Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

A Biblical Perspective on Politics

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  • Many Christians have approached politics as if it lies outside their primary realm of responsibilities. Politics are often viewed are part of the "world" that we ought not to love.

  • Often times our Christian life becomes confined to personal godliness, to church activities, to attending liturgies, youth meetings, and Bible study. From this point of view, a Christian's involvement in politics is seen as a step into the secular world. From a biblical point of view, this dualistic distinction between church and world, between the sacred and the secular, is mistaken.

Purpose of Government

  • To enforce the Law…"Government is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer" (Rom 13:4).

  • Since most people cannot be ruled by love, they must be ruled by law. That is inevitable in an imperfect world. So God has ordained that there should be ruling authorities to keep law and order.

  • United States Declaration of Independence – Thomas Jefferson – July 4, 1776

    "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

Origin of Government

  • Government is an institution designed by God (like marriage)
  • "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom 13:1-2).
  • "Daniel and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His…He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding'" (Dan 2:20-21).
  • "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all" (Dan 2:37-38).
  • "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11).

Our Duties to the Government

  • Praying for our Government
    • "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" (1 Tim 2:1-3).
    • In the Gregorian Liturgy:
      • Remember, O Lord, those who ruled in righteous-ness, and those who are now rulers (Litanies).
      • Remember, O Lord, our brethren, the Orthodox believers who are in the government, and all the soldiers (Litanies).
    • In the Liturgy of St Basil (Litany of Peace – before the Creed)
      • The king, the armies, the chiefs, the counselors, the multitudes, our neighbors, our coming in and our going out, adorn them all with peace. O King of peace, grant us Your peace; for You have given us all things.
    • In the Liturgy of St Cyril (Prayer of the King)
      • Remember, O Lord the ruler of our land, your servant... The deacon responds: Pray that Christ our God, grant us mercy and compassion before the mighty rulers, and incline their hearts with goodness towards us at all times, and forgive us our sins.
      • The Priest continues: Keep him in peace, Justice and might, subdue unto him all nations that may desire war for all that is prosperous to us. Speak in his heart for the peace of Your one only holy Catholic and apostolic church. Grant .him to think peacefully of us and of Your Holy Name, so that we also may live a calm and orderly life, and we may exist in every godliness and virtue through You.

  • Not to speak evil of our Rulers
    • Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men (Tit 3:1-2).

  • Submit and Obey the Authorities
    • "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mt 22:21).

    • "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:13-17).

    • "Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves…He is God's minister…Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing" (Rom 13:2-6).

Times of Disobedience

  • Should Christians uncritically support all actions of all governments?

  • The Holy Bible teaches us that there are times when it is right to disobey when its commands are in contradiction to God's commands.

  • But Peter and the other apostles answered and said:
    • "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
  • But Peter and John answered and said to them,
    • "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge" (Acts 4:19).
  • Midwives disobeyed Pharaoh for God's sake
    • "Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, ‘When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.' But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.' Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty" (Exodus 1:15-20).

Dual Citizenship

  • We're citizens of two kingdoms: One temporal and earthly, The other eternal and heavenly. We are called to participate in both the culture and politics of The City of Man, as this world was called by Augustine, while primarily focusing on the City of God.

  • While our focus and heart should be directed to where our bridegroom is (heaven). We cannot neglect that we do have a role in the world. We are called by the Lord Jesus to be preserving salt and illuminating light in the world.

  • Heavenly
    • "For our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil 3:20).
    • "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph 2:19).
  • Earthly
    • "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15).

How Should We, Christians, Vote?

  1. People, fearing God
    • "Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens" (Exodus 18:21).

  2. Weightier matters of the law
    • "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel" (Mt 23:23-24).
  • Of course, a Christian will want to vote for a citizen of God's city if there is a clear choice between him and a rank sinner. That choice is seldom so clear in elections. Given that, how does the average Christian voter decide on parties, platforms, and candidates? They do it by examining the issues based on principles of biblical ethics, godly values, and a discerning ear.

  • Ravi Zacharias, a Christian Author, says us that we're NOT electing a priest or church elder.
    • "I think as we elect, we go before God and choose out of the candidates who will be the best ones to represent [sanctity of life] values and at the same time be a good leader...whose first responsibility [is] to protect citizens. What we want is a politician who will understand the basic Judeo-Christian worldview, and on the basis of thatthe moral laws of this nation are framed, and then run this country with the excellence of that which is recognized in a pluralistic society: the freedom to believe or to disbelieve, and the moral framework with which this was conducted: the sanctity of every individual life.

  • Many issues are disputable matters. If over time you prayerfully believe that stewardship of the environment is critical, balanced against all considerations, vote accordingly. If sanctity of life issues like abortion and stem cell research are paramount to you, by all means vote that way.

  • However, realize that trade-offs are inevitable; there won't be a perfect candidate who falls in line on all our values and priorities.


  • As believers, we're citizens of two kingdoms: one temporal and earthly, the other eternal and heavenly. We are called to participate in both the culture and politics of The City of Man, as this world was called by Augustine, while primarily focusing on the Kingdom of God.

  • The longevity and value of these dual kingdoms ought to serve as crucial guides to how invested we become in them. Eternal issues matter more than temporal ones. To allow politics and social issues to overtake our commitments to the everlasting is to risk idolatry, while losing ground in both realms.

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