Today my wife remarked that politics has gotten so ugly that it has cost her at least one friend. And she is not anywhere near as outspoken on political issues as I am. Things are getting so touchy that it doesn’t take much to get de-friended, on social media and in real life. Does this mean that one should avoid the subject altogether? Many Christians seem to think so, while others dive in headlong and damn the torpedoes. I think this is a subject that should not be avoided.
I want to preface this discussion by saying that I have been systematically reading through the Bible this year. I began this journey without any agenda other than to understand the God of the Bible better. I use no study guide. I am currently beginning the Book of Lamentations. This means I have already covered a lot of Jewish history and I have seen that God has opinions on governing. I have also seen that God cares about how people behave corporately; and that he punishes nations. He sends prophets to warn people when they have strayed from obeying His commands, and His patience has limits.
He is also big enough to deal with us individually, and to cull out the obedient from the rest who couldn’t care less. And one of the things the obedient are supposed to be doing is influencing their careless neighbors. For instance, as Jesus told his disciples in the New Testament:
Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice that Jesus said to teach them to observe what was commanded. This is a big deal. I have been in church a long time, but I have seldom heard people being told to do a whole lot more than believe. I know I am just an unschooled layman, but even I can figure out that this leads to a lot of people doing whatever they want to do. Yes many factions have arisen as someone here and someone there decides what lines in the sand they want to draw, but then we only listen to the people we already agree with.
When the church is like this, is it any wonder that it has little moral authority when trying to bring correction to the general public, which also does whatever they want to do. Political correctness is a form of morality that has been cobbled together by people who only have some idea of morality they have arrived at without God. Our social mores, the things that make us feel shame, like incest and pedophilia, are built on the shared feelings of many people. How many? I don’t know. But we have an age of consent that differs from state to state here in the US. If a 40 year old man has sex with a 16 year old girl in Georgia, he is naughty. If he hooks up with a 16 year old in Florida, he is a child molester. In other countries, it’s complicated.
The Bible is pretty clear that government gets its authority from God. It’s also pretty clear that those in authority don’t always do the right thing. And it’s very clear that when they get it wrong long enough and badly enough, God judges them with all manner of destruction. It can take awhile because God is patient and He wants us to have the chance to govern ourselves well. It’s that way in our personal lives as well. If He wasn’t patient, there would be a lot fewer people on the Earth.
Our present form of government in America is one in which we participate to a far greater degree than did the early Hebrews, who had kings, and the early church, who lived under the occupation force of a despotic empire. Ours is one that that gives us some power to influence. In fact, our government, a representative form, comes from the people. It is a reflection of the people who chose them. And as much as we, the voters, love to criticize and excoriate our representatives, upon close examination we are not much different from them. I have run for public office three times and have talked to many, many fellow citizens in the process of campaigning. It has been a pretty depressing experience, because I have found that people are pretty self-absorbed and want what they want and care little what others want. You disagree with them at your peril.
In the video that I posted at the beginning of this article, roughly half the delegates at the Democrat National Convention booed God (or the recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel) on national television. Yes, people have free speech in America, but I cannot imagine this happening twenty years ago, let alone forty years ago, when I first started having opinions about my country and how it was run. This has gone far beyond people resenting God or the people of God in their minds or under their breath. And it should be a warning to all of us that we have let our country stray so far from a shared national reverence for God that was one of our mores, and that we didn’t need a law.
We can debate whether or not it should be illegal to flip off God in public. But it should at least be a shame. There should be something in our hearts that recoils at blasphemy. And we should pity the offender, rather than think of him as brave. It is foolish to offend God, whether we do so by vocalizing our hatred for Him or by being unwilling to take a stand for his commands. And we should first be sure that we are living by them.
We hear Jesus come up a lot, from both the believing and the unbelieving. The unbelievers use His words to make the pitch for social programs paid for by someone else. As believers, we need to live lives of generosity if we are going to challenge them to spend their own money on helping the people they want to help. Jesus never said to take someone else’s coat and give it to another. He said to give your own.
I believe that the Bible teaches us that religion and politics go together. If we ghettoize our faith in God and His commands, we fail to bring righteousness to our government. What we get is godless leaders, disdain for God’s commands, and self-worship. And we will have let it happen. Then, God will send His judgment, and this country will be no more.