Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Christians and Politics

The death of Jerry Falwell has brought some attention to the role of the religious right and the Moral Majority. As a pastor, a person who takes the Bible seriously and believes it means what it says, I guess I'm expected to say that what Falwell did was great. I've got friends who are pretty politically involved, and people bringing petitions to Bible Baptist here in Burgaw to get involved in pushing for Bible classes to stay in the schools (more on that later, maybe). So how politically involved will I and my church be? Should we jump on board with the Moral Majority, possibly the single most powerful political group in the last 50 years?

I think abortion is murder. I believe marriage should be between a man and woman (and just one of each!) and that homosexuality is wrong (I don't see how anyone can read the Bible, take it seriously, and not come away with that understanding). I'm opposed to adultery and pre-marital sex, I think drunkenness is wrong, and I'd be pleased as punch if nothing opened on Sunday until 1 p.m. at the earliest, and just fine if most never opened at all on Sunday. I've read my Bible, and I see that it says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," and, "Righteousness exalteth a nation." (As it happens, I think that a lot of things that don't get talked about so much on a national stage are sinful too, just as much sin as homosexuality or adultery -- things like pride, arrogance, and backbiting.)

But there are some things I don't see in the Bible. Though I see Him telling people how they ought to live, I don't see Jesus telling the Romans what laws to make. Although it was a government that was corrupt in many ways and would eventually kill him, I don't see the Apostle Paul trying to change the Roman government, not through political means, anyhow.

And there's the key. Today, in spite of the remarkable number of people who would tell pollsters that they are "Christian" or have been "born again," it's pretty apparent that in America today, God is not the Lord. And we won't change that just by making laws. The fact is that you most definitely CAN legislate some aspects of morality. Much of morality is made up of how we treat each other, and by enacting laws and penalties, we can affect how people treat each other quite a bit. But you most definitely cannot legislate spirituality -- that is entirely between a person and God.

I'd love it if abortion were abolished in my country, if homosexuality were unheard of, if adultery and fornication were once again socially unacceptable. But I don't think I, or my church, can do the most to accomplish those things by marching on Washington, D.C., or on Raleigh, or even on our county commissioners. I think we are most likely to effect outward change through inward transformation.

Since the Moral Majority began its work, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of both people and dollars, countless man-hours, and tremendous energy toward making America a more Godly nation, has the situation gotten that much better? I don't think it has. Of course, one could say that it might be far, far worse had they not gotten involved, doing the things they are, but there's no way to say what might have been.

Suppose instead that those thousands of people with all their man-hours and money had set out with that kind of single-minded purpose to win people to Jesus Christ. I think we'd be a lot better off, as churches and as a country. And that's where the focus of my ministry and my church will be. I think God is far more concerned with our eternal destiny, and how we live on our way to it, than He is with what laws we get passed. I think He would rather see me win a soul to the Lord, helping that soul to walk in righteousness through the power of Jesus Christ, than have me get a law passed that makes the person do something right against his will.

We could abolish homosexuality, pass laws against the occult, legislate away abortion, place draconion penalties on drug sales and use -- but not one of those things would save a single soul. People don't go to hell because they use drugs, or engage in sodomy, or dabble in witchcraft, or perform an abortion. They go to hell because they don't believe in Jesus Christ. ("He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.")

I figure it's more important for me to reach out with the gospel. Once they're saved, then God can start working on them from the inside, instead of me trying to force a change on their outside.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Christians shouldn't vote their conscience. I'm going to vote for the candidate who most closely reflects the direction I'd like this country, this state, this county, to go in. I'm not saying I'll never say anything about politics -- I'm still a citizen of this country, and if I was called on to do so, I think I would die for it, so I figure I've got as much right to free speech about political things as anyone. Where legislative and political issues come into contact with the Bible, I don't see any reason why I can't address them from the pulpit. That just isn't going to be my focus from the pulpit.

I'm thankful for every real Christian who is involved in politics (who isn't just trying to use his "religion" for political gain -- God can tell the difference even when we can't). I figure we'd have a lot less corruption in politics if we had more politicians who actually took things like "Lie not one to another, brethren," seriously -- people who might have actually tried to read the Bible and apply it to their job.

God doesn't lead all Christians to be pastors. That's a good thing. His body has a lot of different kinds of members, and I'm sure He leads some of those members to be involved in politics, and I'm thankful for their effect upon my nation. But the purpose of the Body of Jesus Christ is not to fix a government -- it is to call attention to the glory of His grace, walking in good works ourselves and reaching out to others with His gospel.


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