The Christian and the world of politics

Politics today is more divisive than ever; should Christians have any kind of civic involvement or political engagement? How should Christians approach politics today?

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One of the most trepidatious subjects in churches and Christianity in general is the subject of politics. On the one hand, it is a subject that effects the lives of every person and needs to be discussed, and yet, especially in the post-2016 world, is one of the most divisive subjects. Therefore, since the Bible clearly dictates both the need for unity in the church and the separation of church and state, many Christians have distanced themselves completely from political involvement or any kind of civic life.

In the midst of the 2016 election, when presented with two choices that many Christians were uncomfortable with, then some in the younger generation, rather than reasoning through the issues, backed out of politics entirely, saying that this world was another kingdom that was passing away. The truth is that such a mentality is an excuse for apathy, and, especially regarding the millennial generation, is typically an excuse for ignorance. Abraham Kuyper said:

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’

The fact is, God created the world and everything in it is under His holistic control. Daniel 2:21 says, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” We also read in the New Testament in Romans 13 that God sets up government and it is a necessary tool for public good, that God is a fair judge that cares about justice, exploitation, and the oppressed. Leviticus 19:15 says, “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.”

While it is true that we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, God commands His people to be involved civic matters. We are to be wise and to be people of understanding, zealous for fairness in society, judging each person individually, case-by-case, by truth and not by station or socioeconomic status. God is sovereign over all creation—heaven and earth—and commands our involvement. The work of the Christian is necessary to justice and fairness in civic life. The Lord says in Matthew 5 in His sermon on the mount that we are “salt” and “light,” that is, Christians preserve and clarify, add flavor and illuminate wisdom. We do this through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what He accomplished, that He died, taking our penalty upon Himself to satisfy the Father’s wrath through His own blood. That is what gives us as the salt our “savour.”

Today, however, there are many who have changed the focus of the Gospel from Christ to Christians. Instead of the Gospel being focused on what Christ did, they place the focus on the result that we gain. It has become quite popular for teachers, especially when speaking to young audiences, to say something such as, “The Gospel is, I was dead and now I’m alive.” That kind of focus, however, is exactly what causes salt to lose its savour; how do you prove a personal experience to an unbeliever? The root of our proclamation and how we contribute to the political discussion should be based on what Christ did on the Cross. Christians, through the Gospel, are to be the ones protecting human life by defending the rights of the unborn and standing against assisted suicide. Christians are to push for justice for the exploited and the oppressed to be fairly treated.

This is not the same as the modern “social justice” movement; social justice is about suppressing the privileged and lifting up the unprivileged by showing favoritism to the unprivileged on the basis of arbitrary man-made intersectional categories. Judgment is based on one’s group rather than individual merits. An example of this kind of thwarting of true justice which is known today as “social justice” is in a news story from just a few months back. The Dallas District Attorney said that he was no longer going to prosecute people who stole items that were less than $750 if they said it was truly for the economic benefit of their family and needed it. This is an effort to uplift the poor by disregarding justice. Affirmative Action is another example in which some people who are qualified for a position are not considered because of gender, race, or skin color while those who are not are considered.

Christians do not strive for equal outcomes because equal outcomes are impossible in a fallen world. Christians strive for equal opportunity and equal treatment in the eyes of the law, realizing that people will make their own choices that may not lead to the same outcomes as someone else. Not every candidate we vote for will necessarily be Christlike but the Christian is one who examines the issues and says, “What is truly most just and fair based on truth?” This is done by reading a lot of different outlets, not just one perspective, from the New York Times to talk radio and YouTube vloggers, asking questions: why was this adverb or adjective used, what is the slant of this source? The church should be based on truth, weighing carefully every issue (1 Timothy 3:15).

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