Even though we are currently in Acts 3 as a church, one of the questions texted in during our service was from left field (or maybe right field, depending on your party affiliation): What are the biblical principles by which we should evaluate our political leaders?
First, a warning: Answering this question fully is probably impossible in this blog, and the simplicity with which I will approach it will no doubt breed a whirlwind of differing opinions. But here goes.
In general, my opinion, based on Romans 13, is that government leaders should punish evildoers and protect those who do good. It’s really that simple in my mind. This is the gold standard when it comes to evaluating our political leaders.
Furthermore, I believe this is the heartbeat behind Proverbs 14:34, where Solomon wisely proclaimed, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Leaders who appropriately punish those doing wrong through the correct and humble use of authority, and, subsequently, protect those who are doing what’s right, are leaders who will steer a nation, state or city in the right direction.
So ask yourself, “Is my political leader punishing those who do and seek evil? Is he/she protecting those who do what’s right?” This is the simplest and yet most biblically basic way to evaluate our elected officials.
Believe it or not, this one evaluation tool will do more to help you sift through the many issues being hurled at you currently — from tax cuts to welfare to contraception to jobs to immigration to budgets to foreign policy to the military — ask yourself: “Which leaders will do the best job of punishing those who do evil and protecting those who do right?” Call me crazy, but it really is that simple.
A note of clarification: We’re not evaluating church leaders, so don’t connect passages that relate to pastoral leadership to the issue of civic authority or government responsibility. Often we mistakenly “Christianize” the office of president (or governor, mayor, etc) and assume that person needs to meet the same demands as God’s under-shepherds. While I do think we should hold our political leaders to high standards, we can do so without incorrectly dividing the Word and misapplying the Scriptures.