View Full Version : Mixing Religion and Politics

01-06-2008, 03:40 PM
Hey guys. This is something I've been wanting to get off my chest for awhile now.

I've read quite a few posts on this forum that say things along the lines of "Christians shouldn't be mixing religion and politics." Let me tell you flat out that you will never convince a Christian to vote for Ron Paul with that argument. To a Christian, religion permeates every aspect of life. It guides our actions, moderates our relationships, and provides our motivation. You simply cannot ask a Christian to dissociate their religion from any aspect of life. This would be hypocrisy of the highest degree.

What you can do, however, is convince Christians that limited federal government is not only biblical, but desirable from a Christian point of view. In other words, explain why limited government is good from a Christian perspective and with Christian language, instead of attacking their beliefs about homosexuality and abortion, because you will never change that.

I wrote an essay which discusses how Christianity and politics ought to be mixed, in my opinion. I speak as someone who grew up in the church and has been politically awakened by Dr. Paul. The essay is below and also in a thread I started back in December, but I thought it might be useful to repost since there is now a dedicated forum for this kind of stuff. Feel free to use it to open discussions with your Christian friends or to increase support for Dr. Paul in any way.


Some thoughts on Christianity and government.

I have been disturbed recently by the growing voice of the "social conservative," the Christian who wants to elect a president who will legislate morality and enforce the laws of God as his first priority. I reject this for two reasons. The first is that the president does not legislate, Congress does.

Okay, kidding aside: The first reason is that the only one who can enforce God’s laws is God. The second is that government distracts Christians from their individual responsibility to live righteously and make known the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It really bothers me that Christians insist and expect that the world should live according to God’s holy standards. I do believe that sin is unacceptable in the eyes of God and will ultimately be judged, but trying to institute holiness using human law indicates a failure to understand that only God can judge sin. It is not our responsibility to demand righteousness from and dole out punishment to those who are unsaved. At the most basic level, this just doesn't work. We are told in I Corinthians 1:18 that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Paul even goes so far as to say in Romans 8:7 that a sinful mind is unable to submit to the law of God.

Why then does "compassionate conservatism" demand that our human laws punish those who break the laws of God? Is it because we don't understand the difference between those who are slaves to sin and those who are slaves to righteousness (through the redeeming work of the cross)? Is it because we forget our own depravity outside of the grace of Jesus Christ? Is it because we feel that others should have to feel guilty since we do? The point is, demanding holiness, punishing unrighteousness, and offering forgiveness are the business of God, not of us and not of government.

It also bothers me that Christians rely on the legislation of morality because it distracts them from their personal responsibility to live out the gospel. When we depend on the government to determine what is and is not morally acceptable, we forget our own calling to share the gospel through being examples of righteousness. We are all so concerned about getting the government to preserve sanctity of marriage that we forget to preserve the sanctity of our own marriages (Christians are statistically just as likely as non-Christians to get a divorce). We are so busy raising our voices to demand that the world respect the sanctity of life that we cannot see the hypocrisy in our continuing demand for military action that destroys hundreds of thousands of lives (when did Jesus Christ kill another man to protect His own safety?).

We think that somehow if we can get the federal government to tell people what's right and wrong, that if we can call ourselves a “Christian nation,” then we won't have to deal with explaining – or perhaps even showing by example! – why God says that we ought to live one way or another. We support a war that seeks to combat radical Islam with violence rather than trusting in the power of the gospel to reach the farthest corners of the earth. Jesus commanded his disciples to spread the gospel throughout the world, but we seem to have misinterpreted “gospel” to mean “democracy.” I personally find democracy to be a poor substitute for the truth of the gospel.

The church is the only institution on earth to which God gives any sort of authority for dealing with human depravity. I use the term "authority" loosely because I not mean that we have the right to tell people what to do. I mean that God has given members of the church principles for living in this world and dealing with the hurt and brokenness that we see in ourselves and in those around us. Those principles involve sharing the love and compassion of Christ and relying on His strength, not making sure that our government is passing laws to legislate morality. Paul cautions Timothy (II Timothy 3:1-5) that there will be all kinds of unrighteousness and immoral behavior in the last days. To think that we or our human government could have some power to change people and make them live righteously is presumptuous and naive. The only power that can be invoked to transform lives is the power of the cross. As Paul commands Timothy, our responsibility is only to continue to preach the gospel with endurance. We may plant and water, but only God causes growth and true change.

The government also interferes with the direct exhortation (James 1:27) for the church to care for the poor widows and orphans. We have turned this responsibility over to the government and are content to pay our taxes and let welfare take care of those that need compassion. Why should anyone seek the church when the government will ease their suffering? The church needs to resume responsibility for demonstrating compassion and reaching out to those in need.

God calls us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13) and to desire that the world might taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). He calls us to preach the gospel boldly and show compassion, but instead we are hiding behind this idea that as long as we vote leaders into power that will tell others what right and wrong are and take care of the poor for us, we have fulfilled that responsibility. This is a lie.

Mike Huckabee quipped once at a Republican debate that "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." It is not a matter of intelligence, though. When the Jews tried to make Him their king in John 6:15, Jesus withdrew because His ministry on earth was not to sit on high and demand righteousness. Instead, it was to walk with sinners and develop personal relationships with them, and to lead by example in an unrighteous world. Why have we wandered so far from His example?

Does Scripture not command us to be in this world but not of this world? I would suggest to you that if you expect our government to bear the responsibility for the spiritual direction of this country, you diminish both your personal responsibility and the responsibility of the body of Christ as a whole to be reaching out with the message of the gospel. Ultimately, it comes down to this: a secular government cannot solve spiritual problems.

Having rejected the idea of legislating morality, let me explore briefly what God says in the Bible about earthly government. I mean "briefly" very literally, because the answer is "not much." Outside of God's detailed direction for the government of Israel (as His chosen people), He says little about forms of government or the laws of men or elections. What we do know is that all authority is established by God (Romans 13:1), and we are told to be subject to this authority while in deference to the authority of God (I Peter 2:13-15). We are to pray for those in authority, not so that they will help us make laws to stop immoral behavior, but so that they will let us live godly lives in peace (I Timothy 2:1-2).

I would be challenged to find other verses commanding us concerning earthly government that do not fall under these principles. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what system of government we follow, what political parties are in power, or which judges sit in the Supreme Court. Our only responsibility is to submit to this authority and pray for it, as God has commanded.

The discussion of government then turns to a matter of preference. Persecution in both the early and the modern church has been instituted by governments that severely restrict the liberty of their citizens. I submit to you then that Christians should be interested in less government, particularly at the federal level.

The problem with wanting government to tell other people how to live their lives is that you have opened the door for the government to turn around and tell you how to live your life. Once you give the government authority to interfere with your personal liberty, there will inevitably come restrictions that impede your ability to practice your faith as you please. Less government means fewer restrictions on where we can talk about God, fewer restrictions on how we raise and discipline our children, and more freedom to be personally responsible (as we are all individually accountable to God). Less government means that your money does not go to support abortion clinics and state-sponsored sex education.

Less government means being left alone to live a godly life in peace. Again, I would like to emphasize that Paul's exhortation to Timothy was to pray simply that the government would leave us alone to live godly lives in peace. The more we entangle ourselves in the intricacies of our secular government and the more we worry about their power over us, the more we give them an opening to dictate how we live and the more we give ourselves an excuse for our failure to discipline our children and exhibit self-control. No matter what the state of our society is, we are called to be holy.

Let me bring this train of thought back within the context of the upcoming presidential elections. Many of the candidates (particularly Republicans) try to court the “social conservatives” by saying that they will use government to “uphold the sanctity of marriage” and “protect the sanctity of life.” My argument is that these guys don’t understand what it means to follow the example of Jesus. I am not saying that it is wrong to support a candidate who is a Christian, but be wary if he pronounces that his administration's policies, rather than the work of Christ, will restore morality to a people who are lost. Certainly don’t look just for candidates who make these kinds of grand (but ultimately empty) statements when making your informed voting decision.

If you agree with me that less government is good for Christians, I urge you to consider the candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul. Dr. Paul is a 10th term congressman and medical doctor whose political career has been dedicated to upholding the Constitution and restricting the size and power of the federal government. He is an intelligent, polite, informed, and well-spoken gentleman who has been married to the same woman for 50 years. Unlike most politicians, he demonstrates integrity by not changing his message based on who is listening. He is a Christian, but refuses to use this for political leverage or as a bargaining chip.

In a public statement of faith released in July 2007, Dr. Paul says, “I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.”

I am excited about the presidential campaign of Ron Paul because he is a candidate that inspires by an example of integrity, not by empty rhetoric. He does not give grand speeches on the value of family, because his example (one wife, five children, and eighteen grandchildren) is louder and more powerful than words could ever be. He does not promise that the government will tell us what’s right and wrong, because he understands that this is not the role of the government. He does not promise that the government will end poverty, because he knows that only compassion can effectively combat poverty. He does not promise that the government will take care of us forever, because he believes in the personal responsibility of every individual.

Dr. Paul’s own life is a compelling story of integrity and compassion. For example, based on his belief in limited government and individual responsibility, he did not find it necessary to accept government-subsidized Medicare or Medicaid from patients in his medical practice. When patients were unable to pay, he did not compromise his principles. Instead, he demonstrated true Christian compassion and concern for his patients by either working out an individual payment plan for them or simply caring for them for free.

He wants to the government to leave you alone to decide how to raise your children and how to spend your money. He wants the authority to declare war to be restored to Congress so that we do not engage in more hasty, senseless violence and bloodshed. He wants you to stand up and be responsible for yourself.

There is a lot more I want to say about Dr. Paul, but I know that no one speaks better for Ron Paul than Ron Paul. Please take some time to visit his campaign website at http://www.ronpaul2008.com to read more on where he stands on the issues. The corporate media is fairly dismissive of Dr. Paul, but an abundance of information is available online at websites such as http://www.ronpaullibrary.org or with a simple Google search.

01-08-2008, 02:12 PM
Very Nice, Well Done!

Thanks for sharing it!

This is SO TRUE:
[The problem with wanting government to tell other people how to live their lives is that you have opened the door for the government to turn around and tell you how to live your life.

Frankly, it doesn't make sense to me this "Christian thinking" that Uncle Sam is supposed to play God for everybody. Where did they get that idea anyway? The Bible clearly shows the world is in darkness :cool: so why do certain Christians expect otherwise?

Of course ruling authorities are for keeping order and limiting/punishing crime, but as you said, above, if we beg them to legislate us to death (which is what they are now doing), it will end up in "blowback" for us Christians in the end (which is where it is heading, imho).

This pretty much sums it up for me as far as SMALLER Government... let me live out a peaceable and QUIET life...

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour... - 1 Timothy 2:1-4(b)/KJV

01-09-2008, 02:02 PM

I didn't have time to read all of your article, but I noticed you argue against "legislating morality" several times. Ever law that is passed is a legislation of morality. Murder is outlawed because people think its immoral. Theft is outlawed because people think its immoral. Every law is a moral statement, thus arguing that we shouldn't "legislate morality" makes no sense.

Again, I didn't have time to read everything you said, but as you are obviously interested in what the bible has to say about government, I highly recommend John Robbins' "Freedom and Capitalism: Essays on Christian Politics and Economics" http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=162

There are also MP3 lectures and articles on the subject on that website.

Also of interest:

01-17-2008, 09:27 AM
Social Justice is a topic for all Christians, inevitably this means challenging unjust laws, which ultimately will put you in a political position. I agree, Christianity and politics should not be divorced ... politics would strictly be the Devil's playground then.

01-24-2008, 04:55 PM
Why don't we just quote Dr Paul's statement of faith?

A. Havnes
01-25-2008, 10:57 AM
Check out pastor Greg Boyd's "Myth of a Christian Nation"


He's a Christian who doesn't believe faith should intermix with politics and to beware of any politicians parading their faith.