Biblical Citizenship and Elections
We hold that Christians who live in a representative republic should not only vote but do much more by being informed on the issues and candidates’ positions, and, if called, running for and holding public office themselves. We believe this is a vital part of advancing the full Gospel and we have reached this conclusion by drawing primarily on two principles from Scripture.
First, we look to the commands to “… fill the earth and subdue it,” (Gen 1:28) and to “… go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19). From this first set of commands, we know we are called to bring the full Gospel into all of Creation, and the government—as part of God’s created and established order (Rom. 13)—is not excluded from this command.
Second, in his letter to Timothy, Paul notes that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Two observations are clearly drawn here. First, the Scripture in its fullness is meant to be read, understood, and applied by mankind for ultimate good. Second, the Scripture is to prepare us for every good work, which includes the good work of government engagement and service. After all, God establishes all governments for a purpose—to do good and punish evil (Rom. 13:4).
With these truths in mind, it is clear that we should immerse ourselves in the Living Word so as to be prepared to go into every aspect of creation and do good.
So, as we are confronted from within the Church or from without with notions of separation of church and state or statements like, “Christians shouldn’t bring their faith to the polls or public office” and “Pastors shouldn’t take political positions,” may we offer this simple question?
Is there any issue that our culture defines as political that isn’t first biblical?
Think about it…
Issues like life, marriage and family, sexuality, parental rights, education, religious liberty, immigration, assisted suicide, good government, and every other issue we face in society are all found in Scripture.
As previously discussed, we know full well that God’s Word speaks to every area of life. Since that is true, if something is found within God’s Word, we can be sure He put it there for us to know about it and act upon it. And if that is true, is there any reason why a Pastor shouldn’t then preach on it? Or a Christian share it? If we truly love our neighbor as we are commanded (Mt. 22:39, Mk. 12:31, Lk. 10:27), shouldn’t we provide them with the truth found in Scripture? What loving parent wouldn’t teach their children truths in order to bless them and prepare them for life?
One explanation pastors, leaders, and lay-people often give for not addressing certain biblical topics is that “they are divisive.” Yes, in a fallen world, truth is divisive. Is there anything written in Scripture more divisive than, “I [Jesus] am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” (Jn. 14:6)? The exclusivity claim of Christ is so divisive that Jesus himself promised that even families would divide over Him (Mt. 10:34-35)!
As Christians, we must gird ourselves to deal with divisive issues, and do so with the same love and grace that Jesus extends to us. Additionally, we must bring our faith into our families, our places of work, back into our churches, and yes, even into the government because of its significant transformative influence on society. As citizens in a democracy, we are “lesser magistrates” in that because of our right to vote, we are in effect legislators ourselves. As such, we have an obligation to align our values with what God values and then bring them to the voting booth to elect candidates and promote issues that best reflect those godly values.
When Christians are engaged in evangelism, it is not only a means of bringing people to saving faith, it is also a means of improving society. Similarly, Christian engagement in political action is nothing more than applying Scriptural truth to politics for the purpose of improving our society as a whole. And that in essence is loving our neighbor as ourselves.