Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
Right around this time every four years, a political circus captivates the entire country and is spotlighted by every imaginable media outlet. Presidential campaigns can become taxing to follow. Perhaps you’ve already heard a candidate’s stump speech from past elections. Perhaps you’re skeptical of any politician’s ability to do what they say they will do. Perhaps you just don’t want to get involved in political thought at all because it divides families, friends, and sometimes even churches.
However, in America we have an extremely unique opportunity. Every year we get to choose those whom Paul tells us to be subject to in Romans 13. However boring that may seem, through the lens of world history, it’s an amazing privilege. Through all the political drama and pandering to the American electorate that you’ll see over the next year, here are two reasons why you should stay engaged in the political process.
Liberty and Justice for All
First of all, stay engaged because issues of religious liberty will affect Christians. These issues will affect believers at large and the church as an institution. We’ve seen several cases surrounding the issues of religious liberty as it pertains to healthcare and homosexual union (affecting businesses like Hobby Lobby and Christian organizations like Wheaton College or the Little Sisters of the Poor). If you don’t see the importance of this issue, I’d recommend you read Eric Metaxas’ speech on religious freedom here.
Not only do American Christians face the legitimate potential for persecution on the basis of their convictions, but Christians on the other side of the world are currently losing their lives as ISIS continues to grow. Now, whatever we think can or should be done, at the very least we must acknowledge that the next president of this country will have to make decisions regarding this increasing power.
Religious liberty and ISIS are only two out of the multitude of issues that face us.
Secondly, stay engaged to pursue justice and care for the poor. I’m not making a policy recommendation here, but the simple truth is that our engagement in the political process is one way in which we love our neighbor. It is not the only way, or even the primary way. However, we are choosing laws and policy that not only affect us but those around us. This should cause us to think about how the policies that elected officials espouse will impact everyone.
In a recent post, Russell Moore explained why he was hosting two of the presidential candidates at an event. He stated,
These candidates are not coming as speakers on Christian theology or mission, but our mission as Christians includes both personal evangelism and also public justice. We seek to engage our culture, and here have the opportunity to engage some of those who seek to lead our country regardless of where they fall on a religious or political spectrum.
So thoughtful engagement in the political process includes seeking justice.
Two Final Thoughts
First of all, we are not electing elders to run this country. While a presidential candidate’s character and beliefs are certainly important, they are not our only considerations. We are not looking for a pastor to run our church; we are looking for a president who will run our country. They don’t need to share our theological beliefs in order for them to be an effective leader.
Finally, no matter the outcome of the election, we are not first and foremost citizens of this world. Whether the election goes the way we want or not, the Bible is clear about what our attitude toward the government should be. We should submit to our leaders (Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17), and we should pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Russell Moore says helpfully,
We are Americans, yes, but we are not Americans first. We are citizens too of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, and we wait not for a president but for a King.