COMMENTARY: What is a Christian’s role in government?

Last year I was given the honor of being selected by Nicole Theis of the Delaware Family Policy Council to attend the Statesmen Academy in Arizona. (Special note to taxpayers: Not one penny of your tax dollars paid for this trip.)

One of the speakers, Dr. Wayne Grudem, spoke about why Christians should influence politics and government for good. Dr. Grudem mentions what he considers five wrong views that have been presented at various times about Christians and government.

Sen. Bryant Richardson

The first wrong view is that government should compel religion. Dr. Grudem said genuine faith cannot be compelled by government or anyone else. The decision to trust in Jesus cannot be forced.

The second wrong view is that government should exclude religion. Dr. Grudem said this would remove our Constitutional right of freedom of religion and change it to freedom from religion.

The third wrong view is that government is evil and demonic and Christians should stay out of it. Dr. Grudem mentions Romans 13 that says the civil authority is God’s servant for your good.

The fourth wrong view, which says do evangelism and not politics, is very common in churches in the United States today, Dr. Grudem points out. He said this view says that the purpose of the church is to save people and that involvement in politics may turn some people away. (This brings to mind this quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing. Edmund Burke)

The fifth wrong view is to do politics and not evangelism. No responsible church leaders advocate this position. Just passing the right laws is not the answer. Change must come from the hearts of men and women who know Jesus and follow the word of God.

So what should the churches be doing? What is the one right view? According to Dr. Grudem the one right view is significant Christian influence on government.

Throughout history there are examples of Christians influencing government for good. Dr. Grudem gives these examples:

• As the Church began to grow in the ancient Roman empire and gained political influence, in 374 AD a law was passed outlawing child abandonment, infanticide and abortion.

• In 404 AD another law was passed that outlawed the cruel gladiatorial contest in which the losing contestant was put to death.

• Christian influence led to the abolition of slavery in the Roman empire and much of Europe and in particular in England when William Wilberforce campaigned to outlaw slavery. In 1833, slavery was finally outlawed in the British empire.

• In the 1830s in the United States more than two-thirds of the leaders in the Abolitionist Movement were Christian pastors preaching politics from the pulpit, condemning slavery. (The American abolition movement emerged in the1830s as a by-product of religious revivalism known as the Second Great Awakening.)

• In the mid-1950s, a Baptist pastor started preaching politics from the pulpit, stating that racial discrimination and segregation in the United States was morally wrong. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought about massive changes through his words and actions.

Dr. Grudem says all those changes would not have come about if Christians had adhered entirely to the view that churches should limit their activities to evangelism.

(If anyone would like to hear Dr. Grudem’s entire speech, Google FPC Conf 2016: Wayne Grudem 1st Hour to see the video.)

What is the role of Christians today? What about our church leaders? What will it take to overcome today’s greatest injustice: the intentional killing of unborn children? Will it take two-thirds of pastors or just one pastor of the likes of Dr. King?

When will those pastors step into the political arena to help stop the injustices to our most vulnerable members of society?

There is a battle going on now in Legislative Hall. The Senate by the minimum number of votes passed Senate Bill 5, which turns over the decisions of when life is viable and protected by our laws, to those who profit from abortion.

The bill will be voted on in the House as early as June 6.

Will Christians let that day go by without letting their voices heard? The unborn cannot speak, so who will speak for them?

Are we going to allow the abortionists to decide when life is viable or will our lawmakers set the parameters, so that those doctors who do not act in good faith are not allowed to continue to practice and harm women and the unborn?

This quote by Dr. King should help convict us of the lack of concern we have shown too long in our state and our nation: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Sen. Bryant L. Richardson is a Republican who represents the Laurel area.

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