Commentary: What is the Christian’s role in government?

In a column a couple of years ago, I wrote about Dr. Wayne Grudem’s views on how 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 says 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 is that churches should engage in evangelism and not politics. This view says that the purpose of the church is to save people and that involvement in politics may turn some people away.

The fifth wrong view is to do politics and not evangelism. No responsible church leaders advocate this position, Dr. Grudem says. 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 the 1830s as a byproduct 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.

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?

Every day that goes by, more precious lives are lost.

State Sen. Bryant Richardson, a Republican, represents the 21st Senatorial District, which comprises Laurel.