The Biblical Basis for Christians
in Politics and Government
by Ellen Craswell
( Edited to past tense by the
While our campaign for Governor was growing, many
people were interested in the
Biblical basis for Christian involvement in politics and government.
This was the true driving force behind America's
founding fathers (who based the
Constitution on specific Biblical, Judeo-Christian principles). It
was also the foundation of the campaign and would have been that of my
service as Governor, had God seen fit to place me in that office.
Regarding the principles in this article, I am very
grateful to Pastor Thomas
Minnick, whose Biblical teaching has helped to bring
these truths to life in me and in many others.
Why Get Involved?
Crisis and civic duty are inferior and ineffective
motivation for Christians who
take seriously their charge to seek God's will for
their lives. Why participate if this is not surely God's
desire? Sadly, 20th
century preaching often discouraged our involvement in the
"worldly" business of politics and government.
Yet Christians have not always hesitated to "get
involved" in American civil
government. Rather, for much of our history,
Christians were deeply committed to this role. In fact,
most of our founding fathers
were outstanding Christians (as opposed
to the very few deists, agnostics or atheists constantly
highlighted by today's anti-Christian elite).
More Christians must now realize the Biblical basis
for involvement. It then becomes a matter of obedience to God.
As Christians consider their responsibility, there are
three vital principles to
First, government is God's institution! Civil
government exists and functions
by God's command, not because cave
men created a social contract.
Civil government began in Genesis 9:1-7, when God
instructed Noah after the flood.
In Exodus 20-22, God through Moses gives
a specific pattern for civil government.
Scripture is full of God's sovereignty and interest in
civil government. In
Daniel 2:20-21, God removes and sets up
rulers. In Proverbs 21:1, he turns a ruler's heart.
In Romans 13:1, He ordains civil
powers. Clearly, government is
not a secular institution but a God-ordained institution.
A second key principle is that God has every right to
direct His institutions.
Indeed, Scripture reveals God's will, rules
and leadership qualities for the home, the church... and the
Christians are quite familiar with Biblical
expectations for the family and
the church. Yet many are amazed to realize
that our country's Constitution and many of its laws and
punishments are based on civil government rules of conduct
that are spelled out in the Bible.
Exodus 21-22 addresses manslaughter, premeditated
murder, assault, kidnapping (and
slavery), abortion, infanticide, property
crimes, criminal negligence, assaulting parents,
robbery and bestiality.
Leviticus 13, 20 and other passages address such
issues as public health laws and
In Deuteronomy 17-22 are laws regarding violation of a
court order, perjury, malicious accusations, building codes
(no regulatory scheme, it just sets the standards for
responsible conduct and punishes wrongs), juvenile
delinquency and rape.
God also gives qualifications for leadership, both in
the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and
in civil government (Exodus 18:21). Imagine
our state and nation under leaders with
these Biblical qualities: "able" and "fears God" and
speaks "truth" and
The third vital principle to remember is that
secularizing government is an
affront to a Holy God! We are often told
that government and politics should be secular. But would
we allow Biblical Christianity to be excluded from our homes
or churches? So why quietly capitulate to arguments saying we
should keep God's Word and God's people out of God's
institution of civil government?
We need to petition God for revival before
privatization of our faith results in complete secularization of
Once Christian involvement in the political process
bears fruit in the election of a Godly person, it is crucial for that
individual to understand and obey Biblical principles in office.
Among these are four principles.
First, we must understand that civil leaders are
"ministers of God" (Romans 13:3-4). This relates to the
principle of ACCOUNTABILITY. The role of a civil leader is to
enable government to fulfill God's purposes. Civil leaders are
doing the will of God in establishing justice and maintaining civil
order. They are accountable to God for the faithful discharge of
their ministry responsibilities. A person's behavior in office is
positively affected by knowing that he must answer to God.
A second principle, that of DESTINY, understand the
reality of sovereign appointments. A civil leader serves at God's
pleasure! "...He (God) removeth kings, and setteth up
kings..." (Daniel 2:21). "For promotion cometh neither
from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is
the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another" (Psalm
75:6-7). God places people in leadership for His specific purposes
-- for His benefit, not theirs! "...Who knoweth whether thou
art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther
4:14). We must ask ourselves, "Why has God put me here?
What does He want me to accomplish?"
Understanding man's tendency to compromise, we also
recognize the principle of DEPENDENCY. Leaders are called on to
make hard decisions ! Recall Solomon and the baby (1 Kings 3:16-
27). Elected office requires more wisdom and courage than any
person has. If one trusts in human wisdom (pollsters, consultants
or even his own wisdom), he will usually be frightened into doing the
wrong thing. Yet, "...lean not unto thine own
understanding" (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
It is hard to know what is right! It is even
harder to do what is right! Our only hope is a right relationship
with God -- living each day dependent upon Him for wisdom to know the
right thing and courage to do the right thing. Don't fear the
voters, fear God!
The fourth essential is to understand God's purpose
for civil government, the principle of JURISDICTION. What is the
reason for government? Looking at history, man began in a state of
innocence, and all was good. There was no need for government (see
Genesis 1:27-28, 31). But sin entered the picture (see Genesis
4:3-10, 6:1-6) and God ordained civil government (see Romans
13:1). It is God's institution, begun by His creative act.
Further, God is in control of government. "The king's heart
is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it
withersoever He will" (Proverbs 21:1).
In considering the role of government, we must discern
the jurisdictions of Caesar or God (Matthew 22:15-21). The church
and civil government are made necessary by the same thing (sin), but do
not have identical responsibilities. The humanist view of the role
of government is to perfect mankind. The Scriptural view of the
role of government is to protect mankind.
Scripture shows that civil government is charged with
a limited responsibility to protect life and property. Previously
listed passages from Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and many others,
A civil leader must decide that he will take a
Scriptural view of the limited role of government in society! For
example, God's plan for welfare does not involve civil government.
People who are in need of temporary help are directed to look primarily
to the family (see 1 Timothy 5:3-8), secondarily to the church (see 1
Timothy 5:9-16 and Acts 6:1-2), or finally to neighbors in the community
(see Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22).
Clearly, God's plan vastly differs from the present
system, which is such a monumental failure. The humanistic plan is
publicly funded, coercive and creates cycles of dependency. The
Biblical plan is a private program, voluntary and allows the poor to
retain their dignity.
Anyone who reads through the Bible can see that God's
ways bring blessings and man's ways bring destruction. Yet so
often we all try, try again to do whatever seems right in our own eyes,
thinking somehow that we in our day can escape the unavoidable
consequences that are spelled out in God's Word. Having "done
our own thing" for decades, we are now suffering the gaping
devastation of crime, broken homes, abused and aborted children, sexual
immorality, drug and alcohol problems, corrupt government, reckless
taxing and spending, warped welfare programs and deficient education.
Half-hearted measures will never solve these full-
scale problems. The answer begins with a return to God and his
ways. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose
you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
* ** *** ** *
Ellen Craswell served as Washington State
Representative (1977- 1980), State Senator (1981-1992), and was the
first woman named President Pro Tem of the Senate (1991-1992). She
was the leading Republican candidate for the Governor of Washington
State in 1996. At 75 years of age, Ellen Craswell passed away on
April 5th, 2008.
copyright 1996, Ellen Craswell
--- edited August 1998 -
Bruce & Ellen
Craswell - Christianity & Politics