One thing that I normally don’t post much about is politics. Part of it stems from a hesitation to interject myself into matters I don’t fully understand. It can be difficult to keep up to date on everything that’s going on, and so much of it is spin in our hyper-partisan atmosphere.
Actually, if I were to describe my political affiliation, I’d say it’s plague. As in this:
Over the years, I’ve found myself more and more drifting toward the center of the political spectrum. I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I wouldn’t self-identify as a libertarian or any other affiliation or descriptor. I agree with positions from the different parties and ideologies; I see just as many faults in them as well.
Let me tell you, election day is always torture for me.
But what bothers me more is the toxic attitude that modern-day politics seems to create in people. It’s almost like people say this: I self-identify with one party; therefore, anyone who identifies the opposite way is of the devil, especially if they are in power. There is such rancor and incivility shown to those in government that it worries me at times.
I think it’s wise to keep in mind what Paul had to say about the Christian attitude toward politics:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
It would seem to me that we should be a little more respectful toward those who are in authority over us. Remember, Paul is writing this about a government that would deify their dead rulers. This is a government that thrived on bloodshed and conquest. It was a government that would soon become overtly hostile toward Christianity, labeling it a noxious cult and attempting at various points to eradicate it.
And yet Paul suggests that Christians should be subject to the governing authorities over them. We shouldn’t resist them. They are God’s servants. Pay taxes. Show respect and honor. These should be our guiding principles when it comes to a Christian’s interaction with the government and politics.
Now we, as modern day American Christians, are in a unique position. In previous centuries, the great unwashed masses had no say in their overlords. We, however, are not only allowed but expected to have a say in who those overlords are. We can debate their decisions and, if enough of us disagree with them, we can unseat and replace them. This is, to put it bluntly, and incredible development. In theory, the power rests with the people.
(And yes, before anyone chimes in about the reality of the situation, please note that I prefaced that with “in theory.”)
But it’s my conviction that, even if we don’t agree with a person’s politics, that doesn’t open the door for us to show disrespect toward the person. A debate that descends into rancor, insults, or venom is one that generates too much heat and not nearly enough light.
Instead, I believe that, as Christians, it is our duty to pray for those in authority over us. To show them the same respect we would expect them to show us.
My suggestion is that we take time to pray for those in authority over us, no matter what their political affiliation, and to uphold our country in prayer as well. That, I believe, is the best way for Christianity and politics to intersect.