Reader feedback: How involved should Christians be in the political process?
One in a series of discussions on Campaign 2012
With the Republican and Democratic national conventions just weeks away, politics dominate the nation’s discourse.
On my personal Twitter page this week, I asked:
A sampling of the replies received:
Your turn: How involved should Christians be in the political process? What coverage, if any, would you like to see in the Chronicle? Be sure to review our comments policy. We require first and last names and desire thoughtful and respectful discussion. Also, we’d ask you to be concise and address issues, not individuals.
FeedbackChristians’ involvement in political process means friendship with the world, if U ask me. And friendship with the world according to James’ epistle means enmity with God.Abubu PaulAugust, 17 2012If we sit back and do and say nothing we won’t have to worry about that question.God chose not to take us out of the world but to make us the “salt of the earth” and a “city on a hill”. Make a difference.
Be thankful for the freedom God has blessed us with.Earlene BrayAugust, 17 2012Would love to see an article on the forgotten Lipscombite stream of our heritage as it relates to voting and involvement in civil government.Josh KingcadeAugust, 17 2012Everyone is different. Every follower of Jesus has different gifts and abilities. Who are we to say that God isn’t using followers right now in the political arena? It’s a dangerous thing to sit in God’s place and dictate to others how and when they should use their gifts and abilities. At the end of the day, what is most important for all of us who claim Jesus is to make other followers. Some may be able to do that best through politics, some may do that best through full time ministry, others as missionaries, or school teachers, business owners, contractors, housewives, journalists, or any other profession.Daren MitchellAugust, 17 2012David Lipscomb believed that Christians should not participate in politics, should not serve on juries, should not vote, and should not fight in wars.
Scripturally, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles seem to support that. A subject I am just beginning to study and would like to see more information on.Roberta GustafsonAugust, 17 2012Bobby:
As you may know by now, I’m not a big fan of Christians being involved in politics. Lipscomb taught that involvement in politics took the Christian’s focus off the Kingdom of God and the work set before us, and placed it upon the filthy work of man in this world. I mostly agree with him. One of the biggest issues I see today with the involvement of Christian’s in politics is that we let the politics shape and define parts of our faith, instead of letting our faith shape and define our politics.Josh JefferyAugust, 17 2012I grew up in north Alabama at a time when our US Senator was from my home town and was a member of the Church of Christ. The US Congressman from the northern district of Alabama, was also from near my home town was also a member of the Church of Christ. Both were also Democrats. You see if you wanted to win an election in Alabama back then you had to run as a democrat. I found that out when I was 12 years old and my grandmother told me that I was to vote for a Democrat or no one. She still believed that to her dying day 5 years ago despite my mom and aunt trying to persuade her that my grandfather, a God fearing Christian man, would not support a man running for president who was pro abortion. She was going to vote the way she thought my grandfather would vote. Times have changed so much since then, but my cousin, a member of the Church of Christ, is trying to become the first republican elected from my home county to a state office. So in some ways things haven’t changed. I would hope if they were running for the first time today, Howell Heflin and Ronnie Flippo would run as conservatives. If Christians stay out of government then we have no right to complain when things don’t go as we want. We must go vote and encourage others to see why we are voting the way we are. The IRS tax exemption keeps preachers from saying anything from the pulpit, but it doesn’t keep Christians from spreading the word that if a certain candidate wins our tax dollars will be used to kill unborn babies. And as a Christian I am going to fight to keep that from happening.Kim GoodeAugust, 17 2012I too would like to see a thorough discussion of Lipscomb’s views regarding the disciple’s involvement in the world’s politics. I believe it would open many eyes to just how far the contemporary church as swallowed the world’s views on power and compromise. While there are no Scriptures expressly forbidding participation in elections, voting, etc., there are equally no Scriptures teaching that we must vote. To read our form of government back into the governments of Rome or Greece is simply bad history. Whether you abstain from voting or vote in every single election, you must remember that both actions carry negative consequences. The question then becomes which action best communicates our faith in God?Paul SmithAugust, 17 2012For me, 1 Peter 2:17 sums this up well: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (NKJV). The focus of our civic lives should always be prayer, godly living and saving the lost (2Ti 2:1-5). Civics can be part of that work; especially when we use such opportunities to demonstrate our love for our neighbors through both political reform and community involvement. Consider, too, God’s words to a soon-to-be-exiled Israel: “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jer 29:7). As exiles and sojourners here, we should seek to improve the well being of our communities–not as an end in and of itself, but as a reflection of our where our ultimate loyalty truly lies (Phil 3:20-21).Jon BurnettAugust, 17 2012A lot of Christians disagree with my take on political involvement by Christians, but here it is: it comes straight out of the Old Testament, Joshua 24.14-15 to be exact:
<i>�Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living . . .” </i>
If you want to have same-sex marriage, go right ahead; if you want to legalize medical marijuana for emotional wellness, have at it; if you want to have sex education and give out condoms in the middle schools, I can’t stop you . . .
<i>” . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.� </i>
That goes for me and my household, the only one for which I can be responsible and accountable. I only get to rule a nation when I’m playing Civilization.
Trying to force Christian standards on the world doesn’t work: it just brings an undeserved discredit upon Christian standards – and by extension, Christians – by people in the world who choose not to become Christians and live by those standards without being forced.
The only thing we can do with the world is come out from among them and be separate, and encourage others to do the same.Mike JonesAugust, 18 2012Just a reminder to include your first and last names on comments. We’ve had a few good comments with first names only and have not been able to approve them. Thanks!Bobby Ross Jr.August, 18 2012Above are some excellent responses. Having preached the gospel for many years both full time, part time and in the mission field. I have also been active in politics since I was a kid. I have served in elected office on both the state and local level. However, I have always avoided letting politics enter the Bible classroom or pulpit. There is plenty of gospel to be preached without partisan retoric in worship.
There is a place for Christians in the elected arena of government. Much good has and can be done by Christian in elective office. However, not everyone can keep their Christian perspective while undergoing the pressures of politics. For those who can withstand and remain faithful we should honor them. I would like to see the Chronicle continue to recognize those faithful Christian serving in elective office, but to avoid partisan promotions.
It appears to me, sampling the sentiments of readers on issues that have to do with abortion, gay marriages, government program such as social security, medicare, immigration, government assistance for the poor, are all moral and social issues that affect us as a church body. Even job creation and economy can be important to livelihood and church growth. Without dealing so much with partisan politics, deal with ideals, ideas and values. Informed church members will make better choices as they vote in the imperfect arena of politics and government.Don R. HouseAugust, 18 2012I have to ask myself … how much did Jesus get involved in politics? OR was he too consumed with kingdom work that he didn’t have time for politics?
Just thinking out loud.Trey MorganAugust, 18 2012The U.S.A. faces critical decisions this November. Christian readers should be alerted to the positions held by persons for whom they may be called on to vote. The issues should be set forth honestly in the Christian Chronicle.Ray DownenAugust, 18 2012While it is true that politics around the world has been used to promote immorality, anti-Christ agenda, divisions, materialism, etc, scripture does not forbid Christian from holding political offices. Granted, politics is full of evil practices, but so also is business, sport, education, the work place. Should saints stay away from the sciences because some scientist favour evolution, cloning? Muslims in Nigeria are influencing government, education, the economy, and society because Nigerian Christians ledt politics for them. Saints should go into the political world and try to influence it with Christian thought.Akpore SundayAugust, 20 2012Several thoughts:
(1) Any involvement in this process must be as outsiders, not insiders. We are strangers and aliens in this world. Not only must we never forget that, we must show it in our lives.
(2) Any involvement must not hinder the work of the church. We must prioritize our efforts.
(3) Any and all involvement must make it clear to the world that it is action done by the individual and not by the church as a whole.
(4) Our allegiance must never be to a party nor even a nation. We serve but one Master.
Grace and peace,
Tim ArcherTim ArcherAugust, 20 2012Many politicians care less of being a christian and christians (CoC)are uncomfortable with some social issues tolerated and even approved of – one thing is certain – politicians are concerned of our votes. The question if we involve ourselves in politics- yes,but only in a very limited way – that is during the election. What is of the world and what is of God decide the issue.Orlando BragaAugust, 20 2012No matter the religion the only things that should be brought into politics are ethics, honesty and morality.John JenkinsAugust, 21 2012Having been a minister for fifty-five years and spending 27 of those years in politics at the local, state and national level, I support intelligent, well thought out articles that challenge every member of the church to be involved in the political process. They must know at the outset that it is a difficult and challenging task to be objective in evaluating issues and understanding the personalities of candidates. Everyone on here has made intelligent comments. Two things I would observe: (1) If you are going to quote Lipscomb be sure you understand his thinking and world view and, (2) Mine the experiences of men (and women) like Don House, who have tested the waters of public service and have served honorably and well. If we can raise the level participation,
we have performed a valuable and much needed service.Jim CaldwellAugust, 23 2012I have come to view politics as a grand distraction and “easy way out” for many Christians. It is much easier to “vote” my position on issues such as gay marriage and abortion rather than to actually minister to individuals who are struggling with these issues. I believe the transformation of individual hearts and lives happens in personal relationships and through the Word of God – not through politics. I am also shocked often at how politics can cause Christians to become so angry and unloving (myself included!). Let us vote our conscience, run for office if we feel called, but truly spend our energy holding up the blood-stained banner and building up an eternal Kingdom. Afterall, our true and lasting citizenship is not earthly.Leslie GarvinAugust, 23 2012My concern with church’s defining a political position is we are dividing those we have worked so hard to unite. Ephesians says we should be unified in the spirit through the bond of peace. I am not sure about you but even my own blood relatives get in serious hurtful discussions when politics are mentioned. So my stance is that we are not to outwardly pick a side but stay on course with our core belief in Jesus Christ as the way to salvation. This may sound tough for those who are so passionate about their political position but since we know that our Father is neither Republican, Democrat or Independent, maybe we should follow his example and not tell others what they ought to believe about politics.John BurtonAugust, 23 2012Chirstians should be involved in politics as citizens not in the name of Christ. There are many issues that I oppose as a christian (abortion – homosexualty – drugs ) BUT i need to teach these on a oneto one basis along with the gospel. We cannot create moral values byh law. We tried thatin the 30ties with achole. This is a country of many freedoms. If we are going to change the values of the people we must change the people. When we support a canidate we need to do so on politacal values not moral values.Karl StaufferAugust, 23 2012I’m finding it a tad ironic that a thread such as this one, soliciting thoughtful and Christlike responses on an issue of great importance, should have begun with a video that was rude, insulting, and condescending. Perhaps there is another way of looking at it, but since it was posted at face value with no comment, I took it at face value and was deeply disappointed in whoever posted it and in the Chronicle for letting it stand.
Evidently, if you post anything political on Facebook, you think must think you are a self-styled expert! You have no business doing that and should stick to frivolous things and sports and complaining. Talk about painting with a broad brush!
Granted, there’s never a shortage of ill-informed opinions and granted we are all going to die not knowing almost everything, but I have frequently found a lot more expertise and wisdom among thoughtful, experienced, and informed citizens (even Christian citizens!) than I have in many partisan politicians who do things like pass 3000 page bills that fundamentally change our country without even reading or understanding them. Or the Constitution they’ve sworn to uphold. Or continually kick large cans down the road so someone else will have to make the tough decisions they were elected to help solve.
As for the legitimacy of kingdom people working on behalf of the word and the will and the way of God in the halls of political power, maybe we should have another look at the movie Amazing Grace and the story of William Wilberforce. Or even the two minute trailer here:
And didn’t I read somewhere that Jesus told Pilate that it was God who gave him the authority he had and didn’t Jehovah tell Nebuchadnezzar he was where he was because of God? Hmmm… So God “places” people in power AND has expectations of them AND will hold them accountable…
Sounds to me like we have plenty of reasons to be present in political discourse and to make a difference in His Name.Ray McClendonAugust, 23 2012Having read many books on religion & politics, I recommend “Blinded By Might, Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America” by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson. The 2nd edition, published in 2000, remains a good summary of the conflicts facing those who say they want to serve God and what serving Caesar involves. Relevant scriptures point out challenges for those who say they believe the Bible, but are then encouraged to act differently in the political arena than the Bible’s plain language teachings about how Christians should behave.
At this point, to the extent I can influence anyone, I’d rather it be toward God rather than anything in this world which is passing away.Mike ClemensAugust, 23 2012Let me begin by saying, “it’s complicated” but no, not really. From Romans ch 13 and Jesus’ instruction in Mk ch 12 we get enough to begin answering the question. We could summarize that all with respect and obey but that’s just the beginning. From that we could justify such things as voting and office holding if we remember to keep it all in perspective and keep God first in our lives. Now what about further “participation?”
Nowhere did Jesus direct nor did Paul or the other New Testament authors instruct the church to resist, change or shape government, the ROMAN GOVERNMENT being the one of the day. Nowhere is there even a suggestion that it was to be the function of anyone or anything other that the church and its members to teach people anything about living rightly.
So from all that we construct our answer and measure it to decide what we should/should not do.
Remember that history and tradition are not particularly reliable teachers in this area. Let the Word suffice.Chuck ReedAugust, 23 2012I believe that Christians should be involved in politics. Several years ago I organized a Tea Party group in Grayson County, Texas. I have since transferred my leadership to someone younger with more time. Christians need to be involved in helping those around us as we work to make our world a better place.Lana RideoutAugust, 24 2012The idea that a person cannot be loyal to his country without compromising his loyalty to Jesus and His kingdom is bogus.
Politicians shape the world the church lives and works in and the one my grand children will live in. The very idea that I should sit it out as if it is not important is an odd position in my view.
I believe a person can be an elected official at any level and honor his commitment to Jesus. The logical end of the argument of some people would deny serious disciples of Christ the position of CEO of a large corporation or the leadership position of a secular university, etc. Those kinds of jobs shape public policy as much as politics. I am one Christian man who is unimpressed with the “holier than thou” attitude of some of my friends.Royce OgleAugust, 24 2012The Scripture says if the righteous is on the throne, the people rejoice, who are this once? True Christian are those referred to.
So Christian involvement is good but with the fear of God knowing too well that whatsoever we sow same shall we reap with increase.
Be involved, but don’t conform.Mojima EtokudoAugust, 24 2012Participation in politics is a worldly activity and therefore borders on love of the world. I believe as Christians we must change the world through the Word of God and leave politics to others. As to worldly governments,I believe that we as Christians must have faith in God’s infinite wisdom and power to providentally place whomever he ordains in office. (Romans 13:1). Then we must obey the laws of the land whatever they be so long as they do not conflict with the Word.
First century Christians were commanded to obey the ruler and they had no say in who their rulers were. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to be involved in setting up “earthly” kingdoms, in fact Christ said that His kingdom was not of this world. If it were He could have called ten thousand angels to set Him free and establish the church. Remember, He still has the same power.Walter DuncanAugust, 24 2012I believe that a christian must be involved in the political process. We must carefully and prayerfully make our choices. We cannot stand by and let immoral people make the decisions for our country.
I found a political pin many years ago that I still wear around election time. It says “VOTE for those who will vote FOR GOD”. When we vote for someone, we are giving our approval to that person. We have to be careful who we give our approval to, what they stand for, what they believe, how they will vote as a representative of us. I read Romans 1:18-32 to remind myself of this before I start researching the candidates, and then compare their stated positions to what the bible says.Jeanie RiedigerAugust, 24 2012Will the one being voted for hinder or help you in your walk with God and other Christians? Does the one being voted for care about your Christian mission? This supercilious attitude of “I don’t have time to consider such a worldly event as a political vote” is silly and self-serving. Would you say “it doesn’t matter” when investigating a school where you would send your children? Would you say “they’re all the same” when checking out a home for the aged where you would place your parents? Grow up and … what word? … Oh, yeah, THINK!Dr. JackBoydAugust, 25 2012Living in Europe for 5 of the last 10 years and away from the noise of American politics has given this former “Ditto-head, Savage-Nation, Hannity-Patriot” some much needed clarity. I’ve learned that as a disciple of Christ I can choose to consume my time with His work or allow my time and thinking to be divided by America’s political/partisan system.
I would posit to you Dr. Boyd that instead of asking us those questions you might ask them to the apostles who were living under threat of death or millions of Chinese living likewise whether their faith depends on the comforts of democratic elections, safe schools, comfortable homes, etc.
Where in the New Testament are we ever taught that liberty or political freedom is an advantage to kingdom advancement and that their absence is a hindrance?Kevin MullinsAugust, 27 2012If I support a non-Christian who is running for political office, it is a personal decision, not a priority I can teach to others as a part of spiritual direction.
Even the side that one person deems “closer” to being in line with what I believe as a Christian has flaws in his or her thinking that cannot be overlooked in the spiritual realm, because our fight as Christians is Good vs Evil–not “Better vs Worse”.
Also, if we ever let our disdain for someone in office cause us to cease praying for that person(his or her discernment and welfare), we haven’t just withheld support for that person; we have left God out!Russ SharpAugust, 29 2012