Before Christians Talk Politics…
Politics is a dirty word. Many associate it with backroom deals, slander, and doublespeak. It is easy to be disrespectful of our elected officials, but this is not in accordance with the Word of God. Consider the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 13:
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Rom. 13).1
Now, look at all of the instructions that the Apostle Paul imparted to the Christians of Rome. He required obedience, payment of taxes and fees, and respect and honor to the ruling authorities.
His reason for writing these commands was because he believed that God had appointed the government, making any rebellion to the earthly powers an affront to the Lord. At that time Paul lived under the Roman Empire, an institution that had persecuted him and other believers for their faith in Christ Jesus; but even in light of this he required that reverence be given to the acting political authorities.
I have, in times past, mocked and ridiculed our elected officials; but now, having a better grasp of what it means to love one another, I do my best to respect not only those in government, but also those around me who hold differing opinions.
As with almost every other question of behavior, this is about loving each other. In our discussions about the political parties, institutions, officials, and traditions, Christians must give proper respect to the governing authorities. There will be strong disagreements between us over the various issues, and that is alright, because there is ample room to question and debate the policies and practices of our government, but do not let it stray into disdain, scorn, or malice. Let it instead be done in, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
I pray that the Lord will lead us into the fullness of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in our politics and into the fullness of Christ-like love in our discussions. Amen.