Christians and Politics

What is God's will concerning Christians and politics? Must Christians get involved in the political arena? What does the Bible say about God's people and political involvement? The answers to these questions are clear.

Christians do have obligations regarding political involvement based upon the scriptures. However, these commandments stand opposed to what is generally believed and practiced. Voting and further political involvement, whether part-time or full-time, need to be considered in this light.

Very often in the West and in free countries, voting for one person to hold political office instead of his/her opponent is viewed and held forth as a commandment of God. It is seen and practiced as a godly responsibility, rendering the voter as righteous before God and the non-voter as unrighteous. This position is wrong. Righteousness is submitting to the commandments of God. Unrighteous or sin is breaking the commandments of God. Voting is a freedom-of-the-believer issue. It is no more required, that is, no more commanded of Christians than donating money or time to a politician or political cause is required or commanded. What is wrong, what is a sin is when one person tells another or implies to or about another that he/she is in sin if he/she does not vote. Yes, to try to compel someone to vote or to hold the position that a non-voter is in sin because that person does not vote is itself sinful. One cannot constrain the conscience of another in a freedom issue. You cannot judge another for his stand when that person stands before God as His unconstrained servant. Voting in the West and in countries that allow it is a privilege, to be exercised or not, based upon the will of each individual. However, if a Christian decides to vote, it should be done because of and for righteousness alone. If a Christian votes, morality and ethics must govern his voting. Corruption in all its forms must be avoided. Morality and ethics must not only be the overruling feature in his decisions, but must also be those features looked for and supported in his candidate. How can a Christian hope to put in power by his vote anyone who is corrupt, perverted, a liar, a hypocrite, a blasphemer, or materialistic? How can a Christian hope that anyone who has such character arise to rule over people? How can a Christian exercise effort to attain that goal? Political savvy must take second place. Moral character must win the day. This is what is required about the privileged, freedom-of-the-believer position of Christians regarding voting.

Is there a way to be sure about this position of non requirement regarding voting since citizen-wide voting did not occur in the Roman world in which the New Covenant Scriptures were written? Yes, there is. There is a direct parallel. In that world political involvement through direct petitioning of the government was customary. In fact, Paul's contemporary, the philosopher Seneca used this method for redress of problems in society. While this was occurring, neither Paul nor any other New Covenant writer ever required or even suggested that the same recourse or anything like it be taken by Christians.

But does God require, does He demand anything else? Yes, He does. There are two areas of commandment that God requires of His people regarding political involvement. The first commandment is that Christians pay their taxes, duties, and tolls. This is clearly revealed in the writings of both Paul and Peter. It was also powerfully indicated by Jesus Himself. Sometimes people try to rationalize away paying these taxes based upon the fact that often the government uses these tax-acquired monies for evil purposes. This true fact does not mitigate against the commandments. The Scriptures clearly teach that taxes are for the maintenance of the public and common good. They are to finance the government for the upholding of good in the land and the punishment of evil in the land. If the governing authority or authorities appropriate some of these taxes for furthering evil instead of punishing it, then that is the guilt of misappropriation by the government, not by the obedient Christian. The believer is responsible to God for his duties under God's ordained government; and the Scriptures make clear that every government that exists is ordained by God. He/she is not responsible for the disobedience of the government that God has ordained. (This same issue is involved when one gives a gift of money to someone. If the beneficiary misappropriates some or all of the money, that is his fault, not the benefactor's.) In fact, when both Paul and Peter wrote these commandments, one of the most wicked emperors during the New Covenant times was on the throne. His name was Nero, and both he those who came after him misappropriated government monies for evil purposes. Sometimes people to try rationalize away paying taxes based upon the fact that the tax rate is unfair, that it is too high. While no one ever likes to feel like they are paying more that their “fair share”, when these commandments were written by these two apostles the normal tax rate of all required taxes combined was from 25 to 35 per cent – sometimes it was even higher. That is high indeed, yet the commandments were still given.

The second area of commandment involves our responsibility of prayer. While the Scriptures enlighten in many places about prayer, there is a specific New Covenant teaching regarding the commandments to pray which directly involves politics. Early in the writings of Paul to his apostolic delegate Timothy, he gives instructions regarding the priority of prayer in the assemblies. While these instructions primarily concern the worship of the assemblies of God, they also apply to individual prayer in private settings. Here is what Paul commanded. “First of all, then, I call for petitions, prayers, intersessions, and thanksgivings to be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all well-worship and majesty. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth.” This is the second true and spiritual requirement of Christians regarding each one's political involvement. As these commandments clearly reveal, it is the will of God that all kinds of prayer be made for everyone – for all persons in the Christian's environment, whether they be family members, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, passers-by, foes, and anyone else, or whether they be kings, presidents, governors, lords, congressmen, mayors, councilmen or bosses, that is, or all the persons that God has placed in ruling authority. All kinds of prayers are thus to be rendered for all of these people in order that Christians may be enabled by these persons' acts, decisions, and pronouncements to live tranquilly and quietly in all reverence and majesty for the great glory of God as displayed through His full-knowledge and salvation in His people. It is God Who rules over all flesh and moves upon all flesh to accomplish His will – in this case for the full blessing of His people through the words and deeds of other people. It is our lot, accordingly and through prayer, to beseech God to accomplish these things.

Just like the situation regarding paying taxes, Christians are not to decide if these commandments should be obeyed or not, even to one degree or another based upon the worthiness of the persons prayed for. If that were the case, we would not pay taxes or would pay little and we would not pray according to this instruction. No, rather, we obey God. In fact, as with everything else, all of our deeds of righteousness are employed by God for mercy or judgment regarding all flesh. In fact, the Scriptures presuppose that both the people that are being prayed for and the condition prayed about are mainly or basically bad. For Paul concludes this instruction about men praying in the formal assembly with these words: “Therefore I intend that the men in every place of prayer pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” This means that prayer with these ends in view is to be offered to God as the great arranger of all things irrespective of the righteousness or unrighteous of the people or conditions prayed for. In fact, this is so much the focus that Christians who pray according to these objectives are not even to do so with any sense of righteous indignation or anger or disputing about the objects of prayer even though there is cause for anger or argument. Remember, when these instructions were written Nero was the emperor of the Roman Empire and a vast network of evil operated under him. It was under Nero that the first significant and thoroughgoing persecution of Christians occurred. Nevertheless, Christians were and, likewise, are commanded to pray to God Who is alone the director and bestower of the holy means and ends in view. We are not to pray as though the righteousness or the unrighteousness of the persons or conditions prayed for are the moving factors. It is God Who predestines and foreordains all things and, therefore, moves upon all flesh to do His will. He has by the means of prayer incorporated us into His holy purposes for these ends. This is a great honor, privilege, and responsibility within the throne-room of God. We stand with Him in His sublime holiness when we fulfill these things. Glory to God!

These are the responsibilities, the requirements of Christians regarding politics – nothing more and nothing less. Anything beyond these commandments are freedom-of-the-believer issues. Only make sure that everything you do is done in, by, and for the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and to the glory of God!

Lastly, I will cover some practical implications. Like in ancient times, politics of modern times which is based upon modern norms is often deeply corrupted. (For it is mainly men and women who are not Christians who comprise governments. Such men and women almost always have strong opinions, purposes, and goals which are often contrary to the will of God. Also, it is not unusual for political campaigners to, in a calculated way, change their promised positions to opposite or compromised ones after being elected to office.) Corruption usually permeates all levels of government from one degree to another. Actual political involvement beyond what is commanded by God (detailed above) needs to be very cautiously considered in light of this corrupted and perverse condition. Local politics can be “safer” in this regard than state-wide or national politics due to the different kinds of objectives between local and state and/or national politics. There are exceptions to the rule both state-wide and nationally. However, if one decides to exercise his/her freedom-of-the-believer right and become a politician or support politics one needs to properly accept the fact that being only relatively effective concerning righteousness is the reality. One must also accept the fact that compromising God's will for political means and ends is never an option. In light of these considerations, God has appointed us to be politically involved through the spiritual means and ends described above in His Word. The only pure and uncompromised place to stand and function is within the Kingdom of God and Christ. In this standing we influence all things as we function in God's stated purposes concerning us.