By Jesse Carey
Jesse Carey is an editor at RELEVANT and a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and son.
What the Bible Really Says About Politics
Let’s face it, the election season can be brutal to watch.
Not only are the actual political debates increasingly hostile affairs, but debates on our own Facebook walls, at the watercooler or around the dinner table can go from thoughtful discussions to angry shouting matches without much warning.
Politics are polarizing because the different opinions about the role of government and application of laws run such a wide—and impassioned—spectrum of beliefs and philosophy.
Thankfully, for Christians, the Bible isn’t silent on the issues either.
Here’s a look at five things God wants us to remember about government during political season.
Respect Those in Authority …
Romans 13: 1-3: Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.
1 Peter 2: 13 – 16: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
… But Remember Honoring God Comes First
Acts 5:27-29: The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
Acts 4:18-19: Then [the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law] called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Isaiah 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us.
We Have to Pay Taxes (Even If We Don’t Want to)
Romans 13:6-7: Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority
Matthew 22:19-21 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
We’re Called to Pray for Our Leaders
1 Timothy 2: 1-4 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
We Are Called to Seek Justice, Defend the Oppressed and Help the Poor
Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Jeremiah 22: 1: This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there …. Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”