A Proper Biblical Understanding of Politics – Part 1

What does the Bible say about Politics? Should Christians be involved in Politics and if so, to what degree?

In less than one week our nation will elect one of two men, president, to lead us for the next four years. Unfortunately, many Christians question if they should be involved in politics or even on what level.

From my personal experience, I see two polar opposite ideological camps. The first camp says that Christians have a “higher calling” than politics and should be about spreading the gospel, rather than preaching political policies. The other extreme ideological camp believes that Christians should be vigorously active and involved in the political process, while helping establish policies. Last Sunday I began preaching a two part series in our church titled, “What does the Bible say about Politics?” The two main premises are: 1. Does God care IF I vote? (should Christians be involved in politics at all and if so at what level) and 2. Does God care HOW I vote? (what does the Bible say about current American Political issues). Based on these topics, I will begin this article by answering the first question and follow up next week by answering the second.

If all Christians agree that in order to further understand God we must first look to the Bible as our primary reference. We believe the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind, and, as Christians, it is our sole source for faith and daily living. In essence, as Christians we should allow the Bible alone to guide our doctrine and theology. With this in mind, we must accurately explore what it says about governments and politics. From Genesis to Revelation we find numerous men and women of faith in key government roles and positions. Examples range from Joseph serving as second in command of the mighty nation of Egypt to Israel enstating a monarchy style of government. Also, and perhaps the most notable, would be Nehemiah (who was the chief of staff to King Artaxerxes I of Persia) and Daniel (who was Governor to King Darius & King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon), who were both in very high political positions in government. Perhaps the most famous and notable theologian of the early first century church, the apostle Paul wrote several key passages about Christians and government.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7 that God has given governments to mankind for five primary reasons: 1. Provide peace & prevent chaos 2. Punish evil 3.Praise good 4. Help the helpless 5. To be His & our (the citizens of the government) servants for good.

In Matthew 22:15-22, we see Jesus himself being challenged on this very issue by the Herodians (a type of political party) and Pharisees (a type of religious party). Should followers of Christ pay taxes to Caesar or not? Jesus’ answer is absolutely perfect, he asked for a coin and said, “Whose image is on this coin? They answered, “Caesar’s,” and He said to them, “then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” The coin Jesus was holding up had the image of Tiberius Caesar’s on it and was literally owned, not by the Roman government, but by Tiberius Caesar himself. In other words, Jesus is saying that certain things/issues are a Caesar issue. Therefore, the government and political officials should handle the Caesar issues. However, the real punch of Jesus’ statement was the last part, “give to God what belongs to God.” The Bible plainly states in Genesis 1:27 that “God created man in His image.” In other words, the image that bears government, belongs to and reflects governments, however, mankind, bear God’s image and belongs to Him.

With this in mind, let us harken back to our original statement, “does God care IF I vote, (should Christians be involved in politics at all and if so at what level)? The Christian should understand that the Bible shows us God has given governments for good purposes. However, the governments must also understand that God has given governments the “church”, or Christians, to serve as the moral compass of the nation. The Bible teaches that mankind by nature, (because of sin in chapter three of Genesis) is inherently evil and selfish. It should not be left to man to judge/rule himself. Man (including governments) must look to a higher and purer source for the basis and foundation of his laws, which is God revealed to us in the Bible.

Now after carefully reviewing and understanding what the Bible says about governments, the simple answer is YES, God does desire Christians to be involved in governments, as long as the government does not contradict the Bible’s teaching (this topic I will cover more extensively next week). On a personal side note, I fundamentally believe that as Americans, God has given us the wonderful gift of freedom/democracy and He cares how we use it! Our Delectation of Independence refers to this very statement, “they are endowed by their Creator…” Also, countless men and women have died to help give us this God given gift and when we vote we are honoring their sacrifice!

Finally, I believe that every Christian should understand 4 main principles about their Biblical view of government. 1.Understand, believe, & practice Philippians 3:20, which states that as Christians we are Citizens of Heaven first and as 2 Corinthians 5:20 states, we are Ambassadors to Earth 2.God has given governments to mankind & the Church to governments 3.Christians should ask: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God when they are viewing political issues (we will discuss further next week) 4.Christians should be the absolute best citizens of any nation!

Ultimately, it is important that Christians do not become consumed with politics, but rather be consumed with Christ. However, this does not mean we should ignore the political process either for God himself has given us as citizens for our own good! I fundamentally believe that as Christians, we must view the world, and its events, as Christians first and Americans second. As the Bible says we are Citizens of Heaven first and Ambassadors to Earth second.

Christians should be more passionate about the 1st Commandment, than the 1st Amendment.

This Sunday I will be concluding this mini-series with part two, “Does God care HOW I vote (what does the Bible say about current American political issues?)

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James Dale Barrington November 02, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Ed M -- Speaking out of collegial respect for each other (since we are both human beings; we do have that in common, and I suspect a lot of other things) I accept 100% you and your faith - as being 'your' faith. I am planning on waking up in the morning, but experience has taught me not to bet my 'life' on it. I'm a 'trusting' individual for the most part, but still, I try to pass most things through the gray matter upstairs before I accept them as a part of my worldview. You are right, though, a lot of people believe the bible like you do. - I love reading it as the sacred literature it is, -- but 'word of god?' - That doesn't exist in 'my book.' -- We just see things differently. -- I am glad you have strong feeling on the subject. I do too. That means our explanations ought to be tempered with the palate's wish for perfect seasoning and good taste. What a subject and dinner we have shared together.
Sven Hartley November 02, 2012 at 08:03 PM
While I understand that this essay was written to Christians, as a non-Christian I found a few statements to be incredibly naïve and offensive. “Christians should be the absolute best citizens of any nation!” Absolutely not. Atheists who are not beholden to anyone else are the in a far greater position to be neutral judges. As such, many atheists (Isaac Asimov, Mark Twain, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein) were some the greatest thinkers and most revered citizens. “God has given us the wonderful gift of freedom/democracy”. The Constitution begins “We the People”, which is where freedom and democracy arises. God is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. (The later does refer to a “creator” but leave it open to as to exactly what the concept refers to). Freedom and democracy did not come from on high, but rather was push by the common man as a radical new form of government in 1776.
NE12Ukid November 02, 2012 at 10:46 PM
That's no reason to preach Bible to all Patch readers, unless this has become a religious publication.
NE12Ukid November 02, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I think these sermons should be kept to the pulpit.
James Dale Barrington November 02, 2012 at 11:27 PM
NE12Ukid -- I have felt that way too many times, but the essay spoke to Christian faith and government involvement. Reverend Bryan used the bible as his place of authority since it was the 'word of god' for him. I wrote to that issue. -- I really don't think to bring critique to the bible as one would other literature is sermonizing. Still, you have made me aware of your feelings and I appreciate that.


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