Because of the recent ruling by the US Supreme Court, overturning California’s Proposition 8, we have responded with a series of blogs about how the Christian should respond. This is the third and final of three blogs that ParkingSpace23 will be writing: (1) The Bible and Homosexuality; (2) God’s Design for Marriage; (3) The Christian, Homosexuality, and Government.
As discussed in the previous blogs, homosexuality is a sin because the Word of God defines it as such. It is a perverse sexual behavior. For those who struggle with homosexuality, there is hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11). Part of that hope rests in understanding what a God-honoring marriage looks like. Understanding these truths and the present time in which we live, the Christian’s relationship to the government in light of homosexuality must be considered.
A Christian Government? Nope.
The United States of America is not and nor has it ever been a “Christian nation.” Was there a Protestant influence? Yes. Were the Founding Fathers Christians? Not exactly, they were “theistic rationalists,” believing a hybrid between natural religion, Protestantism, and reason but reason was the decisive element for most of them.
Furthermore, Christians are not on earth to make the nations Christian. We are not on this earth to establish a Christian empire. Nor is it possible to establish a Christian nation. An unredeemed man remains in a state of total depravity. “Total” might be the wrong word to describe man’s sinfulness since man is never as bad as he could be. Man is radically depraved in that every part of a man is affected. Man can not consciously act out of any desire for the glory of God outside of God’s salvific grace. Radical depravity is universal in nature. In other words, all humans are affected by depravity. There is no one righteous, no, not one (1 Kings 8:46; Pss 14:1-3: 53:1-3; Prov 20:9; Rom 1:18–3:20). Sin has touched every part of the unregenerate man (Titus 1:15-16). The will is infected (Rom 1:32; 7:18-19; Eph 2:2-3). The intellect cannot escape the man’s radical depravity (Rom 1:21; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 4:17-18). The unregenerate heart is radically depraved (Jer 17:9; Mk 7:21–23). Man can do things that are good for society, their friends, their family and for themselves. But man in and of himself can never do spiritual good that places them in a positive spiritual relationship with God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in an interview with Carl Henry in 1980 said this:
“It amazes me that evangelicals have suddenly taken such an interest in politics.” He went on to call such interest “sheer folly…. You can’t reform the world. That’s why I disagree entirely with the ‘social and cultural mandate’ teaching and its appeal to Genesis 1:28. It seems to me to forget completely the Fall. You can’t Christianize the world. The end time is going to be like the time of the Flood. The condition of the modern world proves that what we must preach more than ever is ‘Escape from the wrath to come!’ The situation is critical. I believe the Christian people–but not the church–should get involved in politics and social affairs. The kingdom task of the church is to save men from the wrath to come by bringing them to Christ. This is what I believe and emphasize. The main function of politics, culture, and all these things is to restrain evil. They can never do an ultimately positive work. Surely the history of the world demonstrates that. You can never Christianize the world” (Christianity Today, February 8, 1980, pp. 33-34).
The video below is a MUST watch by John MacArthur.
A Christian’s Responsibilities to an Earthly Government
Remember the Gospel
Christians are not here to make the nations Christian nations. We are not on this earth to establish a Christian empire. Jesus stated,
- Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
It is not our goal to establish governments, but to make disciples. It is not our hope to see the passage of “Christian laws” or to pass laws advocating social justice, but to see men and women pass through the waters of baptism. It is not our purpose to teach people the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, but teach people to obey every command of King Jesus.
Trust the Sovereignty of God
We can confidence in God because He is in control. When government turns morality upside down and when government persecutes righteousness, we can have confidence in God. We know that He is Sovereign over Satan and sin (Job 1:12; 2:6; Lk 5:21; 22:31). We know that He is sovereign over nature and natural disasters (Psalm 107:29; Nahum 1:3-6). We know that He is sovereign over sickness and disease (John 9:3; 11:4). We know that He is sovereign over every human (Acts 13:48; Rom 9:17-18). We know that He upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:3). Surely we can also have confidence in God because He is sovereign over the nations.
- Yahweh , the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. (2 Chronicles 20:6)
- So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:2)
- May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:20-21)
Ultimately, we look forward to the reign of King Jesus on earth. Only the kingdom of King Jesus “will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44)
Submit to Government Regulations
- Then He said to them, “Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
- Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God…Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. (Romans 13:1, 7)
- Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. (1 Peter 2:13-14)
If government demands us to sin or denounce God then there is a time to not obey government (Dan 3:17-18; Acts 4:19-20; 5:29-32). But it is never the Christian’s role to actively rebel against the government. Joseph Brant of the Mohawk tribe found it ironic when Wheelock wrote him using every argument in favor of why Brant and the Mohawk ought to join the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Brant reminded Wheelock how he used to pray with his family, “that they might be able to live as good subjects, to fear God and honor the King.”
We never want to be accused of hypocrisy. If we remember the gospel, trust in the sovereignty of God, and submit to government regulations then we must also pray fervently.
- First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
- Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. (Titus 3:1-2)
The 1 Timothy passage is in the context of God’s salvific work and Paul’s salvific hope for
Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20). The Titus passage is in the context of the Christian’s sanctification (Tit 2:11-15). Thus the Christian’s sanctification and relationship with government is intimately connected by prayer. We must pray diligent for those that we vote for both in deciding who to vote for in the booth and for those who are in office. We must pray for our Mayors, our State representatives, our Judges, our Congressmen and Congresswomen, our Senators, our President.
If you or I are known more for our protest than our prayer something is wrong.
Live as Citizens of Heaven
- For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)
- Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents (Philippians 1:27-28)
The word politeuomai is not Paul’s customary word to describe Christian conduct or behavior (peripateo). It literally means “to live as citizens” and the adverb “worthy” (axios) means “worthily, in a manner worthy of, suitably.” Paul is drawing from their citizenship in heaven (3:18-20). Thus the Philippians were to live a life suitable to what God had done to save the Philippians (1:6). To live as a citizen in a manner suitable of the gospel is to live a life consistent with God’s Word. It is to live with integrity as the believer attempts to apply the Scriptures to every aspect of his or her life (Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12; Tit 2:10; 1 Pet 3:11, 14). We must strive to live as citizens of heaven, merely passing through the earth, “For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor” (1 Pet 2:15-17)