Monday, February 22, 2016

Religion and Politics

Politics, Politics. Some of us despise it, some of us enjoy it. Some of us are passionate, and some of us are apathetic. Like it or not, the 2016 election is coming upon us. There are many systems of government; we have a democratic representative republic. We do have the right, and as good citizens, the responsibility to vote. So, I am assuming you are going to vote. Sixty million evangelical voters did not vote in the last election, don’t be like them, vote. I am not going to endorse a candidate, but I do think there is an understanding of biblical principles regarding government and conscience that we must consider.

Order rather than chaos. The bible teaches that this is one of the purposes of government. Anarchy, the absence of government, is defined this way according to Merriam-Webster: a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., not controlled by rules or laws; a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority; absence or denial of any authority or established order. God is a God of order. Therefore, just as in the home, just as in the church, He has established an authority structure; to rebel against government is to rebel against God, and bring judgment on yourself, Romans 13:2. Just like the home, just like the church, God, as the author of order, is its head, Romans 13:1. All authority is given by give him. Jesus told Pilate that he would have “no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above,” in John 19:10-11. So the purpose that we draw from scripture is that government exists to give order. As you vote, consider this: is your candidate going to help bring about order in our nation?

Good rather than bad. The bible also teaches that one of the purposes of government is to ensure welfare of people. The main way this is carried out is by rewarding of good behavior and the punishing of bad behavior. Romans 13:3-4, and also in 1 Peter 2:14, we are told that the government is to recognize (and help society recognize) what is good. It is given the power to execute punishment (God’s wrath) on criminals, even capital punishment. Therefore, as we vote, ask the question: does the candidate I vote for understand right from wrong, good from bad? Even from a non-religious standpoint, any leader must have this basic understanding to govern well. 

An observation rather than a purpose. God uses government to accomplish His purposes. He uses leaders whether they are good or bad, to ensure that His will is done. He used Pilate, Darius, Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, the kings of all the nations displaced by Israel in the conquest, and Pharaoh, whom God specifically told, “for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth,” in Exodus 9:16. God used evil rulers to shape world events, as well as the biblical meta-narrative of salvation, for His glory. Therefore, this is an instance like Phil 2:12-13, John 1:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Col 1:29, and Matt 10:18-20, where we labor and do all that we can to affect a situation, and God uses that to bring about His plan. So, consider that regardless of the outcome of this election, our vote does count in electing God’s choice to lead our country.

We get caught up in rhetoric, debates, and personalities, but we must attempt to maintain a biblical mindset. Issues are important (some are deal-breakers), policies are important, and agendas are important, but think about government, not just politics. Even though at family get togethers we are not supposed to bring up religion or politics, for the believer, one should not separate a biblical worldview, as it relates to government, from thoughtful consideration prior to and at the polling place.

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