Politics and the Bible: Are they compatible?

Politics and the Bible: Are they compatible?

Have you ever had someone tell you that Christians and the Church should not get involved in politics because it’s in clear violation of the policy on separation of church and state? Or that Jesus Christ never got involved in politics so neither should Christians? Or that Christians should just focus on preaching the Gospel instead of meddling with matters of human government?

Christian involvement in politics has been a much-debated subject and many believers are taught that Christians should not engage in politics because “faith and politics do not mix.” Probably as a result of the complex history between the two, Christianity and politics have since become a complex subject that often evoke strong opinions.

A few centuries after the birth of the church, Christianity became intimately intertwined with the politics of the Roman Empire immediately after Emperor Constantine made Christianity the empire’s official state religion. What took place over the subsequent centuries was not only unhelpful but damaging for Christianity as the fusion of religion and politics created an empire that in many ways did not reflect the values held and taught by Jesus Christ.

And that is why today, many Christians shy away from politics. Pastors do not talk about it from the pulpits and more and more believers do not cast their ballots anymore. They prefer to stay home during the elections because they see politics as nothing more than a “dirty game.”  Politicians seek government offices as a means to gratify their greed and hunger for position, money and power and they don’t want anything to do with it.

Should Christians get involved in politics?

If the answer is yes, to what extent? While some may argue that we should just preach the Gospel and not be involved, others imply that having conservative Christian candidates elected is of utmost importance. So let us look at what the Bible says as regard to politics and government.

First, Scriptures clearly state that governments by nature are God-ordained and thus accountable to God (Romans 13:1). Interestingly, believers who claim submission of their lives to Christ tend to forget about His lordship once the subject switches to politics. Christians must also allow Jesus to be Lord of their political views.

Romans 13:2-3 warns that those who resist authority are in effect resisting that which God has instituted and will consequently bring judgment on themselves for rulers will not punish those who do good but the evil.

Second, God ordains government to promote justice for all (Romans 13:4 & 1 Peter 2:14). The government does this, at least partially, by legislating morality. Laws against murder, rape, assault and many other crimes are actually moral issues commanded in the Bible to protect citizens.

Religious tolerance

Well, people might say, Don’t try to impose your morality on me because I’m not trying to impose my morality on you.” Hey, you know what? You do not need the Bible to know that murder and rape are wrong. Question now is, which moral standards should the government legislate?

Third, the relationship between the church and government or state is not total separation nor total identification, but education and confrontation. There is no such thing as total separation of church and state. It’s important to note that the phrase doesn’t occur anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. It is a phrase that was made up in an effort to explain the First Amendment : Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

There is nowhere in the constitution that forbids individuals from mixing faith and politics or from sharing their faith in a state-related function or location. Historically, no one interpreted the First Amendment to exclude religion from the political sphere. People have seriously misunderstood what separation of church and state”  means. The founding fathers created the First Amendment to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state.

Why Christians should be involved in politics

As Christians, we need to be involved because we believe in a God who cares passionately about this world and consequently how it is run. We should get involved because the Bible is hugely political – in that it is about how God wants people to behave and act towards Him. Does God have a hand in politics? Daniel 2:21 says, it is God who sets up kings and deposes them.”

Politics gives all individuals the right to vote on issues which they believe will have an effect on them, including Christians. And although Christians do not have to vote as their church or pastor tells them, they should be involved in the sense that they first seek to be informed and then make up their own minds.

With all the present matters of human trafficking, persecution of minorities, tyranny and many other cases of inhumane acts, the need for Christian involvement in politics should be obvious. It should also be evident that Christians are the most ideal people for this role.

The Bible says that only the righteous is concerned about justice for the poor” (Proverbs 29:7). Some may argue that Jesus Himself was never politically involved but He often confronted the Pharisees who were the religious and political leaders during His time.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” 

The Bible also includes other incidents in which God was not opposed to His people’s using political influence. Bible greats such as Joseph, Daniel and Esther were all elevated to positions of political power so that God could carry out His will. Even the apostle Paul’s Roman citizenship played a major role in the spread of the Gospel (Acts 22:25; 26:32).

It is therefore a mistake for Christians to completely isolate themselves from the realm of politics. When believers do not take upon themselves to vote or run for office, they carelessly leave the fate of future generations in the hands of the wicked and immoral men.

Christian Apologist Dr. Frank Turek explains further why Christians should get involved in politics.

Church pastors and leaders in the political arena

When Bro. Eddie Villanueva, president and founder of Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide (JILCW), one of the largest Bible-based, full gospel Christian Churches in the world, ran for the Philippine presidency for the first time in May 2004 many Church leaders supported him. Although they did not directly advise their congregation and Church members to vote for him, they did encourage them to vote for a political candidate who is God-fearing and with high standards of morality.

Unfortunately, Bro. Eddie lost to then incumbent president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was seeking for a full six-year term as President. Arroyo succeeded ousted President Joseph Estrada who was impeached with charges of plunder and corruption. Bro. Eddie ran again for the 2010 presidential election where he lost for the second time despite the huge support from the Philippine Evangelical movement.

Philippine Presidential Election 2004

This led many born again and evangelical Christians to conclude that it is not God’s will for church leaders and pastors to get involved in politics because first and foremost politics is a dirty game. That although Christians must exercise their right to vote, they should not run for public office because it is not God’s will for Christians to serve in the government.

Instead, they should just focus on sharing and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they might get compromised after exposure to politics. There is some validity to this caution. Some believers entering the political arena have become so politically focused that they have compromised teachings that are fundamental to the Christian faith and others have made the mistake of resting all their hope on politicians and government at the expense of morality and godly living.

Christians who hold positions in the government should follow the example set by Daniel. Daniel was given great authority in the ruling government of his day. He used his position to influence the king and others but he never set his hope on Babylon, and this enabled him to be a prophetic witness towards Babylon. He was also able to serve under Persia.

Daniel used his influence as much as possible for good while never setting his hope in these kingdoms because he understood that the advancement of the kingdom of God does not ultimately depend on political failures or political successes.

They should work as much as they can within their authority to promote righteousness and restrain evil, but always remember that the government cannot ultimately bring righteousness on the earth. Only God Himself can do that. The Bible shows us that God does put people in places of authority and influence for His sovereign purpose but it’s not a biblical mandate to seek authority and influence in government.

Senator Manny Pacquiao shares his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

Christians must see government and authority in society as the means to advance the Gospel and encourage those who have been given positions of authority in society to use their position for influence. If godly men and women can serve in places of leadership then by all means let them pursue it.

However, we should also not get disappointed when believers fail to come into places of influence. We should rejoice when a believer becomes president, but not consider it a failure to advance the Gospel when a believer loses the election.

Conclusion

Yes, Christians must get involved. Christians must let their voice be heard by casting their ballots. They must by all means support and vote for the candidate who could best represent them and will strongly stand for the right to religious freedom, right to life for the unborn and is for the God-ordained marriage which is between one man and one woman only.

And yes, Christians should spend time on their knees praying for the right candidate to win the elections but they must also do their part by going out and vote.

One more thing, Christians must remember that although they are commanded to submit to the authorities and rulers and to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2), their hope resides in the protection that only comes from God. Political entities are not the savior of the world. The salvation of mankind is accomplished only through the life and works of the Lord Jesus Christ.


*Recommended Resource: 

Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture – eBook

By Wayne Grudem

A variety of perspectives exist within the Christian community when it comes to political issues and political involvement. Comprehensive and readable Politics According to the Bible presents a political philosophy from the perspective that the Gospel pertains to all of life and therefore argues that Christians should be involved in political issues.

In brief, this is an analysis of conservative and liberal plans to do good for the nation, evaluated in light of the Bible and common sense. In this ground-breaking book, recognized evangelical Bible professor Wayne Grudem rejects five mistaken views about Christian influence on politics: (1) compel religion, (2) exclude religion, (3) all government is demonic, (4) do evangelism, not politics, and (5) do politics, not evangelism.

Grudem proposes a better alternative: (6) significant Christian influence on government. Then he explains the biblical teachings about the purpose of civil government and the characteristics of good or bad government. Does the Bible support some form of democracy? Should judges and the courts hold the ultimate power in a nation?

With respect to specific political issues, Grudem argues that most people’s political views depend on deep-seated assumptions about several basic moral and even theological questions, such as whether God exists, whether absolute moral standards can be known, whether there is good and evil in each person’s heart, whether people should be accountable for their good and bad choices, whether property should belong to individuals or to society, and whether the purpose of the earth’s resources is to bring benefit to mankind.

After addressing these foundational questions, Grudem provides a thoughtful, carefully-reasoned analysis of over fifty specific issues dealing with the protection of life, marriage, the family and children, economic issues and taxation, the environment, national defense, relationships to other nations, freedom of speech and religion, quotas, and special interests.

He makes frequent application to the current policies of the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, but the principles discussed here are relevant for any nation.

24 Replies to “Politics and the Bible: Are they compatible?”

  1. It is interesting to know that Christians are asking if politics and the Bible are compatible when in actual fact, the reason why religion got into our classrooms is because of politics.  If Christianity and politics weren’t compatible, a lot of laws that were passed wouldn’t have religious undertones like the insistence of having marriage be between just a man and a woman against a man and a man and vice versa. 

    I wanna ask a question though. In some Christians societies, a man is allowed to marry more than one wife, I am not seeing any Christian outcry and insistence that the law be made to ensure that it becomes illegal everywhere. Why is that so?  Is the sin of polygamy less than that of homosexuality? We need Christians who would also take this up seriously. And I really think that’s why we need honest Christians in politics 

    1. Hi Vapz, thanks for chiming in.

      One of the errors of some groups who categorize themselves as Christians is to assume that because we read stories of men in the Bible marrying more than 1 wife and having numerous concubines, that men today can do the same today. This however, steams from the misconception that because they’re written in the Bible, they must be the norm and is perfectly okay with God.

      I’m not sure if there are still so-called Christians today who practice polygamy. In the Islamic worldview, men are allowed to marry up to 6 wives, for as they can support each family equally.

      Both polygamy and homosexuality are sins that should be condemned. And I agree with you, we need Christians in the political arena who would find a way to fix this matter.

  2. The relationship between Christianity and politics is a historically complex subject and a frequent source of disagreement throughout the history of Christianity, as well as in modern politics, with many arguing that Christianity directly supports a particular political ideology or philosophy.

    I use to feel Christians should have little interest and participation in politics but your explanation on this post made me realize we need God-fearing leaders as well to rule and definitely must be Christians. I’m not saying it is a must but I believe they both can co-occur.

    1. Hi Seun,

      I used to think the same way too; that Christians should not get involved in politics in any way for the reasons you stated. Interestingly, there is one, (huge) religious group in our country whose members always vote unanimously during national/ presidential elections.

      This is because their top leader decides which candidate or political party to vote for and every member is obliged to follow. As expected, why political candidates and coalitions will do about just anything to get this religious group to endorse them.

      I am not here to judge nor criticize religious groups like this but I do believe that every Christian should be free to vote according to their conscience. If there are candidates who are Christians, we must support them, as we need more and more God-fearing Christians to fill in government seats.

      What if there aren’t any? We can go for political candidates or parties whose platforms come close to God’s standards.

      Thanks you for your comment.

  3. I must say a wonderful well done job to you for putting up this article on the issue that has been going on among Christians around the world; whether Christians should participate in politics or not. In my own point of view yes. Christian should participate in politics either by seeking for political office or voting for the right person into office. Because by participating in politics they will have the chance or opportunities to do things in the right ways different from the way the unbeliever will do it and make the world a better place.

    But when we talk about church participating in politics. I don’t support churches participating in politics. Church podium is a holy place that is for preaching the world of God and not for doing political campaigns.

    1. I certainly agree with you, the church, the house of God, should never be used as a place to hold political campaigns. It is also unethical for church leaders and pastors to endorse political candidates. I believe pastors and church leaders are responsible in reminding their congregation what kind of government leaders they should vote for but they should not directly endorse any political candidate.

      Thanks for stopping by, shalom!

  4. I’m a follower of Christ, and I believe Christianity is about a personal relationship between the person and God, and that is how it is.

    For me personally, I don’t like anything politics because I don’t have the interests, but I’m not saying Christians should not be involved in political affairs, they should. With their involvement they can help to maintain a moral balance that is needed to lay good examples of Christ, so that corruption  will be minimized.

    Thank you for sharing this interesting post!

    1. Hello Mary, thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts on one of the most controversial topics today.

      You’re absolutely right, to be a Christian means knowing Christ on a personal level. Should Christians get involved in politics? They do not have to aspire for government positions but they have a moral obligation to get involved, not only in political affairs but even with cultural issues.

      As Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapels in Chino Hills always say, “Christians should engage the culture,” to which I agree 100%.

      Blessings!

  5. I think christians should be involved in political affairs of the state. They can help maintain a moral balance that is highly needed in governance. If they are true christians indeed, I believe their moral compass might guide them to stay away from vices such as corruption and abuse of office with much more ease in comparison to their non Christian counterparts.

    1. I’m glad we’re on the same page as to whether Christians should get involved in politics or not. For the record, the Bible as I mentioned is hugely political. Christians who think they have no business joining political affairs better read the Old Testament where many biblical characters got greatly involved in the political affairs of their time.

      There’s Joseph the son of Jacob who was made ruler of Egypt. Daniel and his friends who were given high ranks in Babylon during their captivity. We also read how God worked in the lives of the many kings who ruled in Israel. That’s why I do not see why Christians think it’s not God’s will for them to get involved.

      However, Christians who wish to pursue a political career must be very careful to not get sucked into the dirty game of politics. So they need to be grounded in the Word of God and spend a considerable amount of time on their knees to seek God’s will and guidance before jumping in.

      We need to always keep in mind that we are the ambassadors of Christ. Any wrong move on our part and people will never listen to whatever we have to say about the Christ and the Christian faith.

      I truly appreciate your insights Mitala. God bless!

  6. I’m not Christian but I found this interesting. I believe that as long as no one is forcing their religion on another (I wouldn’t push my beliefs…religious or otherwise… on anyone else and would always appreciate the same courtesy …. do unto others….) I see no reason why religion and politics can’t peacefully coexist. There are many basic and positive teachings in Christianity that are common to many religions and cultures that can and probably should be encouraged through politics.

    1. Hey Tricia,

      Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right. There should be no reason why religion and politics can’t peacefully coexist. Politics and the Bible are not at odds. After all, the standard of morality is no other than God Himself, the author of the Bible.

  7. Hello Alice,

    Very powerful article.

    As a follower of Christ myself there’s a lot of mixed feelings with this subject and would take more than a comment to explain because it goes a lot deeper than church and state. For me, I tend to stay out of politics. Remember there are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing and claim their christian values until they reach office.

    Thank you for this great article and do hope to read more from you.

    David

    1. Hi David, thanks for reading the article and sharing your thoughts.

      Just like you, I used to stay out of politics too because I always thought that it is not good for Christians to get involved. But then I came to realize that “getting involved” does not necessarily mean running for government office. Rather, to get involved means letting your voice be heard by casting your ballot. Christians do not have to get out there and start campaigning for their candidates. It means making a decision on who to vote for and going out on election day.

      After doing our part and our candidate still did not win the elections, we need to accept the outcome and keep praying for our leaders who were elected into office and for our nation as a whole. We need to trust God because at the end of the day, nothing happens that God does not allow.

  8. Alice,

    Agree with much of what you write.

    Politics has been a big part of Christianity throughout the ages beginning with Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

    I’ve never subscribed to the statement religion and ;politics don’t mix – they do mix and mix often!

    It’s a double edged sword though because from my view, religion/faith should be about a personal relationship between the person and God and that’s it.

    Politics usually comes about when institutionalization takes place and that has both positive and negative consequences.

    1. Christians are often told to keep their religion/faith out of politics because these two don’t mix. But like you said, they do mix and mix often.

      We currently have a senator who is very open about his faith in Jesus Christ; he often quotes biblical verses which is driving his detractors crazy mad. Many times he was accused of taking Bible verses out of context to support and promote his personal agenda, which they say are not really biblical at all.

      You’re right Sam, faith is about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Thanks for visiting, God bless!

  9. Hi there, my name is John and I wanted to thank you for your breakdown of systematic theology. You offer a visual which really helps with understanding how there are multiple links that make up this theology. I am also happy to see that your not a proponent of replacement theology, which basically in a nutshell states that Christianity has replaced its’ parent roots of Judaism. Since Shaul (Paul) was a devout Jew this would really put a complex and illogical spin on the New Testament writings if replacement theology were factual. Keep up the good work!

    John (Follower of Yeshua ) AKA, Jesus the Christ
    Shalom

    1. Hi John,  thanks for visiting. I truly appreciate your thoughts about my site. I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time but didn’t know exactly how. I thank God for finally giving me a platform for doing this, glory to His name!
      You know, it really saddens me that there are Christian denominations who are advocates of replacement theology. Because if we read the Bible, we see the clear distinctions between Israel and the Church. That although God has separate programs for the two entities, Jesus remains to be the only way by which the Jews and Gentiles can attain salvation.
      Even so today, Christians disagree on many different things and aspects of Christianity and this was evident during the last elections where Christians were divided as to who they voted for. At the end of the day, we will all be judged on how we responded to God’s call. 
      Shalom and God bless!

  10. I think as time progresses it is making it harder for Christians to hold political positions. It seems like the love of many is growing colder and there are many false teachings circulating. I think even many pastors now compromise just to hold their position so I can’t imagine there being many strong enough ministers able to hold the position of a President. I think the most important thing is prayer. All Christians should be on their knees at night praying for the nation and the strength of the Christian holding positions. The times are only getting tougher.

    1. I agree with you Melissa, Christians who run for government positions these days do not have the support of most churches and influential ministers. It’s sad but the church has now become secular; many Christians and church leaders have become compromising in order to remain in their positions. We really are in the end times as the love of many Christians for the Word and for God’s work is diminishing. They used to be on fire in the Lord but are now turning away from biblical Christianity. 

      So no matter what happens, our role as believers is to continually support our leaders through prayers. We must continue to stand in the gap on behalf of our land. I believe that as long as there remains a group of intercessors, God still pours out His grace.

  11. I have nothing against Christians in politics, so long as they perform well in both politics and in their ministry. In fact, I appreciate how they manage their time and effort efficiently. However, in Matt 6:24 and Luke 16:13, the bible says, we cannot serve two masters at the same time. Nevertheless, if everyone is respecting the quoted verses seriously, then we will not have any Christians in government positions. Therefore, as it is said in the article, the person’s conviction whether his faith is not compromised by joining politics matters. On our part as their constituents, it is our duty to pray for them as it is said in 1 Tim 2:2. God bless us all!

    1. Hi brother Jess, I appreciate your input. And I believe we’re on the same page here; that church leaders and ministers should not leave their ministries in order to build a political career. The Bible is crystal clear about that. However, when it comes to fellow believers who are not actually serving full time in the ministry, I don’t see anything wrong with that. On the other hand, I see it as an opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ because if you are in position, people will more likely to listen to what you have to say. But just make sure you walk the talk and not just talk the talk.

      The other thing that I pointed out in my post is for us to not just pray for the right candidates to fill in the different government positions but we must also exercise our rights to vote and more importantly to to vote wisely and with our conscience. We must go out there and cast our ballots for the candidate who may not be a believer but whose standards of morality is in line , at least in a way, with God’s standards as we read in the written Word.

      Are you aware that in the U.S. many Christians, I mean evangelicals, are running for government positions (Republican Party) because they want to restore America back to being a true Christian nation? Because if the righteous people of God will not get involved in politics, it will be easier for the wicked to rule. What do you think about this?

  12. Those Christians who want to get involved in politics, particularly here in our country, need to be aware of the system of politics. Democracy has always been grayed in color. Meaning there are systems which we think are right but a closer look tells us that it’s not. One example I would like to mention is a system of compromising. If one politician needs his/her project to get approved and get funded he would need the approval of a co-politician. He will then be supported by a corrupt politician in exchange for his support. This will lead a christian to get along with the wrong system of the government, then his identity as a politician or believer of God will be tainted which in turn gives a bad impression for all believers.

    1. You’re exactly right brother Rey. The great danger for believers getting involved in politics and having positions in the government is “compromising.” Any politician who wants to really succeed has to “go with the flow” otherwise he will make a lot of enemies and that will be the end of his political career. Or worse, he will be corrupted by the system little by little until such time that he will completely forget he’s a Christian. And that’s what the people will see, thereby concluding that all believers in Christ are like him, no distinction at all. However, I do believe that if God will put a Christian or a church leader in the government, God is going to use him for a greater purpose and for the propagation of the Gospel.

      But what do you think brother Rey, should Christians dive into politics or not? Just practice your right to vote and that’s it??? Shouldn’t we get involved all the more and use our position in the government to bless others? What do you think of Manny Pacquiao being in the senate?

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