Some Christians are critical against other Christians who are meddling with politics. The obvious reason is the stereotype that politics is a dirty place to stay for a spiritually transformed individual. The conclusion? Christians who are in politics or dealing with political issues are called backsliders or compromisers.
Here are the common misconceptions about politics that I want to deal with in this short article:
- Politics Is Evil
- Evangelism, Not Politics
- Politics, Not Evangelism
- Politics Should Embrace Religion
- Politics Should Exclude Religion
Every single item will be discussed shortly with rebuttals. The purpose of doing so is not to create conflict or hate but to add understanding both for those who are discriminating Christian brethren and for those who are zealous in involving with public service and governmental matters.
Politics Is Evil
The believers of this idea think that most people in politics are unregenerated, ungodly, and unbelieving sinners; thus, politics is more likely evil than Christian.
Politics itself has no moral: it is neither good or evil. The presence of corrupt people in the government doesn’t make politics evil. There are even religious leaders who are more evil than a politician can be.
The verses that are being used by those who believe that politics is evil are Matthew 4:8 and 9 when Satan speaks to Jesus which says, “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
With this line, it is concluded that “all the kingdoms of the world” or all political powers are operating under a demonic influence. Another provision is when the Apostle Paul implies that the god of this world is Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4).
This ideology is in conflict with other verses, such as Daniel 4: 17 that says “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” and Romans 13:1-6 where a ruler is called as a minister of God.
It is possible though that some areas of civil government might be influenced by evil-minded individuals. However, there are rulers sent by God to punish evildoers and praise them that do well (1 Peter 2:13, 14). The presence of a God-fearing Christian in the political arena can help to reduce the propagation of evil, not the other way around.
The main focus of this view is that Christians are only called to evangelize, not to interfere with political matters.
Though we are commanded to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), we are not restricted to join political endeavors. When a person was converted to Christ, he or she is said to be “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). We are even likened to a light that needs to shine in the dark “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
In addition to spreading the good news, reaching out to politicians and government officials is a good way to influence authorities to do programs for the greater good instead of just focusing on converting people and being apathetic in social issues. By the way, voting and endorsing a political candidate alone is doing politics.
In contrast, there are also people who cry out and convince Christians to join political activism and totally disregard evangelism.
This is similarly wrong because while it is good to help the poor and other marginalized sectors of the society, people still need to know that they are sinners who are in need of a Savior. Good laws will not still work in a society with an overwhelming number of people who defy God and Christ by doing any kinds of evil they want.
While we can interact with political affairs, Christians can still declare that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Politics Should Embrace Religion
There are so-called Christian leaders who want the government to embrace a single type or name of religion. The main idea is to create a state religion where people support only one particular church or religion.
An example of this is Saudi Arabia where government laws declare Islam to be the only religion of the state and other beliefs are restricted to practice public display of faith. A non-religious country like China is also restraining the Christian faith to go in progress. The Philippines also once claimed to be a Roman Catholic country until government provisions have adopted freedom of religion to give way to other beliefs.
Freedom of religion is a biblical value that should be respected and protected. The classic verse for this is when Jesus uttered, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:20, 21).
Politics Should Exclude Religion
This mistake is common among politicians and even citizens with a secular philosophy. They want to dismiss any religious participation in any political issues. They ignorantly assume that religious people should only pray, read their Bibles, attend the church, and leave the society in the hands of the secular bigots.
Prohibiting Christians and other beliefs in engaging with politics is disrespecting freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The government needs to hear the voice of the faithful to guide them in their decision making. The scripture asserted that the ruler is “the minister of God” chosen to do good (Romans 13:4). How could a government official know what is good if worldly scholars will restrain religious support?
There are well-known Christian leaders who have set examples all throughout history. In 1840, William Wilberforce, a devoted Christian from England, led in abolishing the slave trade and slavery itself.
Historically recognized documents that become the basis of laws and regulations have also been created with strong Christian influence, namely: the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution.
Who could also forget the man behind the civil right movement? Martin Luther King, Jr., an American Baptist pastor and political activist, led nonviolence and civil disobedience in the 1960s in the struggle against segregation and racial inequality.
In the Philippine context, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus Is Lord Church, who has been unsuccessful in his presidential endeavors, is an active religious and political leader. He is a former communist-atheist and radical activist before turning to Christ. His son, Joel Villanueva, is now an incumbent Philippine Senator.
Pastor Benny Abante of Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church in Sta. Ana, Metro Manila becomes the principal author of Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill when he is still the Congressman of the 6th District of Manila from 2004 to 2010.
Former devoted Roman Catholic and now an active Evangelical Christian–the world renown boxing champion–Manny Pacquiao is currently serving as a Philippine Senator while preaching the gospel at the same time. He has also served for two terms as a Representative of Saragani Province. He is known to quote Bible verses in the Senate and become controversial in his stand against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. He is supporting both federalism and capital punishment.
The Philippines is now enjoying the freedom of a democratic country. It is an opportunity for the Christian people to be a good steward both in their human and spiritual citizenship. Christian influence is a big factor in creating a strong moral compass for the government. I believe Christianity and politics can work together for the common good while maintaining the separation of the church and state.