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 Christians in Government

The Biblical Basis for Christians
in Politics and Government

by Ellen Craswell

( Edited to past tense by the PoetPatriot )

While our campaign for Governor was growing, many people were interested in the Biblical basis for Christian involvement in politics and government.

This was the true driving force behind America's founding fathers (who based the Constitution on specific Biblical, Judeo-Christian principles).  It was also the foundation of the campaign and would have been that of my service as Governor, had God seen fit to place me in that office.

Regarding the principles in this article, I am very grateful to Pastor Thomas Minnick, whose Biblical teaching has helped to bring these truths to life in me and in many others.

Why Get Involved?

Crisis and civic duty are inferior and ineffective motivation for Christians who take seriously their charge to seek God's will for their lives.  Why participate if this is not surely God's desire?  Sadly, 20th century preaching often discouraged our involvement in the "worldly" business of politics and government.

Yet Christians have not always hesitated to "get involved" in American civil government. Rather, for much of our history, Christians were deeply committed to this role.  In fact, most of our founding fathers were outstanding Christians (as opposed to the very few deists, agnostics or atheists constantly highlighted by today's anti-Christian elite).

More Christians must now realize the Biblical basis for involvement.  It then becomes a matter of obedience to God.

As Christians consider their responsibility, there are three vital principles to remember.

First, government is God's institution! Civil government exists and functions by God's command, not because cave men created a social contract.

Civil government began in Genesis 9:1-7, when God instructed Noah after the flood. In Exodus 20-22, God through Moses gives a specific pattern for civil government.

Scripture is full of God's sovereignty and interest in civil government.  In Daniel 2:20-21, God removes and sets up rulers.  In Proverbs 21:1, he turns a ruler's heart.  In Romans 13:1, He ordains civil powers.  Clearly, government is not a secular institution but a God-ordained institution.

A second key principle is that God has every right to direct His institutions.  Indeed, Scripture reveals God's will, rules and leadership qualities for the home, the church... and the government!

Christians are quite familiar with Biblical expectations for the family and the church. Yet many are amazed to realize that our country's Constitution and many of its laws and punishments are based on civil government rules of conduct that are spelled out in the Bible.

Exodus 21-22 addresses manslaughter, premeditated murder, assault, kidnapping (and slavery), abortion, infanticide, property crimes, criminal negligence, assaulting parents, robbery and bestiality.

Leviticus 13, 20 and other passages address such issues as public health laws and homosexuality.

In Deuteronomy 17-22 are laws regarding violation of a court order, perjury, malicious accusations, building codes (no regulatory scheme, it just sets the standards for responsible conduct and punishes wrongs), juvenile delinquency and rape.

God also gives qualifications for leadership, both in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and in civil government (Exodus 18:21). Imagine our state and nation under leaders with these Biblical qualities: "able" and "fears God" and speaks "truth" and "hates covetousness"!

The third vital principle to remember is that secularizing government is an affront to a Holy God!  We are often told that government and politics should be secular.  But would we allow Biblical Christianity to be excluded from our homes or churches? So why quietly capitulate to arguments saying we should keep God's Word and God's people out of God's institution of civil government?

We need to petition God for revival before privatization of our faith results in complete secularization of government.

Biblical Governing

Once Christian involvement in the political process bears fruit in the election of a Godly person, it is crucial for that individual to understand and obey Biblical principles in office.  Among these are four principles.

First, we must understand that civil leaders are "ministers of God" (Romans 13:3-4). This relates to the principle of ACCOUNTABILITY.  The role of a civil leader is to enable government to fulfill God's purposes.  Civil leaders are doing the will of God in establishing justice and maintaining civil order.  They are accountable to God for the faithful discharge of their ministry responsibilities.  A person's behavior in office is positively affected by knowing that he must answer to God.

A second principle, that of DESTINY, understand the reality of sovereign appointments.  A civil leader serves at God's pleasure! "...He (God) removeth kings, and setteth up kings..." (Daniel 2:21).  "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another" (Psalm 75:6-7).  God places people in leadership for His specific purposes -- for His benefit, not theirs!  "...Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).  We must ask ourselves, "Why has God put me here?  What does He want me to accomplish?"

Understanding man's tendency to compromise, we also recognize the principle of DEPENDENCY.  Leaders are called on to make hard decisions !  Recall Solomon and the baby (1 Kings 3:16- 27).  Elected office requires more wisdom and courage than any person has.  If one trusts in human wisdom (pollsters, consultants or even his own wisdom), he will usually be frightened into doing the wrong thing.  Yet, "...lean not unto thine own understanding" (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

It is hard to know what is right!  It is even harder to do what is right!  Our only hope is a right relationship with God -- living each day dependent upon Him for wisdom to know the right thing and courage to do the right thing.  Don't fear the voters, fear God!

The fourth essential is to understand God's purpose for civil government, the principle of JURISDICTION.  What is the reason for government?  Looking at history, man began in a state of innocence, and all was good.  There was no need for government (see Genesis 1:27-28, 31).  But sin entered the picture (see Genesis 4:3-10, 6:1-6) and God ordained civil government (see Romans 13:1).  It is God's institution, begun by His creative act.  Further, God is in control of government.  "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it withersoever He will" (Proverbs 21:1).

In considering the role of government, we must discern the jurisdictions of Caesar or God (Matthew 22:15-21).  The church and civil government are made necessary by the same thing (sin), but do not have identical responsibilities.  The humanist view of the role of government is to perfect mankind.  The Scriptural view of the role of government is to protect mankind.

Scripture shows that civil government is charged with a limited responsibility to protect life and property.  Previously listed passages from Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and many others, indicate this.

A civil leader must decide that he will take a Scriptural view of the limited role of government in society!  For example, God's plan for welfare does not involve civil government.  People who are in need of temporary help are directed to look primarily to the family (see 1 Timothy 5:3-8), secondarily to the church (see 1 Timothy 5:9-16 and Acts 6:1-2), or finally to neighbors in the community (see Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22).

Clearly, God's plan vastly differs from the present system, which is such a monumental failure.  The humanistic plan is publicly funded, coercive and creates cycles of dependency.  The Biblical plan is a private program, voluntary and allows the poor to retain their dignity.

Anyone who reads through the Bible can see that God's ways bring blessings and man's ways bring destruction.  Yet so often we all try, try again to do whatever seems right in our own eyes, thinking somehow that we in our day can escape the unavoidable consequences that are spelled out in God's Word.  Having "done our own thing" for decades, we are now suffering the gaping devastation of crime, broken homes, abused and aborted children, sexual immorality, drug and alcohol problems, corrupt government, reckless taxing and spending, warped welfare programs and deficient education.

Half-hearted measures will never solve these full- scale problems.  The answer begins with a return to God and his ways.  "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

*  **   ***   **  *

Ellen Craswell served as Washington State Representative (1977- 1980), State Senator (1981-1992), and was the first woman named President Pro Tem of the Senate (1991-1992).  She was the leading Republican candidate for the Governor of Washington State in 1996.  At 75 years of age, Ellen Craswell passed away on April 5th, 2008.

--- copyright 1996, Ellen Craswell --- edited August 1998 - RWH

Bruce & Ellen Craswell - Christianity & Politics



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