Dear Mr. Wilson:
I am in a quandary. Do you think Christians should become involved in the political unrest that is brewing in our country? I believe our country is in serious trouble. I also believe that we are facing several problems that will require painful solutions. I am wondering what I can do, if anything. Do you think Christians should participate in political movements like the “Tea Party?”
Thank you for your email. You are not alone in your quandary. Many people believe the United States is headed in a wrong direction and they are wondering what can be done to save the ship before it sinks. Of course, the beauty of a democracy is that each person can choose whether or not to engage in political activism.
To complicate matters, there is such a wide range of issues embroiled in standing conflict that this makes it is hard to know what to do. Whether or not to engage in political activism is a personal matter and ultimately, I suppose it depends on the issue or issues that concern you most. I do have a view on political activism that I would like to share, however, so please take a few moments to consider the following because I find this topic to be a serious one.
Before I begin, you should know that I am not politically indifferent or a political fatalist. I do not accept the premise that what will be—will be. I believe that “we the people” have an obligation to support and help direct our democracy. Recent history proves that people in this country can have influence over our government and we can improve our nation’s direction when enough people get involved.
For example, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the equal wages for equal work movement of the 1970s prove that grass roots reform is possible. A few years ago, I became active in county government to bring about zoning. It was a lengthy process, but it was well worth the effort. So, yes, I know that people can improve the function of government at local, state, and federal levels.
By definition, a democracy is a society of free people, that is, they are free to govern themselves. Our forefathers recognized the enormous gift of freedom that God had granted to this nation, but they also knew that this freedom was contingent on many factors which is why amendments were soon added to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. democracy has been one of the finest forms of government on Earth, but all forms of government are vulnerable to the same fatal virus. This virus is man’s sinful nature.
A free society can only exist for as long as a majority of its individuals embrace the highest standards of conduct and exalt “right doing.” No government, including a democracy, can exist without the rule of law. Therefore, the product of a free society is simple: To live well, its leaders and citizens must individually embrace and uphold the principles codified in the last six commandments of the Ten Commandments or society will descend into bribery, scandal, dishonesty, and violence. (Consider Mexico.)
If leaders and citizens do not individually embrace and exalt the moral principles codified in the last six commandments, political leaders will have no choice but to expand the dominion of government by creating more and more laws in hopes that more control will enable society to function. (The United States is a perfect example.) There is no society without the rule of law—formally or informally. Even in Somalia—perhaps the most lawless nation on Earth having no central government—the strong rule over the weak and the rich rule over the poor.
Step back and consider the process: When a free society becomes degenerate, ignorant, arrogant, and unwilling to uphold moral conduct that is honorable in God’s sight, that society becomes unfit to govern itself. Legislators see the problems at hand and they attempt to overcome lawless behavior through legislation.
This process increases the size and scope of government which is necessary to manage the deviant behavior of people. Then, to remain free of government regulations, lobbyists are employed by the rich to seek special exemptions. Using bribery and other favors, legislators often find a way to justify whatever lobbyists want.
Over time, most of the leaders of the U.S. democracy have become corrupt and abusive and there is nothing further that God can do with the nation as a whole. Throwing out the leadership in Congress en mass is not an option because having no elders to guide a huge nation would result in anarchy.
God recorded the history of Israel in the Bible because He wants everyone to understand His response to man’s degeneracy. God has not changed over the centuries and His policies for dealing with degenerate nations are changeless. (See Ezekiel 14:12–23.) Take an hour and read the whole book of Judges.
It describes the seesaw experience of Israel as it vacillated between a free nation and a nation subservient to the laws of other nations over a course of about 400 years. God has provided this information in His Word so that we might understand that He knows how to deal with mankind. He has a predictable process.
A free society can only endure and exist for as long as a large majority of its people love God and their neighbors as themselves. What happens when people do not love God or one another? The answer is simple: Predatory abuse becomes commonplace. We become suspicious and fearful of one another.
In contrast, when a nation embraces God and His ideals for human behavior, it will be blessed with freedom and prosperity. “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:13–20)
Historians cannot fully explain the fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome because there is much more to the fall of any nation than human beings can see! Similarly, no man or political party can save a wicked nation because “no king is saved by the size of his army” and “a horse is a vain hope for deliverance.”
The Bible teaches that a nation is not a manmade entity. A nation does not have its origin in the will of men. Every government exists because a divine mandate brought it to life and God gave it authority over its subjects. (Romans 13:1) God sets up kings and takes them down according to His sovereign authority. (Daniel 2:21; 4:32–37)
Keep in mind, God holds leaders in public office to a very high standard of conduct. The same holds true in religious matters. In recent years, and rightfully so, millions of Catholics have been embarrassed because of all the priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children.
The priests violated the trust of the children, as well as that of their parishioners. Church and state are not man-made institutions. “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”
God sets up leaders and He brings them down (according to divine wisdom) when they abuse their “God-given” trust. When a majority of the leaders in a church or a nation becomes corrupt, God brings the whole institution down. This explains why governments appear and disappear. They appear because God has determined they should exist. They disappear when God determines they should cease to exist. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (Psalms 127:1)
So, why is every person on Earth accountable to God? Let us begin by stating an eternal truth – God hears every word and sees every act. “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14) “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)
Because God sees and hears the sum of everything taking place on Earth, He knows when a majority in a nation have rejected righteousness. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16–19)
The virus that is rapidly tearing down the United States of America is our sinful nature. Increasingly, Americans continue to yield to their sinful nature. As a country, the U.S. is accelerating toward destruction because the sinful nature has gained control.
The Bible says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19–23)
What causes people to become selfish and hateful? What causes people to become greedy? What motivates people to lie and steal? What causes people to take bribes? What causes people to constantly condemn others, putting every political decision in the worst possible light?
What moves people to engage in sexual immorality? What causes children to abandon their parents and parents to abandon their children? The answer is simple. The sinful nature is a fatal virus. The sinful nature refuses to take responsibility for its actions. (Genesis 3:9–19) It tempts human beings to sin and once restraint (and responsibility) is cast aside, a free society quickly becomes a mad society. Look around at the madness. People become angry and protest. They become frustrated and mobs form, committing violent acts.
Yet the root problem remains, which is our sinful nature. Those controlled by the sinful nature will do (a) whatever they think they can get away with, or (b) whatever it takes to get what they want. Legislators see this proclivity.
They know there is little earthly reason to do what is honorable, but they can make more laws to stop harmful behavior. This is how it was in Noah’s day. “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5–6)
Jesus understands man’s sinful nature. He knows that the sinful nature of man always overtakes society. As the process spirals downward over time, the norms of society sink lower and lower. Have you noticed over the past fifty years how there is now more profanity, more nudity, more pleasure, more obesity, more disease, more alcohol and substance abuse, more luxury and materialism, and increasing emphasis on sex and everything else which the sinful nature craves? Obviously, the sinful nature has gained control.
“The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7–8, italics mine) Consider this: The sinful nature enables people to justify hurting others to get what they want. Even the former director of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, admitted in a recent TV interview that capitalism cannot limit greed because a greedy person will find a loophole.
Increasingly, the motto of corporate America has become “Get all that the market will bear.” But, Jesus made a more significant motto when He said, “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17) Speaking about the last days, Jesus said: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
In terms of money, this text works in both directions. Cold-hearted corporate leaders will financially gouge fellow citizens and feel nothing—”It’s nothing personal,” they say, “we’re just doing business.” On the other hand, cold-hearted individuals will seek a loan and lie about their finances, borrowing far more than they can repay.
Paul warned the believers in Colosse, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5–6)
Save Me from My Brother!
When a majority of people in a democracy come to a place where they no longer love God or one another and become controlled by their sinful natures, they become unfit for self government. Therefore, the magnificent freedoms granted to a free society must be reduced in order to protect brother from brother so that society can continue to function.
Even the newest person in Congress can see the problem. Even though he or she may not fully understand the sinful nature, legislators clearly see the corporate effects of sin and they have no tools but legislation and law enforcement to stop predatory abuses. For example, Congress enacted the Credit Card Act of 2009 to reduce the predatory practices of credit card banks.
Why would banks do this to their customers? (A) They could get away with it. (B) Everyone else was doing it. (C) It was a fast way to make a lot of money. (D) All of the above. Obviously, the correct answer is (D). On the other hand, how many people do you know who are willing to charge the limit on their credit cards knowing they plan to declare bankruptcy?
The Need for New Laws Will Never End
As a free society descends into the chaos of lawless behaviors, freedoms necessarily must be reduced to protect ourselves from one another. Consider this: The 108th Congress of the United States (2003-2004) passed 480 new federal laws. The 109th Congress of the United States (2005-2006) passed 482 new laws.
The 110th Congress (2007-2008) passed 460 new laws. So far, the 111th Congress (2009-2010) has passed 160 laws. The number of federal laws created in the past six and a half years (1,582) speaks volumes. Almost, 1,600 additional laws (not counting approximately 600 new laws within each of the fifty states during the same period) prove that we need increasing protection from one another. There is a deadly virus that is killing our free society. This virus is the sinful nature of man.
Each person who listens to the news knows that the U.S. economy is like a runaway train and Congress cannot stop it. Congress attempted to stop this train in 1990 with a law called “Paygo.” This law is so called because Congress wants to pay for its obligations as it goes along. Hence the title, “Paygo.”
Thus far, Congress passed the Paygo law three times: 1990, 2007, and 2010. History says, “First enacted as part of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 (which was incorporated as Title XIII of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990), PAYGO required all increases in direct spending or revenue decreases to be offset by other spending decreases or revenue increases. It was thought that this would control increases in deficit spending. . . . After the expiration of PAYGO [in 2002], budget deficits returned.
The federal surplus shrank from $236.2 billion in 2000 to $128.2 billion in 2001, then a $157.8 billion deficit in 2002—the last year statutory PAYGO was in effect. The deficit increased to $377.6 billion in 2003 and $412.7 billion in 2004. The federal deficit, excluding trust funds, was $537.3 billion in fiscal year 2006. In the first 6 years of President Bush’s term, with a Republican controlled Congress, the federal debt increased by $3 trillion [to $8.5 trillion].” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAYGO , insertions and bold emphasis mine.)
Since 2007, a Democratically controlled Congress has increased the federal debt to more than $12 trillion. President Obama signed a new Paygo Law on February 12, 2010, but this law will not stop the runaway train. The U.S. deficit during 2009 ballooned to $1.42 trillion.
On March 20, 2010, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit of $1.8 trillion for 2010. Can the U.S. be able to avoid national bankruptcy? This is the question which political groups like the Tea Party and others are debating, but before you answer, go back and take a quick look at the social consequences of forced austerity in the tiny nation of Greece (who has run out of money and defaulted on its loans). Angry citizens protest in the streets!
The problem is that an economy is like an airplane in flight. If the airplane flies too slow, it stalls and falls to the ground and everyone inside dies. If it goes too fast, the wings tear off and it falls to the ground and everyone inside dies. If our government should suddenly stop increasing the deficit (slow down the airplane), it would have to more than double our taxes to pay its current obligations.
If this happened, the economy would implode. So, what happens when several million unemployed people and tens of millions who receive some form of government assistance each month suddenly receive no money? How safe will America be? How angry will people become? Can you imagine long lines of people standing outside Walmart begging for food?
Can you imagine being robbed at gun point for groceries as you exit a food store? Can you imagine gangs holding “gated communities” hostage within their gates until their financial demands are met? Can you image hospitals and doctors offices closed because there is no insurance and people cannot pay actual costs?
When the government tells a huge number of people they will no longer receive government assistance, what choices will they have for survival? Consider Greece again (even though there has been a temporary respite for Greece by the European Union, the drama is not over – keep an eye on it).
JoAnn, the continent of Africa has been on public display for several hundred years. There have been an endless round of governments whose leaders started out with good intentions, but they quickly fell into horrible abuses because the virus of the sinful nature is everywhere.
We cannot count the number of cycles that African nations have gone from limited freedom to totalitarian dictatorship. There is no earthly remedy in Africa or America when the citizens of government have no love for each other. This is why generally speaking, political activism in the United States is of a secondary concern for me.
There are always two sides to a controversy and wisdom dictates that we carefully consider both sides of the conflict. If it appears that a good solution is possible, I think activism should be encouraged. If a better solution is not clearly possible, then activism is like starting a war. The danger is that no one can know the outcome at the beginning. In closing, please consider these three issues:
1. – First, Jesus was not a political activist. Jesus was a spiritual activist. Jesus understood the sinful nature and this is why His ministry focused on changing people’s cold hearts into hearts of love. Slavery was very common in Christ’s time and women had no rights. The Jews hated the Romans and the Romans hated the Jews.
Yet, Jesus did not start a movement to free Israel, nor did He condemn slavery or seek equal rights for women. Rather, Jesus went to the core of the problem. He showed people how to love one another for love can overcome the virus of the sinful nature. He showed what the human heart can be and should be.
Jesus promised, “The meek will inherit the Earth.” A free society is coming, a society truly free from the virus of sin! In the meantime, Paul wrote, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ “ (Hebrews 13:5)
2. – Second, most people do not understand our prophetic perspective. (I know that you understand what I mean by this.) We know that the Bible states that the book of Daniel was sealed up until the time of the end. (Daniel 12:4, 9) After reading my book, Daniel: Unlocked for the Final Generation, you know that I am convinced that we are living at the time of the end. This does not necessarily mean that we should be politically indifferent, it just means that political changes (whatever may be achieved) will be short lived.
We are living at a time when sin and rebellion has reached critical mass. For reasons presented in my book on the Seven Trumpets, I believe that the world passed the point of no return in 1994. This means, corporately speaking, that spiritual reformation and repentance will not be possible until the wrath of God begins (the seven trumpets of Revelation).
As I see it, the whole world is on a runaway freight train – not just the USA. No man or political party can save us from the painful consequences that are coming. Our problems are far too complex and there is no human remedy. The Bible says “No king is saved by the size of his army and a horse is a vain hope for deliverance, despite all its great strength it cannot save.” (Psalm 33:16–17)
3. Finally, the best thing that any citizen can do at this late hour is to embrace the Lord and obey His commands. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33–34)
Turn off the radio and refuse to listen or engage in political dissension. Pray for our political leaders. Turn off the TV and spend more time studying your Bible. Visit a shut-in or a sick person. Help a neighbor. Go out of your way to show kindness and compassion. Make an effort to help abused women. Send a gift to a charity. Read a story to a child. Walk with the Lord, pay attention to whatever God sets before you. Get out and stay out of debt. Do not cheat your employer. Give him a full day’s work. Tell the truth in all cases.
Jesus said, “Love one another.” This is the revolution that we really need. “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:11–14)