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Pulpits & Politics

I recently received a piece of mail asking the church to sponsor a "Sunday Voter Registration Day." It provided all the guidelines for how to get people registered to vote and how to encourage voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections.

Please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say. I vote every chance I get (which is to say, every election). I'm a firm believer in civic duty and participation. And I think if you don't vote, don't make your voice heard at the ballot box when it counts, you have now right to complain later about the results. But I still get decidedly antsy when the church tries to be a full-on civic organization.

This is for several reasons. First, as a pastor, there are government regulations limiting my political speech from the pulpit. If I endorse any specific candidate or party in my preaching, the church could lose its tax-exempt status. The IRS will no longer consider us a church but some sort of political action committee (PAC) or similar. Second, and more important, I strongly believe in the separation of church and state for the good of the church. Power corrupts us all, and history teaches the dangers of theocracy: the state always corrupts the church, not the church sanctifying the state. You want a Christian nation? Lead people to Jesus. See souls saved. Fill the pews. The people will take it from there and go vote, run for office, and anything else the Holy Spirit may lead them to do for their country.

Too often I feel we would rather swap kingdoms. The church becomes a force for a political cause, a kingdom of this world. It loses sight of the heavenly kingdom, the work of which was entrusted to her, and desires instead something far less. All kingdoms of this world will someday burn; this is biblical truth. Let us work for a heavenly kingdom, one which will never end. Let us make disciples of all nations regardless of politics. Let us cease trying to be kings and instead worship The King.

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