The Law of God and Public Policy: Three Ls (5)
Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I amslow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4.10
Conversation, publication, and public policy
We must not underestimate the power of conversation and publication in shaping public policy. The absence of a Christian voice in any area of public policy can create a “spiral of silence”, squelching what is true and good and allowing those policies backed by the most vocal proponents to gain the day. If we will work hard to be well-prepared, and if we make the most of every opportunity to engage and persuade, rather than just argue about topics, we might be surprised at how the Lord can use us to affect the way others think about the big issues of the day.
We may not consider ourselves articulate or persuasive, but if we know and abide by God’s Word, even our stumbling speech can have a powerful effect on how others think about issues of the day.
Remember, as the Lord Himself said in Deuteronomy 4.6-8, there is wisdom in His Law which even unbelievers can observe and which they will find appealing. And it is our task and calling to bring that to light and spread it around among the people we know, so that the Lord can then draw them to Himself and His ways (Mic. 4.1-8).
These two loci of public policy are open to every believer. We must make the most of them as we are able.
The political arena
But public policy is ultimately decided and crafted in the arena of formal politics, amid the machinery of political parties and campaigns and in the halls, chambers, and back rooms of government. If we are to make a consistent and convincing case for the Law of God in American public policy, at least some members of the Christian community will need to follow the Lord’s calling to serve here.
Most of us will be reluctant to take up such a calling. That’s certainly understandable. Moses was reluctant to involve himself with political power, but he was made to see that God’s will for His people could not be accomplished without such involvement. Joseph understood this, as did Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra, David, and many of the great saints of Scripture and Church history. In every generation believers have known that helping government fulfill its God-given calling requires the presence of at least some believers in the mix.
The same is true today. Christians do not look to the State for anything other than that it should fulfill its calling as God’s servant for good (Rom 13.1-7). But for government to craft and enact good laws, laws that line up with the Law of God, will require the presence of people who have a well-defined sense of what is good and who are able to think clearly about how such notions of good apply in the area of public policy.
The Christian understands that the Law of God is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12). He or she knows that God intends this Law to be a means for bringing His goodness to the nations, as has been the case with our own nation since its founding. The Christian knows that God intends government to serve His good purposes, and this requires, in part, that government maintain a peaceable and orderly society where righteousness can flourish, human dignity is respected, and people are free to proclaim, hear, and heed the Gospel as the Lord leads (1 Tim. 2.1-8).
“We the people” have a certain debt which we owe to Caesar, and we must render it as unto God. Unless Christians are present throughout the formal political process, it’s not likely that government will be inclined to serve these good purposes or to make resort to God’s good Law when it comes to public policy.
That governments frequently stray from such a framework of goodness will surprise no one. It certainly did not surprise Moses. Christians must be prepared to enter the arena of politics and government, as the Lord leads and calls, to work for policies consistent with divine goodness. Moses did not feel qualified for such work; doubtless, most of us feel the same way. But as God aided and prepared Moses, so He provides the qualifications His people need when He calls them to any task (1 Thess. 5.24).
So if God leads you, like He did Moses, to become active in the political arena, it will do no good trying to debate with Him. Let His Spirit guide you, step by step, to determine precisely where He intends for you to serve, even as you continue preparing yourself to deal with the issues of the day from the perspective of a Christian worldview.
Getting involved in politics
Involvement in the political arena begins with prayer and is sustained by prayer, for all participants in the process (1 Tim. 2.1-8; cf. 1 Sam. 12.23). Here, every believer can and should be active.
Beyond prayer, however, believers should not scorn opportunities to serve in voluntary ways for those candidates and parties whose platforms reflect or are agreeable to Biblical teaching. Here again abundant opportunities exist for all believers to assist those whose views and policies most tend in the direction of the goodness of God. Visit the website or contact the local office of your chosen party or official, and offer to help in any way you can. At the very least, this will open opportunities for conversation, and you may be able to play a role in helping to expedite or even shape the views of the official you serve.
Further, some believers will hear a call to stand for public office or to serve on the staff of a public official, and they must look to the Lord and one another for help in preparing for and taking up such a responsibility. Running for office or finding a position on the staff of a public official can take time, so it’s probably best to hold on to your day job for a while.
Still other believers will be led to opportunities that can affect the decisions of political leaders through other forms of direct involvement in the political arena—in the media, for example, or with think-tanks, lobbying groups, social movements, and the like. It is essential that the Christian worldview have representatives working in each of these sectors of the public policy arena.
It will be good for those who engage in seeking to shape public policy to understand the language of public policy, both how we must talk with God, and how we must talk with men. We turn to this subject next.
1. In what ways have you been involved in the political process? Were you conscious then of seeking God’s good?
2. Do you pray for public officials? Read their communications? Seek to communicate with them? Should you?
3. How would you counsel a new believer to approach the public policy task of voting in a general election?
Next steps—Preparation: In which of the loci of public policymaking are you currently involved? How might you improve your contribution in these?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.