Notice that the question is about Christians being involved “in society.” I purposely did not say in government or in politics. For “in society” would be friendly to the modern liberal, who feels the primary mission of the church is to feed the poor, help the homeless, comfort the hurting, and promote social welfare. While these causes are all good, and Christians should indeed provide these loving services to our fellow man, the question remains, should we be involved in all of society?
What’s the difference? If we are involved with feeding the poor, we must necessarily be involved in the way the poor are treated, the laws about government assistance for the poor, and how our elected officials should treat the poor. These issues are inseparable. So for all of the so-called social issues, they naturally become involved in government and culture. It is impossible to withdraw from cultural issues or legislative issues and still promote a social gospel.
But our Christian heritage goes further than this. Our fore fathers in the church were involved with how the government should operate to promote the Christian worldview.Theologians and ministers throughout history have been involved in both theology and government. Thomas Aquinas wrote the lofty theological work Summa Theologica which is perhaps the pinnacle of defining God’s attributes, but he also spends a fair amount of ink describing how governments should work. The apostle Paul and the apostle Peter both tell us in the New Testament how we should be responsible citizens and obey the government. In our culture, this means being aware of the issues and exercising our responsibility to vote. Our country would not have made it the first 100 years without the Christian influence on the founding fathers.
Certainly our enemies were also involved with trying to get the Christians removed from the public square. Karl Marx inspired a communist system that intentionally removed and often killed people of faith. Our secular culture today is quickly convincing the church that it should not be involved in public discussion about government or cultural issues. Christians have bought into the idea that we should not be involved with laws preventing moral obscenity, voluntary child killing, or even freedom to communicate the Christian worldview in public square. When Christians believe that we should not be involved in these issues, they ultimately limit the church’s ability to be involved in any social issue in the name of Jesus. Every November, we can go downtown to help feed the poor in the name of Thanksgiving, but if we try to give thanks to the God who provided the meal, we are quickly told to leave. Lest you think this is an exaggeration, this once happened to a pastor of mine at the local “minister’s alliance” who were planning a free Thanksgiving meal.
How long will we assist in our own removal from the public square? When will we finally realize that when people of faith withdraw from the government, the only ones left to run things are the godless?