Something to Consider, Part 4

This blog continues my politics and religion discussion.
  • The first blog asked the question, should religion or utilitarianism legislate politics?
  • The second blog reviewed multiple religions and established two ideas: morality exists in each religion, and religion provides guidelines for its adherents.
  • The third blog examined the history of politics in Christianity as Christians are the loudest when it comes to US politics.
  • In this final blog, my goal is to integrate the history lessons learned in the Judeo-Christian world with present US politics.
First, my disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are my own. They do not represent the views of any one faith, creed, church, denomination, sect, religion, etc. I hope to keep this blog as objective as possible, but with religion, I believe, for most people, it can be subjective. While I hold strong to my beliefs, I still try to remain objective in my blogs.
I ended my last blog by asking the question, could Christians look beyond their earthly leader to their heavenly king, or is their expectation for a Godly earthly leader legitimate? To answer this question, I'll first return to the Bible to look at how Jews and the first Christians interacted with their government or nearby leaders.
Abraham and Isaac
Abraham and Isaac show that history definitely repeats itself! Genesis tells the story of Abraham visiting the kingdom of Abimelech. He felt compelled to lie about his marriage, thinking that Sarah would be mistreated. God stepped in to prove to Abraham that He could protect him, and Abraham did not need to lie. Later, Isaac repeated this behavior to protect his wife, and again, God intervened. These interactions between Abraham and Abimelech's kingdom led to a covenant made between the two men so that they could live peaceably with one another (Genesis 20:2-18, Genesis 21:22-32, Genesis 26:7-16, Genesis 26:26-31). Perhaps, the strongest argument here for a man of God dwelling with an unGodly leader is
And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:  Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. (Genesis 21:22-23)
Note, while Abimelech respected Abraham and Isaac's beliefs, he could not accept them as his own. Yet, Abimelech claimed his kingdom was righteous, and neither man nor God reproved him for that statement. (Genesis 20:4)
Paul traveled extensively to evangelize. During one of his many imprisonments, he spoke up about his Roman citizenship. The Jewish leaders arrested him for his assumed blasphemy against Jewish beliefs; however, in claiming his Roman citizenship, he asserted his innocence. The Roman Empire recognized freedom of religion, and this Roman-born Jew cautioned the Jewish leaders (Acts 22:25-29).
Later, both the writer of the book of Hebrews and Peter command God's people that they be subject to earthly leaders. Further, the author of the book of Hebrews explains rulers are accountable to God for their actions and not to the people whom they govern (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13).  In a way, this echoes Jesus' when he said that we should "render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s" (Matthew 22:21).  
Foundations of the US Government
The First Ammendment of the Constitution affords US citizens the right to worship as they choose:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
Twenty years before James Madison became the President of the US, he led the House of Representatives and drafted the Bill of Rights. He presented the Bill of Rights, stating,
"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed." (June 8, 1789)
He argues his point first in number 10 of the Federalist Papers, published November 22, 1787.
So, How Should Christians Act Toward Government?
I base my opinion of Christian actions toward government on Mark 12:30-31. Christians ought to choose for themselves to be obedient to their beliefs and at the same time, love (aka respect, care for, friend, regard, recognize) others around them. It is how we act and not how we control others' actions that shows our true spirit. A type of covenant has already been established between us and the US government, very similar to the one enacted between Abraham and Abimelech. To violate that covenant is to become a faction that causes conflict.

Considering conflict, I reflect on the words of James Madison:
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
I must conclude, therefore, that Christians ought to look beyond their earthly leader to their heavenly king. Christians must continue to count the cost of an earthly government, one that recognizes the freedom of religion. And, by following the precept of obedience to their beliefs and not the control of others' beliefs, I believe that unlike God's people under Samuel's leadership, Christians will recognize God as their ultimate king.
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