My opinion on Politics [and politicians] is pretty strong. I’ve voiced those opinions before. Given that election time is coming upon us once more, I thought I’d voice myself again and write a follow-up to ‘Republicans & Sinners‘. It’s beneficial to repeat these things (somewhat like 2 Pet 1:12) and remind people that instituting change, for a little bit of goodness in the world, is a whole lot easier than changing politicians and begging Congress to do the right thing. Moving congress to do something useful is sort of like talking to a wall. We have healthcare issues, social security issues, the national deficit and many other problems and yet, to this very day, they’re still trying to tackle issues surrounding steroids in baseball.
It remains my sincere conviction that Pilgrims don’t vote. In fact, I’ll take it a step further by stating that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics at all. It’s a dirty system that should be avoided at all costs. A closer look at Christian politics in the bible will reveal that, unsurprisingly, Christians weren’t involved in politics to any degree. As far as the New Testament is concerned, there is absolutely no involvement of the Church in such things. However, I’ll highlight upon a few brushes with government as found in the Scriptures so I can better expound my position.
As I wrote in ‘Republicans & Sinners’, one of Israel’s great sins was to ask for a king:
Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
It was a great lack of faith that the nation of Israel displayed. Who needs a king to lead you when you have God? This is the first display of early Christian politics and the scriptural opinion is clear. Placing your faith in a system of government run by man is tantamount to taking a step away from God; But I want to move the discussion away from the Old Testament so that the waters of Israel’s theocracy don’t get muddied with the present day gentile church (or rather I don’t want people to try and muddy the two).
Let’s look at an example involving Christ:
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Jesus paid taxes. However, he did so not as a matter of obligation (the children are free) but in opposition to the pretense of offense. He didn’t make silly speeches about how the taxes help pay for the schools or the roads or the protective army of soldiers that kept the peace. His voluntary tribute wasn’t for the purpose of being a benefactor to the government system, it was a tribute in spite of the system. He paid taxes (as all Christians should) while illustrating for us the attitude toward such things. Let’s look at another example.
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Here John the Baptist was preaching to Herod: It is not lawful for thee to have her. It should be noted that this public cry against Herod was not for his defiance against Roman law, it was for his defiance against God’s law. In other words, John was not partaking in a political system by engaging the public against the governor but rather he was publicly calling a sinner to repentance. This passage offers no foundation for Christian political committees or coalitions. It is ironic that people would try and use this passage for such justification.
Paul made use of the political system for the furtherance of the gospel. He did not, under record of the Scriptures, use his Roman citizenship in any other way. Despite his Roman birthright, he had nothing to do with Roman politics as he considered himself an ‘ambassador for Christ’ (as stated in 2 Cor 5:20).
But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
The Apostle Paul further expounds his position in the book of Romans:
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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
The Apostle Paul tells us here that there is no power except that which is ordained by God. Think about that a minute. I mean *really* think about it. God has a divine plan involving the governments of this world. Do you really think society has the power to change God’s plan at the ballot box? What about the end of the world, do you think you can vote Republican to keep the anti-Christ at bay? I believe it’s the opposite. Christian coalitions who involve themselves in politics are setting the stage for the anti-Christ because they are the ones publicly inviting religion into the White House. Pandora’s box is not so easy to close. Yet Paul makes it all very simple for us by telling us “for he that loveth one another hath fulfilled the law”.
I won’t presume to say that Christians who vote are in sin. I just think it’s a grandiose waste of effort and misplaced faith. We are, after all, Pilgrims:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
You’re a stranger in this land (now I have that Petra song stuck in my head). You’re just passing through. How much do you really want to get involved in earthly government? It is true that the people rejoice when the righteous are in authority (Pro 29:2) but it is God who promotes those people:
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: If you want to change the world, love your neighbor as yourself (like the good Samaritan). Politics is, and always has been, a dirty occupation. It’s a business of compromise and it’s a business better left for those power hungry souls seeking worldly stature. Christians should vote on their knees. Christian committees and coalitions waste money and time when involving themselves in the political sector. They’re trying to change laws when they could be changing lives. They’re feeding government lobbyists when they could be feeding children. Yes, I know they’re trying to do some good, it’s just the wrong kind of good. Non Government Organizations have always had the biggest impact in society and the church would do well to remember that. We’ve got bigger things to care about than global warming or drilling in the Arctic.
For many believers, involvement with politics is about two primary issues, homosexuality and abortion. Those are terrible sins but you will not change sinners by changing the law – the Old Testament taught us about that. The foolishness of preaching is a thousand times better than the practicality of politics. It is not the Christian duty to stop sinners from sinning (Ps 1:1)! It’s the job of Christians to share the gospel. The Pharisees put their belief in the law and that’s why they rejected Christ. If you want to take a stand against sinful acts, there’s better ways than the ballot box!
One day we will have a perfect government (thy kingdom come!). We need a theocracy but we do not yet have a worthy theocrat. He will come. He will reign. His judgment will be perfect and his truth will reign supreme whether or not it is voted for. Remember that pilgrim.