Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 17, 2016

Thought for the Week August 21, 2016

I encouraged every last week to begin to pray for our nation and especially for the church in the United States. Our nation falls into deeper moral depravity seemingly every day at the same time that we are facing issues that divide us and break into chaos in many of our major cities. In this election season our government leaders offer all sorts of programs and ideas they say will finally fix things but we know that neither education, politics, psychology, nor more laws can fix hearts that are flawed and imprisoned due to the sin problem in man. The only real remedy is salvation through Jesus Christ which gives us a new heart and can have a positive influence on society if, and that’s a very big if, we, Christians are really living converted and godly lives. The church needs revival if that kind of influence is ever to be really felt. Are you praying?

In conjunction with a real revival, I also believe that Christians must take seriously our responsibility to influence our government towards policies that underscore true morality and that serve to bring unity of vision and purpose for everyone in the nation. While politics is not the ultimate solution to our problems, our godly influence in politics can make a huge difference in the way our nation leans from the top down.

There are many voices that will say that it really doesn’t matter who is in office because we can’t legislate morality. The argument is something like, yes, abortion is wrong but you won’t change anyone’s heart by making it illegal, so what difference does it make if we elect someone who is for or against abortion, people who want to sin will still sin. The same argument is made about same sex marriage, transgender issues, matters of religious liberty, ethics, immigration, legalizing drugs, and so forth. If making laws won’t stop people from sinning, it doesn’t matter who is in power or what they stand for.

That kind of thinking leads many Christians to simply stay away from the political process altogether. They feel it is corrupt, and in many ways it is, so they never vote, refuse to back any candidate, and take no stands on anything. Others are involved in the process but make their choices of candidates based on issues that have a greater impact on their bottom line like economics. They feel like the social issues can’t be changed by law so the best we can do is get someone in office who will make sure that we get a better situation in life (jobs, public assistance, health care, etc.).

Here’s my thinking on this. First, I believe that it is our duty as followers of Christ to be salt and light while here on earth (Matthew 5:13-16). This means we should do whatever we can to influence the world in which we live for good, not just economic good but for moral good. Second, I believe that Christians absolutely should take part in the political process. Jesus said to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21). In the United States, Caesar is our constitutional republic, which is a system that is designed to function with all the people having an input. To me that means my vote and my voice are a vital part of our government process and if I withhold that I am not rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and additionally I am not giving to God the things that are God’s meaning I am not obeying what Jesus said.

Regarding the idea that we can’t legislate morality, I get that. We are not going to change men’s hearts by making laws, however, if I vote for someone who believes that abortion should be legal and paid for by my tax dollars, doesn’t my support of that person somehow also give support for that person’s policies? The same would be true for voting for someone who supported assisted suicide or legalizing drug use or requiring businesses to help to celebrate same sex marriages. If any candidate clearly supports practices that the Scripture would forbid my vote for that candidate is a vote for making sin legal and widespread.

To take a different view of that idea, why do we write laws with penalties for murder, theft, perjury, tax evasion, kidnapping, highway speeds, etc., ad infinitum, if you can’t legislate morality? The laws are not meant to change people’s hearts but to say that we, as a society, recognize these things are wrong and there will be consequences for those who chose to break the laws. In that way we are saying that our desire, as a society, is to be morally correct and that will create the best environments in which to live and prosper in our society.

Paul wrote to Timothy, Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior. (I Timothy 2:2-3). This indicates that the authorities are put there by God to order society so it will be peaceful and quiet but also marked by godliness. No, we can’t legislate morality but we can elect government officials who, by the laws they make and the policies they support aim at peaceful, quiet, and godly outcomes.

Friends, as we draw nearer to election day, I encourage you to seriously study not only the candidates but to study what they stand for. Though we may not like a person, we can make a lot of decisions based on their record and the platforms on which they place their candidacy. As Christians, we ought to support candidates who are most closely aligned with what God says in His Word. I’ll try to help by sharing some of those issues and where the candidates stand in future blogs. For now, just a thought.

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