By Reverend David Whitney
October 16, 2016
I watched the tail end of the Vice Presidential debates last week and was interested in the question about how the candidates handled the issue of their religious beliefs when it came to public policy, when that policy was against what they believed. The moderator asked, “Can you discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position?”
Video of the sermon
One candidate, former governor of Virginia, talked about his religious belief that the death penalty is wrong. By the way, from this pulpit we have ad-dressed that issue and to summarize it in one phrase - God ordained human civil government for the purpose of executing those who unjustly take human life. So this candidate ironically says it is his religious belief the civil government should never do that which God ordained it to do, to never fulfill the first purpose God assigned to Civil government. You can tell where that individual is coming from and that the idol he is worshipping is something other than the God of the Bible. Then he said, He knows how to take an oath, and that means completely separating his religion from how he governs when he is in the office he has taken that oath for. Several things to note: First, if you claim to believe something to be true but refuse to act upon that truth, then you really don’t believe it to be true. Your actions always reveal your true beliefs. Second to whom is an oath taken?
The Founders of our Land designed the oath to be taken to the God of the Bible with a clear understanding there were eternal consequences for violating that oath. The Candidate said he knew how to take an oath, but he made no reference to whom he was taking that oath and has demonstrated by his many years in office that he is an oath breaker not an oath keeper. He certainly is not alone in his violations of every important principle in our Constitution. Thirdly, he claimed to separate his religion from his job as an elected official. As we have already said, that is not possible - you will do what you actually believe, not what you might tell the voters you believe but what you actually hold to be true. Consider what John Jay, First Supreme Court Justice wrote in a letter to John Murray, October 12, 1816
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Rather than separating true religion (the Christian Faith) from government, our Founders spoke to the point that Christianity was the guiding force in everything that should be done by the Civil government. We were designed to be a nation that is governed by the Laws of the Creator which they styled, “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”
Now the other candidate spoke of his pro-life commitment. This led to some back and forth and the Senator from Virginia accusing his opponent for not trusting women. What did he mean not trusting women? Not trusting them to make their own decision unconstrained by any law to hire a contract killer to murder the baby in their own womb. Consider that position as whole - he is opposed to the death penalty but he all in for the murder of babies up to and even as they are being born. So he stands for not punishing those who commit murder of those outside the womb and he is all for handsomely rewarding at taxpayers expense those who murder human beings inside the womb. So I think it would be fair to apply truth in advertising rules and label him the pro-murder candidate for the office of Vice President. He explained in that debate how his belief system (I would not call it Christian in any way, shape or form) actually influences how he has and will govern.
We often believe the myth that what a person believes doesn’t really make a big difference, so believe whatever you want to. Yet the reality is that what you believe determines what you will do and therefore believing lies will bring disaster.
Consider the words of Isaiah 59:2-4 “But your iniquities have separated be-teen you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.” This seems an apt description of America today.
This one interchange in the debate actually raises an important question for all Christians. How then shall we live? How shall we interact with this world? There is the Amish answer to that question, which is to completely separate from the world in every way, establish your own community outside the system, live apart from the world and have as little contact or interaction with the non-Christian world. This is an increasingly attractive route as the darkness descends on our land.
On the opposite side of the pendulum would be the position of live in the world so much that you are essentially indistinct from the world around you. Blend in, go native, hide your light so successfully that no one will ever even know you are a Christian. What does God want?
Moses in Exodus 33 presents a valuable role model for us in that he pursued the goal of being in the world, but not of the world.