Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Politics of Christianity

Politics is once again taking center stage in our country. In just over a year, the United States will elect a new president after eight years of Democratic Party domination of that office (of course, the possibility exists that another Democratic candidate will be elected to the office). Whether that domination has been good or bad depends on who you ask, of course. But it is undeniable that our country has undergone a tremendous change over those eight years. When Barak Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a myriad of other legislations were the law of the land. Now, just seven years later, they have practically all been abandoned or superseded.

In the wake of the pope’s visit to the United States, we are obliged to ask ourselves what role, if any, Christianity has in politics. If you ask the average church goer, he will likely give you a strong opinion on what politics the country should follow. Some will forcefully tell you that the church needs to involve itself in the social ills and issues that are at the forefront of the political agenda. Others will tell you that the church has no business involving itself with politics and that it should work to change minds and hearts which in turn, the theory goes, will change the way people behave and thus the government.

In my opinion both extremes are, as is usually the case, wrong. We cannot, as a church, take center stage in the political fights that go on in our society. If we look at the early church, and that should be our ideal, we do not see it entangling itself with the politics of the age. Of course, at the time, politics were what the emperor wanted them to be. We are used to living in societies that have had freedom and openness and the ability of citizens to involve themselves in the political process of the nation. But that does not take away from the fact that Christians in the early days of the church were concerned, first and foremost, with the spiritual life of their fellow citizens. After all, you can have all the best of this world and still be lost. That would be a tragedy!

That being said, in Romans chapter 13 Paul makes it clear that we are to submit ourselves to the government. That, I believe, extends not only to being subject to its laws and penalties, if such are warranted, but also to participating in the rights that the government has given us as citizens. You will remember that Paul himself made use of his Roman citizenship whenever he deemed it appropriate. Thus, we see an example of an early Christian leader involving himself in governmental affairs when necessary in order to promote and advance the kingdom of God on earth. 

And that is the key. All we do should be to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to extend his kingdom on this earth. If we use the abilities and rights that our government has given us to do so, then we’re on the right track. Whether we vote for Democrats or Republicans is another issue. Without a doubt, there are as many opinions as to who a Christian should vote for as there are people. Perhaps we will discuss that in a future article. But for now, it is important to point out that the Christian should vote, or do anything else for that matter, with a clear conscience. (Romans 14:23-24) That is hard to do if the person you are voting for has clear, specific political agendas that conflict with the laws of God. In the final analysis, however, it is up to the individual to determine for himself who he will vote for. Just remember not to sell you soul in the process!

1 comment: