One of the most controversial issues of our time is the question of mixing religion and politics. One group believes that the church should be used as a political platform, the other advocates passivity. So, what’s the answer?
First and foremost, we cannot deny our primary responsibility: To encourage people to turn to Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is how America will “truly” change from the inside out. The No. 1 problem in America is not a political problem; it’s a spiritual problem called sin. The primary goal of the church is not to become a political movement, but a spiritual influence. Christianity has influenced large-scale changes because it first transformed the hearts of men and women.
We cannot ignore our God-given civic responsibility and the massive impact that politics has on our society. Make no mistake about it: America’s leaders play an enormous role in shaping the direction of the country. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).
Here are just a few ways to honor God and preserve our values. I also included these points during the last local election:
1. Lead a life of integrity regardless of what society promotes. Although only a select few can change government policy, all of us can build a life of moral integrity while staying committed to God’s Word. Certain “rights” and “wrongs” called absolutes are given by God to save man from himself. One of the best ways to make a difference is to live a life based on moral absolutes, and by letting honesty and integrity guide our decisions. Again, society changes as individuals change.
2. Pray and fast for our nation. Prayer is more powerful than protest! We should not rely on political power, but on the power of God through prayer. The great preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, once said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” For those who doubt the power of prayer in America’s history, consider this excerpt from the book, One Nation Under God—The History of Prayer in America: “Prayer stands as one of the most critical and indisputable factors to have influenced the course of American history.”
3. Vote for principles, not a particular party. “He who rules over men must be just” (2 Samuel 23:3). We need more humble, God-fearing leaders. The Lord hates pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. Without humility and a teachable spirit, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to govern properly. Humility does not mean that leaders become passive pawns, but that they live in total surrender to God; they’re more concerned with God’s opinion than opinion polls. It’s been said that the quality of our government depends more upon the character of our leaders than upon our laws. But be careful—many use “religious talk” and twist the Scriptures to support un-biblical initiatives. For example, in one setting leaders will express their religious convictions and quote the Bible, but in another setting they’ll vote for partial-birth abortion and against protecting babies who survive late-term abortions. Judge what they “do” more than what they “say.”
4. Become involved, but with the right motives. Don’t initiate or pursue anything with a rebellious, prideful attitude. You can be right in your reasoning, yet wrong in your attitude. Anger over issues that anger the Lord, such as crime, abortion, pornography, abuse, oppression, and so on, is justifiable and can cause positive action. If anger causes damage to another, or personally damages your character, it’s probably not accomplishing God’s purpose. If anger sparks prayer and a Christlike stance, it can be productive. This may have been why Martin Luther said, “When I am angry, I can pray well and preach well.”
Many have been guilty of not getting involved by saying, “We shouldn’t say or do anything political. All we need to do is preach the gospel.” Be careful . . . although the gospel is our primary focus, this shouldn’t be an excuse against action. Charles Finney (1792-1875), a major leader in the Second Great Awakening, said, “God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the Church will take right ground.” Finney continues, “Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God.”
5. Engage, not enrage, the culture. Since evangelicals are often viewed as irrational, conceited, narrow-minded, and unintelligent, we need to engage the culture with humility, wisdom, patience, and discernment. Why would God ordain a government such as ours in America and not ask us to be involved? That’s why it’s important to know both sides of political “hot buttons”—knowledge allows us to make the right decisions.
If you decide to speak out, articulate your message clearly, patiently, and wisely. But always make sure your actions are backed by a clear biblical mandate. Respond; don’t react. Our goal should not be to come across harsh, overly critical, or arrogant, but to speak the truth from a gentle spirit.
Think of what passivity will mean to our children and grandchildren. If we fail to stand up for what is right—right now, we may see a time in our history when our freedoms, and theirs, will vanish. With the acceptance of same-sex marriage and failure to protect the unborn, that time may be close at hand. Psalm 11:3 states, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”