A Few Thoughts on Christianity and US Politics

Separation of church and state in the US Constitution means that the government can’t impose a state church, but that we are free to exercise our religion. However, many in politics don’t abide by absolute truth and try to change the meanings of words to fit their agenda. This is similar to what liberal churches do with the Bible. They both are guilty of playing with words. Christians should stand up for the literal and intended meanings of words and the concept of absolute truth, including in reference to the US Constitution and Holy Scripture. We must reject the Bill Clinton position of, “It depends on what your definition of is is.”

However, be forewarned; we might seemingly lose this battle in this life and be punished unjustly by secular authorities for abiding by the actual words and intended meaning of the US Constitution, our laws, and Holy Scripture (Not that they are on the same level). We have already seen cases of this with Christian bakers refusing to bake cakes in support of the gay agenda, but receiving unjust punishments due to liberal judges’ reinterpretation or misapplication of the law. We are seeing the same happening now with the reinterpretation of the Title IX law to now include transgendered bathrooms and locker rooms. However, this playing with words in Title IX goes even further since it would practically force our girls and boys to break the 6th Commandment. Christians must speak out and resist this tyranny. God has not given Caesar the authority to force us or our children to break God’s Law. While abortion is also legal and contrary to God’s Law, judges haven’t started reinterpreting Roe v. Wade to mean, like in China, that you must have an abortion…yet.

When truth and words are treated subjectively you can make them mean whatever you want. This can be scary when the one doing the reinterpretation has the power of the sword over you. I think this is why Christians, including pastors, are often fearful of the government. Yet, this doesn’t make being fearful right. We should always fear God more than men. I think this is the heart of the matter; living as Christians in an ever more God-hating culture, we don’t fear God above all things. We should fear His wrath when we go against His Word, either out rightly or by our condoning silence in home, church, and state.

Pastors should absolutely address [from the pulpit] moral issues that are in God’s Word, even if they are seen as political issues, like abortion, same-sex-pseudo-marriage, other sinful sexual behaviors, women being drafted into the military, unjust wars, and so on. No matter what the US laws say, God hasn’t given Caesar the right to go against His Word. If that means prison or death for ‘hate-speech’ or refusing to let men undress with our daughters, by God’s grace, may we say, “Thy will be done.”

I’m not calling for an all-out revolution. Christians must obey the government, like paying taxes, so long as it doesn’t go against God’s Word, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” This doesn’t mean Christians, who are US citizens, can’t be active in supporting candidates and policies that would be good for our country, even when it isn’t a moral issue like abortion. You think a “bridge to nowhere” will help your neighbor, you are free to support it. However, it isn’t the preacher’s job to preach on these issues or endorse candidates. Nor are we mandated to be involved in politics or vote. Our kingdom is not of this world and we are to preach the Law and Gospel of God in season and out.

My concluding thought is that God may very well discipline our country with tyrants because of our country’s apostasy; just read the Old Testament. God’s will may be that He punishes us through evil leaders in hopes that our country repents and lives. This means that God isn’t persuaded by how active or inactive Christians are politically. He isn’t a vending machine: “If we just speak out loud enough or pray enough, then God will bless us with good leaders and policies.” The martyrs of the Church spoke out and prayed, but God’s will was that they died. So, yes, pray and speak the truth in love boldly, and God’s will be done. Remember, no matter what, the Kingdom of God remaineth and our citizenship is in heaven already now. God is working everything in the politics of this world, even working evil for good, to serve His will that all hear the Gospel, repent and live, all political candidates and liberal judges included.

About Pastor Clint Stark

Pastor Clint Stark is from Dallas, Texas. He is married with five young children. His undergraduate degree is from The University of Texas at Austin. During college he was converted to Lutheranism from the Southern Baptist creeds. After college he taught high school Spanish and coached basketball. He was graduated with an M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN in 2007. He has been an LCMS pastor for a decade, and is currently pastor of St. John Lutheran in Frisco, TX. He enjoys smoking meat and spending time with his family.


Comments

A Few Thoughts on Christianity and US Politics — 14 Comments

  1. The Biblical and Lutheran doctrine regarding the Two Kingdoms is a cure for political madness. Too bad the world isn’t- and won’t- listen.

  2. Pastor Stark, I’m not quite following you. You wrote, “Pastors should absolutely address [from the pulpit] moral issues that are in God’s Word, even if they are seen as political issues, like abortion, same-sex-pseudo-marriage, other sinful sexual behaviors, women being drafted into the military, unjust wars, and so on.”

    Then you wrote, “Nor are we mandated to be involved in politics or vote.”

    If there are politicians advocating for “abortion, same-sex-pseudo-marriage, other sinful sexual behaviors, women being drafted into the military, unjust wars, and so on” how are we not morally obligated to vote against these people?

  3. I always dig this passage when talking about Christian behavior in a hostile culture: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

  4. Pr. Stark –

    I likewise agree. This is a confusion paragraph:

    “I’m not calling for an all-out revolution. Christians must obey the government, like paying taxes, so long as it doesn’t go against God’s Word, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” This doesn’t mean Christians, who are US citizens, can’t be active in supporting candidates and policies that would be good for our country, even when it isn’t a moral issue like abortion. You think a “bridge to nowhere” will help your neighbor, you are free to support it. However, it isn’t the preacher’s job to preach on these issues or endorse candidates. Nor are we mandated to be involved in politics or vote. Our kingdom is not of this world and we are to preach the Law and Gospel of God in season and out.”

    I understand what you are driving at, but clarity here helps the cause, so to speak. Although, I might add – rendering unto Caesar is a dicey proposition anymore, at best. America is no longer a Constitutional Republic and as such, the social contract has been fractured. As such, then our “rendering” can be rightly questioned, at the very least.

    Pax – jb

  5. A couple of more thoughts on the subject:

    Was John the Baptist wrong for directly condemning Herod’s relationship with Herodias rather than just preaching about sexual immorality (Law) in general? (Matt. 14:3-4)

    Was St. Paul wrong in appealing his case to Caesar? (Acts 25:9-12)

  6. Pr Fischer –

    Certainly (I would hope!) you understand what Pr. Stark was trying to say. Let him rectify his comments somewhat before you pile on.

    Pax – jb

  7. @jb #7

    Sorry, I actually don’t completely understand what Pr. Stark is trying to say; which is why I’m asking questions to try to clarify things. However I will sit down and shut up now and await the good pastor’s clarifications.

  8. The author wrote:

    “My concluding thought is that God may very well discipline our country with tyrants because of our country’s apostasy”

    In what century or decade was our country not apostate?

  9. Jean –

    That is a broad brush with which you are painting. “No country” is the answer to your hypo-Q – but that is to miss the point. Let me ask you this: Which country has ever, and constitutionally, offered the individual such freedoms as we have, even still today, despite all the political efforts to destroy the Connie?

  10. I said that I would sit down and shut up and I will in that I won’t comment on the posting. However I will comment on the website of Pastor Stark’s congregation. His congregation has a gun club! That’s great—love it! The most daring most Lutheran congregations get is dartball. (The congregation’s Communion policy is great too—even better than the gun club.)

  11. I agree with you that the paragraph in question is confusing; mea culpa. I wrote the article during the presidential primaries when Title IX change was in the news. The article is, “ A Few [of my] Thoughts on Christianity and Politics” at that time. Sometimes one’s thoughts don’t transfer well to the page. Reading my thoughts with fresh eyes, I see what you see; the paragraph in question doesn’t fit with the thoughts in the rest of the article, the thoughts in the paragraph are a few too many, and the lack of clarity “hurts the cause.”

    Allow me to try to clarify that paragraph now, but I make no promises that I won’t muddy the water further. If I do end up making it worse, just ignore my comments here and mentally omit the confusing paragraph from the article.

    I wrote the article after receiving the advice that Lutheran preachers should be more like the Southern Baptists and explicitly address US politics and endorse specific candidates from the pulpit. Additionally, given that it was an emotional time for many during the election season, there was the idea that we “must vote in the right people if we want God to save/bless our country, etc.” My goal was to give encouragement, ease consciences, and give guidance about the roles of Christians in the kingdom of the world, especially the task of the Lutheran preacher.

    A few points to try to clarify the paragraph in question:

    1. A preacher must preach the whole counsel of Scripture. Our weapon is not political maneuvering, but the Word of God. Our primary labor is for the sake of the eternal heavenly kingdom. This means the preacher must engage the issues that are in Scripture, like homosexuality, that are also considered hot-button political issues. Preaching Christ-crucified for the sin of the world includes naming sin and sins. To put it differently, we preach the Law (which has three uses) and the Gospel. And, it is also fine to name names from the pulpit, like the example of John the Baptist that Rev. Fischer gave. However, I do see a difference between preaching something like, “abortion is wrong and Candidate X is sinning by supporting it” and “your conscience is bound to vote for Candidate Y and Party Z.” And, if you want to call the first example in the preceding sentence “being involved in politics”, I will concede that point.

    2. It isn’t the preachers job to preach on political issues that don’t overlap with Scripture, like whether or not to build “a bridge to no nowhere.” Christians are free to agree or disagree on these types of issues. Christians are not free to agree or disagree on issues that are in God’s Word, like abortion.

    3. Christians are free to be active in the US political process, either by pursing an office, voting, and the like. It is lawful and we don’t forbid it (AC XVI). However, Christians are not mandated in Scripture to pursue these things. We are mandated to speak God’s Word to all Biblical issues and people (point #1), but I don’t think we can say you have to pursue a political office or that it is a sin not to vote. What if Candidate A if for abortion and against gay marriage and Candidate B is for gay marriage and against abortion? One could argue that you, out of love for your neighbor, try to pick the lesser of evils or something. However, in Christian freedom, you could choose not to vote. I say freedom because Scripture doesn’t mandate we vote. Our US laws don’t mandate that we vote. If the US laws did mandate voting, I guess you could argue that we should obey our governing authorities in this case. And, I understand that you could argue that one should use his freedom to vote and be involved in politics for the good of the neighbor (like our unborn neighbor). However, I think it is going too far to bind consciences to voting. I don’t think you should preach, “Repent of the sin of not voting.” Again, this is especially true since you could be faced with an election that you can’t in good conscience choose which member of the swamp to elect.

    4. Christians are to obey the law and governing authorities so long as they don’t go against God’s Word. If there is ever a discrepancy, we obey God rather than men.

    5. Christians are to pray for their rulers and leaders.

    6. Christians aren’t here to build God’s earthly kingdom. We don’t do our part then God will do His part. We don’t live and die over which way the political pendulum is swinging. God’s good and gracious will is being done.

    7. Point seven, I now ‘rest’ from trying to clarify the mess my paragraph has created.

    I hope these points help clarify and help the cause. If these create more confusion, I’ll excuse myself from the conversation and leave it to others to discuss and clarify.

    Thank you for the feedback.

  12. Politics is messy, and because of this we sometimes have no good, obvious choice. For example, do you vote for the gal who wants there to be no restriction on the murder of children, or the one who advocates sexual assault and says he’s done it himself?

    Do you vote for the one who appears to have sold her soul to Molech or the one who appears to have sold his soul to Mammon?

    Not an easy choice.

    Most people chose Mammon and sexual assault over Molech and infanticide. Were they right? No. But they also wouldn’t have been right if they made the other choice.

    This is why the life of the Christian is the life of repentance.

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