Why Conservative Christians Must Be Involved in Politics

Should conservative Christians be involved in politics since it is so earthly and corrupt? My answer is yes, and the following are four reasons why.

For the Proclamation of the Gospel

If Christians are not involved in politics, there will be fewer people who have a gospel witness. Yes, politics is a corrupt business run by many unethical people, but there are also Christ-followers living out their faith and speaking truth in this arena, as there should be. We should not fail to take Christ’s great commission mandate into the political world, especially when in the process we can help many innocent people who are otherwise nefariously affected by politics devoid of a Christian witness of truth and the gospel.

Being involved in politics allows Christians to share the gospel in ways otherwise not available when they isolate themselves from politics. It is not our involvement that undermines the gospel, as some contend, but rather it is how some Christians in politics conduct themselves. Of course, this is true regardless of where a Christian is engaged; therefore, it is not politics per se.

In almost forty years of speaking about elections, candidates, and moral and spiritual issues that overlap with political issues, I have never found that such undermines the church’s or my personal witness. Some argue that voting for a particular person, Donald Trump is the quintessential example, hurts the gospel’s witness. I do not believe voting for Trump does that. Some may be confused about why a Christian would vote for him, but we can use their confusion to speak kindly and clearly why being faithful to Scripture is our reason. Layout the biblical grounds for your vote, and most significantly, that we do so to spread the gospel and biblical truth.

To Advance Religious Liberty

We often hear Christians say persecution purifies the church, and we know that God desires a pure church. For example, one man tweeted, “It’s not that I long for persecution, but we have to understand that persecution is God’s greatest and most used tool for purifying His church.”[1] As a reminder,  this sentiment seems to forget that God’s greatest tools for purifying the church are prayer, Scripture, personal pursuit of Christ, and the Holy Spirit (John 17:17; Eph 5:26; 2 Tim 2:21–21; Titus 3:5; 1 John 1:7–9).

But, yes, it is historically true that persecution purifies the church because those who belong for the wrong reasons tend to scatter. However, it is also historically true that the persecuted church always prays for and seeks religious freedom so that persecution will end. We who have religious liberty also pray for the end of the persecution of our persecuted brethren. We even support our country’s pursuit of religious freedom around the globe.[2] The only Christians who do not value religious freedom enough to seek to protect it through voting and supporting those who defend it are almost always those who did nothing to acquire it, and, like spoiled children, they take it for granted.

To Be Faithful Stewards

Stewardship speaks of the responsibility Christians have that requires us to manage everything God brings into a believer’s life for God’s glory, propagation of the gospel, and the betterment of life (Matt 25:14–30.) We are managers of God’s blessings and resources, which include spiritual gifts and responsibilities (Rom Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10), natural abilities, opportunities, finances (Gen 1:28; 2:15; Luke 16:11), and all we are and have in life (1 Cor 10:31).

We who live in America at this present hour live in the freest, most prosperous, and safest country in the world from external enemies. We did nothing to secure this. People from all over the world are seeking to become citizens of the US because they know of its greatness, and often know it far better than those who were born here. It is neither perfect nor without the need for serious correction in some areas, but it is by far the best! Living in the US is one of God’s greatest temporal blessings in this life that one can experience.

The issue of stewardship questions what are we doing to protect the good we have inherited and to correct the defective so that our posterity is as blessed as we are. Our country being a representative Republic (we vote in representatives and are governed by laws rather than the majority or a ruling dynasty) requires that we vote to maintain our freedoms, that Christians run for office and we support them, we speak the truth in love in all forums, and we support those who represent truth, especially in the political realm.

Personally, I find it odd, and for me unconscionable, for people to praise our military who fight for freedom on the battlefield of life and death if we do not fight for freedom in the spiritual and political realm because it is not as neat and tidy as we prefer. Soldiers in combat associate with, support, protect and are protected by people with all kinds of objectionable personalities and habits, but they fight the same war. We should never romanticize war; it is never pretty nor enjoyable. While we should not compromise, we will, as in all of life, frequently need to choose between the better of two options or the best of all possible options. As in the fight for freedom by our soldiers, while not firing a shot is an option, it is tragically and lethally wrong to contend it is the best option available while on the battlefield.

The application of stewardship in Rome or Marxian/socialist countries of our day would look different than it does in the US since Christians could not vote and affect laws in Rome and cannot in some countries of our day. But faithfulness would require they do what they can to better the lives of Christians and others. God told the Israelites when they lived in Babylon, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer 29:7). For we Christians in the US, being involved in civil life and the political realm is essential.

 To Manifest the Full Orb of Biblical Relevance to Mankind

To spurn involvement in the politics of a free country where people can make a difference in the representation and laws of the land diminishes the significance of Scripture and truth. The Scripture speaks to a vast array of subjects such as education, jurisprudence, penology, personal responsibility, poverty, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, family structure, religious liberty, capitalism vs. socialism, morals, civil safety, the role of government, and our Christian testimony before the world. That some do not understand our support of a particular candidate or law should not cause us to shun supporting them as some have contended. For example, Never Trumpers have been and still are adamant against Christians supporting Trump without undermining our testimony and even our holiness. The truth is that people’s very confusion about why we support someone like Trump can allow us to share the broad truth of Scripture and the gospel on subjects the Scripture addresses.

All of life, both temporal and eternal, is about relationships, and the Bible is the premiere book about relationships. First, it is about the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Trinity, then the relationship of the Trinity to humanity, and finally the relationships between people. The latter involves every area of life, such as work, friendships, governance, law, morals, and ourselves and others’ protection. Politics is about relationships, and those relationships will either be perverted or preserved depending in large part on whether Christians bring Scripture and the gospel to bear on public life.

We are purveyors of truth. While some things we believe should be required only of followers of Christ, such as the virgin birth and the Triune God, others are good for any society. This includes the belief that adultery, murder, stealing, and lying are wrong for everyone. We should seek to make society better by arguing these truths for everyone in the marketplace of ideas. Doing so will always pedestal the gospel, but that opportunity comes in large measure by speaking the truth of Scripture in all publicly relevant areas. Therefore, we should be involved in the political realm so we can most effectively bring God’s justice, compassion, morals, and teachings to affect areas like marriage, family, belief in his existence, education, sexuality, liberty, personal responsibility, and wealth, all of which are integral to politics in a representative Republic. We are not attempting to set up a Theocracy, but we are “speaking the truth in love” in every forum (Eph 4:15).

 To Fight against Evil:

This battle is fought individually and personally, but it is also fought on a public and political level in a representative Republic. While evil is primarily a heart issue, it is also a behavior issue. Actions that lead to such behaviors as abortion, homosexuality, and devaluing of heterosexual marriage start in the heart. In a representative Republic, they are normalized legislatively and propagated educationally. We dare not forget that laws have a tutorial influence upon culture. People often determine and defend what is right or wrong by what is legal and illegal. And what becomes legal generally trends in the direction of becoming normalized.

Think of slavery in the past. When it was legal, it was defended. Now that it is illegal (and rightly so), there are few defenders. That it should be illegal began in the hearts of some, and since becoming illegal, it is unconscionable to virtually everyone. At one time, abortion was considered a personal and societal evil, but since the 1973 SCOTUS Roe vs. Wade decision, it is viewed by some as evil (and rightly so), but legally the stigma has been removed, and it is considered to be an inviolable right! Voting and laws can change hearts, not to the point of salvation, but what people consider civilly good or bad or even morally good or evil.

I know that elections and laws will not eliminate evil, and men will continue their depraved and perverted course (2 Tim 3:13), but Christians who fight for what is right in the right way can retard evil for a time and guard against the full premature onslaught of unbridled evil. How can Christians sit by and not be involved or see the direct connection to righteousness and the gospel? Speaking the truth in love knows no boundaries (Eph 4:15). Speaking of John the Baptist’s message to King Herod, Matthew says, “For John had been saying to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’” (Matt 14:4). His declaration was both political and costly, and many may shy from the political because it is costly.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:14–16). Light is not always wanted; yes, it is considered good when righteous displays are desired and when you want to find something, but if their deeds are nefarious, they will seek by all measure to extinguish the light to hide the evil we expose.

If we vacate the public square, our disdain for wanton evil will ring with a cowardly hollowness.

Not me, not now, and by God’s grace not ever!

Also, see my article Why Christian Involvement in Politics is Essential to World Missions.


 

[1] My use of his statement is not to imply his intent, but rather I use it as an example of this kind of sentiment. Seth Harris (@Real_Theology) tweeted at 9:34 PM on Fri, Nov 20, 2020,
(https://twitter.com/Real_Theology/status/1329991609656569859?s=03), accessed 11/21/20.
[2] https://www.state.gov/bureaus-offices/under-secretary-for-civilian-security-democracy-and-human-rights/office-of-international-religious-freedom/, accessed 11/21/20.