Monday, August 27, 2012

The Christian and Politics

When Christians begin talking politics, there is no telling where the conversation might go. Many Bible-believing Christians believe that God is a Republican, because there is no doubt He would favor individual liberty. Others of a more liberal bent believe God most assuredly is a Democrat, because He surely would support higher taxes on the rich to support all of their social welfare programs. The truth is that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but His truth is most certainly either embraced or rejected by certain positions of all political parties and politicians. We need to be aware of where political parties and individual politicians stand in order to vote biblically on issues and candidates.
Some have said that Christians ought to stay out of politics completely, because the church has no business interfering with matters of the state. The extremists of this persuasion have frequently stated that Christians have no business taking their beliefs into the voting booth. I must take issue with that one right from the start. Every individual who is privileged to live in a country that allows the vote must vote his convictions based on who he or she is. A Christian is a Christian by conviction, and his or her vote must come from his or her core beliefs. To say a Christian must ignore conviction in the voting booth could only make sense if the same limitation were placed on atheists, agnostics, humanists, foolish people, Buddhists, etc. Somehow we never hear that. We only hear that Christians should ignore their convictions. Such a statement is patently absurd and nonsensical. I would instead submit that Christians have not only the privilege but also the responsibility to vote on all issues and candidates based on conviction.
The Scriptures give us many principles which we ought to bring to the ballot box. The following short list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a reasonable start.
How To Know How To Vote
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34, NKJV). Righteousness as opposed to sinfulness on the part of candidates and issues must be considered. The questions to ask ourselves are "What is right?" and "Who will do right?" Of course, it would be most helpful to have more Bible-believing, born again, Godly candidates. Failing that, we need to select the candidates and issues that most reflect Biblical principles. There are certain issues, such as the murder of the unborn, that we must reject and work to eradicate, because it is as true today as it was when it was written, that "sin is a reproach to any people."
Some issues are not merely political. Issues that involve normalizing sin are not political issues. Rather, they are moral and Biblical issues, and ignoring them by saying that Christians and the church should stay out of politics is at best cowardly and at worst a denial of our convictions and a great detriment to our nation.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan… Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath  (Proverbs 29:2, 8, NKJV). We ought to rejoice greatly that we still live in a free country where we are allowed to vote. Such is a great privilege and responsibility, and we owe it to God, ourselves, and our children not to take such a responsibility lightly. When evil individuals are in office, we ought to vote wisely so as to remove them, and when foolish, unbiblical laws are enacted, we ought to make every effort to see them repealed.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord… (Psalm 33:12, NKJV). We hear a great deal of foolishness today about our country not having been founded on Biblical principles and Christian ideals. Such nonsense will continue to be stated, but repeated statements of falsehood never make a lie into the truth. We need only look at some of the statements of the founders of our country to put that foolishness to rest. I offer only a few of the huge number that are readily available.
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" (George Washington, The Writings of Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor, Vol. XI, pp. 342-343, General Orders of May 2, 1778).
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here" (The Trumpet Voice of Freedom, Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. 3.)
"I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ" (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385).
There is no way to know how many of our founding fathers truly trusted Christ as Savior, but there can be no doubt that the vast majority had tremendous respect for God, the Bible, and Christianity, and that is sorely lacking today. Can we still say we are "a nation whose God is the Lord?"
The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: "He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God" (2 Samuel 23:3, NKJV). God most certainly holds us all responsible. Citizens are responsible for obeying the laws put into place by their leaders. That is not to say that all laws are right and just, and it is also not to say that there is never a time to resist authority. The apostles certainly experienced that situation firsthand when they were ordered not to continue preaching the gospel, and they responded appropriately. But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29, NKJV). This really sums up where we ought to be. It is our responsibility to obey all laws that do not violate Biblical principles. If men's laws are in violation of God's laws, we must obey God first, always remembering that there may be consequences to such an action.
Not only are citizens responsible to obey the just and righteous laws their leaders enact, but also those leaders must be prepared to answer to God for the manner in which they lead. They "must be just, ruling in the fear of God." That is an awesome responsibility not to be taken lightly. Politicians who accept high office only to enrich themselves or feed their own egos are setting themselves up for the judgment of God. We need humble, godly leaders who will obey the Scriptures.
Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness (Proverbs 25:5, NKJV). Not only must rulers lead in a righteous, Godly manner, but those who advise them must not be evil individuals. When a potentially good leader listens to ungodly advice, the results can be disastrous. I think of King Rehoboam, who unwisely listen to the wrong counselors, and the result was that he, and ultimately the nation, did evil in the sight of the Lord. Such always leads to God's judgment. You can read about King Rehoboam here.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.  (Proverbs 12:22, NKJV). During this political season as the presidential election approaches, it is certainly accurate to say that we have been told numerous lies. Some of them are so blatant that even the media is starting to challenge them on both sides, probably for fear that they themselves will be exposed for their lack of honesty as they fail to point out obvious lies. God honors truth. "...those who deal truthfully are his delight." We ought to seek to elect honest politicians (Is that an oxymoron? I hope not totally.) and support honest rather than deceitful laws. Those who would seek to gain office by dishonest means are inviting judgment, because "lying lips are an abomination to the Lord," and He is not asleep.

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens (Exodus 18:21,NKJV).

This Scripture makes it clear that good leaders are those who are capable of doing the job, who fear God, who are truthful and hate falsehood, and who are not greedy and cannot be bribed.
There is one final Scripture I must address relative to the political issues that face us in these days. All of us are concerned about the economy, about the national debt, about health care, and about a number of other issues that face us. However, in light of the fact that all these things are subservient to the overriding principle that "righteousness exalts a nation," we must consider an extremely important issue that helps define whether a nation is truly practicing righteousness.
  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3). These are words spoken directly by God to Abraham. They are a promise to Abraham and to his descendants - the nation of Israel. This promise has never been rescinded. Otherwise God would be a liar, which by definition, God can never be.
This promise is very clear. If a nation wants to be judged, all it has to do is be an enemy of Israel. Nations that are blustering that Israel has no right to exist and needs to be exterminated are ripe for judgment, and while we sometimes wonder why God seems to wait so long, we can rest assured that such nations will suffer His judgment in His time. He may use Israel to bring that judgment, or He may bring it by miraculous means, but we need to rest assured that His judgment is sure.
On the other hand, a certain way for a nation to be blessed is to be friends in a very real sense with Israel. Our friendship with Israel may be the only thing keeping the United States of America afloat today. The other thing we still do that God will honor and bless is that our country is still a center of the worldwide missionary effort. Beyond those two things, we have very little to commend us as far as righteousness goes. If we as a nation ever turn our back on Israel, we will also be ripe for God's judgment.
Frankly, I am not a fan of foreign aid. I see little sensible purpose in sending money to other nations that hate us and/or Israel, God's chosen earthly people. It seems that the more we give, the more we are hated around the world. At the very least, we must stop giving any aid to Israel's enemies, and it would not disappoint me in the least if we cut off all foreign aid ... except to Israel. We must continue to support and defend Israel, because God has not forgotten and will not forget His promise to Abraham.
I encourage every Christian to fulfill the responsibility to vote based on Biblical convictions. We do not always get everything we want in a candidate, but if we stay home because we don't like one issue, or if we vote for a third party candidate who clearly has no chance, we may be unwittingly helping into office those who may stand for the opposite of what we believe. Some have said they cannot vote for "the lesser of two evils" because the lesser of two evils is still evil. However, "the lesser of two evils" is less evil, and we want the least amount of evil possible in our country. Failure to vote for the lesser of two evils is to help the greater of two evils to take control. That is surely not what we want.

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