Friday, September 08, 2006

Politics and the Body of Christ

If there has been one interesting (and troubling) development within American Christian life since the 1970s, it is the way people who are supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ have become polarized over politics. In practice, it seems that our loyalties to our particular political party take higher place than our loyalties to Christ. Frequently, our political persuasions seem to color how we view Scripture and the role of a Christian in society, rather than having Scripture inform our political persuasions. I say this advisedly, as I have not only been politically active for years, but as a media figure/analyst, I have seen it all over the past 30 years. I can see it in myself from time to time, and quite honestly, I don't like it.

Please do not read that statement and assume that I believe Christians should sit out political life in an overly pietistic sense. Far from it. We are called to be good citizens - active and engaged in our culture. I believe that can be amply demonstrated from Scripture in numerous passages. The Apostle Paul was especially eloquent on the subject of a believer's attitude toward government (Romans 13) and, at times, Paul showed himself to be quite canny in his use of the rights he had as a Roman citizen - the political system of his day.

Here in America, it is a demonstrable fact that our nation was founded on Christian principles. David Barton of Wallbuilders has amassed tremendous documentation showing the Christian consensus of our founders, even though not all of them were necessarily orthodox believers. I believe it was John Adams who once said that the American system of government was constructed for a moral, religious people and would not work with any other. He was right, and the truth of his statement is borne out in the ongoing decay of our society as we fall farther away from our moorings.

However, this is not what I am talking about for purposes of this column. I will try to illustrate it this way. Christians who are Democrats for whatever reason often fall in lockstep with the party position on abortion, homosexual rights, state interference in family matters, and a host of other things that are quite contrary to biblical values. Christians who are Republicans can go to the other extreme on economic matters, or other issues and positions on those issues that seem quite removed from what Scripture says. Oddly enough, believers on both sides try to make the case that theirs is the biblical (or at least Christian) position. When it comes to hot button political issues, we really do need to stop, take a deep breath and evaluate our platform to see if our views really reflect what God's Word says.

I have often said throughout my broadcast career that GOP doesn't stand for "God's Own Party." Republicans have done plenty with which I have disagreed. However, I could not in good conscience sign on to many Democratic Party platform positions because the Bible informs my views on these issues. And that is the crux of this whole thing. Being biblical Christians in a politically polarized country. Seeing all issues through the light and truth of God's Word, and evaluating all issues through that prism. Realizing that cynical, unregenerate leaders in both parties are capable of pandering to us, and trying to gain our votes by paying lip service to our values..simply for the sake of their own political power and gain.

There is much that can be said here. In addition, there are a lot of side issues that can be discussed in relation to the larger issue at hand. For instance, here in the West (in my case, America), the people are part of the government. We have a voice and a vote. An absolute monarchy would not provide that environment. Yet Christian citizens in both situations have responsibilities before God. If a dictator imposes homosexual marriage, there isn't much that can be done about it unless one wants to head to the protest line, and perhaps be arrested or killed. Imagine a clergyman refusing to perform such ceremonies and then taking the consequences for his principled decision. In this instance, being forced to disobey a law because it violates God's law.

However, in a democratic system, I believe our responsibility is even more grave. As a citizen whose vote and voice count, if I vote as a legislator for a biblically untenable position, or for a politician that advocates an unbiblical position on an issue, then I am responsible before God for my vote that helped put an ungodly practice in place. There are all sorts of thorny tentacles that can pop out, aren't there?

Obviously, short of glory we will always walk imperfectly. Yet, the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit will give His people illumination on difficult issues, and the ability to walk in integrity. It is important that our ultimate loyalty is to the Lord and not to a political party. Our views of all issues in this life must conform to what Scripture says. When Scripture doesn't directly address a particular issue, we can arrive at a correct conclusion by following the life and thought principles laid down in Scripture. It is important to take God's Word as a whole and let it inform our worldview.

If all of us who name the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior would purpose in our hearts to do that, walking in the light of His Word rather than the false light of a political manifesto, we would find ourselves being much more effective at carrying out His Great Commission. For the end of the matter is this. It is only a regenerate heart and a renewed mind that will ultimately produce a changed life. When we get our ducks in a row theologically, all else falls into place. May God grant us the ability to do that, and indeed show the world that we are indeed His disciples.


Rob said...


Obviously I would be commenting on your post from the left. Overall I agree with your post. The drawback to the American and Canadian systems of government is that it is party based not issue based. I don't agree with everything my party in Canada believes.

We do need to start from a Christian (or Christ-like) worldview and let things flow from there.

Let's take Gay Marriage. I look at this issue from a Christian perspective and the Bible would seem to not support it. But I think the problem is that the Government should have never gotten into the marriage business. Marriage is a Religious institution and sacrament, the Government should not be involved. But it is.

We already recognize common-law 'marriage' between a man and a woman. How can the state not also recognize a 'marriage' between two men or two women? (Please don't argue that then people will marry children, or Polygamy etc. One person is taking advantage of another person in those situations).

I know what my Biblical world-view says, and I want to be prophetic to the state. But doesn't the state have the responsiblity to level the playing field regardless of religion?

(BTW, on this issue the ship has sailed in Canada. Our 'Charter of Rights and Freedoms' says we cannot discriminate based on Sexual Orientation. The U.S. has no such provision in it's Bill of Rights).

I'll have more thoughts after I digest this and have time to think about it.

Rob said...

I have thought about one more thing I'd like to say, and I think this is a real trend in the U.S.

Churches, please don't accept money from the Government. I know it's tempting, it seems easy and what could happen? Once the State funds churches, churches lose the ability to be prophetic to the State. Our roll is not to be the moral compass for society, but our role ought to be prophetic to our leaders.

GWB, calls it Faith-Based Initiatives. In this case I think he's really trying to do the right thing. Government has no place in churches. It needs to keep out and stay out.


crownring said...


Although American law hasn't changed quite as much in recent years as Canadian law, there are a few things you might not know. Common law marriage is no longer a legal reality in most of, if not the entire U.S. People can now live together for years and even have children without being legally common law spouses. Also marriage has not always had a religious meaning as it does for most people today. I recall reading that England's Oliver Cromwell decried the religious marital ceremony, saying what was basicly a civil contract had no business being blessed by the church ...what we would call a violation of the seperation of church and state today. Clergyfolk in the U.S. basicly act as legal agents of the state in officiating a marriage. A justice of the peace (or court judge) and a ship's captain have the powers to do the same.

Rob said...


I completely understand that and Marriage ought to be a religious institution not a civil one.

That's why I think I would much prefer to see civil unions outside the church and marriage inside. The State should have never been involved in marriage.

In Canada Common Law status is when 2 people have lived together for 12 months. At that point they can file taxes together, go on each other's company benefits program etc. Basically they are 'married' in the eye's of the State or Province in this case. Is this not the same in the U.S.?

To clarify, I used gay marriage as an example. My overall point is that I'm watching a lot of Chrisitians tearing down the wall of seperation between church and state. If this goes any further, things will go very badly for the church.

In Nazi Germany, Hitler looked for ways to pacify the churches so he could exterminate the Jews. The churches couldn't be prophetic to the State. I'm arguing that Christians ought to be issue based in their politics, and keep a safe distance from the State so they have the ability to be prophetic when they have to.


crownring said...

The 12 month rule? No, we don't have that here, Rob. That's part of the reasoning behind the push for legalizing gay marriage in the U.S. Partners (gay or straight) can live together for years in the U.S. and still not have what I would call "next of kin" rights. Personally I think people should be able to designate whomever they want as power of attorney when it comes to inheritance, property rights, and health care. The gay issue aside, more and more people are finding themselves estranged from family or just alone in the world and at the mercy of the state. And quite frankly, some folks have "family" who deserve no say over anyone's life and death issues.