The question of, “How much attention should Christians give to politics?” is an interesting one. I share some thoughts in the following video, and in the transcript below.
Writing about the political structure of society, Paul says in Romans 13:1-3:
Everyone must submit himself to governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.
Paul writes within the context of first-century Roman government. In his day, the average Roman citizen had some voice in politics—not much—but for the most part, government worked from the top down.
Today, in America and many other western nations, republics operate on a more democratic level. People are allowed and even encouraged to get involved and make a difference. So I certainly think that the more opportunity we have to make a difference, the more seriously we should consider doing what we can to make a difference. Voting is one easy way Christians can take advantage of their ability to influence the direction of our country.
I am grateful for those Christians who are called to be legislators, judges, and otherwise involved in the political arena. I am also in favor of people—in the right context—protesting injustice. I was involved in civil disobedience and went to jail for protesting abortions at abortion clinics. But this was less a protest than an intervention on behalf of unborn children who were being killed. I wanted to do what I could to keep more children from dying.
On the other hand, Christians often turn politics into something too important. They start with bumper stickers, lawn signs and listening endlessly to talk radio. Soon they equate being a Republican with being a Christian, or being a Democrat with believing Christians should follow certain liberal agendas, depending on their different perspectives.
Some people think all Christians should be conservative. Some people think all Christians should be liberal. This flawed thinking divides Christians from each other.
I believe all Christians should be biblical. Sometimes the Bible teaches concepts that are by nature conservative. In those cases we should be conservative. Sometimes, however, the Bible teaches principles which by nature are liberal. In those cases we should be liberal.
So instead of determining in advance, “I’m conservative” or “I’m liberal,” we just need to say, “I’m a Christian. I want to be true to Scripture.” Practically speaking, in certain arenas, I’m going to end up looking conservative. For example, I believe abortion is wrong and it is frequently conservatives who agree with that. Usually, liberals will be in favor of abortion rights, and they will be “pro-choice.” Regardless of what Democrats or Republicans believe, my belief that abortion is wrong is based on the Bible, which is supported also by the scientific evidence. I believe that because God hates the shedding of innocent blood, and has a special love for children, abortion is the single most important issue facing this country.
Just as abortion is seen as a conservative cause, what about concern for the environment, which is typically viewed as a liberal cause? Read Genesis 1 and 2. God has clearly given the human race stewardship over creation.
Call it “creation care.” Call it “environmental responsibility.” But whatever you call it, reasonable steps should be taken to recognize the legitimacy of utilizing natural resources, while protecting our environment for the sake of our grandchildren and great grandchildren. We have a God-given mandate to defend our world from the horrors of man-made crises like oil spills and their resulting decimation of the animal kingdom, and their effects on the health of people. We need to take reasonable care to see that ecosystems are not destroyed.
Yes, we are going to disagree as Christians on what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. And I will admit that despite conversations with people I love, I still cannot see how any Christ-follower can actually believe God favors people having the legal right to kill unborn children. But even in the things we feel most strongly about, let’s not make it about politics or loyalty to a party. Let’s seek to be loyal and true to God and His Word. Let’s be faithful as His people in this world.