When I address a subject I suspect might be controversial, I find I want to qualify my position before I state it. So here’s the qualification: I believe the Bible addresses a number of sin issues that concern right-wing conservatives. Things like abortion and the definition of marriage.
What I don’t find in the Bible, though, is Christian political activism. Of course, that could be because of the different forms of government in Bible times. Perhaps, then, we should advocate for a monarchy. 😉
The truth is, no matter what form of government we design, man’s sin nature dooms it. Monarchies can be benevolent as long as the king is good, but watch out when an evil king takes power. See, for example, Judah’s evil king Manasseh who indulged in child sacrifice as part of his idol worship.
If we believe the Bible, a democracy ought to be a guarantee of a sinful government. Scripture says the road is narrow leading to life. By implication, we can conclude there are more people who are opposed to God than who follow Him. So in a democracy, believers will be out-voted.
But the founders of the present US government came up with what looked like a sure thing—a representative government littered with checks and balances. Surely not all branches of government could be simultaneously corrupted by the influences of the world, could they? In truth, they may have developed the best government on the planet — for about a day. Or maybe a little longer. But even then it wasn’t perfect.
You see, they couldn’t predict how powerful lobbyists would become, how democratic our representative process would become, how legislative our courts would become, how apathetic our voters would be come, how bureaucratic each part of government would become.
And yet, given the problems of all governments, there are still some Christians who think the answer is to create better government.
Don’t get me wrong. I think we need Christians in politics. More importantly, I think we need Christians in government. But I also think we need Christians in entertainment, in plumbing, in banks, in schools.
Yet I see professing Christians expending themselves on political causes, as if changing a law or a Congressman will somehow bring heaven on earth.
What’s more, in the political activism, many see vitriol — a win-at-all-costs attitude, a bullying, and yes, an intolerance.
I’ll tell you what I don’t see, or at least can’t imagine. I can’t imagine Jesus yelling invective at those on the opposite side of the street. Certainly He did not flinch when it came to spiritual matters. He showed zeal for His Father’s house when He fashioned a whip and went in after the cheats manning the money-changing tables. He showed intolerance toward those who pretended holiness.
But political change? It wasn’t what He was about.
He came to change people—to redeem us and make us new. And when He left earth, He gave us a charge to make disciples, not to make a godly government.
Of course I want a godly government. I pray for a godly government. I vote for those I believe will best lead us into a society that makes it possible for us to make disciples. I just don’t see Jesus leading us into political reform.
This post first appeared here in April 2011.