I don’t know about you, but I have a number of Facebook friends who have a different view of politics than what I hold. For me, this is perfectly okay, and not only provides opportunities for some interesting discussions, but for a Christian witness, as well. In the process of doing this, however, I try to make it a priority to make my witness supercede my political preferences. Honestly, at first, most people can’t see past their political priorities, so it often takes a lot of effort to help them see that I am dealing with morality rather than partisan politics. That said, I believe the effort is worth it for the Christian witness opportunity it provides.
To be sure, most of my friends, regardless of their political preferences, actually never say anything political at all. I think this is true for the majority of people who post on Facebook. They typically post things about family, personal life, and other matters they find of interest. There are others, however, who are very political – some on one side and some on the other.
As I interact with these people, I will sometimes engage these political discussions. In doing this, as I mentioned above, I find that I am frequently misunderstood. When people like what I say, they think I am on their political side, and when they don’t like what I say, they think I am on the other side. But in reality, my intention is not to make politics the main focus of my comments. I want to reflect a biblical worldview and point people to God and to truth.
As such, I try to make the focus of my comments relate to moral issues rather than overtly political points. Of course, it cannot be denied that biblical morality, more often than not, ends up agreeing with one political side more than the other (though not exclusively), so I often get accused of being political. But as a conversation continues, the spiritual and moral principles that are reflected in the Bible eventually rise to the top.
- As I deal with this, there are specific principles I try to focus upon.
- Wrong beliefs about God – When people express beliefs that begin with a non-biblical point of view about God, I attempt to express the biblical view.
- Wrong beliefs about man – When people express a non-biblical point of view about the nature of man, I attempt to correct that with a biblical point of view.
- Wrong beliefs about salvation (the ultimate people can gain in life) – When people express a non-biblical point of view about the ultimate people can gain in life, I try to correct that with a biblical point of view.
- Wrong worldview presuppositions – When people speak specifically using presuppositions that come from a non-biblical worldview, I try to identify that and advocate for a biblical worldview.
- Wrong facts – When people make comments that are factually wrong, I try to correct the record. Expressing the truth relies on having correct facts.
- Wrong morality – When people advocate for non-biblical moral beliefs, I attempt to push back against that with an explanation of WHY biblical morality represents truth. Without having a reason for our beliefs, a discussion can easily become “one person’s opinion against another’s.”
Then, once I identify the problems, I try to connect right beliefs with right actions about politics based on a biblical worldview perspective. The purpose here is not to win a political argument, but to point people to Christ.
Should We Engage in Political Debate?
You have probably heard the old prohibition against talking in public about religion and politics. Some people think getting into political and religious debates is to be avoided at all costs. Their reasoning is that debating these issues automatically puts you in the realm of partisanship – a focus on promoting the position of a political party. It is my belief that you can talk about both religion and politics without being partisan.
Of course, if the beliefs of a political party are the bottom line standard for moral judgments, that does make the conversation more difficult. That said, for a Christian, partisanship should never be our standard – no matter what party. The basis of morality for a Christian should always be the teachings of the Bible.
So, with that understanding, should Christians engage in political debate? And the answer is, “Absolutely!” Politics, as with all other areas of life, were established by God for a purpose. The purpose of government is to maintain order in society, promote justice, and create an environment that provides all other societal institutions with the ability to function according to God’s purposes; and politics is nothing more than the activities associated with governing. There are potential political policies that work against these purposes, so Christians absolutely need to engage in political debate to promote right policy.
In order to do this while accomplishing God’s purposes, however, there are some things Christians must know. We must know the biblical worldview essentials which define our faith. We must know the principles that promote order and justice in society. We must know the beliefs and principles that oppose biblical values. And we must know WHY a biblical approach is true, and opposing principles are not true.
There are those who would read something like this and accuse Christians of wanting to create a Theocracy. There is nothing, however, that could be further from the truth. People who try to make that argument simply do not understand what they are talking about.
The truth is, the underlying principles of the type of democratic republic represented by the American political system is based on biblical values. It is not a theocratic system in the least, but was created using biblical principles such as equal justice under the law, freedom of conscience, sanctity of life, personal responsibility, and biblical sexual morality. These principles offer freedom for everyone to live by their own faith, while at the same time supplying a particular set of boundaries that provide for order and justice, and which promote an environment that allows for society to thrive.
But what about those who don’t like these biblical principles and want our society to operate by a different set of values? Why these values instead of a different set? These are very good questions and deserve a good answer.
The answer is, if you change to a different set of values, you, by default, must operate from a different faith foundation. People who chafe against biblical values are looking to substitute the values of a different faith.
But specifically, what are the implications of that?
1. If you don’t promote equal justice under the law, you automatically create a situation that is unjust as people get unequal justice.
2. If you don’t allow for freedom of conscience, you automatically create a situation where you are compelling religious beliefs. Some beliefs are deemed acceptable while others must be suppressed.
3. If you don’t guard the sanctity of life, you create an environment where some lives are more important than others.
4. If you don’t promote personal responsibility, you create a societal environment where any given kind of lawlessness can be excused based on factors which are beyond the control of the individual.
5. If you don’t promote biblical sexual morality, you destroy the family – the most basic foundation for a stable society.
Only a biblical worldview foundation provides for the kind of liberty that characterizes America; and if you change the worldview foundation, you create disorder and injustice. This disorder and injustice has a depressing effect on every aspect of society.
How Should We Engage in Political Debate?
So as we begin the process of political debate, we must realize that, first and foremost, it is a debate about faith and values. As a Christian, when we engage political debate, we must begin with that understanding, and recognize that the core of the debate involves a Christian witness. The values we want to promote are specifically Christian values, and the only way those are going to remain in place is for society to agree with those values.
Of course, some will say, “we like the underlying values of the Christian faith, we just want to divorce them from Christianity.” In truth, that is actually what many people are attempting to do – but it doesn’t work; it doesn’t work because other values that conflict with the ideals inevitably creep in. They have to because divorcing any value from the Christian faith means you have to attach it to a different understanding of that value – a different faith.
In giving examples here, I am going to focus on the effects that a naturalistic worldview promotes. Other worldview beliefs are equally destructive to American values, but Naturalism is the system that is most directly challenging the traditional values of American society today.
Here’s how it works:
1. Based on naturalistic beliefs, there is no such thing as objectively real equality. Those in power must define what equality means, and will do so according to their personal preferences.
2. Based on naturalistic beliefs, freedom of conscience is actually a hindrance to those who want to control society. Those in power will inevitably work to suppress ideas that oppose their own. That is exactly what “political correctness is all about.”
3. Based on naturalistic beliefs, value for life ends up meaning that some lives are more valuable than others (can you say abortion?).
4. Naturalistic beliefs value the collective over the individual. The very idea of individual responsibility loses its meaning entirely as people are compelled to value the collective above all – and that value is defined by those in power.
5. Naturalistic belief co-opts the meaning of the “value of family” and redefines it to mean whatever those in power want it to mean. In doing that, the natural family is denigrated, and society’s most important foundation falls apart – along with society itself.
So, political debate needs to be based on morals and values, not on partisanship. It needs to express a witness for Christ, rather than simply promote particular policies. It must be focused on changing hearts and minds, rather than merely making new laws and policies.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
In the heat of battle, it is easy to get sidetracked and focus exclusively on politics. Don’t let that happen. You can speak of politics, but it must always be tied to an underlying set of worldview beliefs. The “why” is as important as the “what.” Remember, your goal is to be a Christian witness, not to gain a political win. Real change requires a change of hearts and minds.
© 2017 Freddy Davis