I have found myself recently, saying (essentially), “People who know me at all would know this or that about me.” I’m going to do that again now.
If you know anything about me at all, you’re aware that I don’t support the political process with either votes, money (at least not by intent) or time (past that used to explain things to people who appear to me not to understand with what they are dealing).
The reason for my position is simple. I believe because I am a Christian, that it is not my right to force others to take any course of action. I can recommend a given course of action or a given direction but—excepting in parenting or guardianship—I cannot require another to do as I would like them to or even believe they ought.
This gives rise to two questions for most folks, I would imagine:
- What makes you take this position?
- How does this relate to voting or supporting politics and politicians with money or other resources?
Here then are my answers.
Why the Position?
I’m pretty sure that it was not by accident that, when Jesus Christ (God in the flesh to the believer) came to this Earth, He chose to tell people who and what they ought to be but never forced a living soul to do and be what they ought to be. I could go into substantially more detail, but I think this is sufficient.
I’ll say further only this. When Jesus told his disciples/apostles how to behave at no point did he tell them to force others to behave in this way or that. I happen to believe this was entirely a matter of intent (not one of accident).
I would ask anybody to give me a good example of where Jesus or any of his followers forced others into a given course of action.
This does not mean the Christian is without recourse, just that this recourse is based in convincing folks as to what they ought to do or be as opposed to coercing or forcing them into a particular behavior or perspective.
How Does this Relate?
The next question would be, “How does this relate to the idea of non-participation in politics and government?”
Again, I count the answer to this question to be a simple one. Government (and accordingly politicians) is (and are) by nature agents of coercion. And my supporting either a politician or a government is my agreeing (at least tacitly) to that coercion. This—in my view—is unacceptable.
The funny thing about this? Based on what I have said, I cannot expect anybody else to change their behavior based on my beliefs and understanding. My hope, if I have a hope, is in convincing folks to change.
Why Discuss Politics and Government?
So at about this point, I imagine you’re probably asking the question above in some form. Maybe you’re thinking something like, “Wait, if you cannot support government, why do you seem to spend so much time talking about things like what government ought or ought not do and who would be good to have in a particular position?”
The fact is, even if I could convince every Christian against government, politics and politicians, government (and politics and politicians) would still exist. The “why” of this has many reasons—things like, non-Christians and confused Christians who want or feel the need for government.
Additional to this, is the idea that God sets up governments (and where I don’t believe that “looks like” what a lot of folks seem to think it does, I cannot argue the truth of it, it’s literally Biblical).
So if governments must exist—and I believe they must—what ought to be the role of the Christian with regard to them?
The Role of Christians with Regard to Government
Firstly, I should say that I only intend to address part of the Christian’s role toward government here. There are other things—like praying for leaders, and for peace—that this post is not intended to cover.
When you go looking for a place to live, do you not search for things you think will “fit” yourself and your family where that house is concerned? And if you have say over how that house will be constructed (even if it’s just input that can be allow, accepted or ignored), will you not state your case with regard to the construction of that house? I would argue that you would do so.
So, what’s a good “fit” for Christians where government is concerned?
Because—in my view—it’s not the job of the Christian to force or coerce, I believe that the best form of government is one in which the absolute minimum of control is exercised. Again, it cannot be “none” or “anarchy” and stand up to the idea that God supports the existence of governments.
There are other reasons this is the case. Governments have a habit of telling Christians and others they must do things the which they cannot support in good conscience. If you minimize the control of the government, you reduce the possibility of this occurring.
Funnily, the intent of the United States Founders seems to support a minimalist government, designed only to protect its citizens from harm (and harm has a very strict definition). Further, the Founders saw to it, that the higher up the government, the less power it possessed. They did this because they realized that the further power is from that over which it is exercised, the less likely it will be able to deal with distinct and differing circumstances and scenarios.
The result of this, is that (until folks started to find ways to get around the base laws and the spirit of those laws) the United States of America was “born with” and has maintained, about the best form of government for which a Christian could ask.
The problem is that the U.S. is a representative republic (something most folks get wrong, assuming it to be democracy—not at all the intent of the Founders), and even though it’s not a democracy, still, its politicians can and do circumvent its foundational structure.
They do this in a variety of ways that include, writing laws that usurp Constitutional authority, creating agencies that ought not exist and implementing policies the which they have no right to implement.
As such, if a Christian wants to continue to live in a free country, he or she must convince those in a position to change the government and its laws to do so in a way that will be to his or her liking. The funny thing is, in the process, he or she will be convincing others to do something that is also their own benefit.
Okay, I’ll say one more thing, then I’ll leave this be (for now)
If you have not yet read Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You” you ought to do so. I have a “resource” on this blog that “points to” an “e-version” of that book. It is here:
As usual, thanks for reading and comments are welcome.