What Should We Say to Our Children About Politics?
Having just ended a political season, I am sure politics is the last thing we want to talk about to anyone right now! Still the question is a fair one, what do we want our children to learn from us about the world of politics and our responsibilities as citizens? Even if we say nothing to them, they are learning from us by what we say to others and to one another as parents. They learn from what we do or do not do with regard to our citizenship. As in everything, our children learn from us in the way we live our lives, from the passion we show or the lack of passion we have for people and/or our responsibilities.
In Peter’s First Epistle, we are instructed to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the hope that you have. (I Peter 3:15) Our hope is certainly our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also the hope we have for a world reformed by the Gospel because we are His disciples. Just as there are Christian spectacles through which we should see this present world, there is a Christian world-view we need to have in the political realm. It is this perspective we want to impart to our children. We want them to have and live out a Biblical world-view in everything!
The Christian cannot be divorced from politics, anymore than he can be divorced from living in the world. As Jesus prayed to His Father for his disciples, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15) We are in the world, but there is no necessity to be of it. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man that does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17) Politics is part of God’s plan for the world and the society in which we live. Like the world, it is susceptible to evil. “Dirty and “politics are two words commonly linked. But that should not be surprising in a fallen and sinful world.
Nevertheless, Romans 13 clearly sets forth both God’s sovereignty in the political arena and the truth that His children are not separated from it. We may not be politicians or even aspire to be, but politicians (magistrates, rulers, judges, governors, presidents, legislators et cetera) have an impact on our lives and the lives of our children. Some politicians and rulers are Christians and legislate or rule with Biblical principles, while others do not. Some are good and others are evil. But the Bible tells us that both types rule by God’s authority. It is He that raises up rulers and authorities, just as it is He that brings them down. God’s purposes in raising up evil rulers and authorities are not always known to us. Yet there is no one who thwarts His will. Everything conforms to His plan even though we do not always know exactly what it is.
Our concern, our responsibility, is to do His will in our personal lives, no matter what goes on around us. What others do is not an excuse whichever removes ours or our children’s responsibility before God. What does He require of you? That is the supreme question. Just as Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, (Matthew 22:21) we have responsibilities as citizens within the particular nation in which God has placed us.
Consequently, here are some principles to assist in instructing your children about their political responsibilities, before and after they come of voting age:
- Voting is a privilege that should be deeply appreciated and consistently performed.
- How we vote requires prayer and wisodm.
- Thoughtful consideration of politicians, political ideology, and issues using Biblical principles is necessary. Micah 6:8 is a good foundation: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. As le these questions as you determine your vote. Does the candidate or the position support and encourage:
- Protection of freedom of worship in the nation?
- Protection of God’s ordained social entities: marriage and family?
- Commitment to God’s moral law as expressed in His commandments, to include the protection of human life?
- Justice for all regardless of race or socio-economic status?
- Loving concern for the poor?
- Humility in actions and words?
- Commitment to integrity and ethical behavior?
- National policies that follow our Lord’s command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
- National policies that pursue relief and freedom of the oppressed.
- Sometimes we are required to determine the lesser of two evils. Who (politician or party) or what (position or issue) will most help accomplish the above principles in the nation and the world?
In the world of politics, there will be many times we despair. However, this is true of life in a fallen world. We must teach our children the truth that, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) We have much to hope for in God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are neither to become cynical, nor alienated from the world and the political process as we wrestle with political realities. God always remains sovereign! Do not give in to despair! Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-14 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 with your children. Convey to them and remind yourself that in God we have hope. In Him we have every reason to press on and keep pressing on until He returns. Until that day, we are instructed to pray for those in authority over us, regardless of whether we voted for them or not.
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