Monday, February 18, 2008

Boycotts and the New Testament Church

Boycotts are an interesting subject for a Christian. Should we worry about the moral stances that companies (or clients, or customers) make? Should we try to assess the effect that our patronage will have on the moral landscape? Are we to force others into righteous behavior at the threat of financial ruin? Are we to wield the power of the Church (or Christian organizations) as a weapon of coercion in order to maintain a show of righteousness? Recently, a fellow Christian whom I love and respect very much asked me not to patronize a certain chain of stores in support of a boycott organized by Christian groups because this company (hereafter "Xxxx") was "catering to same sex couples for health care [and] supporting the homosexual agenda." This person recommended that I instead patronize a competing company (hereafter "Yyyyy"), which had recently caved in to the demands of a similar organized boycott. I have adapted my response to blog format and expanded it some: A quick Internet search on "boycott" and "sacrificed to idols" (which is immediately what popped into my head on the subject of boycotts) turned up an interesting article, some of which I have pasted below. In addition to Paul not having a problem buying and eating meat sacrificed to idols (and thus financially supporting pagan temples), he writes in 1 Corinthians 15:9-13:
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. "Remove the wicked man from among yourselves."
Jesus prayed (John 17:15),
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
Part of being in the world is being in relationships with sinners. We are not to be contaminated by the world by conforming to their sin, but neither are we to use force to attempt to conform others to Christ. The ones in scripture who we find using financial pressure in order to conform the world to their will are the great harlot of Revelation 17-18 and the beast of Revelation 13. Imagine yourself to be a member of the Yyyyy board of directors as they are giving in to the boycott demands. What kind of feelings do you think your colleagues have at the mention of the name of Christ, or of Christians? It seems to me that unless Xxxxx purports itself to be a Christian organization, there is nothing wrong with patronizing it--in fact, I would argue that many boycotts are a politicization of the Church, something which is condemned in the Bible as fornication. Shopping at Xxxxx is not supporting homosexuality just as eating meat sacrificed to idols is not idol worship. The believer is not contaminated by what others do with money earned in financial transactions. The money is theirs, and they will do evil with it, because that is what is in their hearts (Prov 21:4). To try and coerce them to change their behavior merely embitters others against the name of Christ: this is the wisdom of man and is ultimately fruitless. Those who sacrificed the meat to idols were guilty of idol worship, and those who support and participate in homosexuality are guilty of those sins. We should certainly point out the wickedness of homosexuality, but we should not make our relationship with unbelievers contingent upon righteous behavior: behavior that can only be truly effected by the Holy Spirit working within. Here's an excerpt from the article that I mentioned:
Recently, the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 8:4 challenged my position on boycotts: "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one." Paul's conclusion in verse 8 convinced me that my position on boycotts was wrong: "But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat." Certainly Paul didn't contradict himself with when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and 1 Corinthians 8:8. So, letting scripture interpret scripture, we have to conclude that eating meat sacrificed to idols is not evil—nor does it even appear evil. We know that the practice of idol worship is/was an abomination to God and a violation of the second commandment. But the abomination was committed by somebody other than the purchaser and consumer of the meat, therefore his actions weren't wrong. Isn't that what is going on regarding situations like Zzzzz? Zzzzz is wrong and they are responsible before God for their actions. The question is, are individual believers wrong to use their products? If so, wouldn't we be in sin if we did business with ANY company or organization with immoral business practices and how would we ever be able to purchase anything without carrying enormous lists around telling us who the offending companies were? Do the scriptures advocate such actions? I wonder if we haven't confused biblical commands to not associate with unrepentant believers steeped in sin (e.g. 1 Corinthians 5:11) with commands concerning our business practices. Paul had no problem with buying meat from a market that may or may not have been sacrificed to idols, but he had a big problem with believers associating with other believers who wouldn't repent of their sin.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Precinct Caucus

Today I attended my very first caucus. It was an interesting experience, but about what I expected from the little research that I did. There were three districts at my caucus, and so we divided up into precinct groups after the lady who was hosting had handed out some paperwork and gone over the process and some local upcoming party events. We selected delegates, and because my precinct has two delegates and only two other people showed up (a married couple), we decided that the husband and I would be delegates, and the wife would be an alternate. We also appointed myself as the chairman, and the wife as the secretary.

After filling out the form for the above, we proceeded to go through the party platform questionnaire. To do this, we ended up discussing most of the questions, bringing up examples and clarifying each of the options, and then each of us would fill out our own response form. After we were done with that, we were joined by the other two precincts for a general discussion of politics.

All in all a good experience. It was educational, and I felt like I also contributed to the other attendees' understanding as well. I hope that I can make a valuable contribution at the district level, if not also at the county, state, and national levels.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday for the Christian

What (if anything) is the Christian's proper role in government and politics? The following is taken from a recent spontanious e-mail discussion about the proper role of Christians and the Church in government. I have arranged the bodies of e-mails in chronological order and smoothed some of the edges, so that the reader will be able to follow the discussion in the same or similar manner to the original participants. The first e-mail was sent to a list composed of about 20 Christians distributed across several states, mostly of my parents' generation or older. The e-mail list has typically been used for news, prayer requests, and occasional sharing of spiritual thoughts. I have edited out last names and other irrelevant details. (The main discussion seems to be between Ross and I, and our discussion can be followed without referencing others' messages in case you're wanting to extract the main debate but are short on time.)
From Don:
I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider voting for __________ on Super Tuesday. Here is his website: . ><////(^> Donald

From Ross:
Don, I know you don't agree but I am convinced that believers have no business seeking elected office or seeking to promote others to it. Paul says that we are to judge things within the church not outside in the world where God judges things. This is part of Christ's dealing in grace with the world in the present dispensation where unrighteousness rules under Satan's power. In the epistle to Pergamos (thoroughly married) in Revelation 2:13 which speaks of Constantine we have the seat of government referred to as Satan's seat. Paul tells us that Satan is the god of "this present evil world (or age)". God then, allows Satan to pretty much have his way within limitations. We are taught only in scripture to submit to the powers that be inasmuch as we can do so and obey God. I only add these thoughts to your request for prayerful consideration. An investigation into the Masonic foundations of the United States Government will make this clearer. Your brother in Christ's love (1 John 5:2), Ross

My response:
I hesitate to write because I know how sensitive a topic this is, and I don't wish to needlessly flood everyone's inbox, especially with an uncomfortable topic such as this. I believe that [Ross] is correct in that the Holy Spirit would not have us use the Church as a political forum. For the Church to participate in the inevitable political give-and-take of politics is looked at by scripture as fornication, and this practice, both over the ages and in recent history, has given the name of Christ a foul taste in the mouth of the world. For this reason, an endorsement similar to Don's would be completely out of place in a church bulletin, an assembly prayer meeting, a statement from the eldership of an assembly, or message from the pulpit, etc. I disagree strongly, however, with the statement that a Christian (as an individual) should not participate in government or in an election. The tasks, purpose, and means of government are separate and different from those of the Church, but they are not in conflict. God's covenant with Noah still stands: government has been delegated with the authority to protect men from each other: as can be seen in Romans 13, to be a terror to evil and a praiser of good. I agree that "we" that is, the assembly of God, are not called upon to corporately judge among the world. However, "we" as individuals, as we find ourself in the world, and as the Lord calls us to be before great men, are to faithfully execute the responsibilities which are entrusted to us: among these are the right to vote, the duty to serve on a jury and defend the safety of our country when called upon. Rejecting these duties is the equivalent of a crown prince refusing to dispense justice, righteousness, and protection to his kingdom upon ascension to the throne. It is my right and duty as a citizen of the United States to participate in its government. I am not to do so on behalf of the Church, but directly on behalf of He from whom all power is given. This does not in any way diminish my Heavenly citizenship. Rather, it allows it to be expressed within the civic arena. Did Christ instruct soldiers to change careers? Were centurions ever asked to resign? Did Paul reject or assert his Roman citizenship? I cannot but take up the duties and privileges of participation in government, as they have been entrusted to me by the Lord. For me to do so would be to bury my talent. I recognize that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ will see this and be tempted to judge me, just as I recognize that I will be tempted to regard with contempt those who see it their way. Hopefully, neither of these will prevent us from having a respectful interchange on the topic in the spirit of love. In Christ, -Tim

After sending the above e-mail, I received several responses from different individuals. Some were CC'd to the group and some were not. I will here post my general response, in which I quote most of the e-mails sent to me as I address them.
Lois requested of me (and I felt that pesky feeling of being sharpened by iron) that I provide a reference for a couple of my statements: 1. "...the Holy Spirit would not have us use the Church as a political forum." Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36 NASB) In this passage, Jesus has been falsely accused of fomenting a political rebellion and setting himself up as king. Jesus is explaining that His kingdom, as it is, does not have political ends and therefore does not fight with military force to achieve its ends. The Church stands in exactly the same position of the kingdom that Jesus describes. Seeking political power is not within the scope of what He has established (and by His Spirit leads) the Church to be doing. The Church's concerns lie in another "realm": along a completely different axis, and so politics and government are to be kept out of the Church and its affairs entirely. 2. "For the Church to participate in the inevitable political give-and-take of politics is looked at by scripture as fornication" And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:2-4 NASB) In Revelation 17 and 18 the image of the great harlot is used to represent religious corruption, which, with the departure of the Holy Spirit from the Church (at the rapture), is all that is left to animate the political and social institutions that have grown up around her in a hollow and perverse shell of corruption. The source of this corruption is that she is in bed with the kings of the earth. She has corrupted them with her wine, thinking to achieve her own ends and gain power over them: the woman (religious corruption) reigns over the beast (political corruption) upon which she rides, until the beast turns on her, throwing her off its back and destroys her. Once the false harlot bride is judged, then and only then is the true Bride presented (chapter 19). From Ross:
Did Christ instruct soldiers to change careers? Were centurions ever asked to resign? Did Paul reject or assert his Roman citizenship?
Paul also never told anyone to give up polygamy. Does this mean we should encourage it? Your brother in Christ's love, Ross
Ross, The difference between polygamy and government is that God never established polygamy. Satan established polygamy as a perversion of marriage, which God did establish. A more accurate analogy would be the case of a despotic government: God did not establish despotism, it is a corruption of His model of government in the same way that polygamy is a corruption of marriage as instituted by God. I would agree with you that a Christian should never seek to participate in or project others into a position of despotism. Human government was established by God in Genesis 9. In it, God delegates the responsibility for the protection of human life, which bears His image, from both man and beast. The purpose of government therefore is to protect the rights of the innocent from harm by others. In Romans 13, we find this principle repeated. In godly government, then, the rulers are to consider the needs of those under their authority, knowing that they are accountable to a higher Authority. The same image of God is stamped on His other social institutions. Each of these institutions has a unique and non-contradictory relationship to each of the others. The government, with rulers in headship over the people The family, with husbands in headship over wives, and parents in authority over children The Church, with elders in headship over the flock, and Christ as head over all The workplace: with masters (bosses) in headship over servants (employees) In each case, the headship is for the good of those under the authority. Any deviation from this pattern is contrary to the nature of God. That which conforms to this pattern is an expression of the nature of God. From Floyd:
Hi Tim, Your assessment of the subject at hand seems to me a very balanced one. As an elder in a local assembly I would agree that a church bulletin or pronouncement by a group of leaders in favor of a candidate would be out of order. However, in an internet forum or private discussion such as this, I see no harm in such an endorsement, seeing it is not an assembly. That being said, I also believe that if the opportunity affords, one should not hesitate to point out to a congregation the wickedness of such things as abortion, homosexuality, dishonesty, etc., so prevalent in society today. In this way some may be led to a wiser choice in their voting as candidates and their positions on these and other vital issues are made apparent.
Floyd, I completely agree, and was not intending to imply otherwise. From John:
Tim, Thank you for writing what you did and distinguishing between the church and the government, both being institutions established by God. Thank you for also distinguishing between church corporate endorsement of political issues and individual participation in government. Here are two interesting Scriptures: (1) "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord", Psalm 32:12 and (2) "The wicked shall be turned into hell and all nations that forget God", Psalm 9:17. The first verse shows that it is possible for a nation to reverence the God of the Bible and incorporate the moral principles of the Bible in its government. This can only occur if the leadership of a nation consists of individuals who are either Christians or if that leadership at least uses as its guiding beacon the moral laws of the Bible. Anyone who has studied American history is quickly made aware that America was colonized by people who had these characteristics and in fact came to this continent for the purpose of religious freedom. Early colonial governments were very religious in nature.The papers which were written by the political thinkers in the 18th century and eventually led up to the Declaration of Independence, quoted the Bible more that any other book. The quotes shown below reinforce this fact. The second verse shows that nations can forget God and that there is a consequence for doing so. This is the result of a leadership that once recognized God as being the source of government and its laws and has now decided to exclude Him and them. So in order for the dire consequence predicted by this verse to be avoided there must be in government those who resist this decline based on the principles of Scripture. Does this sound familiar for our day? So the question might be, "Would you rather live in a Muslim nation where Sharia law is practiced and Christianity is forbidden or in a nation such as America where Christianity is protected? God established this nation based on Biblical principles so that Christianity could flourish and we could be mission outpost sending the gospel out to the whole world. Please notice that the quotes below show how a nation should function when the government endorses Biblical principles. It has nothing to do with how people get saved although when such a government exists there is a tremendous opportunity for the gospel to be preached so that people can get saved. I thought about this last night when I went to the jail to preach the gospel to 100 men. They would not let me do this in Saudi Arabia. From President John Adams' Dairy on February 22, 1756 (he was Vice President under President Washington from 1789-1797 and President from 1797-1801): "Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law-book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance and frugality and industry; to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men. And to piety, love and reverence towards Almighty God. In this Commonwealth no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal or lie, or in any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men; no man would blaspheme his maker or profane his worship; but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all hearts. What a utopia, what a paradise would this region be!" (I agree with President Adams and call for all laws to be based on the Holy Bible). President John Adams' letter to Benjamin Rush, August 28, 1811: "I agree with you in sentiment that religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society." John Adams, Dairy, July 26, 1796: "The Christian religion is above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813: "The General Principles on which the fathers achieved independence were...the general principles of Christianity in which all the sects were united. And the General Principles of English and American liberty...those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God...." Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852) (footnote to letter to Edward Sprague Rand, May 15, 1850: "The religion of the New Testament, that religion which is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles, is as sure a guide to duty in politics as in any other concern of life." President Abraham Lincoln in his "Proclamation of a National Fast Day," August 12, 1861: "And whereas, when our beloved country, once, by the blessings of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for this mercy--to pray that we may be spared further punishment...." President Woodrow Wilson: May 7, 1911 (when he was Governor of New Jersey): "America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." John
I think that Adams had in mind a lofty ideal, one which, however, will only be realized when Christ personally reigns over a nation with the law written in the hearts of each and every citizen. Until Christ returns, that will not be the case, and in His wisdom, He has not given to governments the reign over mind, heart, and conscience, but only of behavior, and particularly, that behavior which harms another or deprives him of his rights. Rulers are, just as all "under authority", given the privilege of encouraging those in their charge in all good things. I must say that I would not like to live among a nation whose only law was the Bible, if that law were enforced by men. The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are inventors of evil, and such a theocracy as John Calvin constructed in Geneva inevitably turned to arbitrary persecution, both of unbelievers and of fellow Christians. Laws ought to be based on biblical principles, yes, but they must not step beyond the bounds of what God has delegated to man in the realm of political government. That, too, is a biblical principle. From Ross:
Dear Tim, Please feel free to call me Ross as I feel free to call you by your first name as well. I appreciate the thought out response. The scriptures are worthy of our most careful and thought out considerations. While it is true that the Lord never instructed anyone who was currently in a government position to give it up, it is equally true that He never encouraged anyone who was not to seek such a position. Furthermore, He who was the most qualified of all men to do so, never did. Likewise, the apostles whose leadership is without question never did as well. It might also shed some light to consider that Theophilus, to whom Luke refers in the official "most excellent" in his gospel lost this distinction by the time Acts was written. In Philippians, Paul tells us that to mind earthly things is bad. What is more earthly and worldly than politics? Looking at it from a practical standpoint, since born again believers are in the vast minority, they will always be called upon to compromise the truth in order to "get things done." Does Paul address the Corinthians as a church or as believers when He says, "those who are without, God judges?" Since He addresses them in both capacities throughout the epistle, we can only rely on context to determine what He means. He told them not to go to court brother against brother before "the unjust". Now to me this is not only individualistic but it clearly states that those who lead the civil courts are "the unjust". This seems a little strange if believers are to seek such offices. I can agree wholeheartedly that government is upheld as an institution under the current economy but must disagree with the idea that we are held as responsible by God to take an active role. We are instructed merely to SUBMIT to the powers that be not to seek to influence them much less to join them. Your brother in Christ's love, Ross
Ross, I submit to you, that as a citizen eligible to vote, I am in a governmental position of authority, and that I am responsible before God to discharge the privileges and duties thereof in righteousness as salt and light in the world. Christ will be given all power and authority, and he will reign over the earth. These things are not evil, but they must be received from God's hands, according to God's plan and on His timing, not from Satan. All of us, rulers or not, are constantly under pressure to make compromises at the expense of what is right. Jesus prayed, "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one." (John 17:15 NASB) I believe that the Father is answering that prayer in the case of every believer. "and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB) Thank you all for your responses and participation. "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3:10 NASB) In Christ, Tim

From John:
Tim, The ideals that the early founders of this country, of course, were not achieved in totality but were achieved to a degree in our founding documents and laws. We should never criticize a person or institution for having a right ideal. The ideals we are talking about are the Biblical principles upon which a good government should be established. Many of these come from the Old Testament where God's principles of law and jurisprudence were written down. The governmental authority in Romans 13, which is established by God presumes right moral principles for protecting its citizens. Otherwise this statement would not be true, "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong", verse 3. You could not say that Hitler's Third Reich was in this category. The only God established theocracy was the nation of Israel. God does not intend this for Gentile nations and so Calvin who attempted it failed. The founders of our country recognized this and also recognized that a state sponsored church; i. e., the Church of England was not right. But they also recognized the importance of Biblical principles in a good government. They tried to strike this fine balance in the Bill of Rights and in particular what is called the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. The following is taken from the Wikipedia encyclopedia:

'The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment refers to the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." Together with the Free Exercise Clause, ("...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), these two clauses make up what are commonly known as the "religion clauses" of the First Amendment.

The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose. The first approach is called the "separationist" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferentialist" or "accommodationist" interpretation. In separationist interpretation, the clause prohibits Congress from aiding religion in any way even if such aid is made without regard to denomination. The accommodationist interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause.'

The purpose of this amendment was to prohibit a theocracy or a state sponsored church but it was not intended to prohibit individuals with Biblical ideals from participating in this government and influencing its laws. In fact in the beginning of our country this was encouraged.

Here is an interesting irony. You can ask a person who has a hardline view that Christians should not participate in government or in its decision making processes: Are you thankful for having a Christian President like Ronald Reagan or would you be just as thankful for a dictator like Caesar Chavez? If they say, "Of course, Reagan", you can say then that you are approving of a Christian in government. If they say, "Chavez", then I don't know what to say.

The founders of our country often referred to "Nature's God" as another way of referring to their creator God. But they were also inferring that built into our world are spiritual principles which affect the destiny of individuals and nations. One of these is the principle of "sowing and reaping". It applies to nations as well as individuals. Nations which violate God's moral laws, often committing violence and genocide against its citizens, do not survive. This is part of God's providence in the affairs of men. ",,,the living God, who is the Savior (preserver) of all men, specially of those that believe." 1 Timothy 4:10


From Don:
Tim, I would also echo John's remarks to you and say I am very impressed with your response to Ross. It is so true that "iron sharpens iron" and we need our brothers and sisters to help us as we study God's Word. While I agree with you that in a church setting it would be wrong to put forth a particular candidate, I think it behooves us to promote practicing our Christian duties. One of which is voting for good candidates. Reminding everyone to vote without saying who...would fit into this category. And accompany it with much of what you have expounded on, quite eloquently I might add! Through the Lord's grace we have been delivered from a the clutches of legality that strongly restricted us from voting so it is important to let everyone know about the liberty we have always had but weren't allowed to think about before. In my initial email I was trying to be as circumspect as possible and that is why I used the phrase, 'prayerfully consider." Again, thanks for your input. Your brother in Christ, Don

Don wrote to Ross:
The key phrase in my original email was this, "prayerfully consider." As for defending my position "for" voting, I'm going to have to defer to what Tim has said as he is far more eloquent than I. This has been a good learning experience for me and I even more convinced that it is the Christian's duty to vote for good candidates. My experiences have been that it is a lost cause but to be quite honest there are many times when practising our Christian faith to the world around us it appears to be a lost cause, but it is observed by our Father in Heaven and recorded. Not to mention that while we may not see any fruit while down here, we may when we get up there. Actually I fail to understand why voting for the best candidate from a Christian perspective translates into NOT submitting to the eventual winner as being God's choice at that time. btw, are you familiar with the difference between God wanting something to happen and allowing something to happen? We know according to prophecy that it is very likely that, by its very absence of any mention in prophecy, the U.S. is headed for oblivion. Probably will soon be a 3rd World Nation. These freedoms we enjoy now may soon be gone. I know it is very easy for Christians to adopt a "there's nothing I can do to stop it" attitude. But I don't find in scripture any examples of Men of God operating this way. Except for Jonah initially! You might say there aren't any examples of getting involved in politics, like we are able to here in American, in scripture. But, lets be honest, were they living in a Democracy? But, I won't demand that you conform to my way of looking at this subject. I have siblings and many friends that look at this like you and I would never force my opinion on them either. There are far more important things to "fight/disagree" over.

From Ross:
Don, To me it is not just that it is a lost cause as is seeking to evangelize the world as well but one we are called to do and one we are not. Paul called gospel preaching foolishness but instructed us to do it since it is God's chosen instrument of salvation. For me, abstention from politics is in keeping with Christ's dealing in grace where He doesn't assert His rights in the world but rather pleads with lost sinners to come to Him. There will be a time as you know when this will be appropriate for men of faith. Paul told the Corinthians "ye are ruling without us." I believe that when we get involved politically we are seeking to rule without Paul and more importantly, Christ. The Lord tells the church at Philadelphia "you have kept MY patience." What is that? He is sitting at the Father's right hand waiting until His enemies are made the footstool of His feet. By abstaining from politics we can have fellowship with Him in that. Since the doctrine of abstention from politics was first taught by those to whom we attribute Philadelphian light, it would follow that this is what is meant in the epistle to Philadelphia. For me it is mostly a dispensational thing. Does that make sense? Your brother in Christ's love, Ross

Ross in response to my earlier reply about his polygamy analogy:
My point on polygamy is that like governmental involvement persons are not called to immediately give it up as they would fornication or idolatry. As I have pointed out, there is no question that God has ordained government in authority over us. What I question is whether or not we as Christians are called to fill that role. Again, I see this differentiated in Paul's statement to the Corinthians that we as Christians are called to judge things within the church not without in the world where God judges. Carnal Christendom has reversed this order ignoring all sorts of evil in the church while seeking to impose Christian morality upon the lost.

Ross continues:
I submit to you, that as a citizen eligible to vote, I am in a governmental position of authority, and that I am responsible before God to discharge the privileges and duties thereof in righteousness as salt and light in the world.
I believe voting is a right rather than an appointed duty. No one is required by law to vote. I can discharge my responsibility to be salt and light without being active in politics just as the New Testament church did.
Christ will be given all power and authority, and he will reign over the earth. These things are not evil, but they must be received from God's hands, according to God's plan and on His timing, not from Satan.
Exactly. The key word here is WILL. We WILL rule with Christ when He rules. For now we are to keep His patience in submission to governmental authority under the sway of Satan who is the god of this present evil age. Paul told the Corinthians that they ruled "without us." This is what Christians are doing when they choose to assert Christ's rights in the world through the political process.

My response:
Dear Ross, That particular nuance about polygamy did not escape my notice. In fact, that was part of my point. Properly practiced (that is, with the goal of protecting men from violations of their rights), human government is a suitable environment for a Christian to enter. As I said before, a Christian should not enter into a despotic government, just as he should not enter into a polygamous marriage. If you are arguing that since governments are not 100% righteous, that a Christian should not participate in government at all, then applying the same logic to marriage, you would be arguing that since polygamy exists (or is possible, or is prevalent), a Christian should not enter marriage at all. No one is asking me to participate in governmental wickedness or corruption. If given the choice in the ballot between Hitler and Stalin, I would not vote for either (though it might motivate me to run for office myself if I could.) Regarding the fact that voting is a right rather than an appointed duty, I would again refer you to the parable of the talents. The right to vote has been granted to me, not merely by the society in which I live, but providentially by the Lord Himself. Looked at from a human perspective, I have the option to do as I please with my right to vote, because it is mine. Looked at from a heavenly perspective, I have been given the opportunity and I am responsible for using it, not burying it in the ground and pretending that it does not exist. If I looked at my money as my own, or my skills and abilities in this way, and did not use them in righteousness and faithfulness, I would rob my Lord of the return that is due Him for the blessings and resources that He has put at my disposal. Regarding your last comment... [I actually misspoke: all power and authority has already been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). But that is a tangential point.] The point I was making was that you seemed to be portraying power and authority as inherently evil things, and this is simply not so. Authority received from the hands of God is perfectly appropriate. God does place righteous men in positions of authority in His current dispensation (as a blessing to the people), and I regard the right to vote as just that. It would of course be foolish to think that we could reform the world, or the hearts of men, or somehow bring about the kingdom of heaven on earth by rule of power. But to exercise power in order to bend others to the will of the ruler is not what God has designed a human government to do. Governments were designed to bless men with safety and justice. Blessing others, despite the fact that it will not reform the world, nor will it tend to endear us to them, is exactly what the Christian ought to be doing. In Christ, Tim

I would encourage Christians to prayerfully search the scriptures concerning this topic, and I welcome further discussion and questions in the comments to this post. Washington State's presidential primary occurs on February 19th.