How should the relationship between Christianity and Government be understood? How should Christians vote? How should they align with political parties? If you are a Christian you have probably asked yourself some of these questions, especially since the last Presidential election.
God puts governing authorities in place and everyone is to be subject to them. Government officials should love justice (Job 34:17). Governing bodies serve God as ministers of His wrath, punishing the wicked, and as ministers of blessing by honoring the upright who abide by the law (Romans 13:1-3, Colossians 1:15-16). We are to pay taxes, revere/fear those in authority, and give them the honor they deserve. These are not just things that Christians should do, but all people, especially Christians because it reflects well on Yahweh, whom we ultimately serve. To disobey the government is to disobey God (Matthew 22:15-22, Romans 13:4-7, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Our ultimate authority as believers is in fact God the Father, who reigns over all other authorities through His Son, our Lord (Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 15:23-25, also 2:6, Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 3:20, 1 Timothy 6:12-16). Christ rules in the hearts of all of His people (Colossians 3:15).
We are to pray for our governing officials (1 Timothy 2:1-2). People often ask questions about when it is acceptable to disobey the government as believers, and the answer is found in Acts 4:19-20. Only when it requires us to deny/disobey God should we disobey our governing authorities.
When governments outlaw the sharing of the Gospel, we may suffer, but as the Scripture says, “it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong” (1 Peter 3:17). We are commanded by God to share the Gospel of Christ and must do so, even when it is outlawed and we could be killed for our faith. Let us all pray for our brothers and sisters presently facing such circumstances in other countries. Nonetheless, these members of the Church should still consider their trials as a blessing (1 Peter 4:12-19).
While Christians ultimately owe their allegiance to God, they also must obey their earthly government. Jesus claims that we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. This seems to show a definite distinction between Church and State even though God ultimately places the State in the authoritative position that it has.
As Baptists we agree with this separation, and in our Statement of Faith adopted on June 14, 2000 stated: “Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others.” After this it goes on to affirm some of what was already mentioned above.
Knowing that we are to honor our authority we should also be willing to recognize that different people have different political views. In our culture we mus regain the ability and desire to practice civil disagreement. We should vote for who we think will do the best jobs and make the best decisions for our cities, states, and country while in office. We must also remember that other people (even other Christians) may think another candidate besides our preferred person will be the best leader. We can talk about our views, but we must do so in love. Politics shoudl not divide families, communities, and especially not churches.