This week the first of our nation’s two great poltical conventions is held. In just a few months Americans will be asked to exercise their right to vote. For those who believe this right should be considered a most sacred duty. A duty, perhaps only secondary to our duties to love God and love our fellow man, ensuring that our Christian witness be heard.
In the next few months as we prepare to answer this duty to vote, I would like to share with you several concerns I think to be essential to a Christian’s consideration as he enters into the voting booth. My intention not being to offend, I will not mention candidates or parties, but rather principles. In this article consider with me the dual issue of the “separation of Church and State” and “legislating morality”. Popular culture issues us a mandate to decide either to be faithful to our convictions, or show fidelity to our country, NOT BOTH. How should a Christian respond?
How did early Christians respond to this ? In 1st Peter 2:13-17 Peter argues for believers to be subject to and honor the king. The motivation for this argument stands in verse 12. Simply put, we honor and submit so that unbelievers will glorify God. Thus, if submitting does not glorify God then we must not submit. Indeed, as we read Revelation 2:8-13 as Christ speaks to the church at Smyrna warning that tribulation will come from all sides. In the next verses, Pergamum recieves encouragement for holding fast to his Name and his faith. Clearly Christians have a duty to live consistently before a government that may persecute them, living with honor and submission in all things that do not directly challenge their faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ.
So what does this look like in the day of modern elections?
- We as believers cannot produce an artificial seperation between our church and our state. Jefferson, who first spoke of this wall of seperation being evident in the First Ammendment freedom for religion clause, wrote in response to a Baptist congregation in Rhode Island. Their fear was that the state would involve itself in the church, not the reverse.
- When we vote, we must vote our Christian values. When we are not in the ballot booth we must submit and honor the government as an authority ordained by God. The only exception should be when the state intrudes into the life of our church.
- We must also realize that governments can only legislate morality. Why was it that ancient Rome could make persecution of Christians law? A majority of the people saw Christians as worthy of persecution. If people do not share the morality of a law they break the law.
- Thus our focus should not be on changing representatives in government, but in reaching the the lost in our culture, inspiring in them faith in Jesus Christ.
God bless you this month as you begin preparing to exercise your hard-won freedom as Americans.
Letting the Shepherd Lead,