I have seen many national elections, and I have seen some loud arguments among people who share the same religious or skeptical views. Many years ago, two of my atheist friends got into a fight over a political issue that put both of them in the emergency room. I have also seen religious people want to disfellowship someone for supporting a presidential candidate who favored abortion. Certainly, the current election has polarized our culture more than any other in recent years. With increasing frequency, my mailbox has received inquiries about, “How should a Christian vote?” The broader issue is how Christians should deal with politics.
Let me first of lay down some facts historically and biblically:
*Jesus and the scriptures give us no command to get involved in politics, and no condemnation if we do so.
*There is a need for political authority. See Judges 17:6 for the alternative.
*The scriptures tell us to obey political authority. Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1 make that clear, even though the government of that time was corrupt, immoral, and violent, Christians used political authority for their well being. See Acts 23:23-35.
*Political leaders aren’t always evil or corrupt. See Luke 7:3-10. 23:50-53. John 3:1-10 and 19:39 and Acts 10:1 for examples.
We can see the answer to how Christians should deal with politics in Matthew 22:15-21, where Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to the Roman government. The question was a trap. If He said “no,” He could be put in prison for defying Caesar. If He said “yes,” He would violate Jewish tradition and law. Jesus answered by giving us in a single sentence how Christians should deal with politics: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Like people today, the people who asked the question did not understand what Christianity is about. Later in the same chapter, they ask a question about who a man would be married to in heaven when he had more than one wife on Earth. Jesus responded by saying, “You don’t know the scriptures”!
The point of Christ’s teaching is that God is concerned with the spiritual, and politics is concerned with the physical. Ephesian 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not flesh and blood. Christians must be good citizens by obeying the law and honoring our leaders. We are not to bring politics into the Church, nor is the Church to engage in political work. If you want to be involved in politics, do so. Don’t demand the Church to endorse you or to constrain its members to vote for you. Church funds should not be used for political purposes. Read Matthew 25:31-46 to see what the Lord’s money should be used for.
I am an American, a veteran, and a believer in democracy. Those are physical things I support. More importantly, I am a Christian and am in a war with Satan and evil. Ephesians 6:12-18 defines my spiritual emphasis, and Ephesians 3:9-11 reminds me that this battle has been going on since before creation. I will vote and express myself in physical matters for America. However, I will spend most of my energy and time on the more important work of spreading the gospel and doing the work of Jesus Christ.
— John N. Clayton © 2020