Christian Culpability and Political Responsibility

It happens far too often, and it really is reprehensible. But I get Christians telling me all the time they don’t like politics, they don’t like hearing about politics, they want nothing to do with politics, and so on. But given that God is the creator of political life – as well as social life, cultural life, intellectual life, etc. – all these irresponsible Christians are doing is shaking their fists at God.

God is deeply interested in political affairs – indeed, he is interested in all affairs. If a person calls himself a Christian, then he must take the Lordship of Christ seriously, and that must extend to every area of life. One cannot call oneself a true follower of Christ if they think their faith is just meant to be a privatised affair which has no impact whatsoever on the surrounding culture.

Simply obeying the command of Jesus to be salt and light means that we must let our faith have a social and political impact. Jesus warned us about hiding our light under a bushel, and letting our salt lose its savour. Yet that is exactly what disobedient Christians are doing when they refuse to take their social and political responsibilities seriously.

Christians who choose to rebel and just opt out of this world are being grossly irresponsible, and will one day stand before their Lord to explain their culpability here. They will have to explain why they rejected the clear commands of Christ in this regard.

Aside from all the biblical exhortations for us to be aware of what is going on in our world, and to be world transformers, there are many practical reasons as well. Politics impact all of us, and there is a world of difference between good government and bad government.

Much is at stake, and we pay far too high a price if we try to bury our heads in the sand and pretend political life is irrelevant or somehow unspiritual. We all must work for godly government, since “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

Elections, legislation, political parties and policies are all very important, and all impact us for good or for ill. Christians of all people should take their civic responsibilities seriously here. I like what one poster making the rounds on social media sites says about this: “Oh I’m sorry. Are my political posts bothering you? I just figured choosing the next leader of our country was worth a little discussion. By all means, show me another picture of your dinner.”

Yes quite right. Far too many believers are majoring in minors, and minoring in majors. We need to get our priorities right here, and real quickly. In the US for example we have what may be the most important election in the nation’s history.

Yet how many Christians are totally unaware of, or indifferent to, it all? They must repent of their sinful irresponsibility here, and start getting informed and concerned. No less a figure than James Dobson of Focus on the Family has just given an impassioned plea about this.

One article discusses this as follows: “‘Vote, and take a friend with you, for the sake of our children.’ That’s the plea from Dr. James Dobson of FamilyTalk radio broadcasts. In today’s Family Talk newsletter, he follows up on the request from martial arts champion, television and movie actor Chuck Norris, who with his wife, Gena, recently released a public service announcement asking Christians to vote.

“They noted that there were some 30 million Christians who did not vote in the 2008 election, and Barack Obama won by 10 million, bringing into the White House his plans for open homosexuality in the U.S. armed forces, nearly unlimited abortion on demand and other policies. Dr. Dobson, who does not advocate for or against individual candidates in this year’s election as a representative of FamilyTalk, noted the situation in which the nation finds itself approaching the 2012 election.

“He notes:
-The nation is in a moral and spiritual freefall.
-Religious liberty is under assault like never before.
-Christians are being required to pay for abortions through their health insurance.
-Twenty-one countries [in the Middle East] are in turmoil.
-Israel’s very existence continues to be threatened….

“‘Given the state of the world and the decline of our country, how can a single Christian stay at home on Election Day? The stakes are simply too high,’ Dr. Dobson wrote to constituents. ‘If you’re among those eligible voters who haven’t determined whether you’ll even bother to make your voices heard on Election Day, I want to urge you – in the strongest possible terms – to rethink your position!’ he said.”

Quite so, and given some of the crucial issues which are at stake here, such as marriage and family, or the fate of the unborn, no Christian should think he can just sit this one out. Speaking of abortion, social commentator Rolley Haggard takes a very strong stance here:

“Pulpit silence on the abortion holocaust is nothing short of blasphemy. I’m aware this is a serious charge. But the church’s decades-long tacit sanction of mass murder is a serious matter. We need to stop mincing words. When heinous acts—even acts of omission, like silence in the face of evil—are deliberately committed in the name of God, there is no more fitting word to describe it. It is blasphemy: the intentional and defiant dishonoring of God. To fail to call it what it is minimizes, and effectively harbors and perpetuates, the abominable practice through euphemism’s power to anesthetize sensibilities. The sanction of this unspeakable evil must end immediately. And there is good reason to believe it can.”

He quotes a number of authorities on this matter:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“?History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation. (Charles Finney)

He concludes, “Hear me: If silence in the face of great evil is itself great evil, then where there is reasonable prospect of diminishing the evil by decrying it, silence becomes an evil that is positively monstrous. There is reasonable prospect of diminishing this evil by decrying it. Please let that sink in. If the thought of 3,500 babies being savagely murdered every day doesn’t keep you awake at night, my silent, God-empowered-to-say-and-do-something-about-it friends who stand in pulpits week after week ostensibly dispensing the message of God’s love for ‘the least of these,’ then maybe the thought that you are complicit in an unspeakably great evil and shall one day answer for it, will.”

Yes exactly so. Christians need to repent of their apathy and indifference here, and resolve to be salt and light in all areas of life, including the political. If they don’t they have blood on their hands and will have to face the music one day as they stand before their Lord.

[1372 words]

21 Replies to “Christian Culpability and Political Responsibility”

  1. Hi Bill,

    Thank you for that much-needed wake-up call to Christians.

    On the same theme, here are two wise sayings by Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), the famous Dutch statesman, theologian and journalist:

    (1) “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’.”

    (2) “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”

    During his remarkable career, Kuyper certainly lived as he preached.

    In 1872 he founded his own paper, De Standaard (The Standard). In 1880 he founded the Free University of Amsterdam. He entered parliament and served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905.

    That’s quite a series of achievements.

    John Ballantyne,

  2. Thank you for this excellent and timely post, Bill! I just completed a similar post at my blog and upon reading your (much more articulate) essay here, I was compelled to go back and post an excerpt and link about it over at Talk Wisdom!

    I certainly hope that this extremely important message reaches American Christians in time for the election in November!

    God bless you and your online ministry here at CultureWatch!

    In Christ,
    Christine Watson, US

  3. Good article Bill, I have seen a heap of these religious pipsqueaks, they want to skip along to church, sing all the songs, do all the movements, sprinkle their conversation with all the right religious buzz words but ask them to express an opinion about the political sphere and you get the standard “we must not judge, I don’t want to judge his/her stance” – it truly is pathetic. If Christians got off their backsides and stood up then a lot of the social problems we are now seeing would not have been the worry they are now, but of course you cannot say that, that causes offence, that is judging, after a while you just decide to keep going on your own. The Christian community is truly a powerful force to be reckoned with but only if they rise to the challenge. I had an idiot in our church awhile back telling me that they are sick of hearing people knock socialism! Can you believe that?

    Steve Davis

  4. Thanks Steve

    Yes quite right. The truth is, the church is asleep – if not dead. Thus it has abandoned its biblical responsibility to be salt and light. At the weekend I was talking to a Christian friend from another large Melbourne church. Between his church and mine there would be 10,000 Christians. Just imagine if they all showed up for our pro-life march on Saturday. Yet well under 1% came from either church. No wonder we are losing so many battles. If these 10,000 got their act together, we could likely end abortion this week. The churches are largely dead big time, which is why the churches need revival big time.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Let’s not forget that the legal arena is only one area in which we can do our best to stop abortion. I just read Abby Johnson’s “unplanned” and was impressed by how much they achieved through just being there at the clinic, praying and talking to the women, offering help.
    Legislation can be as horrendous as they come and yet, as long as nobody is forced to have an abortion, abortions may still be stopped in spite of bad laws. You know I am with you though 100%. We are told to overcome evil with good. If the only good you have in your hand is your vote, because you live in a democratic country and you have that vote, especially if you can exercise it without the fear of being attacked or intimidated, if you don’t use that vote for good, it may be charged as a sin of omission.
    I am aware that some people don’t vote because they believe that all worldly government is evil and they don’t want to get their hands dirty by voting. These concerns are real and need to be addressed by showing the creation mandate to be God’s steward of the earth. Maybe you could do an article, Bill, explaining how the need to be involved in the public life comes to us through creation.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  6. I say, Bill, that was fast work!


    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  7. Thanks John. I did have about ten per cent of it written before you mentioned him. So you just spurred me on to complete it!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. Keep pushing us Bill, evidently we don`t read the Bible very much. How about writing a role play in how you would address say “Abortion” to a pro-choice Health minister, showing us how we can fight the good fight and yet speak with love and wisdom that we are showing that we want the opponent and those listening to be saved.
    You don`t have to post it, just email it to me if you think you should. Bless you Bill.
    p.s. Thanks for the above quotes, I love “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

    Johannes Archer

  9. Hi Bill
    Yes I read about the pro life march in melbourne and tried to see if they have one here in Sydney as we moved here over a year ago.

    It is amazing how many Christians I know are in awe of Obama a man who represents everything that goes against our Christians values. We forget that George Bush put into law the BAIPA among other things (born alive infancy protection act) which Obama tried to vote against it.
    As a non Christian at one time I too did not like Bush but after you become a Christian everything changes including who you vote for, who you elect as PM or president should be someone who represents us.
    Shouldn’t the blatantly obvious ones who stand for same sex marriage, pro choice, anti Israel be enough to know who to vote for?

    Venita Lazarus, Sydney

  10. We in Society and especially Christians are slow learners as we are heading the same way and treading the same paths as the Great Civilizations of the past. It was not Wars that destroyed them as is the popular belief, but all were due to problems of declining morality such as we now witness in our Day and Age. Wars are only symptoms, where as immorality is the Cause.

    When moral values decline so does every other facet of Humanity decline. As God gave every Man his free Agency, so must there be accountability. Every individual will be held responsible for every choice or lack of choice that they choose to make. Simply being a fence sitter is not enough because every fence sooner or later becomes a picket fence then ultimately a razor wire fence and becomes painful to the Soul.

    We cannot be just Christians and sit back and ignore the moral evils that beset society, we have to be in there fighting courageously until the end, even to the extent that may mean giving our lives as a testimony to truth and right.

    We have a moral obligation, responsibility and accountability in declaring the wickedness of the gross immorality besieging this World and it’s future implications.

    Unless we do we cannot declare ourselves as Christians or true Disciples of Christ.

    Leigh Stebbins

  11. Johannes, the challenge is to get those pro-abortion people voted out and pro-life ones in. That would make our life and not surprisingly that of the pro-choicers a lot easier, happier and better.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  12. Hello everyone,

    In contribution to what have been discussed in view of the political world organization; in light of things here, what I personally believe and know by God’s grace is that our Lord is not slack in repaying those who hate Him to their faces. For He is a consuming fire. We have to apprehend that God’s kingdom is advancing in heaven-abode of God and His angels and the children of light; for now, it is either we get on our knees and pray earnestly for deliverance or we will see turmoil and commotions.

    Sunday Teniola

  13. Hi Bill,
    I’d like to respond by posting a prayer for the American people.
    Father God, we truly cry out to You at this time for the people of America in relationship to responsible and intelligent voting in November. Lord we ask for your common grace to be given to the general public regarding taking time to think about not “what’s in it for me?” but “what is good for America, not just economically, but morally?”
    Lord that they would receive grace to understand which candidate and which party, show a greater understanding of the things that really count in life.
    Father, we particularly pray for Christians in regards to this. Lord we remember that Kevin Rudd stated after Mark Latham lost his prime ministerial bid, that “if we are going to win the next election, we have to capture the Christian vote.” We remember that a secular survey showed that it was the Baptist and Pentecostal vote that specifically got him across the line. And so Lord, we cry out to You particularly for born again believers and even half baked ‘believers’ that they would use the intelligence you have given them, to consider well, their political choice. We come against the lying spirit that says “well it doesn’t make any difference who gets in. So I won’t bother voting.” We pray for the urgings and pleadings of such men as James Dobson, that people will come under the convicting sense of their privilege and duty to vote and that they will vote with righteousness in view.
    With all our hearts Father, be merciful to America. Hear the cries of Your saints in the USA and raise up a party and leadership that expresses the more Godly and righteous perspectives.
    In the Name of Jesus our Messiah, we pray.
    Peter Magee

  14. Hello Bill, My Hungarian dad due to his country’s history forbade speaking about politics or religion at home when we immigrated in 1950. He did me no favours and left me ignorant and my voting privileges became a farce later in life. I did no favour to my country or my family.
    My mother has voted absentee all her life. I am not proud of that.
    Since being informed and reading both sides of the arguments, at age 66, I encourage all to educate themselves on real issues of morality, integrity and right living. Not to speak out of self centered feelings but look at the consequences of a society without morality and God – N.Korea being a prime example. When Germany allowed a godless leader in the nations suffered. We have a godless leader yet we expect truth and justice to prevail. I lived in Vietnam for a year – godless nations hurt their own.

    Ilona Sturla

  15. May I be as bold to ask for your prayers. I have decided to stand for election at the upcoming Local Government elections. If God wants me there, I want to be there. If he doesn’t, I don’t.

    I see myself as representing both the people of the Ward I am standing in and the Kingdom of God. If elected, my prayer is that the name of Jesus will be a constant in my conversations.

    I wrote to all the churches in the Ward to let them know they have a Christian to vote for and only one showed any interest.

    Rest in peace.

    Roger Marks

  16. My grandmother chained herself to railings to obtain the vote for women. As a result, at least in part to honour her, I have never not voted when it was humanly possible. However, for the first time ever, I am seriously wondering what party I can possibly vote for in the next general election in the UK. All three main parties support gay marriage, the one ‘in power’ refuses to lower the age for legal abortion despite strong medical evidence and bleats about Christian freedoms but does nothing to enforce them.
    Katharine Hornsby, UK

  17. Council Election Report: I came third out of five but there were only two seats being contested. Preferences sealed my fate. At least I had a go and thoroughly enjoyed myself, interacting with the people and listening to their problems.

    Will probably be too old to run in four years time. But they do say, never say never.

    Roger Marks

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