Christianity is not a political position, it’s a person. The message of Scripture is intimacy with the Creator, not merely the gospel of social reform. At the same time, Christianity is about beliefs that stem from that person. When cultural assaults contrary to sound living like abortion, gay marriage, human rights violations, and judicial tyranny assault us, do we take a stand? And what kind of a stand? If our home is the next world, should believers be involved in the political and social issues of a nation? Or should we just preach the gospel and swell the ranks of heaven?
Maintaining the health of the traditional family is crucial to the preservation of a civilization. Where is the Christian subculture at with involvement on social issues, especially in these pivotal times? Many evangelicals are confused, having a vague tug in the heart about cultural assaults, but lack insight from Scripture to move out. Thus the need for “A Theology For Action in Public Policy.”
There are two schools of thought that Christians hold. One is the “quiet resignation” camp that takes salvation to extremes of passivity, finding it easier to appease with the world than resist it. We hear in these circles, “it’s all going to burn anyway” which gives a free pass to do nothing. Guided by a form of Christian Platonism, where only the spirit realm is good and earthly things are evil, they rationalize that daily realities like politics, legislation, and bureaucratic red tape are inferior to the spiritual realm. People often say in disgust about issues, “it’s all political” or “it’s all about politics.” Perhaps they’re looking to tap out because they don’t understand that conflict is part of a Christian worldview and don’t know where to start in combating the heavy issues that hang over our country.
Others believe the seperation between this world and the next shouldn’t exist, that this is our father’s world, and that everything God created is good. They are convinced that holiness can’t help but disrupt a flimsy, corrupt world and maintain that by most accounts, the life of Christ was marred by conflict as he penetrated into enemy territory under the cover of darkness. True Christ likeness will have similar opposition, they argue. Spiritual warfare is landing beachheads of righteousness on earth while praying “thy will done on earth as it is being done in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). After all, it wasn’t the warm fuzzies of the gospel that got Christ killed, it was a collision of kingdoms, a clash of political entities. Even though Satan is the god of the world system that is against God, (II Cor. 4:4 ), “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Ps 24:1) A changed life has to intersect society at some point, and social affairs are an extension of one’s faith, the spiritual/physical interface. Standing for sub-truths like life or marriage are not only socially healthy, but a witness to the source of truth.
Someone said, “if you want to get along in any social situation, don’t talk about politics and religion”. Yet maybe those are the two things we should talk about- one has to do with the quality of life here, the other the quality of life later. Politics isn’t evil; it’s infiltrated with evil. It may be the organizational process by which right and wrong are meted out from the top down. Politics is where issues in a culture, good or bad, become policy. Culture affects policy as much as policy affects culture and whatever is codified will either enslave or liberate. Even God’s kingdom is a highly political affair, it’s inhabitants characterized by “truth, humility, and righteousness” (Ps. 45:4).
With political imagery, Psalm 97:2 says, “righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne.” Jesus mentioned to Pilate that he also was a king of a kingdom. The trial and death of Jesus were politically charged matters that were hastened by the political implications of Jesus impact. The Messiah as a sovereign who wears a crown is political. Mark Twain wrote, “An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.” If policy determines culture as much as culture influences policy, do we enter that arena with the goal of shaping lives from a biblical perspective? Do believers have a theology for involvement in public policy?
Many have commented that Jesus and Paul were not social revolutionaries per se. They are quick to point out verses like Matthew 17:24-27 where Jesus taught his followers to pay their taxes. Or Paul’s plead to pray “for kings and all those in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life” I Tim. 2:2. (The content of his prayer was probably not for continued system wide oppression). Or Peter’s command to submit for the Lord’s sake to every human institution and honor the king. It’s true that they didn’t counsel an overt rebellion to the existing political structures, partly because, at least in Jesus’ day, the offer of the kingdom was still at hand, and in Paul’s case he believed the 2nd coming was around the corner. Those political structures were entrenched when Christianity came onto the scene.
But we need to go deeper than that. They may not have been overt social revolutionaries, but they were spiritual revolutionaries whose lives rocked the social boat from the inside out. Jesus engaged the culture on many levels, crossing paths with socio-religious leaders and his presence had cultural ramifications. In his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus challenged the social mores of partiality and racism that were entrenched in the culture and keeping people in bondage. He systematically condemned the leaders of Israel for their spiritual deformities of greed, pride, and hypocrisy that physically contaminated the whole nation. In the sermon on the mount, He comforted the poor, hungry, and needy whose station in life was as much spiritual as social. (Luke 6:20-28). Scripture rarely advocates an artifical seperation between the secular and the spiritual. While Jesus’ first advent wasn’t merely to fight cultural assaults, His second advent will be highly political. Satan and his world system opposes everything Jesus does on a social level.
The social revolutionary argument is also uninitiated on another level. The core of Paul’s message was the resurrection of Christ, which eventually got him killed. Resurrection was so culturally disruptive because laden in that message is the rule of another lord and king. It challenges the powers of the world, as no other theology can do, with the realities of the kingdom and Creator. The titles Paul used of Christ, “lord, savior, Messiah”, were blatantly counter-imperial. As Wright notes, “For Paul there is much more a sense of confrontation. The return of Jesus from heaven to earth, the parousia, was formulated… in conscious opposition to the parousia of Caesar.” The preaching of the gosple effected a radical change of the heart and life. As cultural values are an extension of what one believes, the resurrection was bound the have social ramifications.
Not social revolutionaries? I wonder what the mob violence was all about in the book of Acts? When the kingdom of God is felt to be close at hand, it not only affected the religious status quo of the day (Judaism), but paganism and political structures. When Paul reasoned with the Jewish leaders in Thessalonica about the resurrection from the Scriptures, some wicked men formed a mob and “set the city in an uproar” (17:5), accusing Christians of “upsetting the world” (17:6). When Paul went into Ephesus not long after, Acts 19:23 says “there arose no small disturbance about the Way” and verse 32 says “the assembly was in confusion.” The uproar had as much economic ramifications as it did religious. True Christianity is so weighty that it always has an outward ripple effect outward on the social culture. That’s why it is put down. Only a watered down impotent Christianity seeks harmony with the ways of the world at all costs.
Lets look at the slavery issue passivists use for supporting uninvolvement. “We don’t see any evidence of Paul or Jesus making efforts to eliminate that social cancer in the New Testament,” they chide. What they don’t understand is that slavery in Rome and the Old Testament period wasn’t like the merciless slavery in the American South. Slaves in our time were barely human with no rights. In biblical times, slaves were servants with many rights. One historian points out:
“The likely reason that the apostolic authors of the New Testament did not categorically condemn slavery was because they placed the preaching of the gospel and the redemption of lost souls ahead of societal reform. Yet that very biblical teaching about humankind and their relationship to God through Christ was the inevitable moral and spiritual force that showed the fundamental injustice of slavery in the Western world. Indeed, it was the Judeo-Christian teaching that human beings have intrinsic value and worth as a result of being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27) that brought an end to slavery. Many in the abolitionist movements of England and America in the nineteenth century were Protestant evangelical Christians.”
Not only was it a different kind of slavery back in the 1st century, it was a correct interpretation of Scripture that lead to Christian’s involvement on a policy level in removing it in our times.
There is more support from the New Testament for social involvement. James reasoned what good is it to meet people’s spiritual needs and not their material needs of food and clothing? (James 2:16). Paul had many encounters with civil authorities and his big desire was to present Christ to Nero, the greatest political figure of the day, for a strategic spread of righteousness from the top down (Acts 25:11). It was Paul’s stance for absolutes in public that got him killed.
To say the gospel doesn’t have social ramifications is preposterous. Perhaps that’s why it is so resisted. John Calvin wrote: “the whole world is assigned to be reduced under the obedience of Christ, that by spreading the Gospel as widely as [the apostles] could, they might everywhere erect his kingdom…The apostles, therefore, were sent forth to bring back the world from its revolt to the true obedience of God, and everywhere establish his kingdom by the preaching of the Gospel.”
Is God concerned about public policy? The Old Testament is riddled with God’s grief over social injustice (Is. 56:1; Jer.7:5-6; Ez.18:7-8; Zech.7:9). The prophets held a keen interest of the issues in the culture and often spoke truth to power. They not only had spiritual concerns in the lives of the people, but national sovereignty interests as well (Is. 39 ). They knew you can’t really seperate the secular and the sacred. The clearest thinkers in any generation are godly men, and the prophets were at the forefront of discerning the permissive effects of Baalism in the culture war. As many nations in history have found out, moral indulgence causes social chaos. Ancient Israel lost it’s culture war to the permissive effects of Baalism, of which there are many parallels to today.
Amos lamented that swearing, deception, murder, stealing, adultery, drunkenness and judicial tyranny typified public life, all moral issues the nation was judged for (Amos 4:2, 18, 5:14, 6:13). Isaiah blasted that “truth has stumbled in the streets,” not just the temple (Is. 59:14). Jeremiah denounced human rights violations that included child sacrifice (Jer.19:6, 32:35). Shedding innocent blood (Is.59:7 ) was not only a severe personal issue, but a broader social one. Israel was judged for it’s leaders not going the way of the Lord, for poor policy decisions, and for not resisting cultural assaults that lead to widespread sin and chaos. Zephaniah wrote,”I will punish the princes, the kings sons, and all who clothed themselves in with foreign garments” (1:8). Tolerance was one thing, not discerning cultural assaults another. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel were judged in 586 and 722 B.C. by terrorists, for poor system wide public policy values of leaders and kings. Sin is bound to come into the world, but it was a preponderance of sin that caused Israel to lose it’s culture war to the early terrorists of the Middle East. The pattern of history is that God uses a more barbaric culture to judge a lesser. Poor values in public policy all but extinguished the two nations.
There are more examples from the Old Testament. A believers’ character and principle are the bedrock in any body politic, and God placed Joseph as Prime Minister of Egypt for wise decision making during some tough economic times (Gen. 41: 46-57). Daniel was a stabilizing voice as a ranking advisor in the administrations of several world superpowers, whose grit lead to a kingdom wide decree of God worship (Dan.6:26). Esther’s courage as queen turned a Persian policy of death into one of pro-life for her people and changed the course of Jewish history. Nehemiah’s diplomacy brought about the reemergence of the Jewish state out of captivity and Israel‘s right to exist. Job was prominent at the “city gates”, the county seat of antiquity, by not divorcing his secular and spiritual life (Job 1:3, 29:7). These people were strong in their civil wars of values.
Many people don’t realize this but biblical truth is not just for believers. It’s also for a secular culture. Why? Because everybody is a believer to some extent, to the degree they are made in the image of God. They operate to full efficiency by only His word, and biblical truth on some level is comprehended by all. The message of judgment in the book of Nahum was written to the empire of Assyria. Zechariah 9 is written to the Philistines. Obadiah was written to Edom. And Isaiah 19 was written to world superpower Egypt. In fact, Egypt was condemmed because of poor leadership and unwise counsel in the deep chambers of higher brass (Isaiah 19:3, 11, 13, 14).
We can also look to examples in history. Christianity was the death knell to the polytheism and emperor worship of the Roman empire. Fatigued by the violence of Sharia law by the Ottoman Turks in Granada Spain, Columbus’ major motivation to discover a New World was to “start over” with a nation guided by Christian principles woven into the culture. It was sermons from the pulpit that cultivated a discernment of the evils of British rule, causing the American Revolution. The headquarters for political parties were held in churches. William Wilburforce fought against the slave trade in Parliament, officially ending slavery in the British colonies. The revivals of John Wesley and George Whitfield resulted in political and economic reform. And conversely, it was Christians’s slowness to oppose the partiality taking place in Nazi Germany that caused World War II.
Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor who spent much of his life behind bars in Communist Romania, knew first hand the evils of poor public policy and made connections other Christians didn’t: “men are responsible before God not only for their personal sins, but also for their national sins.” The pilgrims of early America connected the spiritual and civil realms when they braved danger to found a new nation based on Christian principles. Most Christians would characterize themselves as “protestants”. The root word is “protest”. Protest against what? Against the evils of poor politico-religious public policy in Europe. There was no seperating the personal and public convictions of the Hugueonots in France when they stood agaisnt the tyranny of the Catholic church. The protest was in the context of the political arena and ultimately shaped the correct foundation of America.
John the Baptist defended the traditional family when he criticized Herod Antipas for taking his brother’s wife. Divorce, not gay marriage, was a hotbed issue in Jesus day, and he was approached about his position. He publicly affirmed traditional marriage when he quoted Genesis 2:24 “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5). Jude, Peter, and Jesus all used Sodom and Gomorrah as examples that social judgment for corporate homosexuality is not an obsolete dispensation.
Moral indulgence always leads to social chaos. We need only go back to our own 1960’s to see the turbulence of one of the most confusing times in American history. The war that takes place in individual hearts because of cultural immorality has had a negative fallout ever since. Divorce, abortion and extreme feminism are all products of the “sexual revolution” and has had a detrimental affect on the family and nation. Studies show that nation’s slip into mediocrity when the traditional family is threatened or redefined. What happens in hearts happens in homes. And what happens in enough homes, happens in nations. Thus the need for wise decisions in public policy.
Gay marriage is a lynchpin issue in the culture and many things hinge on it. Chuck Colson called gay marriage the “armageddon of the culture war.” Why? Because moral indulgence causes social chaos and weakens a nation. In Canada, where gay marriage has been legalized, a governmental study revealed that homo-sexual couples are twice as prone to violence as hetero-sexual couples, and that 75% of them have engaged in violent sexual behavior. As Lot experienced in Sodom, intimidation is the strategy of the homosexual movement. All sin is sin before God, but on a consequential level, homosexuality as a matter of policy and cultural norm resulted in the extinguishment of 2 municipalities! All throughout Scripture, Sodom and Gomorrah are symbols of the effects of system wide depravity in a culture.
To the extent a nation rebuffs any Judeo Christian influence, it declines. Rome is an interesting example and holds many parallels in America today. It wasn’t the Christianization of Rome that was the problem, it’s what they didn’t heed. Tolerance was one of the social mores of Rome, the great Pax Romana or “peace of Rome.” You could do anything you wanted, just keep the peace. That sounded good, but it was eventually their downfall. Tolerance is not the highest virtue and eventually led to competing and conflicting social forces.
The model of Rome is relevant because America models some of it’s political structure after Rome, and we pride ourselves on “tolerance”. We also hear a closely related word called “pluralism” as well. “America is a nation of immigrants, a melting pot,” which is true as far as that goes. The problem is that when you entertain a bunch of competing social forces without forcing a declaration of allegiance to our great Christian heritage, the strongest will win out. The Law of Singularity says that two opposing value systems can’t rule at the same time. You can’t have Sharia Law and Judeo Christian values together. Sharia Law is an intolerant idealogy; it’s their way or the highway. France is an example of a country that holds tolerance as one of it’s highest virtues. But they are also a study in weakness, mediocrity, impotence and a lack of influence. Today, the city of Marseille is 90% Muslim.
That Rome collapsed within from moral dryrot is well known. What is not as well known are the particulars. A dynamic that characterized Rome towards the end was a commitment to entertainment and a lack of meaningful work. The mantra heard around the empire was “give me bread and give me the arena.” The arena was an ancient form of cage fighting that included wild animals, man and death. There was little expansion of thought and mental stimulation in the environment of Rome for centuries. Regarding the intellect, Gibbon comments in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, “Rome passed without having produced a writer of original genius.”
Immorality felled Rome. Moral indulgence causes national chaos because it causes individual chaos, what Peter called a war in the soul (I Peter 2:11). When Marcus Aurelius died, he regrettably left the throne to his son Commodus, whose exhibited signs of megalamania and neurological problems because of his sexual depravity. Commodus brought with him to the throne a seraglio of 300 boys in a continual cycle of moral degeneracy. His softness of mind never understood the need for war and he abandoned the military campaign with the barbarians to the north, a primitive people who eventually sacked the capital. His despair surfaced in spasmodic expressions of intimidation and violence on his own people and he left the empire in shambles. His shortsightedness is considered a major step downward in Rome’s collapse and the end of Pax Romana. Notice the cause and effect of public policy and social ramifications in Psalm 94:20, “Can a corrupt throne be allied with you- a throne that brings on misery by decrees“?
A military is extremely sensitive to any forces of change in a nation. The Roman army, reflecting the moral drift, grew soft and lazy, and increasingly violent. For centuries the military was the terror and respect of the world. As one biographer put it, the military was “the prestige of Rome.” But they were set on a shelf to revel in glory of battles past and lulled into a complacency that no one could touch them or engage them. In fact, they didn’t believe in political evil anymore or that war was necessary, kind of an ancient version of Code Pink. They relaxed their discipline and their tradition of peace through strength. Moral degeneracy lead to a skepticism and softness of mind that evil is not quite as evil as once thought. The result is that the unlikely barbarians ran right through to the capital and sacked Rome. Christians of all people know that the spiritual war they battle daily will be occasionally manifested in the physical realm and understand the need for a strong morale in the military. Our armed forces is perhaps the last pure institution in America, and until recently, was rather unaffected with low morale caused by immorality. But with the open adverse policy of gays in the military, that will change; the prestige of our military branches will longer inspire and attract our best men.
How could secular progressives, who mock those who believe in absolutes, consider themselves intellectuals and “free thinkers” and fail to see the patterns of civilizations? With the advances of liberization, our society is more and more becoming a barbaric people. Our young people are mediocre on a world scale for industrialized countries in basic reading, math and writing skills. Tattoos, vulgarity, pants worn around the hips and a simplified vocabulary are common everywhere. The family is decaying, hopelessness and despair epidemic, fight sports are popular and the goals of many are merely holding a job at the auto parts store for the rest of their lives. No expansion of thought, little desire to innovate or improve some aspect of society and get involved in a cause bigger than themselves.
Moral decadence often combines a strange combination of liberal expression of the body and a rigid despotic code- ending up with a set of laws that are petty and a society that is litigious. As cultures get more sophisticated, it’s tough to find the right balance between freedom and law without an anchor of absolutes. Generally, nations do better when civil law reflects spiritual law and princicples from Scripture, providing the right balance of boundaries in the essentials and freedom on the nonessentials.
A moral is not some stodgy, narrow, Victorian era concept we have to rethink; it’s simply a law of reality that facilitates smooth relationships in a society. In standing up for Judeo Christian values, we’re not legistlating morality. But immorality from the top down is definately demoralizing and oppressive. Morals leads to morale, and morale facilitates an environment of progress. It’s the “x” factor in a healthy nation. Morality doesn’t make a great nation, but greatness is impossible without it. That’s the whole argument from generals in the military who fear the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; that distraction and a weakening of morale will occur in the greatest military of the world. Rome proved the principle of Proverbs 28:2: “When there is moral rot within a nation, it’s government topples easily; but with honest, sensible leaders there is stability”. Why risk that kind of change and repeating that pattern?
Viewing life through a grid of fixed laws and moral absolutes that have successfully governed the human tradition is not legislating morality into a sterile existence. Many well intentioned activists, not realizing the problem is in the human heart, think the answer is in some social program. A new social program is not exactly what were talking about. It’s about maintaining a culture of good values and right and wrong from the top down and not assaulting our Judeo Christian values. It’s backing off the assaults of taking Christ out of Christmas for example, or removing the 10 Commandments from courthouses, or rewriting the Consitution and Christian heritage of our founding fathers, taking prayer out of schools, or eliminating “In God We Trust” on coins etc. Christianity has always been about having a trusting personal relationship with the Creator. But there is a correlation between the quality of a nation’s policies and the quality of a nation’s lives. Being under harrassment from the government, or forced to close down a church for biblical convictions, or tolerating abhorent behavior in the workplace are matters of public policy.
For some reason, prosperity causes a strange blend of indulgence and cruelty. It’s human nature to ride up to the line of the law and take advantage of it, whether the law is good or bad. Whatever is legalized will flourish. In nations that have legalized abortion, young girls get them just because it is legal, reasoning that “there must be a reason for the law, thought out by ‘experts’, and utilized by so many”. But they have little understanding of the scar tissue placed on their souls in the process until it’s too late. For one reason or another, many people take their ideas of right and wrong by what is law. Evolution for example, with it’s atheistic core, produces a chronic low grade despair on a culture. The connotation from the textbooks is that life has no meaning; that we’re just overgrown blobs of biology, with no moral or spiritual side and no moral law. Whatever worldviews become encodified into law becomes habitual, whether it’s good or evil. Satan loves it when people are hurt deeply from poor law and cultural assaults.
There is no level of depravity that sinks lower than God’s love. But it’s wise to minimize the snares with good law so our future leaders won’t be bogged down with basic emotional issues and an inability to lead in higher level problems. God pursues souls’ one at a time, but he’s also concerned with the broad cultural assaults that make coming to Christ difficult and the nasty residual hangovers after conversion. What mother wouldn’t fight for tough internet pornography laws purely for personal reasons? Social issues are spiritual issues. The country of Turkey, for example, has an estimated 5000 believers and 20 churches out of 70 million people. We could wonder at the theological ramifications as to why God would allow this in terms of predistination, that maybe the people weren’t predestined for Christ. But on a human level 99.8% of the people lost is a matter of public policy and makes for difficulty in penetrating that crust with the gospel. Why not fight to maintain the Judeo Christian principles that made this country great?
Emerson observed that “governments have their origin in the moral identity of men”. If so, this is all the more reason why men and women of principle need to be involved. Abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, and judicial tyranny may be more than political positions. There maybe an element of spiritual warfare in the culture war, in the policies that govern a nation. Heaven is our home, this world is enemy territory, but fighting for outposts of righteousness here is biblical and forward thinking. When the apostle John saw his Revelation, he felt it was immanent and almost as though it were upon him. He wrote that there were loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever…We give Thee thanks, O Lord our God, Almighty, who are and who wast, because thou has taken Thy great power and hast begun to reign” (Rev. 11:15-17).
These political phenomenon aren’t just spiritual or religious ideas, they’re reality. And essentially there is no Platonic split between the civil and spiritual realms. Even when Christ came the first time, it was immediately forward looking to the expectation of his political rule. And his followers are expected to live the same way. Though there are two advents, separated by a wide gap of time, from a biblical perspective there is no separation. We should live by faith as though there is no separation between earth and the kingdom of heaven, so we’ll canvass for righteousness here and get credit for it with Christ later. Though their theology was incomplete and methods controversial, the motivation of the Spanish explorers was to carry the gospel and bring the New World into the folds of the kingdom. The Americas are the climax of the Westernization that has led many advances on thought and progress of the world.
Standing for biblical principles in public is not to make everybody in the office a Christian. But there is a structure that better elicits productivity. One based on the Judeo Christian value system has been proven to work. It provides freedom in the nonessentials and strength in the essentials, (which human nature reverses). Satan loves for cruelty to be woven into the legislative fabric and red tape of a nation’s policies, leading to a culture of death and disrespect whether it’s the old, unborn, or the bourgeoisie.
John Adams once asked Thomas Jefferson, “will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance and folly?” For some reason, there is always a correlation between indulgence and cruelty. Standing against vice isn’t necessarily moralization. There is disconnect when one believes in personal absolutes and not public absolutes. Minds sharpened by the God of the Word, the most discerning force on earth, need to be involved in tempering the natural tendency towards cruelty. Usually it’s believers that see long term consequences of poor policy and cultural assaults, and juggle these realities on competing planes of existence.
By standing up for the fair, respectful, and powerful Judeo Christian value system, we’re not asking for everyone to become a Christian. We’re just asking to not fight against what brought about our greatness. We have to tap into some philosophy of government; what has proven better? Atheistic communism? Hindu India? There is no such thing as pure secular pragmatic openness to solving problems, because everybody has a bias. And every social experiment of liberalism has been tried before, most of them them with less than stellar results.
God is not threatened by the never ending squirrel cage of degeneracy, where people will go from bad to worse. A shakeout period of humility may be God’s plan and there are many benefits of difficult times. Social chaos can present wonderful opportunties to share Christ and hit the social reset button. And struggle can cause the spiritual lives of believers to flourish and go deeper, with great residual benefits. The great gems of Scripture were borne out of the context of current events and cultural assaults. But until then it’s a question of what side of the balance sheet do we want to be accounted for, what did we stand for? It might be wise to stand for what matters to God like the unborn, freedom, family values and the gospel itself until he returns. God is pro life and pro family to the core. But there will be a time He wont’ take any more wickedness, cleansing the earth with His wrath once and for all.
Of course there is the danger of merely preaching a social gospel, the gospel of precepts, and moralizing a nation. But standing against vice is not moralization per se. There is a structure of values that better engenders stability and freedom. Paul wrote that the premier form of involvement in a nation’s policies is praying for peace so that we can live and preach the gospel. In I Timothy 2: 1-2 he wrote, “First of all, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men…for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”.
There is a correlation between the spiritual and civil realms; policies from the top down affect the incidences of salvation. Paul didn‘t sabotage his culture because he was angry at them; he served them with what he believed was the ultimate remedy of restoration, the gospel. He got involved in praying for the civil structure and authorities, the best action he could take in the well entrenched political system of the Roman empire. Paul got involved politically, in a way that he was called to do, delivering truth to power. He didn’t change the social constructs of the Roman empire as a career politician because Rome was closed and he wasn’t called for that. But he did change it internally. For him political freedom was primarily spiritual.
In America it’s different, and the argument that Paul and Jesus weren’t social revolutionaries is not a pure one. We have political freedom that allows for freedom of worship and Christians should not be so busy doing the work of the gospel that they don’t help determine the laws by which they do the gospel. Many examples from history and Scripture have shown that evil flourisheswhen good men do nothing. People are easily enslaved spiritually en masse from cultural assaults and poor public policy. Ronald Reagan said one time, “If we lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.”
Though America and it’s Christianity has some biases, it is still the most free place to headquarter and launch out a ministry. Why not continue to fight for that? Christians are needed in politics because liberals continually take Christian ideals to unhealthy extremes. Freedom, originally a Christian ideal, now means freedom and entitlement in all things. “Demand your rights, even to the point of litigation” we’re told. But now the liberal wants to take God out of everything. He presumes to judge God by a standard that doesn not exist apart from God. You cannot have freedom rooted in Christian ideals and deny the basis of those claims.
We need a biblical perspective in order to live with the tension of fighting the good fight of faith at the same time realizing that “men will go from bad to worse”. We need a balance between knowing that in “the last days difficult times will come” that precedes the coming of the Lord, and being accountable for what is right until then. The end may be near, as God’s sovereign plan. But what side of the balance sheet do you want to be credited for? One who stood for right amidst the flaming war around us, or as one who did nothing because of a defective theology that rationalized passivity? Of course we best infect a culture, whether in the public or private sector, in the context of relationship, with the attractive qualities of Christ’s character in lifestyle evangelism. And by conversion and good teaching, God leads others to a stance on many of the sub truths which proceed from the gospel that affect the lives of future generations. When a man comes to Christ his sociology changes. There is a case to be made for involvement on a top down, policy level. There is a major disconnect to be pro-abortion and maturing as a believer.
Liberals accuse conservatives of being idealogues. But nobody is not an idealogue. Everybody has a philosophy of living. There is no such thing as a pure pragmatist in solving problems. A philosophy of government just takes into account good hard, learned lessons of what’s worked in the past. The question is, “is that philosophy in line with things that have worked in the past”? Which philosophy will best influence our laws and quality of life? Western law, based on British common law, is shaped by common sense elements of Scripture and is the fairest the world has ever known. There may be a separation of church and state clause in our Constitution. But it’s clear before the reconstructionists rewrite history: there is no separation between Scripture and state. What else are we going to tap into? Sharia law?
As it stands, the conservative five point platform is a superior philosophy of government. Pro-life, pro-family, smaller government, lower taxes, and stronger military. It’s simple without these, you don’t have a healthy nation. These should be the grid through which any policy maker, legislator or politician filters his decisions.
Benjamin Franklin once expressed his fear in taking out the Judeo Christian value system in our democracy. For freedom to work, man needs an internal check mechanism to govern himself. We rebel against this, chaos ensues. And when chaos gets bad enough, rigidity, pettiness, and an iron fist rise up to rule. Moral indulgence and licentiousness leads to chaos; chaos give way to rigidity as a people will tend to vote for anybody who promises to bring order. And rigidity usually means tyranny, somebody who will bring order, like Hitler, but a great cost and with an agends. We scratch our heads and ask “how did we go from freedom to monarchy?” By rebelling against the Judeo Christian value system, the greatest balance of principles in existence.
There is a structure that better elicits progress and quality of life. Just as the law of reaping and sowing works whether one is a Christian or not, the Judeo Christian value system work for believers and unbelievers alike. People may not want Christ, but they should “dance with who brung ya” and not unravel what has contributed to our greatness, even if bored or restlessness. There is a clear cause and effect from our distinct Christian heritage and our greatness today. We’re not asking people in upholding good conservative values to come to Christ necessarily, but to recognize the dangers and mediocrity that will take place in America if we don’t.
Martin Luther King said it well: “Laws may not make a man love me, but they can keep him from lynching me.” Bad policy kills. In a postmodern culture, law is most people’s source and formation of right and wrong, whether it reflects true right or wrong or not. Solomon said, “Evil men don’t understand the importance of justice, but those who follow the Lord are much concerned about it” (Proverbs 28: 5). That’s why it’s incumbent for believers to get involved, because they have the discernment to see the ill effects of bad policies.
You can’t really seperate the sacred from the spiritual, as a modern form of platonic dualism would have you. A spiritualizing interpretation of Scripture leads to passivity regarding the tangible things of this world. Christianity is at one and the same the most spiritual and pragmatic of the world’s religions. And Christ is where history and theology intersect.
Governments and legal systems based on the Judeo Christian value system have proven to be the most effective in terms of quality of life. Man has an endemic need for God’s Word, whether it’s in the form of civic law, or concentrated preaching. Isaiah wrote just before the collapse of Israel in the 8th century BC: “The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations” (51:4).
We have to take our cues from some philosophy of government. What has proven better? Western thought has been at the core of progress, and Christianity has been at the core of Western thought. Rewriting our distinct Christian heritage is not only biting the hand that feeds us, it’s rebelling against Christianity’s contribution to history. If it’s not for Christians to resist evil, then who? Theoritically, they’re the only ones who understand it. Don’t partition your life and go inward, thinking the purpose of the church is to do Churchianity. Get involved in some way in public policy issues. Handel saw no disconnect between this world and the next when he applied Revelation 11:15 in the Hallelujah Chorus: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and of Christ”.
Copyright 2010 by Scott Chandler. All Rights Reserved.