Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 Who was he talking to? The scripture says “the people of Galilee.” What kind of place was Galilee at the time of Jesus? Was it a quiet, rustic, peaceful little tranquil place? It looks that way, sure, but the region was known for being a hotbed of political activity and some of it violent. To be sure, during this time, Rome ruled the world. But Galileans, for the most part, considered themselves a loose tribal confederacy ruled directly by God. The Romans didn’t honor the right of assembly, as we might call it, in the provinces, but saw physical and ideological gatherings as a threat to the state.
Yesterday, in THIS POST, I asked the question:
Should the church seek to impose its ethics and morality on those outside of it? For example, Through Political Legislation.
To which, I’m sure there will be varied and perhaps emotional responses. Twice, in the comment section of that post, the idea of religiously based morality or law surfaced. In our context that would be laws derived from or based on some religious context. But, even if a law was based on some religious ideal, in the United States anyway, it would still have to be constitutional and a processed through the legislature. The legislature is YOU or those whom you have chosen to represent you.
In our modern day hotbed of political activity, a democracy, anyone has right, including Christians, to legislate for their morality even if that moral code is to eventually be placed over others. It is that way because the authority has been given to them by the state itself. It is only when a portion of the people don’t like what another portion is trying to legislate, that they want to shut them up, tell them “you can’t legislate morality,” and keep them from entering the political process. If non-christians ever gain enough momentum to legislate the removal of a christian voice from politics, then they have done the one thing which is currently considered anathema. Namely the legislation of morality over another. Whatever moral reasons you might have to say Christians shouldn’t be in politics will most likely contradict and undwind your own moral code.
Tim Keller recently wrote a forward in a book called City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era, where he said “(A)ny simplistic Christian response to politics–the claim that we shouldn’t be involved in politics, or that we should “take back our country for Jesus”–is inadequate. In each society, time, and place, the form of political involvement has to be worked out differently, with the utmost faithfulness to the Scripture, but also the greatest sensitivity to culture, time, and place.“
In the same book, it sates, “Political involvement of Christians depends on the context they live in. New Testament Christians accepted their non-democratic governments as given, and submitted to authorities. Through democracy, we have the ability to peacefully pursue changes in our society that they didn’t have, and perhaps this obligates us to different action.”
As a friend recently said, “all legislation is the legislation of morality.” She’s right. To say someone shouldn’t try to impact government or legislation is to say that we should not try to impact culture. A Christian’s mandate is to first, introduce Christ to and then make disciples of all nations by “teaching them to obey all that he commanded.” Jesus’ first two principal commands were “repent,” and “believe.”
God instituted government as a means of human improvement. Humans have the right to try to persuade and influence one another. Humans have the right to be persuaded and influenced. A law, regardless of what you think it’s based on, is the result of persuasion and influence. If you don’t like it, let’s bring it to the table, let’s argue, let’s talk about the merit of each other’s opinions, let’s propose laws and have them go through the political process which we have already deemed and legislated to be moral and ethical. And if a law should pass which you have problems with, or is determined not to be constitutional, then let’s make sure those judges who have been appointed by your representatives, call it out. No one should be excluded from the conversation or process. Ravi Zacharias said, “Anytime religion is politicized it’s in danger of extinction.” You can see that video here:
I have to wonder if the reverse is true as well. “If we religiosize politics, is it also in danger of extinction?
This still isn’t the whole story and I will continue this series in the very near future. For now a few questions:
1. People say that the church shouldn’t “impose” our beliefs on others. What does it mean to impose?
2. Should Christians engage culture? If so, isn’t politics just a sub category to culture?
3. What is an example of a non-religiously based law?
The Next post in this series will be titled, “Why Can’t I be a Christian Lobbyist?”
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