Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting Out the Vote

What should be the position of the Christian regarding politics? Should we be involved or not? Should we support a particular political party? Are we denying the faith if we do not support that party? How do we untangle this mess? I have found a distinction made by C. S. Lewis useful in dealing with this issue. Christianity lays down certain moral principles, goals on what constitutes justice, but it does not say what practical methods will best achieve those goals. There are in politics a considerable number of pragmatic questions involved in how to get the right things done. Now there may be certain practical approaches which are wrong in themselves, even if done to achieve appropriate moral goals, but even among acceptable methods there is disagreement as to what is best. Also, when it comes down to voting, there is the question of the character and competence of the person running. It does no good to elect people who claim they will do something but are unable to or change their position afterward.

I am convinced that abortion (Psalms 139:13,14; 51:5; Exodus 20:13), homosexuality (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Matthew 19:4-6),  and pornography (Matthew 5:27,28; Exodus 20:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:4,5) are wrong Biblically.  But whether we should have laws regarding them and exactly what kind of laws can be a practical problem. When you factor in what is the best way to get these laws enacted, given constitutional and legal questions, it becomes even more complicated. But these are fairly straightforward. I am convinced Biblically that racism is wrong (Acts 17:26; James 3:9-12; Colossians 3:11). But the best way to deal with it, affirmative action, hate crimes legislation, or some other method, may be debatable. I do believe that the Bible lays down principles in the area of economics, but what should be done there on a practical level may difficult to determine. Therefore, those who agree with me on my Scriptural understanding (there are of course those who would dispute it) can end up disagreeing on specific political conclusions.

Also, we need to remember that while the law does have a function in restraining evil (Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 14:34;  Deuteronomy  13:11), even God's Law cannot by itself produce a true change of heart (Romans 3:19,20; 7:7-18; 5:20). I am convinced there is a place for Christians to work for good laws and a better condition of our society. But we must avoid the illusion that if we just pass a few of the right laws we will end up with an upright nation that follows God. The problem runs deeper than that, and it is only by convincing individuals of Christian truths and Christian moral principles that we can hope to change the moral direction of our society. But that does not mean Christians should not do whatever they can to positively affect the political process.


  1. I am a one-time Republican and present day Independent. My prayer in each election cycle is for God to reveal a candidate's heart by what they say or do. It is not always effective but I find that they usually say or do something that tips me off to who they really are.

  2. I am something of a reluctant Republican leaning toward Independence because I think both parties are at least half wrong, but looking at a person's heart sounds like a good place to start.