I seem to annoy everyone with my thoughts on politics. My Republican friends don’t understand why I don’t automatically subscribe to what they perceive to be the official “Christian” political party. My Democrat friends usually just assume I’m too conservative for their liking since I’m ardently anti-abortion (though they rarely ask what I actually think about other issues). And I’m OK with that. In some way I actually derive some sort of twisted pleasure from knowing that I anger both political groups. Of course the trend for Conservatives now is to call themselves Libertarians (thank you, Glenn Beck). I’d like to say I’m a Libertarian but I’m not (even though I’m much closer to it than most). Sorry guys – you can’t be a Libertarian if you think the government should outlaw abortion.
So why don’t I, an on-fire God-fearing Christian, fulfill my Christian duty – nay – obligation to get involved in the political arena? Simply put, I don’t think we’re called to do that and I fear the practical ramifications when people do. I feel that when Christians use the government instead of the church to attempt to fulfill God’s will on earth, it can lead to a slippery slope I think none of us want to slide down. We need to look no further than the Middle East to see what can happen when governments “find religion.” Furthermore, its simply unscriptural. God never instructed that secular government be the mechanism by which His Kingdom would come to earth. God wants to see His law of justice, mercy and faith released to all people, but the biblical model is through individual love not through governmental mandates. Yes, in the Old Testament God gave directives that we today in modern society issue through our laws. But these were given directly to His people in Israel’s original Theocracy, not through the channel of secular government. Israel didn’t even have a government until Saul was made King and even then God was reluctant to allow it and interpreted it as the Israelites rejecting Him. So God’s system of enforcement for His holy agenda was not through a legislative process, but through direct communication. Its the same way now in the New Testament except the direct communication comes from His Word and the Holy Spirit instead of an OT law.
Take for example the currently hot topic of “social justice.” In the book of Philemon, Paul is asking a slavemaster to forgive and take back a runaway, thieving slave whom he had every right to kill under Roman law. Paul is asking for Godly justice. But he doesn’t appeal to the slave owner from a heavy handed perspective of “you must” even though he had the spiritual authority to. Instead he appeals to him saying “you should” and leaves it up to the master and places it in God’s hands. Similarly, I don’t think its wise for Christians to employ the government to enforce a “you must” for the Kingdom principle of social justice. Should Christians help the poor? Of course – anyone who doesn’t think so doesn’t understand the heart of God. But should it be a law? No. Why not? Because laws don’t change hearts. Jesus changes hearts, not just bank accounts and that’s what the poor really need. God’s instruction to give isn’t an end in itself. The purpose behind our giving is to share the love of God. If the love of God is not demonstrated in our good works, then those good works have been done in vain. We may have helped someone’s physical need temporarily but “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” Higher taxes on the rich given to the poor may seem like Godly justice. But forcing the rich to give is not anymore Christian than forcing an unrepentant sinner to recite a compulsory prayer for salvation. No heart change = no eternal significance.
Jesus’ disciples, even up until His death, thought that as the Jewish Messiah He was going to overthrow the Roman occupation. However, He did something much better and more significant: He brought a new spiritual/eternal world-wide government to earth, not a natural/temporary one. In the same way, Republicans think He’s going to end abortion. Democrats think He’s going to eradicate poverty. Each have their own “Roman occupation” they feel Jesus should tend to. Instead, Jesus redeems the hearts of mankind and sets them free to one-by-one radically and sacrificially love a lost and dying world, just as He loved us. The cool thing is, as this happens, people will give their money to end poverty and the church will rise up and help scared, pregnant mothers who think abortion is their only option. Its a much slower process, but its the only solution that will actually yield real, permanent change. We just can’t “subcontract” out the work of the Kingdom to Washington and expect lasting results.
You can pass whatever laws you want. Want to overturn Roe v. Wade? Want to pass laws so we can better help the poor? I wish you well. Best case scenario, assuming that we don’t mismanage it immediately, it’ll just be overturned in a few years. And the fight will continue. I will continue to vote my conscience (as should you). I hope for the best.
But my trust is in the eternal.