It’s obvious that we’re living in a time of profound social change. The secularist program of de-Christianizing Western civilization seems to be coming to a tipping point, though the tipping point may last for a number of years. We are seeing the rise of a secularist religion which pretends to be supremely righteous and insists on ruling our nation. Some Christian thought leaders are tempted to bury their heads in the sand, to pretend it’s not happening, or even to go along with the secularists out of fear. The enemies of Christ have great powers of intimidation at their disposal, but faithful Christians must refuse to acquiesce to their tactics.
1. Be involved in the political aspect of the war.
Make no mistake about it, though this war is spiritual, it has a definite political dimension. Some people are tempted to moralize and intellectualize the political scene to the point of justifying inaction, or even siding with the secularists. But if we are at a tipping point, and I believe we are, this is not the time to act as though we have the luxury of nuance. Things are not yet so far gone that we can’t effect things politically to some degree, which means we should be trying to do so.
Some Christians sincerely believe that it would be a sin to vote for an immoral candidate, but that is a misunderstanding of the nature of sin. The Bible teaches that where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom 4:15). Voting for one candidate or another cannot be called sin in itself because the Bible does not call it sin. Your motive or goal in voting for a particular candidate could be sinful, but the act of voting, per se, cannot be called a sin. Thus, Christians should think of voting as something practical and strategic, and they should engage in it with a motive of love to God and love to neighbor. Sometimes Christians may be in a position in which wisdom dictates that they need to vote for the candidate who will do less damage. That choice is not immoral or sinful.
All Christians should be looking to vote for candidates who will, as much as possible, uphold the second table of God’s moral law in its outward aspect and protect religious liberty. Some Christians wrongly assume that they are citizens of heaven and therefore they have no political responsibilities in this world. But that is false. Christian citizens of the United States should seek to do good to their countrymen as far as it depends upon them. While it’s not a sin to refrain from voting altogether, I’m convinced that voting is wise and loving, particularly in our current situation, and I would encourage you not to forfeit your civic responsibility in this regard. This is because God requires civil authorities to make wise decisions (Rom 13), and the highest civil authority in the United States is the electorate. Nevertheless, the Bible does not require voting; therefore, if one decides that voting itself is unwise, I could not fault them, though I would disagree with them.
2. Don’t repeat unverified information, but do educate people on demonstrable facts.
One of the aspects of the current cultural war is disinformation. The forces who want massive social change are the very ones who benefit from sometimes making things look worse than they actually are. They need to stir up the nation, perhaps even to play both sides to get them to hate each other more. It may be wise to find out who owns and funds your preferred news agencies and to try to understand their agenda. The fact that people are saying things you suspect or fear are true does not necessarily mean they are true.
Also in our day, virtually all news outlets, even freelance news outlets, provide platforms to unverified testimonies, and thus have become little more than engines for gossip. The reason for this seems simple to understand. News outlets have target audiences which they must maintain in order to preserve their advertising revenue. They need to preach the narrative that their side approves, and they must not promote any facts that contradict the preferred narrative of their side, or else they lose portions of their audience, get fewer views, likes, and clicks, and thus lose their revenue. As Christians, we shouldn’t believe testimonies unless they are corroborated by two or three credible witnesses or verified by other facts. This means that as Christians, our duty to our King requires that we seek independently to research and verify claims we hear on news outlets.
Christians should avoid becoming robotic automatons for someone else’s ideology or agenda. People with agendas often form a cluster of information, some of which is false and some of which is true, with which they know you will be prone to agree, and which they interpret through their particular bias. Then try to get you to internalize their perspective and parrot it without critique. But we need Christian independent thinkers who test all that they hear, look for counter-evidence, listen carefully to counter-arguments, and view everything through the lens of the biblical worldview. That means sometimes Christians aren’t able say anything about a particular topic because they can’t know for certain what is true. Other times, it means a Christian finds the truth, or at least what has shown itself to be likely true based on two or three credible witnesses or two or three lines of evidence. Then Christians are able to share their findings faithfully with others.
3. Seek first the kingdom of Christ.
Christians live in two kingdoms. We have an earthly citizenship, and we have a heavenly citizenship. We need to be good citizens of the United States out of love for our neighbors. Nevertheless, the greatest desire of our hearts should be the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. Whether or not the United States continues as a free republic, Christ will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Some Christians have become confused about the nature of Christ’s kingdom, and they have joined it to the welfare of the United States. They believe that if the church is faithful to pray and keep Christ’s commands, the United States will become more of a Christian nation with Christian laws, etc. They further believe that it is the institutional church’s fundamental responsibility to rebuke politicians and call upon them to enact biblical laws. But this is not the work of building Christ’s kingdom.
Rather, the responsibility of the local church is to preach the whole counsel of God, the law and the gospel, for the conversion of sinners and building of faithful churches. The kingdom of God is administered through the new covenant. The new covenant is composed of believers only; therefore, the United States can never be the kingdom of God. Rather, Christ alone builds His kingdom by sending His Spirit to convert sinners and edify saints. The Holy Spirit works to build His kingdom through the Word of God as it is preached, taught, and lived by the church.
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to “seek first” His kingdom. That means the primary burden of a Christian’s heart should be for the conversion of sinners and building up of believers in Christ, no matter what happens to the United States. This involves loving our enemies, having a heart of compassion and mercy toward poor sinners who are deceived by Satan, while speaking the truth to them. We should preach the law, which convicts them of their sin, as well as the hope of Christ, who alone can save them from their sins and give them eternal life.
Certainly, it’s correct for Christians to be burdened for our nation during this period of social upheaval, but this is no time to get distracted from our primary mission, which is the same as it has always been. Let us seek the Lord Jesus, keep His commandments, love others, grow in holiness, manifest His character, and preach His Word, all for His glory.
4. Build the “middle institutions” of family, church and local community.
The secularists want to connect the individual directly to the state and eliminate the “middle institutions” of family, church, and various institutions in your local community. Those middle institutions get in their way. They want you and me to be most concerned with the president of the United States and all things at the federal level as though the federal government is the answer to our problems. And while certainly we should be concerned with the federal government and try to keep it in its proper place, I submit that our primary concern should be with building the middle institutions. In the long run, the only way to reform and rebuild American society is to emphasize the church, the family, and local community over the federal government.
Therefore, Christians are doing their greatest work in the “culture wars” when they are investing in their marriages to love their spouses, fleeing from immorality, having children, and raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. They are dealing a devastating blow to the forces of evil when they are faithful churchmen, who come to church, build into their fellow church members, encourage others in the Word of Christ, set an example of godliness to their brothers and sisters, avoid divisiveness and strife, promote truth in love, as well as unity and peace based on God’s Word.
This is important to understand because as an individual, you have very little power to influence the federal government. Yes, you can vote. You can involve yourself in political organizations, if you wish. You can post about national politics on social media. But you still have very little influence on national matters as an individual. So, why don’t you focus on the spheres in which you might actually have a powerful impact? You can actually influence your family, your church, and your local community. If you have a great passion for politics, then you should understand that there is much truth in the maxim that “all politics is local.” Get involved in your city council. Attend town meetings. Work to influence your local school board. Get to know your local political scene. It will be very frustrating and seem pointless at first. But over time, you could have an impact, especially as you encounter the real but infrequent opportunities to weigh in on important issues.
5. Trust in our sovereign God.
Finally, while Christians ought to responsibly keep Christ’s commandments and do what they can to love their neighbors, there is no reason to live in fear or anger. Today’s news agencies want you glued to their coverage; so, they stoke fear and anger, and promise you more information, which ordinarily includes large helpings of propaganda (selective truth-telling and truth-stretching that supports the narrative of its listeners).
But we can trust that God is in control of everything that is happening in our culture. He is governing every single detail, and He is wisely bringing everything to pass. He is setting up to judge the wicked, but also to build and purify His church, for His glory. We can trust Him. There may be tough days ahead, but God rules all the days. He is good and wise. Therefore, we can rest in Him, and live each day, one day at a time, discharging our responsibilities to love Him and to love others, beginning with those most proximate to us. Let us draw near to our Lord in prayer, and ask for His mercy to soften the hearts of sinners and bring them to Christ by his soveriegn grace and power.