Why Pastors avoid politics
Many Pastors in our nation decline to preach about politics. There are likely many reasons for this, including the desire to not offend congregants and to not foster an environment of political debate. Some Pastors believe that since politics don’t change hearts for Christ, politics don’t have a place in Church. Some Pastors believe that politics and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Some Pastors are concerned about losing government benefits related to their tax status with the IRS. Regardless of the reason, Pastors should know the truth about politics. What are politics, exactly? Where did politics come from? What role should Christians play in politics?
For Pastors the greatest challenge related to preaching politics lies in understanding how politics are defined. Politics are so negatively viewed that many Pastors completely avoid preaching anything “politically related”. However, politics are so much more than just which party to vote for or side with. Politics should not be reduced to only the Republican vs. Democrat debate. Choosing not to preach about which political party is superior is certainly understandable. Similarly, preaching a sermon on which candidate to vote for, is not ideal since much of that discussion will vary based on a Pastors personal opinion.
Understanding what politics are
When claiming that He was God, Jesus offended the Pharisees. Yet, He had no fear of their reaction, because He was telling the truth. Therefore, if God’s Word discusses it, Pastors should too. And the truth about politics is, the Bible speaks to political issues and government. In fact, God created us to “rule” over the earth. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Government was God’s idea, not mankind’s.
Politics are a natural product of Government. Dictionary.com defines politics as “the science or art of political government.” God established Government in the beginning (as He is our King) and He establishes our governing authorities (Romans 13:1). Since politics are the science of government, the two are linked. God’s word is full of political discussions related to the law, life, marriage, war, economics, and more. The Bible points us to a Savior, and it also gives us direction for how to govern our lives. This includes what our political views should be and which governing authorities we should submit to. Pastors avoid politics due to a false view of what politics actually are.
While it is correct to say that politics can’t directly change the human heart, that was never the purpose of politics. Politics exist in order for mankind to govern nations, not to save souls. And while salvation is obviously quite important and a large part of God’s Word, it is not the only topic the Lord cares about. Stating that salvation is the only important topic in God’s Word would ignore much of the Bible. Furthermore, while politics can’t save people, God can use politics to bring people to Him.
Pastors should preach politics God’s way
Encouraging congregants to vote is honorable, but there is more to politics than just voting. For believers, being active in politics requires having an understanding of the foundation of our government and how it operates, so we can apply related scripture (Romans 13:1-7) to our lives. It involves having a voice for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8-9). It involves understanding who should take care of those who are in need (James 1:27). It involves understanding marriage (Genesis 2:24) and the value of life (Psalm 127:3). It also involves communicating with our governing officials, which opens up the opportunity to share the Gospel with them (Matthew 28:16-20).
The Bible speaks to all areas of our lives, including politics. Pastors can preach about politics (in a biblical sense) without giving their opinions. We should encourage our Pastors to have the courage to speak up about what God’s word says related to political issues and current events. A Pastor should care about politics to the extent that the world is able to witness God’s love for others in the political arena, yet Pastors should not care about politics so much that it becomes an idol (like anything else). Christians should be the light in politics and we need our Pastors to shepherd us in this. Although, this may require a better understanding of what politics are and perhaps a slight change in attitude about politics on the part of Pastors.