Should Christians get involved in politics? Should Christians vote or express their political opinions about who to vote for? Should Christians run for political office? What would Jesus have us do?
Should Christians Vote?
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day wanted to trap Him constantly and one day tempting Him with the question over whether He and the Jews should pay taxes or not. The story is recorded here:
Mark 12:13-17, “Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Clearly they wanted Jesus to make an either/or decision. Should the Jews and Jesus pay taxes to Caesar or should they not? If Jesus refused, then they could turn him into the authorities as a tax delinquent and law breaker. If He did pay taxes to Caesar, they could accuse Him of paying taxes to a ruler that was a self-declared god who demanded worship. Jesus knew they were trying to trap Him and said something that astonished them and is a benchmark for Christian believers today. He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17). By Jesus saying this, He declared that we are expected to pay our taxes and follow the laws of the land. If our civic duty exists as a Christian, and it definitely does (Rom 13:1-3), then it is also our civic duty to vote. We are thus rendering unto the government what the government allows us to do – and that is to vote. Christians should not keep out of politics by not voting but must be participants in the culture in which they live. They should not only vote, but they should vote their conscious.
Should Christians Run for Political Office?
Jesus not only ate with tax collectors and sought them out as in the case of Zacchaeus but tax collectors became believers in Jesus Christ for salvation (Luke 19:1-10). One of the gospel writers, Matthew, was a tax collector. Jesus did not discriminate but neither did He avoid paying taxes as we see from Matthew 17:24-27: “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Paul also believed that Christians should pay taxes, stating in:
Romans 13:5-7, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
Here we see the tax collector asking Peter if Jesus, Who is God in the flesh at this time, paid taxes. Peter says, “Yes, He does.” In fact, Peter was told to pay the taxes for himself and for Jesus. Since Jesus clearly followed the civic laws to pay taxes, we can participate in the political system of the day and vote which is within the law for us to do. We don’t sin if we choose not too vote, but neither do we sin if we choose to vote. Throughout U.S. history, the vast majority of American presidents, governors, senators, congressman, mayors, and city officials were Christians and they saw no conflict in running for political office. There is nothing in the Bible that would prohibit or prevent the Christian for running for political office. In fact, in Romans 13, Paul tells us that we are to be model citizens. Romans 12 is how the Christian should live within the Body of Christ (the church) but Romans 13 is how the Christians should live within society.
Romans 13:1-2, 4 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
Paul says in this chapter that God has established the governing authorities and they are servants of God so we can reasonably expect that some of these authorities will be Christians. There is nothing in the Bible that I can see where it prohibits a believer from running for and holding a political office. America and Europe has a long history of Christian’s in positions of authority and offices.
Should Christians Express Their Political Opinions?
If a believer feels that one candidate is better equipped to be in office than another, then they should most certainly express their opinion to other people about them. Since they have the freedom and legal right to vote, they certainly have the right to say who they prefer to see in office. What if one candidate is pro-choice or pro-abortion but the other candidate is pro-life? What is wrong with telling others that you are supporting and voting for the candidate that is pro-life? Absolutely nothing. You have every right to express your opinion. This is what is called freedom of speech and you have the God-ordained and government-supported right to express your views over political candidates.
Moses father-in-law once told him that he “must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 17:19-21). I truly believe that God would also have Christians “select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials.” It is not only our legal right to vote, but it is our civic duty to do so. Since God ordains those in authority and has established the governmental authorities, God has also ordained that Christians have the right to vote. We have that right and I believe that we have the responsibility as light as salt in a darkened world.