Why the Religious Right Won't Win, Pt. 2
In addressing the question of the difficulty of the struggle to “reclaim” America, some topics in the areas of biblical history and theology must be examined. In the historical account found in the book of Genesis it is clearly shown that, as mankind increased in number to populate the earth, he also became increasingly wicked in his thoughts, words and actions. As a result man incurred the wrath of God which culminated in the flood that destroyed all living things. Yet God showed mercy to one man, Noah, (whom He chose from among all other men even though he, too, was sinful) and spared him and his family from the flood waters. It is said of Noah that he walked with God (this being in spite of the fact that he was counted among the sinful men cited just a few paragraphs before). In spite of this it is stated that, after the flood, mankind returned immediately (within that generation) to the wickedness that prevailed before the flood. So in this particular instance we see man rebelling against God, God pronouncing judgment while preserving a small remnant, man turning back to God as a result of the judgment and man returning to rebellion after the judgment has passed. This pattern has been repeated over and over again throughout history. For example we see that even the nation of Israel rebelled against God and turned to pagan idolatry. God warned the nation of His coming judgment for their sin through His prophets but they would not hear. As a result the nation was overrun by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and the people taken captive to Babylon. During the time immediately prior to the judgment, a prophet named Elijah believed that he was the only one remaining in Israel who had remained true to God, but God reassured him and told him of ten-thousand others whom He had saved for Himself. Again, a small remnant preserved by God while the rest of His “chosen people” were carried off by foreigners.
In applying this to America we must recognize the simple fact that God operates on an individual level when it comes to righteousness. While God does call nations to righteousness, they are made so through the righteousness of the individuals who comprise the citizenry of those nations. We can see that, although Israel had a Law that was given by God Himself, they still disobeyed and were judged. How can Evangelical leaders expect to make America righteous by the laws of men? The only way for a nation to be made righteous is for the people to be made righteous. This cannot be done by legislation. The root of the problem is the sinful state of mankind. As the prophet Isaiah stated, “there is no one righteous, not even one.” This is the reason the fight by the religious right has been so difficult. An attempt is being made to force people who are opposed to God in their hearts (though they may not say so much with their mouth) to be obedient to the moral truths of God’s word. This has been met with great resistance and will be met with increasing resistance. Those whose hearts have not been changed by God will desire as much license as they can get when it comes to how they lead their lives. They desire total freedom and no accountability. That is the result of sin and that is the insurmountable obstacle of the religious right in their political aspirations.
The responsibility of the Christian, then, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire nation and pray that God would change the hearts of men and turn them from rebellion to obedience. Paul writes that the gospel is the “power of God for salvation” and again, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” He makes it plain that the means God uses to change a person’s heart from one of rebellion to obedience is the proclamation of the gospel. It is then the duty of every Christian to proclaim that gospel to any who do not already possess it and to pray for their salvation. And what is the gospel? The essentials of the gospel include pointing out a person’s sin and rebellion against God, proclaiming God’s coming judgment on all those who rebel against Him, urging them to turn from their sin and to call upon Jesus Christ to save them from their sin. Whether the person responds to this in a positive, life-changing way is up to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and nothing the Christian can do can convince someone to submit to God. Yet this is the work that the Christian is called to. Anything short of this is a betrayal of the mission that Jesus gave when He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples.” Notice He did not say “go forth and make new laws,” or “go forth and be political activists.”
The Christian Role
All this having been said, Christians should participate in the governmental system as far as it allows. Rather than channeling money and energy into political activism, there should be a concerted effort at evangelism in America. Yet the Christian is also responsible to participate in government in every way allowed by law. Christians can and should vote for those who uphold godly virtue. Christians can and should vote for ballot items in a way that reflects their values. There is no biblical prohibition of Christians even running for public office, yet much care should be taken for there is truth in the phrase “power corrupts.” And if political office is sought or obtained it should be made clear that the office is to be carried out to the glory of God. There is no room for the politician who claims that their personal views will not affect their policy. The Christian worldview cannot be compartmentalized in this way. For the true believer, the Christian faith and the word of God should permeate every aspect of their life and being. So, it is through the gospel converting souls that the religious right may win many in America, but it is unlikely that all of America will be won for Christ (though anything is possible with God). Evangelicals merely need to be faithful to the work to which they have been called: proclaiming the gospel to the lost with a view toward their conversion. Then God will bless their work and maybe even their nation.