As we seek how to best engage in politics, we also have to deal with the reality of voting in the current context of our two-party system. Around the world there are various systems for selecting leaders but most include at least two political groups with conflicting points of view that citizens must decide and vote on. Of course, there are some nations where threat and tyranny are the deciding factors. We will look at those nations when we get back into our outline of world political conflict.
Some argue that Christians must participate in the political process without identifying the church with either party. The concern with that position is that political parties typically insist their members embrace every position in the party platform and that this could lead to an acceptance of unbiblical policies and an inability to speak prophetically. As a counter, Christians should seek to address pressing moral concerns regardless of what party platforms dictate. In other words, Christians should try persuading party leaders and policy makers of the merits of their ideas, rather than accepting an entire platform that may contain aspects that are morally problematic. Christians should never conflate the message of the church with that of a political party. We must evaluate political positions in light of the Bible, not the other way around. The church should never be tied to a specific political party or movement. This position should not be used as an excuse to not speak truthfully about where the two parties stand on the most fundamental moral issues. Christians should adopt an issue-based approach that is clear and honest about where the major parties and candidates stand. Because of this, withdrawal from the political process and full assimilation into a party are equally unacceptable positions. The goal of Christians engaging in political activism should be to persuade members of both parties to approach issues from a biblical worldview. From that position decisions must be made at election time on who to support. Thus the value of Christian organization based voter guides as many Christians do not have the time to do the detailed research needed. History tells us that church/religion based governments do not do so well, however, with our nation founded on Christian principles it is the proper place of the church to be the conscience of the government.
In today’s social environment Christian positions do not always fit into political alignments. While Republicans generally hold a more biblical view on abortion and marriage/sexuality, Democrats tend to be more faithful in their approach to racial justice and caring for the poor. Religious liberty has also crept into the ‘picture’. Although more of a consensus formerly existed between the parties on how to deal with these issues, American culture has become more divided. As a result, our political parties have increasingly developed divergent positions on them. Christians convinced of their responsibility to vote and engage politically need to be aware and conversant regarding the issues at stake and know where the political parties stand. More importantly, Christians must be grounded in what God’s Word teaches.
On abortion and the status of the unborn, the Bible is straightforward…life begins at conception and abortion is murder (Ps. 139:13-16, 22:10, Jer. 1:5, Gal. 1:15, Ex. 21:22). Likewise, on marriage, the Bible is clear and presents marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24, Math. 19:5, Mark 10:6-9. Eph. 5:22-23). Scripture is also unambiguous regarding the moral status of homosexual conduct (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Tim. 1:10-11, Lev. 18:22, 20:13, Gen. 19:1-5). On these issues the Bible is unmistakable; there is a clear “Thus saith the Lord.”
And thus enters politics…that ‘thing’ some say does not belong in the church. The Republican Party platform states that “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.” The Democratic Party platform states that Democrats “applaud…[the] decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people…like other Americans…have the right to marry the person they love.” On abortion, Democrats have moved away from the view that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare” to seeing abortion as a fundamental right that should be funded by the government. Whereas the 1992 Democrat platform included the language: “The goal of our nation must be to make abortion less necessary,” while the 2016 platform stated: “We will continue to oppose…and seek to overturn…federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.” The Hyde Amendment first passed in 1976, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Then in 2019 entered a new provision…infanticide, or the killing of infants born alive. An updated law also allows for abortion even after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s health is in jeopardy. This not only included physical jeopardy but psychological and emotional health. Republicans likewise have addressed the emerging issue of infanticide. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in January 2019. (Personal comment…how anyone could take the life of a baby that has just been born is beyond me. Such an act is pure Satan.) The Act would require doctors present during a ‘blotched’ abortion to provide the same level of care that would be offered to any other baby at the same stage of development. Senate Democrats showed no willingness to support the bill, and acted to delay its consideration. Finally 3 Senate Democrats voted to advance the bill to a final vote. Democrats in the House refused to consider the bill. Where was the church with its influence in the process? Regarding abortion, innocent life is being taken, and this is an act the Bible clearly condemns. The gravity of this issue alone should inform how believers approach how we as a society are collectively making decisions…i.e. engaging in politics. Anything less is a display of irresponsibility.
Because of the gravity of related subject matter, we will continue next week outside of the realm of national history and the church’s involvement…or lack there of…and get into the subject of poverty and race. These are areas where politicians and religious leaders have been somewhat in tune although their approach has been somewhat different. These are also areas where the liberals/progressives/communists can and do find ‘fertile ground’ to sow discord and disrupt society. In a democracy it is difficult to distinguish between the need for charity and the need for acceptance of self responsibility. Sometimes empathy can do more harm than good.
– Bob Munsey
“Christians are stewards of the ballot box, just like we are stewards of everything else God has given us.” Biblical Principles for Political Engagement” by David Closson