Bad Reasons for Avoiding Politics
PMT 2014-012b by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Christians should be committed to a holistic Christian worldview. And by the very nature of the case, a worldview must involve the “world.” And since politics is a large function in human society, you would think all Christians would recognize the importance of a Christian involvement in politics. But you would be wrong.
Many Christians discourage engagement in politics. In fact, they often attempt to use the Scripture to dissuade Christians from political endeavors and concerns. Others simply avoid political issues for one reason or another. Some of the leading complaints against a concern with or an involvement in politics are the following:
The fear of man: “Politics involves power, and power corrupts. Thus, Christians should steer clear of politics as fraught with danger.” But by following this principle Christians leave this power in the hands of corrupted men — corrupted men who often seek to suppress the Christian faith in culture. Furthermore, as I we well know, sinful temptation surrounds us everywhere in the world: should we avoid everything as dangerous?
Politics is dirty: As facetiously noted in the introduction to this chapter, it is too bad that 90% of politicians give the other 10% a bad name. But who is going to clean up politics if Christians refuse? Proverbs 29:2 teaches us: “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, / But when a wicked man rules, people groan.” Perhaps politics is dirty because too many Christians have withdrawn from this endeavor. Christians should get involved in politics to correct this problem. John the Baptist did not encourage Roman soldiers to resign their commissions because of the abuses of the military; instead he urged them to conduct themselves morally within the system: “some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages'” (Luke 3:14).
Politics diverts money from the gospel: “The money spent on political issues should be spent on evangelism and missions.” But we see in oppressive governments overseas and even in frequent American laws that politics has the power to curtail and suppress Christian ministries if left unchecked by Christian influence. Without Christian participation and representation in the political process, our religious liberties will gradually evaporate. How can we stand apart from the political process?
The political and social trends of the last generation should offer clear warnings that freedom and liberty require diligent care and attention — especially by the Christian community (see ch. 3 below for the moral dangers of withdrawal). Furthermore, using this line of reasoning, virtually all human endeavors should be stopped so that the money could be used for missions — including education, retirement planning, buying cars, vacations, home decorating, and so forth. Consider how much you actually spend on things “of this world” as compared to how much you give to gospel ministries.
Victory in politics is hopeless: “Why get involved since we know we are going to lose?” J. Vernon McGee (1904–1988) famously complained: “Why polish brass on a sinking ship?” But this attitude actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And you are certainly not going to win if you do not get involved. The huge number of Christians in America need to be motivated, not discouraged.
Christ is coming soon, so we should not waste our time on the affairs of the world: “Since Christ is coming soon, why get involved in seeking long-term political solutions to social problems?” But Christians have been predicting Christ’s return for centuries. Besides, are we not supposed to seek to promote the good regardless of how long we have to do it? And logically should this principle not encourage us to forgo getting an education and saving for retirement?
The separation of church and state principle should warn Christians away from politics: “If Christians engage in politics, we will be breaching a fundamental principle of American government.” But this is wrong in itself, for the First Amendment to the Constitution (1) forbids Congress from creating an established church (as Britain and most of the American colonies had when the Constitution was written) and expressly “prohibits the free exercise” of religion (which politically-concerned Christians seek). Though we believe in the institutional separation of church and state, we do not believe in the separation of God from state.
God calls us to separate from the world: “Since God commands us to ‘come out from among them and be separate,’ we should not engage in politics. Rather we should demonstrate in our lives how Christianity is distinct from the world.” But this interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:17 is wrong, and if applied across the board would have Christians live in communes, wholly separated from our culture.
On and one I could go. You have heard these before. But by way of example let us consider one Christian website that vigorously warns against Christians engaging in the political process. It even attempts to use Scripture to support this position.
Wall of Misconception: Separation of Church and State (by Peter Lillback)
Examines our nation’s historic understanding of and the founding fathers intention in the relationship of our Constitution to matters of faith, ethics, and morals, taking into account the historical and biblical context as well as the concept s relation to today’s culture.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com