I am a political junkie. From the time I was about thirteen years old, I found politics to be something of great interest of mine; especially as it relates to the amount of influence I, myself could have on the world. I have never been able to get enough, much to the chagrin of friends and family at times, I can tell you. Politics are a central focus of our culture as Americans, but also as citizens of the "global village" As it has shaped so much of how we define ourselves in the more and has become a key component of both unity and divisiveness, Christians are bound to wonder how they should navigate the political world.
If you have perused my web page at all, you have, most inevitably, read that I am a Military History and also an Intelligence expert. Throughout my time in school and in the world, my political views have jumped around a fair bit; just as, I am sure, yours have. Living in the United States over the past four years has been especially eye opening to politics and what it means to be a Christian navigating the political world. I have questioned many things that others have asked me to believe and things I, myself, have always believed. I have been extremely introspective as to the moral standing of my own self (or the shortcomings I might have) and that of the political leadership of the nation. For these reasons, I decided to take this time to write out a Christian non-partisan guide to politics. In this article, I will not be taking political stances on any subject, nor will I assume you, dear reader, have any similar views to my own. "Christian" does not denote a political party. This guide is to simply help others navigate the political climate of today as best as we can.
First, in order to navigate politics in light of your first and most important designation as Christians, you must start by looking inwardly at your own moral code and conduct. Way back in the Old Testament, God gave us the Ten Commandments which serve as a framework for the morality for which we should uphold as believers. For those of us that might be new on our walk with God, let's review what those Commandments are, quickly:
I am the LORD thy God. No other gods before me.
No graven images or likenesses (Idols).
Not take the LORD's name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day.
Honour thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Thou shalt not covet.
I can hear you all now, "But Whitney, that's the Old Covenant, We are New Testament Christians!" I know, but the Old Testament is still equally inspired by God and important. Plus, in the New Testament the Ten Commandments were summed up pretty great by Jesus when He said "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12) If you would not want any of these things done to you, you should not want to do them to others; so they still stand. Now, look inside yourself and see if there are any places where you are falling short, and there definitely will be! But resolve to try harder and if you are trying to follow your moral code, you will not intentionally break the Commandments.
Next, once you have looked inside yourself and have reminded yourself of the Christian moral code, examine the political leadership in front of you. It is important to examine each thoroughly and individually, setting aside party to truly look at the person (remember: "Christian" doesn't denote political party). Look at all you can about how they have led their lives and how their moral conduct fits in with that of your own moral code. Remember to start with a clear mind on all political figures. No one is going to run for political office without sincerely believing their ideas can help the nation (whether that is true or not is a whole different discussion). We want to remember that everyone has the potential for good as well as the potential for bad, just as we do; so examining actions rather than just words is important. The right candidate, i.e. the one that fits within your moral code, will not always be from ONE party and this is important
Once you have examined yourself and the candidates, you will move onto the issues. We have to remember as Christians that although we follow the teachings of the Bible, governments set their own laws based on Constitutions and other government frameworks that might not always completely fit our own understandings of how the world should work. This is not to say that we should not have a voice or opinion on political issues... we can and we should; but, we should remember that there will be times that laws that we do not necessarily agree with will pass and hold weight within the government's established framework and although we do not like them, we have to respect that they are in fact laws. The Roman Government had vastly different laws than that of the Jewish people in Jesus's time, but the Bible says that He kept all of them, both spiritual and earthly; and we must too. We can hope for them to change to align more with our belief system, and some (perhaps most) we won't ever have to participate in (which is good for us to know because then our moral code is upheld); but we do have to simply remember that we live in a fallen world and anything that is different from that of our Christian beliefs is a result of this.
Most importantly, we have to remember that we won't be perfect, politics won't be perfect, politicians won't be perfect; but as we navigate the political world, we can only try our best to uphold God's commands to the fullest, surround ourselves with political leadership that "does to others what they would have others do to themselves", and remind ourselves that the best thing we can do is get out there and vote!