Christianity and Politics: Hoping for Feedback

"The state of our culture is not primarily the result of public policy and politics. I add, however, that government and politics are one of the sources of culture and so Christians should not avoid politics or put too much faith in politics." ~ Tim Keller

The recent presidential campaign and the words of Tim Keller have caused me to contemplate these questions: 

  • How involved does God want us, as Christians, to be in politics?
  • How do we find the balance between avoiding politics altogether and putting too much faith in politics?

I want to share my own thoughts on this subject. I want to share a few articles I've read recently (at the bottom of this post). AND I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, as my Christian friends. If you are reading this and are not a Christian, I am not excluding you from commenting. Please feel free to share your thoughts as well. But I am directing this post primarily at other Christians. I think it goes without saying that a non-believer takes the position against Christianity influencing politics. I am questioning from more of a spiritual angle than a political angle. And I realize a lot of votes were about the economy rather than social issues. 

The Bible instructs us to be salt and light in the earth. There is no denying that we have a responsibility as Christ followers to point others to the Kingdom of God. As we watch our society going further and further away from God, it seems all the more necessary for Christians to be salt and light. And voting, I believe, is one part of that equation. But at what point do we go from being a light in the darkness to denying freedom to others; specifically non-believers? This is an important question for me because I have no desire to control other people or make them do the right thing. And sometimes Christians suggest that we have a duty to impose our Christian values on the nation as a whole. I don't think that's what it means to be salt and light.

I have never believed God wanted me to control people by denying them freedom of choice. The main reason I have never believed that is because God Himself does not take that approach. And Jesus did not come as a political force to be reckoned with. He came as a suffering servant who loved sacrificially.

I don't believe abortion is right. My pro-life stand is not coming from a desire to control the reproductive rights of women. My pro-life convictions are all about protecting the lives of unborn children who are denied life by their own mothers. I cannot make sense of the reality that criminally it is considered murdering two people if an attacker kills a pregnant woman, but it is reproductive choice if the baby's own mother takes the unborn child's life. I know this is very controversial, but even in the case of rape, the unborn child is an innocent victim who pays the death penalty. I do feel deeply conflicted when it comes to a choice between the life of the mother or the baby. I think that's a reason to terminate -- to save the mother's life. But the reality is that we have abortion on demand and abortion as birth control in this country. We have abortion for convenience. The majority of abortions are not for those extreme cases. And we all know that. There are families desperately wanting children who could adopt those babies, which is a much more humane response to an undesired pregnancy. But it seems easier for many to terminate the life than to give the baby up to be raised in a loving home. This saddens me as a Christian and as a human being. And I am against it with all my heart. But are we bound as Christians to vote for anyone who supports restricting that choice? Do they automatically become the God candidate simply because they oppose abortion and same-sex marriage? I really don't know the answer to that question. And I am even more conflicted on the subject of homosexuality. Although I believe in biblical marriage as a union between a man and a woman, I don't feel comfortable with limiting the freedoms and the pursuit of happiness for citizens of this country whose beliefs are different from mine. I don't think it means I am abandoning my own faith or convictions to allow others to choose a different life and have that be legal. I don't think government should be the enforcer of obedience to God. Does that view make me less of a Christian in your eyes? 

The Bible tells us how this human story will end. It won't be good on earth leading up to Christ's return. I do not believe in complacency. I will always vote because I consider it both a duty and a privilege I am grateful for. I do believe our Christian voices need to be heard. But I don't think it should come as a shock to us that the condition of the world is in decline. And I often wonder if God's intent is for us to focus so heavily on faith in government and governmental leaders. I believe we should pray for them (which, I confess, I do not do enough of). And I believe we should vote our conscience. But do any of us who read the Bible actually believe we are going to "take America back?" I don't see that in the Bible. If I'm missing something, please point me to the scripture. 

I see being salt and light as so much more than promoting "the God candidate" in an election or going to ChickFilA to support Christian business. Am I being salt and light in feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, loving the unlovable, standing against injustice even when it costs me something personally? Do I tell the truth at all times -- even when it costs me something? Am I returning good for evil? Am I being a true friend at all times? Am I living for my own comfort, convenience and security?

2 Timothy 3:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Does that describe me even a little bit? That should scare me more than the political landscape (and it does).

None of us is living a perfect life of faithfulness to God. That's why we need -- and are thankful for -- a Savior. But I do think we should think as deeply about these things as we do about what candidate Christians should vote for. It is so much easier to click "share" on a Facebook image or a political article than it is to comprehend and BE salt and light quietly and consistently in our daily walk.

No matter how loudly we voice our opinions on the "right" candidates, we undermine our influence if our individual lives and choices are no different from unbelievers. How high a value do we place on our own personal happiness? Is that the be-all, end-all of our existence? I will be the first to admit that I focus a lot on what brings me pleasure and makes me comfortable. I'm not proud of it. I just won't deny it. And sometimes I think we are all guilty (collectively as believers) of substituting a public opinion for the more difficult personal choices that can be quietly glossed over. And I think we often forget that untruthfulness, hypocrisy and self-righteousness are sin every bit as much as abortion. Where are the candidates who are above lying for self-interest? If we abstained from voting for a liar, we couldn't vote at all.

I resist putting my faith in any human leader because I have put too much faith in men in the past and have learned the hard way that humans always fail and power corrupts. I have believed in people so much that I was devastated when they disappointed me. I'm thankful that no disappointment in man, however, has ever tempted me to turn away from God. And please note that I did not say I'm proud. I said I'm thankful. I attribute that to God's mercy and faithfulness to me; not my superior faithfulness to Him. 

There is more that could be said, but I think I will stop writing and wait patiently for those of you who feel like sharing your thoughts with me. I think this could be a really helpful and thought-provoking discussion if anyone feels to contribute and participate. I would love to read your comments! And feel free to disagree with me.

Here are a few articles I've read in the last few days:

More than 6 Million Evangelicals Voted for Obama ... Why? ...






Comments

justme said…
"The Bible tells us how this human story will end. It won't be good on earth leading up to Christ's return. I do not believe in complacency. I will always vote because I consider it both a duty and a privilege I am grateful for. I do believe our Christian voices need to be heard. But I don't think it should come as a shock to us that the condition of the world is in decline. And I often wonder if God's intent is for us to focus so heavily on faith in government and governmental leaders. I believe we should pray for them (which, I confess, I do not do enough of). And I believe we should vote our conscience. But do any of us who read the Bible actually believe we are going to "take America back?" I don't see that in the Bible."

I don't see that in the Bible either, Shari, and I couldn't agree with you more. I rather take to heart what Paul says in 2 Tim 2:4 - " No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." Paul wasn't political, trying to persuade the Roman government to uphold his Christian standards. He did use his Roman citizenship to his advantage when brought before the courts, though. I believe we can do the same. As citizens of the USA we have been given the priviledge to vote and I take advantage of that and vote my conscience.

I also agree that it shouldn't come as a shock to us that the condition of the world is in decline. Yes, I think we should use the privilege we've been given to vote, but at the same time I believe we should keep our eyes on Him and remember that our true citizenship isn't really here anyway (Phil 3:20). ...which sometimes makes me wonder...since we are ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) and our citizenship is in heaven, are we even eligible to vote here? :) :) :)
Shari said…
Great feedback, Sally. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am really hoping I get lots of opinions from others. It seems like today's Christians get really vocal on certain things (usually the sins of others) while neglecting their own heart. I don't say that as a judgment. And I hope it doesn't sound that way. I have been guilty of doing it, but really make an effort not to.

I voted for Romney. My main reasons were that I felt he would handle the economy better and he embraces similar values to mine. I also think our religious freedoms and free speech are in jeopardy like never before. But we are told in the Bible that these days would come. To me, it is fulfillment of prophecy. And while I did vote for the guy most conservatives view as "the God choice," I know some really good Christians who voted for Obama. And I know some who felt they could not back either candidate from a spiritual conviction. God could have put Romney in office if it was that important. Instead, Obama was re-elected. I don't know if that was by God's design or a part of Him allowing us freedom of choice. But I do know He could have changed the outcome if a Romney presidency was His sovereign will.

I am reading a really good book right now that addresses some of these issues and many others. It is "What's so Great about Christianity?" by Dinesh D'Souza. I will be sharing some quotes in the near future.
PatrickJ said…
I've got a couple of reasons I see Christians should be involved in our government. 1)We love people and want to help guide them away from actions that we know aren't constructive. 2)THIS country was founded on a belief and trust in the God of Israel; therefore, we have the right and directive to be involved.

PatrickJ said…
Belief in God cannot be forced on someone. But the moral standard in this country is based on biblical principles. If we don't use the bible as our standard, what do we use? These days we are seeing more and more destructive actions becoming accepted. At this time in our history, most people still think it's wrong to steal. But if we have no standard, how long before it's ok? God's laws weren't given to us to keep us from enjoying ourselves. They have logic behind them. So, because we love, we want people to abide by God's direction.
Shari said…
I certainly agree with everything you said, Pat! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. A discussion is what I was hoping for. I think a lot of people are either so tired of everything political (at the moment) or just wanting to keep their opinions to themselves because this post has gotten a lot of hits, but only two responses. I appreciate your feedback!
Kansas Hobbs' said…
I fully agree with your comments and those of your visitors. We are "strangers and aliens" and we are called to be IN this world not OF it. I agree, Obama being re-elected was not my choice, but I was not surprised. We have become a society that is separated by too many things. I hated hearing about the "Christian", "Puerto Rican" "African American" etc. vote. WE are AMERICANS...the more we keep pulling groups out of the melting pot, the less we are seasoned together. We must be FOR us instead of against the other man. I do believe this is just a continuation in our decline as a nation...I don't see it happening in a year or even 4, but we are destroying ourselves from within...which was prophesied.
Shari said…
Thank you for contributing to the conversation, Kansas. Good comments!

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