Independence Day is an annual celebration of our freedom as Americans in the United States. What a great time to not only celebrate the privileges that come with our freedom, but to examine our responsibilities as Christian citizens of a free nation. It seems that Christians swing back and forth between extremes of political activism and political apathy. What is the proper role of Christians in government and politics? Should Christians make their voice known? Does my involvement really make a difference? Where do I even begin?
The Bible has much to say about God and government in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, Israel was governed by a theocracy, which means God established the government and spiritual leaders as one unit. Those in politics were also those that led the nation spiritually. Today, we are certainly not a theocracy, nor did Jesus or New Testament leaders promote that Christians try to establish a theocracy. In fact Jesus made a distinction between His Kingdom and earthly government in Luke 22:18, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” However, there is much to learn from Old Testament writers, such as Daniel, Nehemiah and other exiled prophets and leaders about how to relate to governments that are not a theocracy.
The New Testament speaks more directly to the role of government and how a believer is to be involved in passages such as Romans 13:1-6 and 1 Peter 2:13-14, in addition to Jesus’ teaching and interaction with regard to government. Romans 13 describes God’s divine establishment of government and its proper role. Peter exhorts believers to, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
The choice of ignoring or being non-involved in government is certainly not an option for Christians. At the very least, Christians are taught to pray for all leaders, including governmental leaders. Paul instructs us, “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,” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NASB).
Wayne Grudem, in the book Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, gives a thorough biblical and practical treatment of the role of Christians in government and politics. The first three chapters explore five wrong views about Christians and government, what healthy Christian influence looks like, and Biblical principles concerning government. Other chapters in Part 1 expound on the importance of a Biblical World View and the role of the courts and the question of ultimate power. Part 2, explores specific issues and the role of the government and Christian influence such as the protection of life, marriage, family, economics, the environment, national defense, foreign policy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and special groups. Part three concludes with the role of media, the two major political parties and their policies, and a proper Christian response today.
There are several other resources that are available on line that will give sound biblical and practical guidelines for believers to pray for current political leaders, make their voice known, and encourage others. A list of these resources, their purpose, and how one can access them will all be included at the end of this article. These are all Christian based resources established to equip Christian citizens, leaders, and churches in healthy involvement in the sphere of government and politics.
Alliance Defending Freedom, http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/
The enduring mission of Alliance Defending Freedom is to gain justice for those whose faith has been unconstitutionally denied in the areas of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Recognizing the need for a strong, coordinated legal defense against growing attacks on religious freedom, more than 30 prominent Christian leaders launched Alliance Defending Freedom in 1994. Over the past 18 years, this unique legal ministry has brought together thousands of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations that work tirelessly to advocate for the right of people to freely live out their faith in America and around the world.
CITIZENLink: A Focus on the Family Affiliate, www.citizenlink.com
CitizenLink is a family advocacy organization that inspires men and women to live out biblical citizenship that transforms culture. As an affiliate of Focus on the Family, resources are provided to equip citizens to make their voices heard on critical social policy issues involving the sanctity of human life, the preservation of religious liberties and the well-being of the family as the building block of society.
Ethics and Religious Liberty Council, www.erlc.com
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Council is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that is dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues from City Hall to Congress. The ERLC provides millions of Americans with information vital to preserving the soul and spirit that makes the United States the greatest nation in history. ERLC describes it’s mission “to awaken, inform, energize, equip, and mobilize Christians to be catalysts for the Biblically-based transformation of their families, churches, communities, and the nation. ERLC seeks to accomplish this by four ministries.
- Assist churches in applying the moral and ethical teachings of the Bible to the Christian life.
- Assist churches through the communication and advocacy of Moral and Ethical concerns in the public arena.
- Assist churches in their moral witness in local communities.
- Assist churches and other Southern Baptist entities by promoting religious liberty.
Family Research Council, www.frc.org
The Family Research Council grew out of a meeting with President Carter’s 1980 White House Conference on Families. Dr. Dobson met and prayed with eight Christian leaders at a Washington hotel. From that meeting, the resolve to form the Family Research Council was made. Gerald Reiger, formerly with the Department of Health and Human Services under the Reagan administration became the first president. In 1988, FRC merged and became a division of Focus on the Family and Gary Bauer, former secretary of Education and domestic policy advisor to President Reagan, assumed leadership. The vision of FRC is a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish and religious liberty thrives and their mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview. Tony Perkins, who served eight years in the Louisiana legislature became president in 2003 and has led FRC to continue to bring evidence and argument to the public square for over 30 years “to championing all that the Author of Life has given us.”
FRC Action: The Legislative Affiliate of FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL, www.frcaction.org.
Was founded in 1992 to educate the general public and cultural leaders about traditional American values and to promote the philosophy of the Founding Fathers concerning the nature of ordered liberty. FRC Action is dedicated to preserving and advancing the interests of family, faith, and freedom in the political arena.
Texas Values, www.txvalues.org
The mission of Texas Values is to preserve and advance a culture of family values in the state of Texas by standing for biblical, Judeo-Christian values ensuring Texas is a state in which religious liberty flourishes, families prosper,and every human life is valued. Texas Values promotes core values of faith, family, and freedom through:
Public education and standing for truth in the media
Reviewing legislation and providing legal analysis
Testifying at the Texas Legislature, State Board of Education, and other government entities.
(Submitted by Dr. Gregg Zackary, guest blogger)