c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: January 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015


Government is necessarily coercive.

Under the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood, God is not.  He wants us freely to believe in him and love one another.


Therefore, politicians should not overly invoke God and Christians should not vote for those that do.

Some quote Matthew 25:31-46, the analogy of the sheep and goats, to justify big government programs designed to “help the poor.”  Though it appeals to sentiment, that application of the passage is not justified.  “Nations” in those verses does not refer to geo-political entities or nation-states but to non-Jewish people, in Greek the ethnos or other kinds of people.  Matthew 25 commands individual Christians to show mercy personally and directly to fellow Christians that are suffering.

According to the Bible, government is prescribed a very limited role in the welfare of a people.  First, there are very few passages in the New Testament that speak to government:


Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22 ESV)


Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1-7 ESV)


Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)


In America right and wrong are defined by the Constitution, especially in the cardinal rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of property-based happiness (see the Declaration of Independence, and the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States).


Second, our supreme relationship to government is prayer, a power that we may exercise under any social or political circumstance:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-7 ESV)


This passage tells us that our goal in life is to lead people to Christ.  That is best done in an environment where all are safe, at peace, prosperous, and enjoy religious freedom.  That is why we pray for God to bless government officials, who have the power to create a felicitous social environment for everyone.  Notice the many ways that we are to lift up our public servants: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.  That is the longest list of types of prayer that we find in the entire Bible.


In addition, the Book of Revelation pictures the prayers of the saints ascending to heaven like incense (see 5:8 and 8:1-5).  Prayer turns the wheels of history.

Ultimately, Christians are not ideological but theological:


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)


In conclusion, be wary of politicians that use God talk, manipulate guilt, or quote the Bible out of context.  Let us empower by our votes and prayers those that understand the Constitution and the limited role of government.