The Christian response to national and state issues
Last updated 7/14/2021 at 11:24am
What is the proper Christian response to national and state issues? Should Christians be involved in politics? These are questions that cause great consternation in many churches from coast to coast, especially in this cancel culture where hostile responses can crush a small business if individuals associated with it boldly stand for the cause of Christ. As a result, many intelligent people are choosing to withdraw from the conversations as they struggle with how polarizing political matters can be, opting to remain silent rather than be a voice of reason in a society of moral relativism and depravity.
We cannot remain silent. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This quote is often attributed to Edmund Burke or potentially John Stuart Mill, but it is a powerful statement that echoes throughout time. So, what are Christians to do?
As a people of God who are called to be change agents in their spheres of influence, we cannot ignore all that has transpired since 2019. There is a major push toward socialism. We are going to experience the ramifications of unprecedented national debt that now exceeds $28 trillion and counting ($84,100 per person in the United States). The Equality Act is looming. A new sex-ed curriculum is infiltrating schools (passed on May 2, 2019). Our state government has decriminalized hallucinogenic drugs known as magic mushrooms (passed on May 9, 2019). Marijuana use by automobile drivers has increased 145 percent, and to top it off, Gov. Jared Polis signed the Opioid Bill allowing medical professionals to prescribe marijuana to fight opioid addiction. The list goes on and on.
The erosion of our society is taking place on our watch, and the cascading effect will be far reaching. Therefore, the only solution is this. We, as believers, need to be involved in politics because the government is involved with all of us.
I used to work in Public Policy with Tom Minnery at Focus on the Family, and he wrote a book titled "Why You Can't Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture." He states, "Being salt and light in this age means contending responsibly for godly standards wherever they are under assault. There is no escaping the mixture of religion and politics, because nearly every law is the result of somebody's judgment about what is good and what is bad."
Some Christians are wary of involvement in politics and government, either because they don't like the way some other Christians have done it or because they find politics to be corrupt. But the purpose of government, as God created it, is a noble one. As Chuck Colson writes in "God and Government," "The state was instituted by God to restrain sin and promote a just social order. Western political thought often mistakenly assumes that the role of government is determined solely by the will of the people. The biblical reality is different. On the eve of His execution, Jesus told Pilate that he held his office of political authority only because it had been granted him by God. The apostle Paul spoke of civil authority as 'God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.' Peter used similar language, saying that governments were set by God to 'punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.'"
The state was created for limited purposes. "While it cannot redeem the world or be used as a tool to establish the Kingdom of God, civil government does set the boundaries for human behavior," Colson says. "The state is not a remedy for sin, but a means to restrain it."
Sometimes, though, the state doesn't do its job. Sometimes it does the opposite - promoting sin instead of restraining it, and actively undermining our social and moral foundations instead of supporting them. And at those times, especially, we have to pay attention to what government does, because we must live with the results of its actions.
"Political acts have profound human consequences," Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner write in "City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era." "It makes a great difference whether people live in freedom or servitude; whether government promotes a culture of life or a culture of death; whether the state is a guardian or an enemy of human dignity."
Laws express moral beliefs and judgments. Like throwing a pebble into a pond, the waves ripple outward. They tell citizens what our society ought to value and condemn. That is not all that laws do, but it is among THE most important things that they do.
Suppose that, next year, all 50 states decide to legalize cocaine use and prostitution. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, do you doubt that, if such laws stayed in effect for 50 years, they wouldn't fundamentally alter our views, including our moral views, of these issues?
Christians are anything but helpless in our country. We have a right to take action - and a responsibility. Unlike the Roman Empire in the first century, our country is a participatory republic. We have the obligation to make our voices heard and to get involved in dialogue. Our government asks us, as citizens, to participate, not merely to shut up and obey. In the United States, "We, the people" means Christians as well as non-Christians. Submission in our political system includes being willing to contribute to the political process, not withdraw from it.
John Bornschein is Senior Pastor of Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley church.
(This article includes content from Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council)