Politics are tense these days. Have you noticed?
Most of the tensions are centered around whether or not man has a “right” to something. It’s those decades-old arguments: “We have a right to own guns!” “We have a right to have abortions!” “We have a right to free speech!” “We have a right to religious freedom!” and so on and so forth.
These ideas are ingrained into Americans as immovable foundations of our society. American society and Christianity have been so closely woven together that even the Church expects to be granted “their rights.” But are these Biblical? Should Christians stand up for their rights?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — The American Declaration of Independence
From little up, we Americans are taught this as basic truth. It definitely feels accurate, because we feel deeply wronged if our liberty is violated. These “rights” may be God given, but nowhere in Scripture do you find the idea that we ought to defend “our rights.” In fact, you find the exact opposite.
God gave the best example Himself. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is completely divine and entirely perfect. He created the world and is King over it, but in that crucial moment at the Cross when all of His rights as God and as man were being violated all He requested was forgiveness for humanity’s ignorance. He asks us to do the same.
It’s true: God has endowed humanity with certain rights, but He asks us to lay down those rights in order to help others and show them that relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of temporal circumstances, is the true path to Life, Liberty and even Happiness. Jesus Christ, not government.
We cannot pick-up our crosses and our rights at the same time. To demand our rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness means we must forsake the cross and at the same time forsake Christ.
That is a trade I am not willing to make.
Demanding our rights is self-protection; Christ calls us to a lifestyle of self-sacrifice, of total abandonment for the Gospel, even to the point of death — or shame — or cultural snobbery.
As long as possible, I will use the freedom of speech given me as an American. But when culture or government strips me of that freedom, I will submit to the cross and I will proclaim the name of Jesus. If I am sent to prison, it will not be because I fought for freedom of religion or speech, or gun rights, or to preserve America or anything American. It will be because I would not shut-up about Jesus, my Savior, my friend.
So help me God.
2Pe 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
2Pe 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
2Pe 2:11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
Hey Grant, I’m having trouble catching the point you’re trying to make with this passage. How were you applying this verse to the topic Christopher is addressing?
Sorry for the lack of clarity Brett. I mostly wanted to post 2Pe 2:10, but it looked funny without the other two verses.
Some people that stand up for their rights that I know also despise the government, and aren’t afraid to speak evil of dignities. I’m not saying that if you stand up for your rights you do that, but that it is possible to despise the government when you do.
Btw I really liked this article Christopher
Sorry, do you mean despise the idea of government, or the actual people that Jesus asked God to forgive as he was dying? I have to admit, I’m a bit confused by you comment as well…
I’m sorry Sam (beginning to think I posted those verses too early in the morning, lol) I normally try to write clearer comments.
I meant that we need to be careful to remember not to despise the Gov./dignities even if they are wrong. Jesus, who was better than we can ever be, didn’t despise the Gov., But showed them the respect that was due to them.
Thanks for explaining, Grant. Good point!
Very true, didn’t want to sound rude at all. I completely agree. It’s definitely something that people need to realize, because people don’t see people they despise as children of God as much anymore. Thanks!! 🙂
But since our government was constructed so that the people have a large say, I believe it is part of good citizenship to stand up for our freedoms.
However, I do believe there is a temptation to make politics a idol and put it before God. I absolutely agree that government should not be the most important thing in our lives.
If you are interested, you can read my reply to Kasey.
Basically, it comes down to a mindset. Are we working for the Kingdom of God, which transcends cultural and national boundaries? Or are we working for America? We can’t be both. Although wonderful at times, the American system is incredibly temporal and flawed, often standing for issues which are morally wrong. I would much rather invest my energy into the Kingdom of God which is eternal and ruled by Jesus.
He is my focus. Jesus. I suppose some people may be called to political involvement, I can’t decide that. But it ought to be born from a motivation to help build the God’s Kingdom, not to protect religious liberties or preserve the American way, or whatever. There is simply no Biblical precedent for the latter.
Thank you for your well thought out reply.
I don’t believe that you can’t both be working for the Kingdom of God, and active in politics. Used correctly, anything we do should be done with the ultimate purpose of furthering the Kingdom of God, and that should show in our politics, and the way we engage people.
Jesus should absolutely be our focus, but I don’t believe that politics would necessarily interfere, if it didn’t become an idol.
Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I believe the point you are trying to make is that christians should not take a role in government for selfish reasons. If so I agree. But if your point is that Christians should not take an active role in their government, because it is contrary to Gods word, I would have to disagree. God calls us to submit to our government. American government is ran by the people. we can vote, run for office. we have the freedom of speech . By not doing so or speaking out are we not disobeying God, by not submitting?
Thanks for your feedback, Kasey!
This is mainly a response to your thoughts, but also replies to some other comments as well. That’s why it got lengthy.
There’s not a lot in the Bible about Republics or Democracies. Basically what the Bible says regarding politics is to submit to and pray for those in authority. Paul and the apostles lived under tyrant emperors when they said that.
Jesus was very clear that His purpose on earth was not political, but Heavenly and He calls us to follow Him. The writers of the NT were also very clear that they were citizens of a Heavenly kingdom. We are called to seek justice for the oppressed, to relieve those in bondage, to care for the poor, shelter the homeless, etc. But in doing this, we have an eternal purpose. We are serving the Kingdom of God. This transcends cultural and national boundaries.
If anyone truly had any rights, it was Jesus, the King of the whole universe. Yet He never once pursued them, rather He relinquished them. Jesus laid down His life and rights in order to serve and free humanity. Furthermore, when the Apostle Paul exercised His rights as a Roman citizen, it was always for an eternal purpose of spreading the Gospel. He obviously wasn’t afraid of death or suffering.
I suppose if someone feels God calling them to serve the Kingdom by pursuing some sort of career in politics, then Praise God! But if someone pursues political activism simply because they are American… then I wonder: What kingdom do they really serve?
These are just some of my thoughts. I’m sure there are many other details to address. I leave that between the individual and God. I appreciate the freedoms I’ve been given: I know it is a very rare privilege (compared to the rest of the world and certainly most of History). I’m grateful, but I must conclude that it is not a necessity for the Kingdom of God.
Also, living in LA, many of the people I interact with don’t agree with me politically. So to be overly proactive politically or to even vote could hinder those relationships. I’m not saying I will never vote, but I believe this is something Christians should seriously thing about.
Our culture will not be saved through the government, but through the people. Pursue the people and show them Jesus. If government is affected, praise God! If not, praise God! Either way, pursue people and praise God. 🙂
I’ve pretty much made my views on the topic avalible elsewhere 😉 but I did want to reply to something here.
“Also, living in LA, many of the people I interact with don’t agree with me politically. So to be overly proactive politically or to even vote could hinder those relationships. I’m not saying I will never vote, but I believe this is something Christians should seriously thing about.”
Actually that section really did help me understand where you’re coming from. I’d always wondered about Christians who believed getting involved in government was wrong, and honestly didn’t understand why they would think that. That helped me realize that for some people, not getting into politics could help their ministry.
Anyway, thank you for this article.
Thanks Christopher for replying to my question. I especially love how you said ” in doing this we have an eternal purpose.” This is where I come from. But you are right, the apostles didn’t go and fight all the civil problems off their day. They went after peoples souls! I tend to come at things from a black and white, any and all situations, point of view. Thank you so much for helping me see the other side. 🙂 That some one can reach people’s souls through politics just as much as they can from choosing not to participate in politics. I believe the lesson to take away from this is whichever you decide let it be not from selfish reasons but for a” eternal purpose .” Thank you.
Would you consider fighting for others’ life, liberty, happiness, etc wrong to fight for? I am considering becoming a lobbyist in order to fight for family values and rights (pro life, traditional marriage, home education). If I understand you correctly, you are just talking about when politics becomes an idol, correct?
Genesis, just a thought to throw into the discussion: while being a lobbyist for such values is good, wouldn’t it be a better use of time to focus time and energy on actually engaging in the lives of people who don’t hold those values in order to lead them to Jesus?
So then, you would consider learning an instrument, or another hobby a waste of time that should be used to talk to people about Jesus?
I believe ministry is very multifaceted, and anything—even politics can be used to bring people to Christ.
I think my main concern with politics and lobbying (and I confess I don’t exactly know what all lobbying involves) is that it tends to be a practice of knowledge and opinions rather than heart and relationships. God is primarily concerned about relationships. “Headbanging” tends to turn people off, whereas genuine love expressed through relationships is one of the most powerful and persuasion forces there is.
Kaira, I didn’t say anything was a “waste of time.” I’m just considering the fact that maybe political involvement isn’t the BEST use of a Christians time in discipling others to Christ.
Sorry, from your comment I thought that you were saying that anything that didn’t directly relate to the christian life was a waste of time that could be used to bring others to Christ and disciple them.
As you said our first priority should be the gospel, Thank you for explaining.
No, problem. I can see why that could be inferred from what I wrote.
I think that by using the term “fight” kinda says the wrong thing, somethings, most things aren’t worth “fighting” for. In the bible Peter fought to try to free Jesus from the officials that were trying to take him, and Jesus didn’t in the least agree with what he did:
John 18:10-11 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
In the end we are only responsible for what we do, in which case we ‘fighting’ is the last thing we should ever do, but don’t get me wrong, there are times we will end up having to fight, but we should only be on defence as Christians. Fighting should be the last thing we do.
I don’t think “fight” is the wrong term as long as we remember that we don’t fight flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces. In that case, a lot of “sword swinging” happened in the NT. But if you are referring to physical fighting, then I would go to Scripture. I see no instance where Christians used physical force to spread the Gospel or advance the Kingdom. In fact, the teachings of Christ and the Apostles would say the exact opposite. Much of the Kingdom’s advancement comes through suffering and sacrifice.
Correct, and I’ll be the first to admit, most times it’s easier to say “I’m going to physically hurt that person for doing that” than “I’ll pray for him” or even just talk to the person about it kindly. But we should do the right things which most times happen to be ‘hard things’.
I want to make sure that I don’t come across rude. One can’t tell inflection and facial expressions by text. 🙂 Wouldn’t I be influencing more people by lobbying? I mean my friends and people I know on a personal level would be influenced by my work (work for God that is), as well as the the politicians making those decisions?
If you can lobby AND pour energy into relationships on the personal level, you’d probably influence a lot of people! I guess I’ve just thought a lot about how American Christianity tries so hard to “force” Christian values in the political realm when really, let’s be honest, how much has it actually done for the Kingdom of God? Maybe we should be focusing more on “walking” Christian values in the context of the masses. I live in a community where most people are on welfare, high risk of gang violence. Abortion, pre-marital sex, same-sex relationships are all viewed as “normal”… How can I justify arguing with people at a political level if I’m not looking the ones I live around in the eye and caring enough for them to invest in their lives on a daily basis in order to lead them to the values I long our politicians to have? You change politicians minds, you might change a few laws. You change the PEOPLES minds, you WILL change society. (All my CAPS are for emphasis, not yelling. :-). Yes, I’d rather have a Christian lobbyist than a non-Christian lobbyist…. but I just wonder if there’s a better way.
I think I understand you better now. I guess because I don’t live in that kind of neighborhood I don’t see the problems on a day to day basis. Those are the problems I wasn’t too
I would be doing just that Asher. I’ve thought about this for a long time. Christians have been called many times to government. William Wilberforce is a wonderful example of this. We also need to remember that the Bible is full of people who (followers of God) who were involved in politics. King David, who was described as being a man after God’s own heart, Esther was almost phisically pulled in by the hand of God, and Paul told the Roman’s that he was a Roman citizen who had the right to a trial so he could witness to Ceasar.
Does this answer your question?
I’m reading the “Do hard things” book and I’m surprised how can we help our country, or neighborhood, or friends. I’m from Argentina, and I got this book, the last one that was in a conference.
Really we could have a big impact in our society.
¡Praise be to God!
Yes, Agus! You are so right! We can have a HUGE impact on our society. But the only impact worth having is one saturated with Jesus Christ! 🙂
Praise God indeed!
Thanks for commenting, Agus! So glad the book could encourage you.
so im not trying to be contentious or anything but by not standing up for our rights are we not depraving the ones to come after us, and the ones who are already here? yes i agree that we should not fight for our selfish rights but is it not our duty to fight for others? isnt that our purpose? to do good to seek justice to walk humbly with our God? even if that means standing up and saying no or standing up and saying yes? can we look past ourselves and think about what effect our actions and non-actions will have on ourselves? i thought it was a very well presented and thought out article and thank you for raising this importmat question
Yes, this has been a very interesting discussion.
I would agree with you. I believe we, in a America, have been given a very great opportunity to have say in our government and should, generally use it.
Jesse, thanks for your response! (Your not being anymore contentious than I was for writing the article! 🙂 )
My main goal for the article was to point out Christ’s example of laying down His rights as God. He was GOD, of all things! Yet He willingly laid down His life. Why? Because He cared more about an eternal kingdom, than a temporal one. Can we not adopt the same attitude as our Lord? No, actually, that’s not an option, it’s a requirement for following Christ.
What will we deprave the next generation of? Religious liberty? Guns? Abortions? The privilege of electing representatives?
Jesus Christ our Lord was crucified after much torture. Peter was crucified upside down. According to tradition, the Apostle Bartholomew was flayed alive and then crucified. Paul was beheaded. Many Christians have been tortured, burned as lanterns, beheaded, given to lions, imprisoned, whipped to death, ostracized, and much worse.
Because they would not deny Jesus Christ.
Earthly liberties are not a necessity for the kingdom of God nor are we entitled to them.
My concern for Christians, liberal and conservative, is that we get so caught up demanding our earthly rights. When someone tries to shut us up, we complain something like “I have a right to say this.” We plow ahead with our political agenda’s making enemies with unbelievers rather than winning them to Christ. Jesus doesn’t need people to buy into a fixed set of ideology: all He needs is people to accept Him as Lord. From such simple surrendered faith, He can do a mountain of work.
Jesus didn’t send us into the world to make democracies, or pursue religious freedom. He sent us into the world to make disciples and proclaim the Gospel. Yes a Gospel of freedom and liberty–but of spiritual freedom. A freedom that penetrates so deeply that we rejoice even in our suffering! A liberty in Jesus Christ that allows our souls and bodies to rejoice as we face certain death! We experience joy because we have met Jesus who has freed us from the bondage of sin and fear.
What will really deprave the next generation and those around us is for us to not live intimately with Jesus Christ. To let our love for God grow cold–that will deprave the next generation.
Look at history: when Constantine combined church with politics, the world was plunged into deep spiritual, social and political darkness. When Rome fell, so did the church. Let’s not do that again.
I do believe that we are called to defend the helpless, relieve the oppressed, and care for the poor (e.g. abortion, slavery; see Is. 58). But these issues will never be resolved solely through political force. In fact, they are primarily social and spiritual issues and should be primarily “fought” on social and spiritual levels. I truly believe that the reason abortion is a political issue today reveals our failure as the Church to influence the culture around us.
How does all this look exactly? I don’t really know. But I imagine it looks a lot like a cross: surrendering ourselves to being “crucified,” whether figuratively or literally, and a lot less like refusing to give-up our guns or freedom of speech.
Very good points. I think there is a danger with being too active in a political movement, because then we’re tempted to preach a politics rather than the kingdom of God. I also like your point that abortion and slavery should be less about politics. While I think we should push to make abortions illegal, I agree that we should fight it on a spiritual level.
I have not changed my position on whether Christians should be active in politics, but I’ve learned a lot in this ‘debate’, and I think I understand where you’re coming from. Thank you.
ok that makes more sense i do a little lobbying etc as far as anti- slavery efforts go and i do vote, random stuff like that. but i guess for me it comes back to what is our purpose here on Planet Earth? To love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The two greatest commandments. i guess if i was to young or didnt know how to speak out i would really like for someone to come and do it for me or to show me how… i guess i try to do all the good i can to all the people i can, whether they are in office, or whether they are random citizens… so for me at least that means maybe speaking out, it means making a stand for what i believe is right, not for my own comfort or my own ease but so that i can maybe and hopefully make a postive difference is someone elses life, even someone i may never meet.
I’ve had to face this growing up in a traditional Russian pentecostal church. Many thought it was wrong to get involved with politics. I saw otherwise growing up here in USA because not only it is perfectly legal to do so but also history shows us Martin Luther King Jr. set a great example for all following generations how to set the oppressed free. He also did it peaceably, biblicly and while glorifying and honoring the God of heaven and earth. That was always something that stayed lodged in my mind every time some of my fellow Russians would get defensive. Then some years later I came upon these verses.1 Timothy 2:1-2
New International Version (NIV) I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
So alongside what we can peaceably and legally do we can pray on all occasions and give thanks for all things because as we see in the book of Job Satan himself is in submission to God.
I pray God raises up believers willing to be bold loving and peace makers to the glory of God and to the bennefit of all mankind. May you all be blessed and strengthened by Gods grace.
Thanks for sharing your good insights, Barabara!
Oooh… I like this article a lot. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have obviously spent time wrestling through this issue and have come to some very counter-cultural convictions… Contrary even to America’s “church culture.” I have had some of the same thoughts as you but haven’t really spent time thinking about my stance on political invovlement. This was so eloquent, so timely. Thank you again for sharing your God-given gifts of writing and thinking deeply. I have enjoyed every single article you have posted on The Rebelution… Please keep it up! Don’t grow weary in doing good. 🙂
Thanks Katie! Your encouragement means a lot!
Thank you so much for this! It reminded me of what Nancy Leigh DeMoss said in Lies Women Believe. One of the lies ingrained in our culture is “I have my rights.” But the truth is we need to yield our rights for the glory of Jesus.
Amen Janine! Blessings!
Alex and Brett said themselves that low expectations are taking away our rights as teens to be successful in many ways etc. my point is god is a god of justice, true justice, pardon me but I don’t get how this article can be accurate… My favorite president was George Washington and he believed in human rights to the core… I agree that we should sacrifice to help others but when the right to religious freedom and the right of justice are violated… doesn’t that go against gods nature and if so should we be so quick to lay down our rights, our opportunities to reach out to people?? please help me out guys
Hi Joshua, Thanks for the question!
I won’t try to speak for Brett or Alex, but essentially they were saying that low expectations keep us from doing things that really matter, which are usually hard to do. That’s why they challenged us to “Do Hard Things.”
You’re right God is a god of justice. He’s also God of mercy, compassion, patience and holiness. Yes, it goes against God’s nature when our rights are violated, but it also goes against His nature and example to demand that those rights be honored.
That’s why forgiveness is so important. When someone violates my rights, forgiveness is me taking upon myself the penalty that the other person deserves. The best example of this is Jesus on the Cross.
Hey, would you accept a challenge from me? Go through the New Testament and find out how Jesus and His disciples handled their rights. If they did, what were their motives? Self-protection? Or so that the Gospel would be spread and the Father glorified?
Go back to Scripture! Not to how we’ve always believed for the past decades, or even by the example of well meaning Founding fathers. We are all frail. They may be mistaken. What does Scripture say?
(BTW, I’m sure you know this, but George Washington (also one of my favorite Presidents) owned slaves. Unfortunately, his belief in human rights had it’s limits.)
l I mean help me understand what you mean
After reading your article, it made me curious to see what some of the Christian leaders in our society had to say on the subject, and I stumbled across an extremely relevant piece from Breakpoint.com. You should listen to this breakpoint at the following link:
Additionally, Micheal Farris, a Christian and constitutional scholar, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, explained to one of his students why it is necessary for Christians to be involved in politics.
“Dr. Farris, I have some Christian friends who do not participate in any political action (not even voting). They base this on the fact that God is in control of everything. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”(Rom. 13:1, NIV, emphasis added). It is difficult to converse with them on the subject because they automatically accuse me of questioning the sovereignty of God. How would you respond to this? Thank you for the help.
They remind me of the person who insisted that John 16:3 was his favorite Bible verse. That verse says, For they have done this because they know neither the Father nor Me. I think they meant John 3:16 but were only barely familiar with the Bible.
Your friends need both Scriptural teaching and knowledge of American history and law.
On the Scriptural side. Have them read two passages from the Old Testament. Deut. 17:14 through the end of the chapter. And Hosea 8:1-4. The first passage teaches the children of Israel how to choose a king. Why would the people need to know how to choose a king if God just makes it happen by fatalism? The Hosea passage indicates that Israel was being punished for choosing the wrong leaders. How can God punish people for choosing wrongly if His choice always prevails?
On the law/history side, here is what they don’t know. This passage doesn’t say RULERS. It says “authority”–which is the right translation from the Greek. Who is the governing authority in the United States? There are two answers–the People and the Constitution. Elected officials are not the authorities in the ultimate sense.
Your friends have been placed by God in the role of a sovereign voter. If they fail to vote they are failing to carry out the role in which God has placed them. They are in sin. It is the same as a King of Israel saying…”I don’t feel like carrying out my duty as king. I want to be a peasant.” God placed the King in place, his duty is to rule. God placed your friends in place as sovereign voters.
Tell them you are saving them from serious sin by encouraging them to vote. Otherwise they will have to answer to God for their neglect of their spiritual offices.”
I hope this helps. Thank you for raising this important issue.
This was a very interesting article! I have to be honest that I have never really thought about this before, and it has prompted lots of discussions in my family now.
I have been thinking about how there is a difference between our “rights” and “responsibilities”. Our “rights” are privileges. We are obligated to carry out our responsibilities. For example, my dad has an obligation and responsibility to his family to protect us. If some one comes into my family’s house threatening us, my father will grab his guns and fight for our protection. It’s not a right; it’s an obligation and something he is expected to do for our family.
There also is a fine line between what we want and what we need. We need protection, food and shelter. We want to be heard, obeyed and respected. Which is more important? And which, as you said, exemplifies a life of self-sacrifice?
When followers of Jesus level anything other than love, it is disastrous. When we gather in the streets waving our cardboard signs and protesting homosexuality, abortion, politics and etc., what, or whom, are we representing? Personally, I think organizations like Save the Storks are a lot more beneficial than lobbying. People actually invest time, energy and care into people, informing them about the impact their decisions could make, and in the process save many lives, peacefully and lovingly. Like Asher W. farther down in the comments said, it seems wiser to invest in individuals than to complain to the government, as we individuals can greatly influence society.
Thank you yet again for another thought-provoking article! Please keep up the great work, and thank you for not being afraid to talk about heavy topics that God seems to be laying on your heart!
Great Article Christopher! Thanks so much for writing it!
Here is a quote from David Platt: “The whole goal of the American dream is to advance ourselves. The whole goal of the Gospel is to deny ourselves. The whole goal of the American dream is to make much of ourselves. The whole goal of the Gospel is to make much of God.” I am certainly not against politics. I believe we should support people who promote values such as the right to bear arms, the abolishment of abortion, and things like these. But we do not need more “rights.” We need people who have been truly impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As my pastor says, If the Gospel impacts individuals then it will impact families. If it impacts families, then it will impact the church. If it impacts the church, then it will impact our communities. If it impacts our communities, then it will impact our states and our nation and our world.
Really good quote and thoughts, Sarah! Thanks for sharing! God bless you as you seek to impact individuals and families!
Thanks for your thoughts and story!
Your right, our culture is increasingly anti-God. But so was the Roman empire, yet Paul didn’t denounce his citizenship. I think he could have cared less. Instead, he used it as a tool for spreading the Gospel and glorifying God. The rights that we have are gifts from God. I think it would be a grave mistake and sin against God to despise them, unless keeping them meant we had to deny Christ. They are gifts, but not necessities. Gifts should not be demanded–that’s rude and self-seeking–but we should use them wisely. We are stewards of what God gives us, therefore we should be good stewards. But neither should we get upset if He takes things away.
Again, thanks for challenging us!
And who gives you those rights? You do. Something that this country was founded on was that the People govern themselves. The government isn’t the feds, as many people think. The government is the Constitution and therefore you because the power of the governing comes from the governed. So you are in charge of your rights anyway. If you denounce your citizenship you are denouncing really the desire to be a part of others in the governing of yourself. I’m not throwing away the rights that I have been given, in fact I am seizing them back from others who would abuse them. I am governing myself as both or God and the REAL government dictate.
No, I have no rights except from God and He calls me to lay them down, if the cause of Christ requires it. Or to use them to seek justice for the oppressed.
As far as government: For whatever reason, God in His Providence made me an American. He has commanded that I give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7). The People of the United States of America have placed President Barack Obama in a position of authority. They also have the power to remove him from authority, but until then, he is given certain authority over me. The Congress and Supreme Court are also given certain authority over me. This extends down from the federal, to state, to city governments: certain people are given authority over me and they deserve my respect, honor, and obedience so far as my *conscience* allows, because God has placed them over me, whether or not that’s through the people and Constitution or military force. Even as Nero was (probably) the God-given authority of Paul when he wrote this: “Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).
Thanks for your thoughts and discussion!
Well, to each his own. I agree that each government is put in place by God. But once it turns away from Him, we are to forsake it. Ours has turned away from him, and so I am forsaking it in favor of Him. But, again, to each his own. The question you need to ask yourself is will you take Romans 13 blindly even when it opposes God. I will not. I do not think that he meant it in any way to go that far. My God is always first, no matter what.
I agree. God always comes first. That’s why I listen to Romans 13! 🙂 Paul wrote that passage under a tyrannical, imperialistic, persecuting, adulterous, murderous, pedophilic and idolatrous government! Of all governments and cultures that were anti-God, it was the Romans. I’m not claiming to understand exactly how to apply the passage, I just see that it’s there in God’s word and must mean something!
I said in my above comment that I will honor and obey my authorities as far as my conscience allows. If the government tells me to drive on the right side of the road, pay taxes or whatever, I will do that. But if it tells me to take the life of another human, that I cannot do.
I also stand by my assessment that God set up the Constitution and that it is Caesar for us. Under this definition, the feds are criminals as they are going against the Constitution, the highest authority and law in the land.
Evolutionists say that complex life came about by random chance. This article in some ways shares this evolutionary view of the religious freedoms that have existed in parts of the West for the last 300 years or so just somehow evolved out of nothing. The reason you are able to write this article is because of Christians who believed that obedience to Christ demanded that they do all in their power to defend the right of the unsaved to hear the words of life and be saved! In practice this meant defending regimes that were tolerant of the gospel and opposing those that weren’t. In the societies where they were defeated the the light of the gospel was snuffed out for centuries. In the societies where they were successful the gospel was preached freely and millions were, over numerous generations, saved. You’re right its not about guns, abortion or democracy its about obeying your Lord and saving the lost. How can they be saved if they are prevented from hearing the words of life?
Thanks for your thoughts! You are so right! It is about obeying our Lord and glorifying Him. Thanks for reminding us!
In China, they have little religious freedom, but one of the fastest growing churches in the world. Once while in a closed country, I sat across from an old man sick on his bed who had spent his life getting sent to prison and tortured because he would not deny Christ. Every time he went to prison, his house church grew and grew. When I visited his house church, it had grown to an attendance of 5,000! Yes, it was a “house church.” 🙂 I pray and hope I too will show such diligence and obedience toward my Lord.
In China freedom of religion can vary between village two villages in the same district. Jailing and releasing captives is a practice designed to discourage a type of behaviour not eliminate a belief system. Had the Chinese Communists clamped down on the Protestant church in the same genocidal manner that the Catholics and Muslims did the Chinese landscape would look a lot like Catholic Europe or North Africa and the Middle East. This story was repeated in Africa and Asia where societies only became open to the gospel when someone was prepared to defend the right to hear, believe and convert — whether it was a colonial administrator or a tribal chief. This is not new. If you look at the re-evangelisation of Europe post Roman empire this reality is demonstrated in every country. It’s about first principles: If you’re genuinely serious about the gospel you will ensure that your society does not lose the freedom to hear, believe and convert.
I’m hesitant to write this, since it is my first post on this whole site, and because I feel like nobody has really mentioned a point of view I’m about to share, but this whole site is about standing up and shining forth as stated in Mathew 5:15, so I’ll do just that.
I have a book of scripture most other Christians don’t label as scripture. There are two examples I want to pull from this book though, and it brings a fair point, whether you believe the book or not. During the first particular passage of scripture, there is a big war going on between the people that have labeled themselves as the ‘Freemen’ and the other political party labeled as the ‘Kingmen’. A leader of the Freemen and an advocate for Christ not only speaks these words, but also writes them on a cloth and makes a flag out of them to be a banner to all the world;
“In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.”
The biggest point I would like to reference from this quote is the fact that they do not fight at all for themselves or necessarily their ‘rights’ but for the rights of those they love. The second passage I would like to reference from my scriptures is also another war (funny how wars bring out the best examples, but also the worst of times). This war is between a group called the ‘Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ and their brethren the Lamanites. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies just prior to the war were Lamanites until they were converted unto Christ by missionaries. The following excerpt is scripture that tells of the battle scene.
“Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the
sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left,
but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword—
Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.
And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they
would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which
they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying
upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.”
Christ gave his life for us, so that we could live again. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies gave their lives, as Christ did, so that their brethren could see the error of their ways and repent and find Christ as they had hitherto done. The Freemen however, took up their arms in defense of those they loved, and you know what happened? They saved their people from falling into the hands of Satan.
The point I’m trying to make and emphasize is that no matter what your stance, no matter what you believe you should do, if it invites and entices others to come unto Christ, you should do it. God will multiply your efforts tenfold, if they be founded in Him, and are acted upon with a sincere desire to be a disciple.
Thanks for this article Christopher! I, not unlike many Americans in this day and age, have been thinking and wondering about this very topic. I found your view of the subject helped me understand better.
While I still feel it is well to use the power the government has granted us (proving to be more limited than we thought) to try to improve the living conditions and welfare of our country and it’s citizens, I most definitely agree that you are right in saying that “our rights” isn’t a hill we as Christians should choose to die on. Yet, it makes my blood boil when I think on some of the injustices being done.
Yes Mallory! You nailed the core of what I was trying to say! Thanks for sharing! I’m glad it was helpful! Blessings!
Ok, I know I’m joining this discussion late. Since I’m not terribly into politics, the title of this article sounded like it would be something I wouldn’t have been interested in.
However, I was totally wrong.
Chris, yet another excellent article. Some great points, too, and a new perspective on standing up for your rights that I hadn’t thought of before. One that I think a lot of us, as Christians, haven’t thought much about. But we should, shouldn’t we?
You’re absolutely correct. We are called to follow Christ’s example. As Christians, we bear His name. He surrendered His rights for the purposes of His father, and ultimately, for our salvation.
So, I would say I agree with what you say here, Christopher. And excellent closing, as well.
Wow. OK, I am an American, born and raised. I have spent years putting my hand over my heart and reciting the pledge. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, UNDER GOD, indivisible, for liberty and justice for all” We, as Americans are given the privilege, the opportunity, to vote and to stand up and fight for the principles this country was founded on. I will be able to vote for the next president, and I am so excited. America was great once and then we fell into the pit of the teenage years. We are the future stewards of this beautiful land we call home. My grandparents came here from Scotland and ran a Christ-focused drug treatment center for years. That is the American dream. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Joy.
(Sorry if I rambled or started to sound angry, I waited for weeks to write this specifically so that I wouldn’t be angry. This is just one topic that I am extremely passionate about. Thank you for the well thought out article though, it made me reconsider views that I have always held to be true. Even the tiniest shift can be hard for me to consider 🙂 well done)
I think that it depends on what rights you are fighting for. Rights like the right to bear arms, I believe that that right is necessary, but the right to have abortions is something I completely oppose.
I appreciate your article! I agree that God asks us to “show [people] that relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of temporal circumstances, is the true path to Life, Liberty and even Happiness.”
I also have a few questions:
How did you come to the conclusion that “To demand our rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness means we must forsake the cross and at the same time forsake Christ”?
In saying that “Demanding our rights is self-protection; Christ calls us to a lifestyle of self-sacrifice, of total abandonment for the Gospel, even to the point of death — or shame — or cultural snobbery,” are you saying that the Bible forbids us to protect ourselves and instructs us to strive to be killed, shamed, and/or snubbed?
God did not create this earth for the devil. He created it for us and gave us dominion over it and all things on it. He did not create us to lay down, he created us to fight the good fight. He created us to do his work until he returns not to give up to go down dying. Jesus was crucified so we would not have to be. God is not asking for us to hang on a cross for him he wants us to fight for what is ours. This earth was created by and for our God we need to fight for it until he returns.
I totally agree, CD! God did give us dominion over the world. You are right! But we forfeited that authority by submitting to Satan through sin.
Jesus came to take back that authority from Satan, but he didn’t do it with political or militaristic force, He did it by dying on the cross because His kingdom is not of this world (Jon 18:36).
As Christians we are to imitate Christ in every way. You are right. If we are crucified, it is not for the sins of the world. But if we are persecuted it is because of their sin–not for payment, but as a result of. And the Bible promises that anyone who wants to follow Christ WILL BE PERSECUTED (John 15:18,20; 1 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12).
Even Paul, the great, strong Apostle, said he rejoiced in his infirmities, reproaches, and persecutions, because, he said, that when he was weak he was made strong (2 Corinthians 12:10; see also Matt. 5:12).
We are supposed to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel so that others may be saved and God may be glorified. We lay down our rights, as Christ laid down our rights lives, to show that CHRIST IS ENOUGH and that GOD IS STRONG ENOUGH to save us.
“Laying down our lives” isn’t a matter of sitting in the dust and refusing to participate while everyone else fights the battle. Rather, laying down our lives is an act of warfare against the enemy. Some of the enemy’s weapons are pride, selfishness, and self-protection; laying down our lives and rights is an act of saying “I refuse pride, I refuse selfishness, I refuse to protect myself” and “I choose love. I choose YOUR life over MY life. If I must die for the glory of God and for others’ salvation, so be it.”
One day, Christ is going to come with force and a trumpet and drive out Satan and all of his armies and he will restore the earth and make His home with men, not just in their hearts, but physically.
Until then–until that rescue, until that restoration–the kingdom of God is built in men’s hearts. It’s a matter of loving our neighbors, our enemies, our brothers, and God. It’s a matter of serving those around us; of protecting those in danger, of caring for the orphan, widow, and homeless, and of personally resisting what is evil and pursuing what is Good. It’s a matter of prayer and devotion to Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit. Of resting and abiding in His love; embracing and rejoicing in our identity as children of God and of walking in the spirit, and not according to what our flesh thinks we should do. It’s a matter of living in the Light (transparency), in the Truth, embracing Christ’s righteousness with Faith, being ready to proclaim the Gospel, and praying at all times in the Spirit (Eph. 6).
I know this is long winded, but I truly believe that the Kingdom of God is far greater than America. Thank God!
Hebrews 10:32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you
knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
Christopher please stop listening to the devils lies.
What are you replying to? I’m a little confused here. Are you replying to another comment?
I agree with people saying that it is different in America’s case because the government is supposed to be government by consent of the governed. I don’t see any problem with standing up for the protection of our rights especially freedom of speech and religion because this is protecting Christians around the nation from possible conviction for their beliefs. The right to bear arms is important because it is what keeps a government from becoming corrupt. When the government fears the people, you have freedom. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.
Thanks for your comment, Liam!
We may be living under a different government, in a different millennium, with different culture (although Rome was technically a Republic; and our culture increasingly reminds me of the Greeks).
But our mission and purpose as Christians–imitators of Christ; literally meaning “little christs” or “like Christ”–never changed. Our purpose is still to pursue and promote the kingdom of God, which NT Scripture very clearly says is not a flesh-and-blood battle but a Spiritual battle (I’m not disregarding OT Scripture, but that was under a different covenant). All of our warfare is done under Christ’s authority and by the power of the Holy Spirit who arms us with spiritual weapons and it is aimed at evil spiritual authorities and their weapons (check out Ephesians 6 as the very clear scriptural teaching about this).
Thanks again for your thoughts, Liam! Unfortunately, I still disagree. =)
Hey Christopher. Good article. I love how you make the point that our first priority as Christians is the Kingdom of God, not America and its government. A book a think you might enjoy and that I found extremely helpful when considering the Christian’s role in government and society is “A Christian Manifesto” by Dr. Francis Schaeffer. It gave me a new perspective on this subject. I just thought about that book as I was reading this and thought you might find it interesting and helpful.
We should vote for someone that’s going to fight for what’s best for everyone and for the country not for just for Christians, there is nothing wrong in voting for a Christian but it shouldn’t be your only reason to vote for someone. News flash the Bible promises it’s going to get worse for Christians and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. There is nothing wrong Biblically speaking if your family is in danger and you kill someone to protect them, but if someone points a gun at you for being a Christian you are called to die for Jesus not to kill for Him take for instance when he was arrested in Getsanamy. That is one of the huge differences between Islam and Christianity, a muslim is called to kill for allah while a Christian is called to die for Jesus.
Christians think that they can change the world by voting republican or by voting for a Christian candidate, well they are wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I want what is best for the United States of America and I pray that God will put the right person in the white house, but Christians are forgetting that this world is not our home! Nationalism has taken over much of Christianity and they really don’t belong together. You can be a patriot but you have to remember that your a Christian first and that this world is not your home!
Hi Christopher, this is a great article! Really thought provoking! However I struggle to understand this in the light of verses such as James 1:27 or Proverbs 31:9… how can we explain those verses?
This is my opinion. But, I think that it is possible to be active in
politics and working for the Kingdom of God. I know that getting
politically involved is something that God has called me to do. I always
think of William Wilberforce. When asked, (I am paraphrasing) “Are you
going to use your voice to follow God or change the world (meaning
getting involved in politics)”. His answer was to do both. Because of
him, the slave trade was abolished in England. I believe that he honored
God with all of his heart, furthered God’s Kingdom, and loved his
country even though it was essentially evil. Our founding fathers did
this as well. I believe we are called to be shining lights in this world
and for some that is in the political realm.