A BASIC OVERVIEW OF SOME BIBLICAL POLITICAL PRINCIPLES FOR NATIONS, CHURCHES, ORGANIZATIONS OR YOUR LOCAL KIDS CLUB 🙂
Some wit once said that politics has a long and ancient history. It comes from the Greek, with poly meaning many, and tics meaning ticks. Therefore politics is the science of many ticks sucking the life blood out of the population. While that’s a joke, there have been many cases throughout history where oppressive and corrupt politicians have done that very thing. But does God have anything to say about politics? Of course. He has principles that are valuable for every subject and He had quite a lot to say on politics.
Political choices can change the course of history in beneficial or harmful ways. But they can also cause division, broken relationships, sometimes even crimes and wars if wise principles are not followed. Does God have principles about how we should interact with politics? Yes, He does and they are as usual all based on love and concern for all people, but esp. the oppressed.
Most Christians/churches don’t talk about this very much…and when they do, they often choose a couple litmus test values instead of any kind of comprehensive view of what God says on the issue. That’s like what the Jews did in cherry picking what they wanted to believe on the issue of the role of the Messiah. It doomed their nation. And when we cherry pick God’s principles on any topic, instead of looking at all God says on it, the results are often harmful or disastrous. Jesus demonstrated a crucial principle of truth in Luke 24:25-27 that truth is found by looking at most/all God says on a topic and combining all the ideas (scholars call this coherence truth, and many believe it is one of the most effective ways to find truth).
If we want nations, churches, organizations, communities or any group hat has any kind of politics involved to be beneficial, thriving and peaceful, from national governments down to even local boy scouts, we need to learn and follow them.
Some have said it’s better to avoid politics. But God through EGW said that when issues of morality and justice are at stake, Satan wants godly people to be uninvolved in politics. As another wise person said, the only thing required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. Long ago Plato put it this way, “If you take no interest in politics, you are doomed to be ruled by fools.”
Why should Christians care about politics?
–Politics influences if we have freedom of worship or not.
–Politics influences how much freedom and justice of various kinds there is in societies.
–Politics influences cost of school, cost of health care, etc.
–Politics influences if families are stable or not.
–Politics decides tax levels and if economic exploitation and abuse are allowed or not.
–Politics decides if wars are fought or peace is followed.
–Our choices influence who is the leader and we are partly responsible for the decision they make that harm or improve lives.
and much more.
Above all else, it’s extremely important for Christians to remain united and follow God’s principles in daily life. This is far more powerful than what politicians do in spreading freedom and the highest quality of life for all as research shows.
Don’t worry too much if your candidate doesn’t win. The day to day activities of church are far more powerful in bringing decent lives and justice to people than anything else. The Bible indicates this and research proves it.
My republican friends are usually concerned about abortion, Marxism, secularism/atheism, homosexuality, secular media and issues like that that harm many lives. Republicans think you can’t get any more evil than these, that they ruin and destroy lives and families and that some of them will cause people to be lost for eternity. And there is good evidence that these have caused at least hundreds of millions of deaths and harmed billions of lives.
My democrat friends are usually concerned about the very lethal greed of the elite (which the Bible indicates is the root of all evil), healthcare, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, some are very against the devastation of war and other issues which harm a lot of lives. Similarly, they think you can’t get any more evil than these injustices, that they ruin and destroy lives and families and that some of them will cause people to be lost for eternity. And there is good evidence from Bible principles and science that these evils have caused at least billions of deaths and billions of harmed lines.
Before and after elections, even if you have voted differently, keep loving and working in harmony with those who voted similarly or differently from you and work against the injustices that all see and reduce/eliminate them.
One of the most tragic things is extremely sophisticated types of propaganda are used constantly to influence people to think that buying material things is the way to happiness, and to spend far more of their resources on objects rather than people and their welfare. This happens at all levels of society and most are conned by this sadly.
Statistics from a major missions site are shocking. They are focused on missions, but the facts can easily apply to justice, poverty, racism, abortion and many other issues:
–Evangelical Christians could provide all of the funds needed to plant a church in each of the 6,900 unreached people groups with only 0.03% of their income.
–“The Church has roughly 3,000 times the financial resources and 9,000 times the manpower needed to finish the Great Commission.”
–Problem: “Americans have recently spent more money buying Halloween costumes for their pets than the amount given to reach the unreached.”
The issue is far beyond Halloween costumes. Many things Christians and Americans buy are useless and not just useless, they are thrown away within a few months of being bought. Christians could finish the Great Commission, stop nearly all abortion, nearly all poverty, end nearly all racism, slavery, much family break up and many evils and injustices in the world in a few years if every Christian just made wise daily choices on how to spend our money, time and resources and focused them on people instead of things.
There are deceptions in politics that can be harmful too. One of the most serious is to align with a political party and blindly follow whatever they say without regard to God’s principles. Christians should be involved in politics and influencing governments as godly people were in the Bible, but they should follow the example of Jesus. He refused to place his allegiance with any political party, and often strongly criticized both conservatives and liberals of his time. He approved of and spent time with honest individuals who were seeking truth. Both major parties have some good points, but both almost always abandon/betray God’s principles in major ways.
Academics show that political parties has often been used as a method that brainwashes people to ignore evidence and facts in many cases and even wrecks ability to do basic math.
And this is very serious, because if people are willing to compromise their principles in things like politics, how much more so will they do so in times of persecution. Frequent compromises have a major effect on not just personal character, but national character.
God has at least 20 principles about politics. I’ve listed them briefly below. I also have another link with some of these Bible principles written out and powerful evidence from history and science showing that they are valuable throughout history and in our time as well:
blog.truth-is-life.org/rights/thrive/ (see esp. from “KNOW GOD’S PRINCIPLES”).
Very briefly, some of God’s political principles are:
FOUNDATIONS OF BIBLICAL POLITICS
1) JESUS IS KING, LEADERS SHOULD IMITATE HIM:
The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness, justice, love and truth (Psalm 89:14) All are responsible to imitate God’s example(Eph. 5:1) , including political leaders (1 Kings 10:9, 2 Chron. 9:8, Psalms 72:1-4,12-14).
2) LOVE EVERYONE, ALWAYS:
Jesus said in Matt. 22:37-40 that the foundation of all His laws/principles is love. He explicitly said in Matt. 5:43-48 that this includes loving even your enemies. So when we thinking about our choices and impact in politics, we must consider the good of ALL human beings (1 Thess. 5:15), those we agree with and those we don’t, those inside our country and those outside, and vote accordingly.
Unity and working against all injustices on the left and right after the election in churches is far more powerful than whoever is elected president.
3) FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE IN POLITICS TOO:
Jesus gave a golden rule to humanity (Matthew 7:12). It is important in politics too. Ty Gibson talks about this in these sermons:
Jesus Was A Politician // Ty Gibson shows how Jesus pioneered a truly revolutionary kind of government, politics concerned first for the least of these.
Politics at the End | The End.
He refers to a scholar who is famous for one of the most profound principles in politics, John Rawls. Almost all wise people who have heard it have acknowledged that it is one of the best principles to follow and research confirms this. He basically says to imagine making the choice before you were born not knowing what position you would have in society, or as if you were the worst off in society. He calls this the Veil of Ignorance. Then make decisions in politics from that position, with the distinct possibility that you might be born as an outcast, into a dysfunctional home, as someone subject to discrimination /prejudice/racism, etc. How would you vote then? Do the same in real life now.
“Two primary principles supplement Rawls’ veil of ignorance: the liberty principle and the difference principle. According to the liberty principle, the social contract should try to ensure that everyone enjoys the maximum liberty possible without intruding upon the freedom of others.
According to the difference principle, the social contract should guarantee that everyone an equal opportunity to prosper. In other words, if there are any social or economic differences in the social contract, they should help those who are the worst off. And, any advantages in the contract should be available to everyone.” https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/glossary/veil-of-ignorance
A short video on this is here:
4) LEADERS HAVE A DUTY TO KNOW GOD’S LAWS AND AIM FOR PERFECTION
The Bible says,
“When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:18-20
If a king does not know God’s law, then he will have no moral standards preventing him from exploiting people for his own profit. In addition, it will be easy for the elite powerful and wealthy to manipulate him or influence him to make decisions that harm innocent people and the nation for their own agenda.
You can see an example of this in the case of the king Darius and Daniel in Daniel 6. Some of his advisers hated Daniel and his purity (likely because he was in the way of their greed in some way). So they devised a way to get rid of him, by appealing to King Darius’ pride in a way that would force Daniel to choose between his loyalty to God and loyalty to the king.
If Darius had known and followed the Bible principle that worship was only due to God, he would never have gotten into this situation and been forced to condemn his friend and wise adviser to the lion’s den and almost certain death. Thankfully, God interposed with a miracle. But many innocent people have been killed or their lives damages because powerful did not know and follow God’s laws.
The Bible says that God’s laws for nations are crucial for the success of the nation.
“David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.” 1 Kings 2:3. Foreign kings were also responsible to follow the principles of God and their success or ruin as nations would depend on this (see also: Ezra 1:2-4, Ezra 6:1-12, Jer. 12:14-17, Leviticus 25:18, Deuteronomy 17:18-20, Proverbs 29:14 2 Corinthians 13:11).
Dr. Sproul, a highly respected Baptist theologian says:
“Deuteronomy 17:14–20 ranks among the most influential biblical passages in history, though many people may not know it. It is one of the foundations for the traditional concept in Western jurisprudence and constitutional theory known as lex rex, the idea that the law is king—that rulers are subject to the laws of a nation no less than ordinary citizens. Long ago, God revealed through Moses that kings had no license to break the law but were subject to its dictates and responsible to know and enforce it…Jeremiah 22…begins with general principles for every ruler (vv. 1–10). Verse 3 calls the king to “do justice and righteousness” by protecting foreigners residing in the country, victims of crime, widows, and orphans [and] not to shed innocent blood…For a king and his household to remain on the throne of Judah, obedience to these laws was required (Jer. 22:4). Impenitent disobedience, on the other hand, would remove a king and his dynasty (v. 5).”
5) NO GREED OR PLAYBOYS: Political leaders must not be greedy or promiscuous (Deut. 17:17 Matt. 6:24). If they will betray their customers for profit, spouses for sex, they will have no qualms betraying the nation and harming everyone.
6) POLITICAL LEADERS DON’T COMPEL CONSCIENCE
We should be very careful to note though that the laws that kings were supposed to follow mostly dealt with justice in the courts, protecting the poor from exploitation and poverty, defense of the nation and things of that nature. It was not the king’s role in the Bible to force worship. And almost every example you see of a king trying to force worship is a wicked one, with them demanding that the people worship idols from Baal to Molech and others…and the prophets routinely condemned this evil. Kings do not have power to compel conscience in worship areas.***
7) CHARACTER MATTERS: The character of leaders matters, a lot. God said to choose leaders with good characters because those who sin/glorify sin will influence others to sin too “He sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16). Science shows that up to 75% of people will follow the example of leaders at least some of the time, and ~37% do most/all of the time.
The well known pastor John Piper says:
“There is a character connection between rulers and subjects. When the Bible describes a king by saying, “He sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16), it does not mean he twisted their arm. It means his influence shaped the people. That’s the calling of a leader. Take the lead in giving shape to the character of your people. So it happens. For good or for ill…
“I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.
The reason I put those Greek words in parentheses is to give a graphic reminder that these are sins mentioned in the New Testament. To be more specific, they are sins that destroy people. They are not just deadly. They are deadly forever. They lead to eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9). They destroy persons (Acts 12:20–23). And through persons, they destroy nations (Jeremiah 48:29–31, 42)….
I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person. This is true not only because flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, immorality, and factiousness are self-incriminating, but also because they are nation-corrupting. They move out from centers of influence to infect whole cultures.”
Where does the wickedness of defending child-killing come from? It comes from hearts of self-absorbed arrogance and boasting (James 4:1–2)…I think Roe is an evil decision. I think Planned Parenthood is a code name for baby-killing and (historically at least) ethnic cleansing. And I think it is baffling and presumptuous to assume that pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride.
When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction. Destruction of more kinds than we can imagine. It is naive to think that a man can be effectively pro-life and manifest consistently the character traits that lead to death — temporal and eternal.”
So character matters. A LOT. It is a life and death matter for large numbers of people, earthly life AND eternal life.
8) JUSTICE IS A TOP PRIORITY: Justice makes nations great, sin is degradation. Kings must protect the innocent from oppression and injustice,foreigners from wrong and violence, widows and orphans from poverty, never shed innocent blood (Prov. 29:7, Psalms 72:1-4,12-14, Jer. 22:1-5, 13-17)
9) HONESTY/TRANSPARENCY ARE CRUCIAL:
Truth and honesty are crucial to preserve freedom. The Bible says
“The Lord detests lying lips,but he delights in those who tell the truth.” Proverbs 12:22
So support for anyone who is dishonest in politics, especially without confessing sins, is going lead directly to abominations in society. This , which is certainly not something Christians should support. This is confirmed by scholars who say that say lying in leadership leads to tyranny/totalitarianism.
Jesus said, “Truth will make you free” John 8:32
Yale professor Sean Illing says similarly.
“Truth is required to act freely. Freedom requires knowledge, and in order to act freely in the world, you need to know what the world is and know what you’re doing. You only know what you’re doing if you have access to the truth. So freedom requires truth, and so to smash freedom you must smash truth.” ***
Many people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger are understanding this better now. Schwarzenegger spoke on video in the link below and noted that he was born in 1947 Austria, “in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy.” He said:
“Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,”
Schwarzenegger said. “Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along, step by step, down the road. They were the people next door,” and they got violently drunk because “they were in physical pain because of the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did. It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance.”
“President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election!” Schwarzenegger said. “He sought a coup by misleading people with lies.
My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead.” He called “a number of members of my own party” spineless cowards and said while Trump is “a failed leader” who “will go down in history as the worst president ever,” the elected leaders who “enabled his lies and his treachery” should remember that patriotism means to stand by the country, not the president.
So if we see a politician who is repeatedly lying, esp. willfully, that is a man to oppose with all the strength we have, because they are destroying the foundations of freedom.
10) CREATE INDEPENDENCE AND INTERDEPENDENCE: God created us to be free and rescued people from slavery of various kinds repeatedly (Deut. 15:15, 1 Kings 4:25, 2 Cor. 8:13-14, book of Judges***). So look carefully for politicians who have policies to protect the oppressed, enslaved, etc. A society is only as strong as its weakest links. ***
11) PROTECT LAND RIGHTS FOR ALL FAMILIES/OPPOSE INTEREST ON THE POOR: God repeatedly emphasizes the importance of land rights for all (Leviticus 25:18-19,23, 28, 36, Joshua 13-18, 1 Kings 4:25, Ezekiel 47:22,23 Nehemiah 5:1-13) since greed causes poverty and debt slavery and is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Many wise people, including American founders, say that freedom can’t last long without equitable land rights.
12) MAKE PEACE, NOT WAR: Peace has to be a priority, avoid war as much as possible. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” and He is our example (Isaiah 9:6, Romans 12:18). Godly people always try to protect innocent lives and war always destroys innocent lives. In extremely rare cases, war may be neccessary. But America’s founders also stated that frequent war would destroy liberty. Dr. Chenoweth and others have also found that war is far more expensive than peace, 60 times more expensive or more.
13) NO DOUBLE STANDARDS/FAIR RIGHTS FOR ALL(natives AND foreigners): Deuteronomy 24:17 Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 16:19 (2 Chron. 19:7, Prov. 28:21, Deut. 10:17)***
14) GIVING TO THE RICH WILL BRING POVERTY (Proverbs 22:16). People/governments must not follow trickle down economics, economic neo-liberalism, socialist welfare for the rich since it brings poverty and then all kinds of oppression.
15) FAIR TAX All must pay taxes so that government workers can be paid (Romans 13:6,7, 1 Kings 12:4, 2 Kings 23:35**), but taxes must not be exorbitant/oppressive (Amos 5:11, Luke 3:13, Ezekiel 45:13)
16) REDISTRIBUTION FOR JUSTICE: When injustice has been done and God’s economic laws violated, including historically, God supports redistribution to restore justice(Gen 15:13-14, Neh. 5:1-13)
17) AVOID MATERIALISM, GIVE PEOPLE REST. People were created to be free (Deut. 5:15). This also includes being free from overwork, materialism, constant chasing of money. God gave people a Sabbath rest (Ex. 20:8-11) for this purpose Sabbath is closely connected with justice (Isaiah 56).
18) OPPOSE “FREE” TRADE: Small businesses should be protected from mega corporations. Deuteronomy 23:20 thus says that we should not charge interest to our countrymen, but can charge interest to foreigners. Free trade was invented by the British to control it’s colonies. It’s great for the super rich. But all countries have developed by protecting their markets, including the US and Britain who did it more than almost all others.
19) LEADERS SHOULD CONFESS SINS: Leaders who love God will admit their sins as King David did (Psalms 51:1-3). This will be a crucial example of authenticity for nations. Those who don’t do this are actually following principles of the occult. Many occultists say they believe in Jesus, but then they worship self and refuse to acknowledge sins. Many just keep talking positive about themselves and their successes, real or imagined, and refuse to acknowledge any of the sins or wrongs or harm done. This means they can’t be forgiven for their sins (1 John 1:9) and destroys trust. One girl said about a mother who had lied to her, that the sin hurt a lot, but it hurt much worse because she didn’t even say she was sorry. This is far more serious at leadership levels.
20) TEST EVERYTHING. DON’T ALIGN WITH CONSERVATIVES OR LIBERALS: God says to “test everything..hold on to what is good” 1 Thess. 5:21 Political parties have been used as divide and conquer strategies for millennia.
The Pharisees were largely conservative, trying to stick to the laws of God, but added many traditions in a well meaning, but misguided effort to prevent breaking God’s laws (disregarding Deut. 4:2). The Sadducees were largely the liberal elites, but also compromised a great deal with the contemporary Greek culture of their time and compromised on various doctrines. The conservative Pharisees were especially vigorous in opposing Jesus, but the liberals did their part too.
Both had deceptive teachings (Matthew 16:6,11,12, Luke 20:27), tried to trap Jesus (Mark 12:13, Luke 20:27), were called snakes (Matthew 3:7), demanded more signs (Matthew 16:1), etc. Both followed man made traditions (conservative or liberal) against God’s principles and this was a major factor that led them to crucify Jesus.
The Bible says that the Pharisees where the strictest in their religion (Phil. 3:5, Acts 26:5), but ignored justice, mercy and faith and were full of greed and hypocrisy (Matthew 23:23,25) used propaganda (Matt. 9:34), falsely accused Jesus (Matt. 12:2), were prejudiced/classist/nationalist (Luke 5:29-31), planned, led the plot to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14), lost eternal life (Matthew 5:20, Matt. 23:13), caused others to lose eternal life (Matt. 23:13)*, etc.
The Bible says that the Sadducees cooperated a lot with the Pharisees, but is less specific. It does mention that they denied the resurrection (Acts 23:6-8) and history shows they compromised on other doctrines, they persecuted and put the apostles in prison (Acts 5:16-18), etc.
21) DISOBEDIENCE BRINGS NATIONAL RUIN: God said that disobeying the principles He gave for choosing leaders would bring cause enemies to harass Israel (Hosea 8:2-4,12). You see this all over the OT with disobedience causing Israel to experience many kinds of exploitation and much injustice, to go into captivity, slavery, and to be killed by famines, disease and war/the sword. It’s not a pretty picture.
22) JESUS IS KING
The Bible says:
“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there…[God] gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners.” Psalm 146:3-7
Do your best to influence your nation in the right way with the principles above. Fight evil, and sometimes you will achieve tremendous victories of evil as Jews and Christians throughout history did (Hebrews 11). Sometimes evil will triumph for a while as Bible authors stated, but the arc of history does bend towards justice in the end, although new evils are invented.
We fight evil to overcome it, but regardless of how much success we achieve or even if we don’t achieve all we aim to do, keep fighting evil with God’s principles. We fight evil because it is evil, not because we will always beat it, but also to preserve our own moral integrity and our influence on others.
Whatever happens, we can trust that God will do perfect justice with time or at the end of the world.