Politics and Military

Many believe that followers of Christ should not be involved in politics. Most of us have seen pictures of Christians killed in the Roman coliseums for refusing to worship the emperor of Rome. They stayed faithful, to their deaths. But that was because they refused to render sacred worship to the emperor. Sacred worship is owed to the Most High God only. Interestingly, a 1,700 year old letter dating to the early Christian years indicates an active role for Christians in politics. So how should Christians today view involvement in politics and the military?

There is a difference between worship and sacred-worship. An example of this would be king Melchizedek. He was not only a king but a priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18). Melchizedek would accept obeisance (worship) from people but that was a showing of respect for his office. That would not be sacred worship. Another example would be the coronation of David’s son Solomon as king of Israel. Here, the people bowed down (did obeisance to / worshiped) to the king and to the Most High, Yahweh. However, the sacred worship, the sacrifices were only to Yahweh (1 Chronicles 29:20-24 (WEB)) Then there is Daniel. Not only was he a prophet of the Most High God but he worshiped and accepted worship. Daniel only rendered sacred worship to the Most High God. Daniel also accepted worship of the “political” kind (Compare Daniel 2:46 (ASV) and (YLT). That is, obeisance. This obeisance (worship), was the political equivalent of showing honor for the office that he held. Then there is the example of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Eventually he held a position in which people from far away lands would bow down to him, paying him homage (obeisance / worship). This was showing respect for the political office that he held. It was not sacred worship. Joseph was a servant of the Most High God. (Genesis 42:6, 18 YLT)

Some people refer to James 4:4 (RSV); “Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” And they use the phrase, “friendship with the world” to be referring to the literal people of the world. So they limit their dealings with “worldly” people. Especially in politics. However, this phrase is talking about oneself, not other people! Notice James 3:6 (WEB), where it states the tongue is pictured as a “world of unrighteousness” among our (body) members. James goes on in chapter 3 to call the tongue an injurious thing, full of death dealing poison (v8). Verse nine and ten show how one can improperly use the tongue to bless the creator yet use it to curse those created in the likeness of God! Verse 14 and 15 show how some use the tongue to brag and lie against the truth. This is not wisdom from above but is “earthly, animal, demonic.” James 4:1 continues on this same topic by asking from what source are the wars and fights originating? The verse identifies the source, causing strife, as in “your members,” which would be the tongue as mentioned earlier. Remember, the original letter of James was not divided up into chapters and verses. The chapters and verses were added later by another. Chapters 3 and 4 work together. James 4:2-3 further explains that some do not use the tongue to ask for what is right. They keep siding with their “tongues.” Note, that James 4:4 originally did not start out with the word, “Adulteresses.” This was added by a copyist as mentioned in Vines (p.14). That confuses things a bit. James 4:11-12 echoes James 3:10 in which it is shown to be improper to judge one’s neighbor. James 4:15-16 goes on to admonish people to use their tongue to say, “If Yahweh (God) wills” rather then to taking pride in one’s self assuming brags. Yes, the phrase, “friendship with the world is enmity with God,” is actually talking about not wanting to bridle the tongue. (James 3-4 (RSV))

What about 1 John 5:19 (WEB) where it states that the whole world is in the power of the wicked one? This is all the more reason that we should try to place ourselves in positions to help others! This has been the case since Adam and Eve sinning, following the devil’s direction. This will continue to be the case until Revelation 11:15 happens. That is, when the kingdom of the world is handed over to our “Lord and his Christ.” Evil wins when good people just sit by and do nothing but complain.

Saluting the flag or a person of authority. To salute something or someone is to show respect, honor, or homage for. This is not idol worship and certainly not sacred worship. Just as it was proper for Joseph’s brothers to bow down to him, saluting a person with authority or a representative of, such as a flag, is proper. It is not sacred worship.

The Pledge of Allegiance (USA). It currently is worded; “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It is noteworthy that the term, “under God” is included. There is nothing wrong for a servant of the Most High to say this pledge. The pledge puts God first. This is not a sacred act but a statement of respect and honor for being a citizen in obeying the laws of the United States of America but putting God first.

Military service. Jesus stated to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mark 12:30-31 (WEB)). We certainly would not go to war with ourselves. However, it is interesting that nothing bad is indicated about John the baptizer admonishing those in the military to be just in their duty (Luke 3:14 (WEB)). It does not say that John told them to get out of the military. Yet, John, was spoken of highly by Jesus and he even baptized Jesus! The military is used to help and protect people. However, the advent of killing innocent people could not be following Jesus’ statement to love your neighbor. The order to kill would be coming from a man, not God. All nations believe that God is directing them. But, that can’t be, if they are killing each other. With these points in mind, and the countless circumstances, it has to be up to the individual whether or not to join the military. The principle of the Pledge of Allegiance that the United States of America is under God can’t be overlooked!