Christians and politics

In recent weeks we’ve seen the crossover of politics and faith in our church’s teaching series. At 10am we’ve seen the prophet Elijah condemn King Ahab for his disobedience to God (1 Kings 18:18). At Evening Church we’ve seen Jesus’ interactions with Pilate. I thought I might share how I would respond to some issues people raise about Christianity and politics…

Issue 1:You shouldn’t legislate morality’.
Answer: That’s exactly what law is. Whether it’s deciding that murder is wrong and punishing it, or whether it’s deciding that hogging a parking space is wrong and fining the driver. From the big things to the little things, all law is legislating morality. Let’s own up to that and then ask the next question: ‘By what standard?’ What standard of morality do we legislate? Is it coherent? E.g. If you don’t believe that humans are created in God’s image, but are instead evolved stardust, what basis for human rights do you have? (Cows are evolved stardust too and we eat them).

Issue 2:We must hold to the separation of church and state’.
Answer: This is often used as a sledge hammer to say Christians shouldn’t speak into political issues. But that’s not how it was originally intended. This idea comes from one of Thomas Jefferson’s letters (not a national constitution) that sought to protect a Baptist church from state intrusion (not the other way around!) It was never intended to stifle Christian freedom of speech in the public square. It was (rightly) intended to avoid the establishment of a state religion.

Issue 3: Politics and religion don’t mix. Jesus said ‘my kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)’.
Answer: Read the rest of the verse: ‘If it were, my servants would fight …’ Jesus isn’t saying that Christians can’t speak into politics. He’s saying that his kingdom isn’t a worldly kind of kingdom (i.e. defended by physical weapons). Jesus’ kingdom expands through speaking God’s truth (v. 37). In actual fact, Jesus is supremely political. He commands that all rulers submit to him before it’s too late (Psalm 2:10–12; Revelation 6:15–17) – you cannot separate Christ and state.

Issue 4:Doesn’t that mean you want to establish Christianity as a state religion?
Answer: That’s what we’re looking forward to in the new creation – one king over one people. However that’s not where we are now. There was a time of theocracy in OT Israel. Crimes against God and crimes against humans were punished. We are not OT Israel. Australia has not covenanted together to follow God’s laws (nor has God covenanted with us). Christ’s kingdom transcends borders and we do not seek to keep our physical land pure from idolatry. Therefore we wait God’s judgement on crimes against him (and warn people about it), but seek justice for crimes against humans.

Issue 5: Christians shouldn’t judge. They should forgive and love.
Answer: There is a difference between a private citizen and a judge. Turning the other cheek is good for private citizens (Matthew 5:39; Romans 12:19). It is evil and corrupt for a judge (Proverbs 24:23–25). And private citizens should still seek justice when it is available (Acts 25:11). For an amazing example of a Christian extending God’s forgiveness while also seeking justice, watch Rachael Denhollander’s victim impact statement in the recent Larry Nassar case at
youtu.be/7CjVOLToRJk

In Christ,
Gerard