider before you comment about the government is whether it is a murmur or complaint. If so, it’s best to push it from your mind. Then pray that the situation may improve and remember that you have the ability to help it improve.

        These are simply some things to add to what was said in the blog. They are in no way meant to detract from it.

        If anybody does read this comment, I hope it helped you gain some extra perspective. God bless you.

        Reply

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