Thursday, September 22, 2011

Christianity and Politics

photo by Paragon

Citizens of the United States enjoy the right to freedom of speech, but a moral person would still exercise caution in its use. Unfortunately, the Internet is filled with vitriolic posts against various political figures, some written by individuals who claim to be Christians. One pastor in particular, Steven Anderson of Tempe, Arizona, stated in a sermon to his people he hated Barack Obama and prayed for him to die from something horrible, like brain cancer. Anderson is entitled to his opinion, but his example and others like him in American culture indicate something sorely amiss. The fruits of their spirits are not love, joy and peace, but hate, discord and fear.

To be fair, Christians are usually the victims of incendiary language rather than the non-believers, especially when they stick their necks out and state their views on hot button issues. Dan Quayle was brutally pummeled over his remark about a television show that "mocked the importance of fathers." He was bringing up a problem that assuredly needed sunlight, but watching the treatment he received afterward would give pause to any Christian considering a political career.

Religious Right in America

So what does the Bible say about the subject? When it comes to government, it says "the powers that be are ordained of God "(Romans 13:1, KJV). Rulers have been given authority, and they have a heavy responsibility they must answer for one day about their handling of that power. Those living under the umbrella of their authority owe them proper respect. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" (Romans 13:1-2).
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The Apostle Peter also weighs in on the matter when he ascribes a couple of interesting attributes to false prophets. He says they "despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities (II Peter 2:10)," which would include disrespect to elected officials. In Romans again, Paul admonishes Christians to "render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor (13:7)."

A company called Fun Slurp offers merchandise that degrades the President of the United States by selling Obama Toilet Paper. "Make your opinion known by wiping your behind with the face of the 44th president of the United States," their mocking ads say. People may laugh, but what does this do to the honor of the great office this man occupies?

The Christian and Politics

An elderly couple in California, both active members of an evangelical Christian church, spend most of their days watching political commentaries on a television news station. Their daughter laments the unhealthy effect on her parents, as they give in to fear and develop a hatred for certain elected officials. Their attitudes don't reflect true Christian virtues and she feels it cannot be of God. A better way for a believer to respond to the day's events would be to stay informed, fulfill one's civic duty by voting or even running for elective office, and especially by praying for the country's leaders, as one day those politicians must give an account for how they wielded their scepters.

Generally, most believers do know the importance of showing forth Christ to the world and their duty to "honor the king." Others who express hatred in the political arena are in the minority, but they still give a bad name to their more disciplined brethren.

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