Posts Tagged ‘citizenship’

If ignorance is indeed bliss, then those Americans unaware of this year’s presidential primary are of all people most blessed! One major Democratic candidate could (and probably should) be facing a federal indictment over how top-secret state communications were handled. The other top Democratic candidate is a self-described socialist. Not long ago, he would have been relegated to an asterisk as an inconsequential third-party extremist. This is a different America, indeed.

The leading Republican candidate has boasted of his adulterous “conquests.” He appeared on the cover of “Playboy” with a model wearing only his tuxedo jacket covering her body. His casino in New Jersey was the first in America to open a strip club. He attempted to displace a widow through eminent domain to build a limousine parking lot for his casino. And he has been personally endorsed by the president of Liberty University, the world’s largest evangelical university. These are strange times, indeed.

The almost universal mantra of Christians who support the leading Republican candidate goes something like this, “We’re electing the Commander-in-Chief, not the Pastor-in-Chief.” If one says that often enough, one can use it to cover a multitude of sins. Indeed, Americans are not voting for the nation’s chief pastor and no candidate is perfect, but does that mean that character, virtue, and vice do not matter?

The Democratic primary is down to two contenders. Both are vocal supporters of abortion and same-sex marriage. How can Christians support such candidates? Again, people say, “My candidate believes in other things that are good. Besides, even though I personally don’t agree with abortion or same-sex marriage, I must not impose my Christianity upon other people.”

Here is the question that Christians must answer: Does the lordship of Christ over their lives matter outside the church? Does the lordship of Christ carry over to decisions we make at our voting precinct?

Let’s be clear: the Bible knows nothing about dichotomizing one’s life into realms of “sacred” and “secular.” For the Christian, all of life is sacred. Nothing exists outside the Lordship of Christ. For those who disagree, think deeply about these stark words of Jesus: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23).

To the one who protests that Jesus is referring to “religious” things (the ones condemned speak of their prophesying, exorcising demons, and doing miracles in Christ’s name), think about 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If activities as seemingly banal as eating and drinking are to be done to the glory of God, then surely our vote for leaders of our country ought to be done to the glory of God.

What we must do is think deeply about those for whom we vote. The best candidate may not be a Christian, but at least he should be a person of common decency and virtue, a person who has demonstrated a consistency lifestyle and decision-making that does not blatantly contradict scriptural precepts. Is this person honest? Does he exhibit a concern for others? Has he been faithful in his most intimate relationships with others? How does he treat his opposition – with grace or retribution? Does he exhibit, not merely with words but with life, that there is a just and righteous God who rules over us and to whom we are accountable?

This is the question that we need to answer about our decision: Can I justify to God the reason for my vote? Superficial answers won’t do.


Read Full Post »

Will we seek God?

By the time this column is published, the midterm elections of 2014 will be almost over. There will doubtlessly be runoffs to determine the eventual winner in some states, and the television and broadcast stations in those states will reap continued political advertising dollars. For most Americans, however, the never-ending political season will transition towards 2016.

And on and on it goes. Winners and losers, victory parties and concession speeches, but what will really change?

Some friends on occasion declare that voting is useless—nothing ever changes. Things just seem to go from bad to worse. I certainly understand the sentiment. What we need to do, according to one friend, is to vote against every incumbent. That reminds me more of a child’s temper tantrum than a substantive solution.

Our problem is not with our politicians; it is with humanity. Humans are not good by nature. As the apostle reminds us, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10–11 [ESV]). We have politicians who promote evil legislation, legislation allowing the taking of an unborn child’s life, institutionalizing same-sex “marriage,” establishing state-sponsored gambling, etc. These politicians, however, were not spontaneously generated. Neither did they forcibly take their offices. They were duly elected by the American people, most of whom are unrighteous, do not understand, and do not seek God.

We live in a fallen world, a world that is at root unrighteous. The secularists and liberal “Christians” would have us believe that humans are basically good. The Bible reveals what we experience: humans are not basically good. We are basically self-centered, self-promoting, self-indulging, and self-concerned. All sin, so it seems, has self at the center.

While we can grumble about our fellow citizens, the question is whether we ourselves seek God. This is not to say that elections are unimportant and we should bail out of our civic responsibility to vote for the best candidates on the ballot. It is to remind of us what the basic issues are, and the basic issues begin with us.

Our country’s woes are not centered upon our president’s politically convenient “evolving” on the issue of same-sex “marriage” or his insistence of a woman’s right to an abortion. While the promotion of depravity by our broadcast media and the legitimizing of almost every form of depravity by one of our major political parties are unhelpful to the state of our nation, these are not our fundamental problems. These things are simply the result of our problem. We as a people have rejected God. We will not have him reign over us.

And yet our responsibility as Christians is not to change the hearts of others. We are impotent to do that. The Holy Spirit alone can change hearts. We can and should evangelize others, pointing out that sin is self-destructive, both in time and in eternity. We should point people to our crucified and holy Savior. We can and should pray that God would be pleased to saved our families and friends and neighbors.

Also, we should try to help our unbelieving neighbors understand how sinful actions harm our people. This is a “common-grace” aspect to our being good neighbors. Non-Christians can grasp that things which contribute to the breakup of the family do great harm to one’s society.

The reality, however, is that real change begins with us. Have we repented of our sins and believed upon Christ? Do we desire his presence? Do we yearn to know him? Do we follow his Word? Do we ourselves seek God? “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7 [ESV]).

Read Full Post »

The United States has elected a man not of my choice. Nevertheless, Barack Obama will become President on January 20, 2009. A couple of Scripture passages come to mind:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

2 Peter 2:13-17 (ESV)
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

My vote went for John McCain and Sarah Palin. Senator McCain was not my choice in the primary election, but I was convinced that his nominations for future Supreme Court justices would be strict constructionists who judge according to what the United States Constitution says and not what they think it should say now that we live in the twenty-first century. Senator Obama had made clear that his nominees would have to agree with him on a woman’s right to an abortion. I still maintain that no Christian can vote for a candidate who believes that the unborn do not have an inherent right to life. Some issues are non-negotiable.

Some Christians have completely opted out of the election process, believing that their only citizenship is a heavenly one. I think they are sorely mistaken and are wrong. With many of these, there is evidenced a self-righteousness in that they are not sullied by political parties that have sinners in them.

Others have opted for third-party candidates. Were we to live in a parliamentary system of government in which smaller parties could have some influence in their coming together to help form a government, I would have gone third party.

However, the two major parties are in many ways coalitions of smaller parties, and when it comes to forming executive leadership, only one major party will be represented. In some ways, I wish we had a parliamentary system of government so that smaller parties had a legitimate voice and we could cast our lot with those more closely aligned with our views across the board. On the other hand, the presidential system has advantages in checks and balances that is at times evidenced even when one party controls both the executive and legislative branches of government.

That said, I will not opt out of the civic process because I believe that to do so will be to shirk my duty as a Christian citizen. The Republican party had gotten drunk on power and had bought into larger government and greater deficit spending. Maybe the GOP will wake up and repent. Maybe it won’t, but we should use our voices as a prophetic witness against sin wherever it is.

One last thought: no human political party is going to be without sin, though they can all have self-righteous supporters. Some self-righteous supporters support their party without ever raising a dissenting voice. Other self-righteous supporters go third party because of its supposed purity. Still other self-righteous supporters opt out completely. I find all such positions wanting.

May God be pleased to bring this country to repentance. Our greatest need is greater than who occupies the White House.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: