Politics Part Two: Avoiding the Idolatry of Politics

Believers are called to be in the world without loving or conforming to it.  This can be challenging to balance at times.  This impacts virtually every area of our lives: entertainment, friendships, finances, raising children and even politics.  In regards to politics, Christians living in a democratic state should engage in politics by at least voting.  We may also engage in patriotic activities, voice our opinions, support candidates, work for the government, or even run for office if God has called us into politics.  On the other hand, we must never lose focus on our primary love or goal.  Our primary love must be for Christ, while our primary goal must be to spread the gospel of Christ.  Unfortunately, many Christians (especially those living in democracies) make politics into idolatry by making politics their primary love, goal, and way to change the world.

Americans are certainly blessed to live in one of the most stable nations in world history; our government is one of the longest continuously standing in the modern world; we have largely avoided destruction through wars inside our territories; military casualties have been relatively light.  Democracies in general have been beneficial for mankind.  Statistically, modern democracies have led to stability, freedom, and a standard of living for the non-wealthy that has never been approached in human history.  All of these blessings have led to idolatry of the American political system.  Too often, believers are prone to overly trust our government to solve our nation’s and the world’s problems.  Too often, politics have become our primary source of our hope and security.  Too often, we have overlooked the limitations and flaws of our political system and leaders.  Too often, we have not looked to Christ, nor pointed others to Christ during national tragedy.

It isn’t unpatriotic to point out Democracy’s limitations, or America’s limitations; it’s realistic, and biblical.  The Bible clearly warns that man’s solutions to their problems are limited because God has created the world in such a way that sin results in unsolvable problems (Eccl. 7:13).  Believers should not put their hope in the wisdom of man (Psa. 146:3).   The articulate Winston Churchill warned “democracy is the worst form of government except for all other forms that have been tried from time to time.”[1]  He believed that democracy was the best mankind could do, while at the same time admitting it wasn’t anywhere near perfect.  Democracy has done much good, and much better than any other form of government.  Yet democracy has also led to much evil.  Adolf Hitler and the NAZI party were voted into power in a democracy.  Likewise, weak democracies led many Greek city states to be taken over by tyrants.  Even the founders of our county warned about the limits of American democracy, especially the need for a moral voter base.  Founding father John Adams warned “we have no Government armed with power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion… our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[2]  As our nation has become increasingly secular and has increasingly turned its back on Christian principals, it has increasingly passed immoral laws.  Since 1973, over 61 million children have been murdered through abortion in our democracy. Laws in our democracy encourage pregnant women not to get married as government programs often provide more monetary benefit than their potential husband could offer.  Same sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states.  These failures showcase the biggest problem with democracy; when the people of a democracy become ungodly, they will vote for politicians who will govern them by ungodly laws.  Paul wasn’t thinking of democracies when he wrote Romans, but the end of Romans one perfectly describes our society and our law making: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Rom. 1:32, My emphasis).  Sadly, our nation’s leaders (voted in by the public) have given approval for many wicked actions by making them legal.

Moreover, all political leaders are imperfect.  All of them are fallen human beings who poses a sin nature (Rom. 3:23); most of them are far from godly.  Immoral politicians are nothing new.  The history of American politics reveals many presidents who were relatively moral men, and many who had major character flaws.  Even the ones we revere were sinners, imperfect people with imperfect solutions to life in an imperfect world.  None of this should be shocking to believers as the Bible is clear that we should not place our trust in other fallen humans (Psa. 118:8).  Rather, we should place our hope and trust and confidence in the Lord (I Pet. 1:13; Isa. 40:31).  These truths are highlighted by the repeated failure of the leaders of Israel, even the godly ones!  Joshua failed to seek godly wisdom when attacking Ai and in making an alliance with the Gibeaonites.  The latter failure led to problems that lasted for hundreds of years.  Jehoshaphat allied himself with the wicked King of the Northern Kingdom, Ahab.  This led to disaster when he died as his son turned to idolatry.  The failures of the Kings of Israel point to our need for a perfect King, one whom was prophesied repeatedly (Isa. 9:6)!

Believers true hope is in Jesus Christ.  He has saved us from the sin, given us eternal life, and has given us His Spirit so that we might grow more like Him (Tit. 2:11-12).  Believers are called to spread the good news that there is hope of salvation in Christ. This is where our nation’s true hope lies.  Scripture is clear that a nation made up of mostly believers is truly blessed (Psa. 33:12).  It isn’t hard to imagine why this is the case.  Extensive, nationwide spiritual revival would go a long way in solving many of our nation’s problems.  Racism and partiality would decline.  Abortions would decline and possibly be made illegal.  More children would grow up in homes with two parents, helping to reduce the problems associated with children who grow up without a father.  Fewer children would grow up in foster care.  Sins such as drunkenness, drug abuse, theft, laziness, and corruption – all of which cost society hundreds of billions of dollars each year (and often lead to other crimes) would significantly decline.  More of our elected leaders and judges would be believers, or at least men and women of good character; government corruption would decline, and more of our laws and rulings would implement true justice.

As Americans living in a free country, we should be engaged in politics.  As Christians, we should limit our political involvement and focus on spreading the gospel, the true source of hope for mankind and our nation.  As Christians we should look to elect leaders with character who will implement justice.  Yet we must also understand that the election of such people will not solve our problems.  The kind of problems that plague society and America will only be solved when Christ comes and sets up his eternal Kingdom (Isa. 2:4).


[1] https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/quotes/the-worst-form-of-government/

[2] https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102

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