Sunday, January 13, 2008

Our Private Religion?

I find the political and regulatory demand that churches must refrain from supporting political candidates to be an interesting study in how self avowed Christians worship God. By regulatory law, Churches cannot openly support one candidate in a political race or else risk their tax-exempt status. By cultural “law” Christians are told that their Christianity should be private. It should not be part of their political thinking. Of course that demand is typically made by people who are not informed about the true tenets of Christianity –a Christian is WHO you are, NOT what you do. You should behave as a Christian in your home watching TV, in your car driving around, in the mall shopping and YES in the voting booth voting for a political candidate.

People who are not truly submitted to God’s complete leading can easily, and subconsciously, turn on and turn off their being led by the Word of God. “My Christianity is private” (or the more sanitized) “my religion is private” is what you will hear them say. What you won’t hear them say is “my public behavior or words shouldn’t reflect my religion”. But that is in essence the same thing, is it not? If you say “my religion is private”, are you not also saying “my lack of religion is public”? In essence, “my lack of religion” is more publicly acceptable – just as “my religion is private” is acceptable. But acceptable by whom? You? The public? Both? How about by God? Does He matter in this equation? Well, listen to Jesus' words in Matthew Chapter 10: “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 NLT) How can one acknowledge HIM before men if one’s religion is private? If my religion is private how would men know?

I say all of this because as I was shaving this morning the Holy Spirit brought to my mind my vote in this upcoming Presidential Election. In past elections since I became a born again believer in Jesus Christ, I have always voted based on the biblical principles that God has taught me through the studying of the Bible and the teaching of Godly leaders. As such, I have ended up voting for the Republican candidate, mainly because they either presented themselves as being Christian or because the principles of the Republican Party was more closely aligned with consistent biblical doctrine than that of the Democratic Party. Please note, I said “more closely aligned” and not “entirely aligned”. As a realist I recognize that until the coming government of Christ, no human government is really completely devoted to true biblical leadership. With the ongoing Republican Primary, I found myself focusing more on the need to fight global terrorism as my primary motivation for choosing which candidate for whom to vote. As a result, I have been consistent in my intention to vote for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. I firmly believe that he would be steadfast in his resistance of and attacks on terrorists. I still feel that way. However from the moment I first heard Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speak, it was clear that he more closely represented the biblical worldview that I myself hold. I may not agree with his stance on everything (I probably don’t), but on balance I am more closely aligned with his views than that of Giuliani. Despite this however, I have remained steadfast in my support of the New York Mayor...until my shaving moment this morning.

God speaks to people (through His Holy Spirit) in different ways. For me, He tends to insert thoughts and motivations in my mind as I am doing seemingly routine things. That He speaks to me at all is something for which I am truly grateful. There has been many a time when due to my own willful disobedience, I am unable to hear Him. Not because He is not speaking, but because I am not listening. However, this morning while shaving, His Holy Spirit spoke very clearly (and for the unchurched reader I don’t mean verbally). He said to me that I must vote for Mike Huckabee, his Christian representative in this race. My very human and rational mind will war against this directive at times, reasoning that Mr. Huckabee could never win a General Election against the Democrats. However, God’s chosen people had no latitude to invoke human reasoning when for example God told the prophet Joshua to have them march around the city of Jericho seven times and then shout as one in order to cause solid brick walls to come tumbling down. Their job (as children of God) was to simply obey, and let God manage the task of tearing down the Jericho wall. (Joshua Chapter 6)

So in this upcoming State Primary, I will be voting for Mr. Huckabee, against my practical human judgment.

There are those who may read this and wonder why it is that I wholeheartedly write-off the notion of voting for the Democratic candidates. My answer is simply this: As I have studied the Word of God, I see consistency in God’s commands and requirements for living a righteous life. The Bible says not to kill (unless in self defense or authorized by your government). As such, support for abortion (the killing of unborn children) is not biblically allowed; the following biblical scripture I believe bears out this position: "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life (the life of the child)… (Exodus 21:22-23 NIV – italics mine) The Democrats support abortion. The Bible is clear that there is one true God. There are not many Gods, nor are there many paths to that one true God. There is only one path: through the blood of Jesus Christ as the Bible states in John: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV). The Democrats are reticent to utter the name of Jesus Christ singularly or consistently. They tend to prefer “their religion private” – see John Kerry in the 2004 Election as a representative symbol. The Bible exhorts man to “pray without ceasing” (in effect praying consistently). The Democrats as a rule tend to support the ban on praying in public. They support the ban on children praying in school. Jesus doesn’t: One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:13-14 NLT) For the children, Jesus clearly doesn't support “the my religion is private” approach. Look at the type of Supreme Court judges that Democrats prefer. As a general rule, the Democrats and especially their supporters would strongly prefer an agnostic or polytheistic culture.

As a Christian, I can’t suspend my biblical opposition to these principles when it comes to choosing a candidate or party to support. Churches, because of the tax law implications, should always support biblical principles not necessarily candidates. They should always encourage their congregation to vote on biblical principles. Staying “neutral” or “non-committal” when an election is so public should not be a position that a true biblically-based church should take. If that causes Christians to vote more for one political party versus another so be it. As a Christian, God looks at your motivation for EVERYTHING you do. Voting is no different.

A God who sends people to Hell?