July 15 – Christian Engagement in Society

July 15 – Christian Engagement in Society

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”(Micah 6:8)

Legislated Morals. Can morals be legislated? The idea that morals cannot be legislated is usually based on a cultural or ethical relativism that teaches that moral behavior depends entirely on the culture and that nothing is right or wrong for all cultures at all times. This is a difficult position to follow consistently because the culture of the Mafia must be granted legitimacy just as much as the Supreme Court.

The truth is that most legislation is based on morality. If morality cannot be legislated, nothing can be. Most sensible people would agree with this in general, though there would be sharp disagreement as to which are private morals and which are public. Homosexual conduct is held by most Americans to be wholly private. But is it? What impact will the beleaguered family sustain as children are taught that LGBTQ relationships are normal and beautiful? What sort of military defense will America have when they “come out”? These are not exactly private issues. The same might be said of any moral issue.

If the government is representative or democratic, it cannot but reflect the judgment of the society as to what moral standards should be required of all its citizens. If such a society legislates morals that are not acceptable to the majority, or even to a large minority of its citizens, the law becomes unenforceable. It is a bad law because it promotes lawlessness. Therefore, if a Christian is interested in having morals legislated, he must not only ask what is right and what is good for society, he must also ask, What will this society accept? Of course, he may fight for a losing cause on principle. But if he actually intends to impose a minority standard on the majority, he should understand that the legal fabric would be weakened and in the end much more than the specific moral issue would be lost.

Order of Priorities in Social Responsibilities. Following the example of Christ, the Christian should order his priorities with primary concern for the reconciling of people with God and the eternal dimensions of life while at the same time maintaining a deep concern and involvement in relationships among people and their physical and material needs.

Responsibility for Self. As a foundation for social good, the Christian is responsible to provide for himself (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:10).

Responsibility for Family. Furthermore, he has a primary responsibility for his own family (1 Tim. 5:8). The entire fifth chapter of 1 Timothy deals with one’s responsibility to provide for his family. In connection with this the Bible clearly outlines the responsibility of parents in the training of their children. [52] Here is the foundation for a society under the reign of God.

Responsibility for Fellow Christians. The believer’s next responsibility is for fellow believers. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Large portions of 1 John emphasize the loving responsibility a Christian has for his fellow believers’ physical welfare.

Responsibility for Neighbors. Finally, the Christian has responsibility for his neighbor — all those outside the immediate responsibility of human and divine family who, in some way, bring responsibility through relationship as “neighbor.”

Responsibility toward Society. The Christian’s responsibilities for his society are especially clear in a democratic society in which the Christian citizen is part of the governing body — the people.

The Christian is responsible to honor those in authority and to pray for them (Rom. 13; 1 Tim. 2:2).

The Christian is responsible to obey the civil laws and authority (Rom. 13:1-10).

The Christian is responsible to pay taxes (Rom. 13:6).

The Christian is responsible to practice justice and mercy, dealing justly with employees, working to relieve the poor, the minorities (aliens), the oppressed, the weak (widows, orphans). Perhaps the strongest passage of all is Matthew 25:31-46, where we are told in advance the basis of judgment on the Last Day: We shall be judged on the basis of whether we have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, lodged the homeless, clothed the naked, and cared for the sick and imprisoned. There are other guidelines that seem consonant with the principles of Scripture, though they cannot be held to be the clearly revealed will of God:

In order to fulfill our responsibility in seeking justice and mercy, the Christian should study the Scriptures to determine God’s view on any specific issue that arises. The Word of God must be our controlling authority.

Vote. The Christian in a democracy abdicates his responsibility for seeking a just and merciful society when he deliberately fails to vote. But does a single vote make any difference? Whether or not it makes a difference, a Christian ought to be involved. However, the truth is that it does make a difference. What difference will you make? To which specific areas of need would God be pleased for you to give your attention?

[52] Deut. 4:9-10; 11:18-19; Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; Eph. 6:1-4

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