We began with a recognition of certain biblical principles that are essential to Christian civics; principles that in our current cultural climate are often labeled as conservative or traditional. But such conservatism is not merely a contemporary political philosophy; its roots go much deeper and broader than our current place in time and space. Aristotle understood this, as did Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis. Nietzsche, however, did his best to destroy this ethical influence, as is still seen in contemporary economic thought. So here are some principles to guide us throughout the next several months.
As we have said before, no two subjects cause greater consternation among people than religion and politics. For the Christian, however, civics is and should always be an essentially spiritual activity rooted in the words given by the Spirit of God (2Co 2:12-13; Rom 13:1-2; 1Pe 2:13). As Christians, then, we cannot forget that ultimately our citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20). So how do we maintain our heavenly perspective?
First, Pray In Faith. Paul writes to Timothy, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1Ti 2:1-2a NKJV). If we’re serious about the direction our world and nation are heading, we have to bring our concerns before the Lord of heaven and earth. “For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding” (Dan 2:20-21). We should therefore ask God for good and just leaders who will be a blessing to all (Pro 29:2).
But we can’t politicize our praise. Don’t just pray for ‘your man;’ give thanks for all men. And recognize the awesome power you possess. A quiet prayer is louder than the largest rallies. And a faithful, heartfelt supplication on behalf of our neighbors and leaders is more effective than any human petition. As Christians, we possess an avenue of change open to no one else, and we must use it for God’s glory. For, “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Pro 11:11).
Second, Practice Your Faith. Paul then gives the reason for such a prayer life: “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1Ti 2:2b). It’s important to voice and vote your conscience, but more importantly, the Christian should live it out. Contrary to popular belief, civics should be peaceable, not partisan. Our focus, then, should be on character and solutions rather than credentials and parting shots. Our lives are the strongest testimony to the nations of man for the God of all men (1Pe 2:11-17). As Solomon writes, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Pro 14:34).
Not only is this simply the right way to live, it reminds us that the ultimate answer to the world’s problems is not a political one. Thus, when Moses says God “administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing,” it is not a political talking point, but a call to action (Deu 10:18). There is, of course, a pragmatic side to politics, but such pragmatism must be grounded in first principles. Upholding justice, caring for orphans, caring for the elderly, caring for immigrants and refugees, and caring for the homeless, hungry and naked, are not just political problems, they are moral problems that require moral solutions.
Furthermore, we should Proclaim Our Faith. Paul continues, “For 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” (1Ti 2:3-4). A Christian’s identity should be apparent to all because of their twofold desire to (1) please God and (2) save souls—and civics is no different. For many of us, though, we are primarily Americans, or Texans, or Republicans, oh yeah, and we go to church too. But one day none of that will matter: America will fall, Texas with be no more, Republicanism will be out of vogue—because there is only one kingdom that will endure forever (Dan 2:44; Mat 16:18).
Christ is the only Savior, political or otherwise—the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16). And “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1Ti 2:5-6). We cannot reduce the gospel of Christ to a mere political platform without degrading its God-given power to save (Rom 1:16-17). Instead, we should proclaim it without shame: “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1Ti 2:7).
And finally, Consider these Principles:
- Justice is the purpose of good government, not freedom. There is no liberty under a government that ignores right and wrong.
- People (actual individuals among whom you live and move) matter more than abstract theories or governance by the numbers (polls and stats).
- Big business and big labor are just as dangerous to the Christian life as big government. God bless the Little Man!
- Strong families and morals make for a strong society. We owe it to God, others and ourselves to uphold God’s definition of religion and righteousness, fact and fiction, purpose and pleasure, love and marriage, life and death.
- No man is perfect, nor is any government. Humility and prudence are the hallmarks of a true statesman.
- Change is not the same as reform. “My son, fear the Lord and the king; Do not associate with those given to change; For their calamity will rise suddenly, And who knows the ruin those two can bring?” (Pro 24:21-22).
As Christians, it is our responsibility to pray, practice and proclaim our faith in the truth of God’s word. This is what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to be human. We are created in God’s likeness and are thereby called to engage with and enjoy fellowship with him. So whether our world recognizes it or not, submission to our Creator King and his divine wisdom is at the heart of all we do, even in a seemingly unrelated subject like civics. For as the Psalmist declares, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psa 89:14). And for the Christian, this is the ultimate political reality.
If you decide to vote tomorrow, make sure you’re voting with God, because if not, you’re voting against him.