The Law of God and Public Policy: A Good Society (5)
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2.1-4
Truth? Of course!
Undoubtedly, all who have interest in public policy matters in our country would insist that they are concerned that truth should be the guiding norm. That includes the nation’s media and all our cultural institutions. In a free society, no politician, institutional leader, or communications outlet ever made much headway in their mission or career by promising to lie to and deceive the people they are intended to serve.
Which is not the same as saying that politicians or cultural authorities don’t lie and deceive anyway. Many do. They just would not want us to think so, and they certainly would not admit to it.
And yet, “fake news”, disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and outright lies from all sides wash over us every day from our cultural institutions and those who lead them. Everyone claims to be in possession of the truth, but because truth has been reduced to merely personal or party perspective, most of what passes for “truth” is just one or another form of the lie Paul warned against in Romans 1.18-32.
And yet the blaming, accusing, denying, and insisting on truth continue from all quarters in a hopeless farrago of information and opinion that divides more than unites us and leaves us highly suspicious of everyone’s “truth” but our own.
The question is not, therefore whether we shall be a society founded on some notion of truth. The question is, rather, Which viewof truth will obtain in the public square?
Remaking the foundations
In our day pragmatism, relativism, and narcissism occupy the commanding heights of what passes for truth. Proponents of these views are directing all the public policy battles according to changeable and unreliable tenets of right and wrong. The challenge to the Christian is to recognize the false pretenses on which public policy today is being developed and to challenge the viability of pragmatism, relativism, and narcissism for enabling government and all authorities to fulfill their God-given mandate.
It’s not enough for Christians to weigh in on issues. We need to expose, challenge, undermine, dismantle, and replace the very foundations on which politicians and others pursue making policies that guide the affairs of our nation and define our lives.
Here is where it is very important that Christians should be especially active in the public policy arenas of conversation and publication. Opportunities abound on every hand for us to talk, write, and otherwise weigh-in on the fallacies involved in seeking to build a truthful society on the shifty and shaking foundations of secular thinking. But we must prepare well, making sure we know what we believe and that we can identify the false premises and shaky logic of those whose view of truth is a house of cards.
While we will also want to be ready to work at making public policy through participation—if only as members of the electorate: “we the people”—the greater and more enduring victories toward establishing a sure and stable foundation of truth will be won in conversations with neighbors and friends, as we expose the flimsiness of contemporary views of truth, and in demonstrating the Biblical view of truth through our lives, ministries, persuasion, and love for our neighbors.
The great challenge today
We will only be putting bandages on an open, oozing sore if all we ever do is augur for decisions from legislatures and courts that reflect our understanding of truth applied to the public square.
Yes, of course, we must struggle in this arena continually, and in every other place where public policies are forged. But we are already seeing that not even a decision from the highest court of the land has been able to change the hearts of Americans on the issue of abortion; and the individual states are rapidly moving to make permanent the ongoing slaughter of the innocents which those who worked for the overturning of Roe v Wade hoped to stop. Abortion and all other areas of public policy are matters of the heart and mind more than of the ballot box or the courtroom. And only Christians can speak to the heart and mind with a power so transforming that it can bring truth and goodness to light in even the most hardened opponents.
The great challenge facing us today is the challenge of which foundation shall support our nation’s policies in the years to come. Apologists for a secular worldview are busily at work, reconstructing every aspect of life in our society on a foundation other than that which our forebears laid, a foundation built more on opinion, partisanship, and opportunistic thinking than anything that even vaguely resembles the truth of God.
While we still have freedom to proclaim the Gospel and to argue, winsomely and respectfully, for the Biblical view of truth, we must prepare ourselves and encourage one another to take up this task day by day, through every open door of opportunity, with a view to exposing the folly of unbelief and demonstrating the firmness of a Biblical approach to truth. When our determination to achieve a truthful society is evident in all the arenas of public policymaking, we will begin to see hearts and minds moved for long term change.
For a good society must be a truthful society, or it will be no society worth living in at all.
1. How consistent are you in learning about the views of “truth” that dominate in our society today? How ready are you to respond to these with a Biblical view of truth?
2. What can we expect if Christians refuse to take up the battle for truth in every possible venue?
3. What’s one thing you can do to become more consistent in standing for Biblical truth?
Next steps—Preparation: Pray that God will give you boldness and opportunities to stand for His truth.
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.