Should Christians Disengage from Politics?
Every political year, religion becomes an issue. Its always been that way. There’s no escaping it. Everybody is religious. Every law on the books is an application of someone’s view of morality. What is the basis of that morality? It’s got to come from somewhere. Foundationally, it’s the basis of someone’s religion.
Who determines the limits of civil government? Based on what?
Atheists are just as religious as the most devoted believer in God. They put their faith in their ability to reason. But reason to what based on what? Whose view of reason do we follow? Not all atheists agree on what’s reasonable. They’ll say “facts” trump religious beliefs. If facts were the key to right reason, then why do people looking at the same facts come to different interpretations of the facts? Facts don’t have a voice.
Most of the attacks on religion are directed at Christians because they believe in moral absolutes. In reality, there are very few things that Christians want the government to do in the name of religion. Truth be told, most Christians want the government to stop doing things.
The abortion issue is about what’s, or better, who’s being aborted, something abortionists don’t want to talk about. For them, it’s about “choice.” Choice to do what?
On the homosexual issue, Christians have little interest in what takes place behind closed doors. It’s when the government starts enforcing so-called hate crime laws and anti-discrimination laws directed at people who believe homosexuality is immoral that spurs religious folk like me to political action.
There are Christians who are calling on their fellow-Christians to disengage from politics. The so-called Culture War is obscuring the Gospel. Tell that to the prophets and to Jesus. Tell it to Paul and John.
No doubt Christians prefer to live a quiet life, as the apostle Paul wrote. They would prefer not to have to expend time, energy, and money fighting laws that one day could end up limiting their freedoms:
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1–4).
These instructions to the young pastor Timothy did not stop Paul from challenging political reprisals against him (Acts 22:23–30). He even appealed to Caesar in a time when Jews had no political standing (25:11–12). Paul’s trump card was that he was a Roman citizen (22:28), and he took advantage of it, as we should today. Of course, we don’t live under Caesar. We live under the Constitution of the United States that gives us the right to speak, write, and assemble to petition the government “for a redress of grievances.”
There used to be a time when we did live a quiet and tranquil life because there was a time when Christians engaged their world culturally and politically. The goal has never been to save the world through politics but to put politics in its proper place. Our false sense of quietude and tranquility have gotten us to the place where we are losing what many fought so hard to gain.
What if a government starts molesting people for their beliefs or even their mere existence? What should a Christian do? The slave trade, the holocaust, and racial discrimination come to mind. The anti-slave trade was headed up by Christians. Study the life of William Wilberforce (1759-1833) if you don’t believe me. So was the civil rights movement.
When the allied troops liberated the death camps and saw the atrocities, the soldiers went into the surrounding towns and forced the citizenry to walk among the corpses. It was happening right under their noses and they did nothing. That wasn’t the “tranquil and quiet life” Paul was talking about.