A Sign of the Political Times
This is an excerpt from the Family Research Council; it fits very nicely with our current series of messages.
WHAT IS “POLITICS?”
The word “politics” comes from the Greek word “polis,” referring to city-states that were ruled by a body of citizens. Politics (properly understood) is the means by which groups of people order their shared lives. Politics takes many forms: a legislative body deliberating potential laws, a homeschool co-op deciding where to host meetings, neighbors agreeing to watch each other’s houses while on vacation—all are examples of politics.
WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS CARE ABOUT POLITICS?
First, Christians should care about politics because government is appointed by God. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul describes the governing authorities as “ministers of God” responsible for administering civil justice. Second, God commands us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Government decisions have a direct impact on people’s lives, and engaging in the political process should be part of a holistic approach to ministry through which Christians seek to meet other people’s temporal needs as well as spiritual.
HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS ENGAGE IN POLITICS?
Our engagement must be guided by prayer and biblical wisdom. Although we should never equate the church’s mission with the platform of any political party, Christians (and especially pastors) can and should do more than calling for polite discourse and preaching on a few moral issues.
SHOULD CHRISTIANS VOTE?
For Christians, politics is, at its core, about how we love our neighbor as we live and order our lives together. Given the impact government decisions have on people’s lives, downplaying the responsibility to vote amounts to a failure in Christian discipleship and loving our neighbors. Therefore, believers should become informed voters, aware of the issues and candidates on the ballot.
REALITY OF OUR TWO-PARTY SYSTEM
For better or worse, America has a two-party system, and we must acknowledge and operate within it. While Christians engaging in politics should seek to persuade members of both parties to approach issues from a biblical worldview, we must decide at election time who to support. Christians need to be aware of the issues at stake and where the political parties stand. This will help us make good voting decisions, even if the available options are less than ideal.
WHAT ISSUES ARE MOST CLEAR FROM SCRIPTURE?
Christians must be grounded in what God’s Word teaches. What does the Bible have to say about some morally weighty political topics, such as abortion, marriage, and poverty?
Abortion and Marriage/Sexuality
On both life and sexuality, the Bible is unequivocal— life begins at conception and abortion is murder (Ps. 139:13-16; Luke 1:39-45), and marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:22-23). Scripture is also unambiguous regarding the moral status of homosexual conduct (Rom. 1:24-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). In terms of biblical clarity and priority, Christians have rightly recognized abortion and human sexuality as primary moral concerns. Public policy on these issues, if inconsistent with a biblical worldview, can have serious, even deadly, consequences. Defending the sanctity of life and God’s intent for human sexuality can be a means of loving our neighbor.
God’s concern for the poor is a pervasive theme throughout the Bible. Exhortations to care for the poor abound (Prov. 22:22-23, 31:8-9; Zech. 7:8-10), and Jesus himself displayed remarkable concern and compassion for the poor in his healing and teaching ministry (Matt. 11:4-6; Luke 6:20-21). Jesus’ half-brother James wrote that “pure and undefiled religion” includes care for orphans and widows ( James 1:27). A Christian cannot open their Bible and ignore God’s call to care for the poor. While solutions can be debated, it is clear we are to be concerned about the issue.
BIBLICAL REFLECTION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Neither political party is a Christian party in the sense that every policy position they advocate for lines up perfectly with the Bible. For the sake of intellectual honesty, it is important to recognize that the Republican party has generally embraced policy positions on abortion and human sexuality that are consistent with Scripture. In contrast, the Democratic party has embraced positions on these issues that are at odds with Scripture. Regarding poverty alleviation, there is no doubt members of both political parties care about the poor, though the parties often disagree on the best means of poverty alleviation. Christians should weigh these proposals carefully. In short, if theologically conservative Christians appear increasingly aligned with one party, it is because the other party has taken positions on moral issues that oppose the Bible’s explicit teaching.
Compelled by Christian love for our neighbors and a desire to steward our God-given responsibilities, we must engage in the political process. But we must engage biblically. This means we must be prepared to grapple with the moral issues of our day, accept the reality of our two-party system, and follow our Christian convictions to their logical end by voting for the candidates and parties that best align with biblical values.