Many Christians today believe that faith should be kept separate from politics. These same folks would be surprised to learn that courthouses in America once doubled as houses of worship. In fact, political candidates once campaigned from church pulpits and Election Day was celebrated by long governmental sermons delivered by pastors and printed for circulation throughout the land. What's more, one of the first acts of Congress was to provide Bibles to its citizens!
Governments determine whether we are to live as free people or oppressed people. By their laws they decide how we are going to worship God – whether it is freely or under persecution. Those who we elect, or fail to elect, will have a great influence on our rights. Our nation’s founders understood that governments can choose to protect our right to worship and spread the gospel, or they can restrict those rights.
Consider that in our day and age, there are groups determined to drive the name and message of Christ completely out of the public arena. Many people in our nation think that Christianity is so offensive that it needs to be excluded from every area of public life. These social and political trends of recent years should offer a clear warning to all of us that liberty requires diligent care.
It is impossible to preserve the fundamental freedoms that we enjoy if we separate ourselves from the political process. Without the proper political representation, there is no assurance that we will continue to have our freedom to spread the Gospel. Therefore, it is our duty as Christians to elect the right leaders as we go about evangelizing the world.
The book of Isaiah in the Bible talks about rulers who make unwise and immoral decisions – it reflects on those of us who initially voted them into office. The people of Judah were given an opportunity to choose their own leaders. Because their elected officials were civic and moral failures, the people shared in the blame. As a result, Isaiah condemned the citizens of Judah for the actions of their leaders.
But today we choose our leaders in a far more direct way than did the citizens in Old Testament times. If the people of Judah were responsible for their leaders’ actions, imagine how much more responsible we are in America today. As Christians we cannot blame politicians for the injustices around us because, when it’s all said and done, we are the ones who elected them – the elected are a reflection of the electorate.
So if Christians remain uninvolved, our enemies will continue to use the political realm to drive America even further into ungodliness. Unopposed, their oppressive government will ultimately enslave us. Once a nation falls into tyranny, it is almost impossible to regain liberty. Therefore, voting is an opportunity to promote, protect, and preserve godly government. Passing up this opportunity means allowing those who would degrade the name of Christ to have their way in our lives.
Civil government is often given high priority in the Bible. For instance, Paul tells us to “pray first of all for those in authority.” This means that we are to pray for civil leaders before ourselves, our families, and even our churches. There is nothing else in the Bible that God tells us to pray for “first of all.” Also, in Luke’s “Parable of the Ten Minas,” notice that God places the “good servants in charge of cities.” In other words, He assigns them a position of political leadership as a reward for their trustworthy stewardship.
In fact, the Bible nowhere condemns involvement in politics. According to Romans, Paul’s view of government was positive: that it is a God-given instrument “for the promotion of good and a restraint to evil.” As a Roman citizen, Paul exercised his rights of earthly citizenship on several occasions. In the book of Acts, Paul used his Roman citizenship for the work of Jesus Christ and gives us several examples of using our citizenship in this world for the furtherance of the Gospel.
To become apathetic and complacent at this point would be detrimental to our children’s future. This is why end-times minded Christians must be particularly vigilant. As the conditions of society deteriorate around us, some of us can easily take these signs as a cue to drop out of the public realm – sort of an end-times cop-out. This attitude only leads to a posture of even more indifference and negativity toward the political realm. Remember, the Bible commands: “Occupy until I come.”
Finally, there are four great institutions given by God to man. Human Government is second in importance only to the “Institution of Marriage.” Resting upon “Human Government” are the final two institutions: “Nation of Israel” and “The Church.” America’s Founding Fathers understood the Bible. Through divine providence, these great men formed the United States Constitution based upon these and other such Godly principles necessary for self-governance.
So why don’t Christians participate in a government founded on Christian ideology? As the late Christian radio talk show host Frank Pastore once put it: “You see it isn’t that Americans have lost their Christian roots; it’s that Christians have lost their American roots. They don’t know that the American story, and the larger story of Western Civilization, is their story. No wonder they don’t vote. They don’t understand America was and is the greatest expression of Christian values in all of history.”
Ray Harker is the author of God in Government and Solid Food for the Soul. He is the Founder & Director of God in Government, a subsidiary of Liberty Lighthouse Ministries, a teaching ministry and outreach dedicated to a Biblical worldview. www.godgov.org