Tag: should christians get involved in politics

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 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 

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.