As impeachment disruption heats up, the debate over Christian participation in politics is re-circulating among various Christian camps of thought. Those justifying non-participation often cite Matthew 22:21 where Jesus says, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Some pastors use this verse to teach their flocks that Christians have no place in the affairs of their nations. Pastors also preach Romans 13 about submitting to the ruling authorities, even though they may be evil. But Peter himself said in Acts 5:29 that, “We ought to follow God rather than men” when he was facing persecution and unjust demands from the ruling authorities.
As I see it, the context of Romans 13 was about the religious leaders that were the Roman-appointed governing body over the Jews. In any case, if those leaders are corrupt by Biblical terms it is self evident that you do not follow or support them. Governments are established for the good and protection of the people. In that, people give up some rights for those protections. Laws are established also to protect the people. As Christians, we know that we are to be a law-abiding people. But when a law goes against God’s law; or a government goes against God’s law, to whom do we submit as the higher authority? Peter answered that question when the ruling Sadducees threw him in prison for preaching Jesus in the Temple.
When this country was established, the Founders were well aware that they were going against the prevailing world view–that God appointed the ruler (the king) and that the people should blindly follow along even if that ruler was unjust. We can see the Founders’ thinking by reading the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Their mantra at Concord and Lexington was “No King but Jesus.” So in our form of government, we the people have the say over who rules us. To passively submit to evil rulers, especially in this nation where God blessed us with the freedom to choose, is beyond the bounds of God-given common sense and self-preservation.
Many will say that Christians should not concern themselves with earthly kingdoms, but only be concerned about the kingdom of God. I don’t view it as “either/or,” but rather “both/and.” We are charged in Romans 12:21 to be not overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good. In this country, we are blessed to have a say in our government with our vote. And if we choose to be salt and light to the political arena, we have that opportunity as well. I take issue with pastors who promote accepting evils in government or politics by saying they are no concern to Christians. Discouraging action against the ills of society by voting, participating in government or politics, or by just speaking out on such issues, is consent. Perhaps the best way to begin overcoming evil in high places is by cleansing the pulpit of those who condone it.