Subject: Re: Hey (democracy)
From: Sean Ho <seanho@seanho.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 14:57:38 -0700
Hey Sean!

How are you doing?  Hope everything is going well for you up in Canadia land. We all miss you.  Anyways, I thought of an interesting connudrum if you will.

So does the bible support democracy?  We are called to support our leaders because just as the husbands action are ultimately held accountable to God, so are our leaders.  But as an American citizen, we are put in a system where we should actively challenge our leaders so that one party or one man does not dominate and take control, or something like that.  So as a Christian, were should we stand?  Should we participate in politcs and vote for the leader who we think best represents America?  Or should we be apathetic because ultimately God will pick the leader he will pick?  Should be we cast our support even though we don't agree with what he is doing, from areas such as leading the nation into war to death penalty and tax policies?  Heh, just a crazy question that I am interested in hearing your opinion on.  I don't know if I really put my thoughts out there coherantly but yea.
Take care of yourself and God bless!
Hi , it's great to hear from you!

Things are going well for me; thanks!  I try to update my photoblog every now and again; http://blog.seanho.com./

Your question is a very good one, and the topic of Christianity in politics is a large and complex one that does not have many easy answers.  I think you'll find that many Christians have differing opinions, too.

The root word from which our word "politics" comes is mentioned several times in the New Testament; it is variously translated as "actions", "deeds", or "life".  It simply means the way we live our lives and make decisions, generally in a community.  Some Christians say that all politics are bad, that one cannot be involved in politics without being influenced by and condoning all the lying and backstabbing and selfishness that comes to mind when we think about politics.  But we are already involved in politics of one form or another, on large or small scale, simply in the decisions we make every day.

Being involved in politics, though, does not equate with allying ourselves with a particular political ideology (e.g. democracy, socialism, monarchy, etc), or with a particular political party (e.g. Republicans, Democrats), or with a particular person (e.g. Bush, Hillary Clinton, etc).  So we have to be careful not to say things like, "The Bible tells us we should be democratic", or "The Bible tells us we should be Republican", or "G.W. Bush is God".    We can look at the examples and principles in the Bible and compare them with various political models, parties, or people, and try to take the good parts that agree with the Bible, and reject the bad parts.

Does the Bible support democracy?  Democracy is essentially a majority rule; put everything to a vote.  (The details of the voting systems may differ.)  It relies upon the "common sense", that the ordinary, median person would do "the right thing".  We don't actually see this model very much in the Bible; in fact the prediction of the Bible is that as time goes on democracy becomes worse and worse of a model, as our sinful nature corrupts God's original very good design for us.  Everyone has a conscience, and God grants wisdom, but the Bible says that in the end times, "because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold".  That implies that decisions made by majority vote according to the democratic process will become more and more wicked as our society falls further and further from God.

In my view, we don't really have a human political model that fully matches how the Bible asks us to live, because what is needed is a change of heart in every individual in society.  Theocracy is "God rule" -- monarchy, but our King is Christ himself.  Historically, however, human attempts to institute this end up in human monarchy, where a human (pope, or Caesar, or whoever) inserts himself as God's sole representative to the people.  This fails terribly because the person is imperfect.

Should we challenge our leaders?  The U.S. system of three branches of federal government (executive, judicial, legistlative) was designed for checks and balances, because our president is but a man and subject to mistakes.  Our freedom of speech is treasured for the same reason, to prevent a tyrranical government which silences its citizens.

We go 'round in circles with our endless and unresolvable debates in politics because no one recognizes absolute truth, only "my opinion" vs. "your opinion".  Rather, we should be using our freedom of speech to all strive together towards the Truth for how to live our lives -- and this is our Creator's Truth.  An analogy is children and parents: if both children and parents uphold the same standard for their lives (no double standard), then the home environment should not be "us" vs. "them", but everyone working together towards the same goal.

Should we vote or should we be apathetic because it's in God's hands?  I think we have a responsibility to change the things we can change, where we have influence, in order to bring glory to God and spread the Good News of His redeeming love.  Sometimes it may not seem like we have a lot of power, but where we can, we ought to act according to God's law and by His wisdom.  Vote for the best candidate, but keep praying for whoever wins.  "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."  (Pr21:1)  No one is perfect, and the reality is that every candidate will always have some policies that are good and some that are bad.  But we should never give up praying for our leaders.  Our country is ultimately not in Bush's hands, but in Jesus' hands.

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."  (1Tim2:1-2)

It's a good question, and I'm just scratching the surface here.  I hope it gives you something to chew on!

in Christ,
Sean
-- 
 Sean Ho, Ph.D.  ==  Assistant Professor  ==  Computing Science / Math
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