There are several reasons why many Christians cease their involvement in civic matters. Some view politics as a waste of time. They say “Our kingdom is not of this world” or “Don’t substitute culture for Calvary.” Others have given up hope. “Why polish brass on a sinking ship?” That is hardly a Biblical worldview or the worldview of our forefathers. Still others are intimidated. Liberals and secular humanists have convinced many people that they have no right to speak from a Biblical perspective in the public arena.
The Bible clearly speaks about our civic responsibilities in Romans 13:1-7. First we see the civil government’s authority (1-2). It has been established by God. Romans 9:17 says, “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).
The government must also be observed by men. God established human government and if we resist it, except in special situations spelled out in the Bible (taking of innocent life, prohibiting gospel preaching), then we are disobeying God and will face His judgment. God in his providential working uses the evil decisions of governmental leadership to accomplish his will. But that does not mean if we live under a representative form of government we should sit idly by either!
Next we see the civil government’s responsibility (3-5). It has a responsibility to restrain evil in society. All laws reflect someone’s morality! If it was Inca, Aztec or Egyptian law, that could mean you were born to be a slave or to be sacrificed. As a woman under Sharia law you may not have rights to education or not to be a part of a harem. The best societies have benefited from Bible based laws. No law can make you love someone, but there are laws to restrain you from killing someone. We must legislate against immorality.
The government is also responsible to reward good in society. First Peter 2:13-14 says, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” Are we rewarding good?
Oregon was the first state to pass physician-assisted suicide, and now a few other states have some form of the same law. Thousands have taken their own life—Death with Dignity it is called. At the same time, a Christian couple in California is under attack for holding Bible studies in their own home. We can allow people to kill themselves in the name of freedom, but we cannot allow people to study God’s Word with friends in their own living room? What about the liberal media’s canonizing of Dr. George Tiller? Tiller for years performed late-term abortions on babies using the grizzly method of puncturing the skull and sucking out the brains of the infant. He is responsible for thousands of infant deaths through this brutal procedure. The media treated him as a martyr after he was shot down by a lone gunman. This is not rewarding good.
Then we see civil government’s inadequacies (6-7). First, government requires our financial support. Taxes are necessary to keep the government functioning. But a nation is in moral and financial trouble when half the nation thinks the other half should support them. The government is not a cow to be milked but a wolf to be kept at bay. Ronald Reagan summarized the problem with big government when he said, “Government cannot fix the problem—government is the problem!”
Government also requires our spiritual influence. First Timothy 2:1-2 states, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” Governmental leaders need our prayers – without them they make bad decisions that affect everyone. The 1st Amendment to our Constitutions reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Nowhere does it mention “separation of church and state.” That phrase is found in an 1802 letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist assuring them that the government would not intrude upon the affairs of the church, protecting Americans from state churches like Europe had. The state is not to oversee the church; the church is to be the conscience of the state, salt and light in society. We need to preach to our government like Elijah preached to king Ahab, like Daniel preached to Nebuchadnezzar, like Jesus preached to Pontius Pilate, and like Paul preached to King Agrippa.