How should a Christian’s faith relate to their politics?
As we are coming up on the mid-term elections, Christians are once again faced with questions about how to represent Christ and engage in the political process. If you don’t see a struggle, you are missing something. Either you just don’t believe Christians should engage in the political process at all, or you think Christians have no limits on how they express their political views. I believe both views are wrong and that neither view represents what God would want us to do.
We are called to be salt and light in our culture. That would include the political landscape. But how do we go about it in a way that doesn’t wreck our witness for Christ, which should be way more important to us?
Our faith should direct how we vote. Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. It cannot be divorced from any area of our lives. It directs how we behave as employees. It affects our relationships. The way you manage your money should be based on a Christian worldview. Too often you hear people say, “I’m a Christian but, you gotta keep your faith out of…….” That’s just not the case. Surrendering to Christ, means surrendering all areas, including how you vote. When we are talking about our faith directing our vote, it must be understood that it must be a complete and well-rounded faith perspective, not just what sounds like the nicest idea. Many Christians are sucked into believing that something is “Christian” if it sounds the nicest. For instance, it would seem to make sense to give as many people as possible government assistance. The problem with this concept is that it not only doesn’t fit with reality (economics doesn’t work that way), but also the Bible teaches that people need to be pushed to take personal responsibility for their families. That would mean that permanent or long-term handouts to able bodied individuals is not actually a “Christian” concept. So we must be thorough in our review of what Scripture says about political issues. We need to guard against surface or broad brush reasoning.
Our faith should cause us to see beyond politics to the root causes of societal issues. As believers, we have to see the needs of our culture through a better lens than politics. Politics is important because it sets the rules for how culture operates. For that reason, it is good to be involved in politics, and it is important to explain sound viewpoints in order to influence others. However, Christians should never send the message that the solution to the world’s problems can be found in politics. Politics ebb and flow with the changing opinions of people. What gets voted in today can quickly be voted out tomorrow. As believers, we know that real change in our culture will only come from changed hearts. That means that we should be way more passionate about investing spiritually in the people around us than we are about getting our way politically. I’m not saying that voting for righteous causes is not important, but many Christians seem to think the root of our societal issues is some policy. The real root of our issues is sin and dark hearts. Crime needs to be punished, and that may dissuade some violations, but it won’t stop until Jesus moves into hearts. Homelessness won’t be fixed until many are set free from drug abuse. Government programs will only continue to grow until the economy is destroyed if fathers and mothers don’t meet Jesus and want to honor Him with their work ethic.
Our faith informs our communication on political issues. The way believers communicate on political issues should look different than the way others communicate. We don’t mock leaders. We don’t call names. We don’t do things that will intentionally divide people. And we always keep in mind that people we would love to share Jesus with are seeing what we are saying. My favorite way to talk about political issues on social media is by sharing principles like: “A baby has distinct DNA from its mother. It is not a part of the woman’s body. The woman’s body cannot produce a baby on its own.” The world needs to hear this clear principle. Ultimately, hearts need to be supernaturally changed. But thoughts like this could cause someone to rethink the normal jargon they have been hearing (My body, my choice). This is much better than getting on social media and screaming about “baby killers,” or bashing a particular party that your friends might identify with. Those types of approaches make the matter personal instead of dealing with the issue.
If we are in a political position, our faith and a biblical worldview should drive our decisions. We are being told that any worldview is allowed at the table except a Christian worldview. There is the belief that somehow, because of “separation of church and state,” Christianity has become outlawed from the public sector. Every other participant in the political process is bringing their worldview with them into the process. Christians can and should do the same. Someone’s worldview will direct public policy, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a biblical worldview. In fact, according to several of the nation’s founders, our system of government was not designed to work without Christian morality and the fear of God. That doesn’t mean that our goal is to legislate our views on everyone else, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we are trying to force Christianity on everyone. But we can and should show why Christian principles make the most sense and are most in touch with reality.
Obviously, not every professing believer agrees on how true faith in Christ should affect their vote, or on which issues should rank highest in priority. But the important thing is that we are turning to Scripture for our guidance, and we are willing to listen to others who take Scripture seriously if they can show that we have failed to consider a biblical principle on the issue. Be careful about listening to anyone who does a lot of explaining away all the things that Christians have historically agreed on. That’s always a red flag. Our faith comes before our politics. Our impact for the Kingdom of God comes before the earthly kingdom where we live. However, if that’s the case, we will be the best possible citizens for our communities and country. We will be light in all areas, including this one.