I minister in the metropolitan area of Washington D.C. many, even most, of the people in the church have their livelihoods directly tied to the government, and truth be told I used to be a full-fledged political junky. Add to that that I am very conservative in my theology and that when it comes to “social issues” I heartily affirm that the only correct (non-sinful) positions are the biblical positions, and by biblical positions I mean as understood for the first 1800 years of church history. I wholeheartedly affirm that abortion is murder, that all sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage is sin, that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman, and that marriage is to be permanent (it is a covenant before God and excepting adultery, Matt 19:9 and abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, 1 Cor 7:15, there are no permissible grounds for divorce). If ever there was a pulpit that that you would expect to be political it would be mine. But it is not, I never discuss politics from the pulpit, let me give you five reasons why.
- It is not that important.
I am not saying that politics or public policies don’t matter, but compared to the worth of eternal souls, politics are simply not that important. The life of men is as ephemeral as the blooming of wild flowers (James 1:11). Politics, and all of the policies that flow out of them are simply not that important when viewed in light of eternity. When I step into the pulpit I have 45 minutes to bring a message that will edify believers and warn unbelievers to flee the wrath to come, I don’t want to waste a single one of those minutes on something of non eternal import.
- It is entirely unnecessary.
In am dedicated to expository preaching, and more than that I am dedicated to the lectio continua approach to expository preaching. I preach chapter by chapter verse by verse through books of the bible. I do this to present the whole counsel of God, so that no passage is ever taken out of context. Since I have been at Piedmont Bible Church, I have preached through the Paul’s letter to the Colossians and the first thirteen chapters of the Gospel of Mark, and honestly I can’t think of a single social or cultural issue that hasn’t been addressed in these texts. That said, the most important thing is not that people think rightly about any individual issue, but that they live out a biblical world view, wherever they go. If they are equipped to live out a Christian world view at home, at work, and even when they are in their car stuck in traffic, they are going to take that world view into the voting both with them. My goal is the same as Paul’s, to proclaim Christ so that everyone might reach spiritual maturity (Col 1:28).
- Our Faith Is In Christ
Any faith placed in anything or anyone else other than in Christ is misplaced. Psalm 146:3 puts it bluntly “Put not your trust in princes; in a son of man in whom there is no salvation.” Politicians of all stripes are simply fallen, sinful men, even when they profess Christ that is no guarantee that they will not act in an immoral way, govern poorly and in the process profane the name of Christ. When I arrived here in Virginia, many people told me how it was such a blessing to live in a state with a Christian governor, his name was Bob McDonell. If you recognize that name it is most likely not because of his good, godly governance, but because of his recent conviction on eleven counts of corruption. As Psalm 118:9 says “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in Prince”, and there is no room in my pulpit for second best.
- The Internet, Yes I Said The Internet
We live in a time when every sermon can be heard all over the world, and is recorded for posterity. I have had the joy and privilege of interacting with 2 men who have been listening to the messages on the Piedmont Bible Church Website. How or why they found it, I don’t know, but I do know that they used some of the messages there to inform their own messages to their flock. One is in India, the other is in Sub-Saharan Africa. In today’s world you need to preach in such away that your message is just as relevant on the other side of the Globe as it is in your own zip-code.
And because sermons are now recorded, they cannot be anchored in current events, including and especially electoral politics. One of the pioneers in recording sermons was Grace Community Church after John MacArthur stepped into the pulpit, and all of the messages he was preached are available for free download. That is remarkable enough, but what is truly remarkable is every message is as relevant today as the day it was preached, and the reason is simple. They are about the Word of God and just the Word of God. If 50 years from know someone in Tanzania were to listen to my sermon from this past Sunday I would want it to be just as edifying then and there as it is here and now. When that is the goal, there is simply no room for politics.
- Jesus Was Apolitical
Although everyone from libertarians to socialists have claimed Christ as their own it is simply not so. No matter what the sojourners crowd may say, Jesus was not primarily concerned with social justice. And with apologies to Bill O’Reilly the notion that Jesus was executed by the Romans because he was a tax resisting libertarian is simply preposterous. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). And Mark, with his usual brevity summarized the core of His message in Mark 1:15, “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” Notice what is missing, any mention of social issues, economics or the Roman Empire. Moreover 1 Peter 2:11 makes explicit that believers are aliens and sojourners in this world. Our citizenship is in heaven, and that has to inform our preaching.
I wholeheartedly believe that believers should, as their conscience dictates, engage in the political process. I am thankful for the freedoms we are afforded here in the United States, I hate the injustice I see all around me, including in our political and economic system and I know that decisions made in state capitals and in the corridors of power in Washington D.C. have far reaching effects, but as long as I am able, my exclusive desire is to preach Christ and Him crucified. And that simply leaves no room for politics in the pulpit.