There has been a lot of heated discussion within our home regarding Christian civic responsibility. How I wish I could talk to you face to face and hear your perspective on these issues. You were a brilliant man, full of wisdom, courage and diplomacy. During the long years you spent working within the Babylonian and Persian governments you displayed an unswerving commitment to our God. Surely you could give me some guidance. In reading the account of your life one thing is clear: you would never advocate compromising ethical standards to promote a “greater good”. Nor would you let yourself be drawn in to the particular idolatry of your age.
Surely your participation in the Babylonian government provided protection for the innocent and you probably became an advocate for your people exiled in a strange country. It is easy to see that you were not ambitious for personal power or glory, but the honor of God and His glory were uppermost in your motives. You were not afraid or intimidated by wicked men or wild beasts, but were bold to point out to despotic rulers the inevitable consequences of their evil deeds. Your participation within an evil system brought a measure of security and justice to the innocent in that society and, more importantly, glory to God.
It is impossible for me not to view current political issues through the grid of my own life experience. When I ponder the subject of socialism, immediately the contrast between North and South Korea (my birthplace) comes to mind. Both countries could be considered socialistic, but the differences in living conditions and freedoms between the two are overwhelming.
North Korea is a very dark country- dark from satellite view and very dark spiritually. If I were a North Korean homemaker I would have gotten up this morning off a hard floor, facing a day of brutally hard work, deprivation, and hopelessness. My children would likely be half-starved and sick from drinking muddy, bacteria-ridden water, with little energy or motivation to play or learn due to malnutrition and lack of opportunity. I would be tempted to severe anxiety for my children, wondering what we were going to eat, wear, or whether we would survive when the bitter North Korean winter hit. If a soldier thought my daughter was beautiful and wanted to “have” her or my husband wanted to sell her into prostitution I would have little recourse. Any attempt to evangelism or worship (unless it was a government monitored service) would probably mean imprisonment or death. As a North Korean citizen I must always show respect to the “dear and noble leaders”, one of whom is already in Hell.
In contrast, the South Korean homemaker rises (like myself) in a comfortable temperature-controlled home. She and her family will have plenty of light, food, clean water, and clothing. They actually might dicker over what they wanted for breakfast or even whether they are hungry enough to eat at all. She and her husband might have a thriving business and a comfortable car which takes them along newly-paved roads through prosperous villages and countrysides, dotted here and there with pretty churches. She can, without fear, rear her children, take them to church, and share the gospel with her neighbors. When her children are sick, good medical help is available.
How can there be such a contrast between the two countries which share a common history? I would like to think that it is because the gospel has shown into the lives of the South Korean people and because they chose to adopt a governmental structure modeled after that of the United States.
The United States, like South Korea, could easily be defined as a socialist country. Anyone can see that we have been and continue to descend into an abyss of government control. But I would much rather live in the US than North Korea. There is still a striking difference between the countries. The blessings we enjoy ultimately come from God our heavenly father. But my understanding is that we are also blessed because our forefathers were faithful and structured a government that reflected(not perfectly) the principles they saw revealed in Scripture. We are losing, but still retain many of the freedoms that others do not have.
Daniel, you were a man of fasting and prayer. Some of our greatest weapons are prayer and evangelism through the Word. Ultimately the world must be changed through the gospel-change of hearts. But don’t you think it is irresponsible and ungrateful not to participate in a governmental process handed down to us through our faithful forefathers as an out working of their understanding of Holy Scripture. Shouldn’t Christians participate while they still can exert even a little influence. I am reminded of what was accomplished by the power of God through the obedience of a few men during Gideon’s time. What is the saying? “All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” To retreat and do nothing is to expedite the descent into tyranny. I don’t want to live in a North Korea.
Twenty-three years ago a friend and I were arrested in front of an abortion clinic for trying to give literature to women going in for abortions. We had been standing on city right- of -way and were within our legal rights. Unfortunately, our appointed judge was a committed feminist. Later, during court proceedings, the attorneys were interviewing prospective jurors. At least one pro-life Christian asked to be excused from jury duty. I wish she had stayed and participated. If she had, we probably wouldn’t have been convicted.
Daniel, you were not the only man in the Scripture who faithfully participated within the corrupt social structure of his day. I am reminded of Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, the godly kings and judges of Israel, Nehemiah, Ezra and others. Sometimes I observe those of my particular theological “camp” -alongside their legitimate desire for doctrinal purity – refuse to work with others who are not perfect in their political views. Do you think that working alongside such people constitutes an “unholy alliance”? Or are we so perfectionistic and demanding of others that we are paralyzed in our ability to serve the Lord and work for good in our society. Many will not accept any kind of incremental effort toward good. What is wrong with incrementalism as long as ethical compromises are not made? I must work incrementally with my children toward their sanctification. How glad I am that God works incrementally with me!
Daniel, would you argue that the qualifications for a civil leader should be identical to those of a church leader? If so, then there are only a few we could legitimately support. I myself could never support any candidate who would not chose to protect innocent human life. Nor could I support a woman who would desert her little children to serve political office. What qualifications should one look for? Where do we draw the line?
If God wills, this Sunday morning our family will rise after a comfortable nights sleep to a satisfying breakfast (if they want it at all). We will choose from a variety of nice clothes, board a comfortable air conditioned van and drive to our church to worship and listen to the precious Word preached – without fear or physical discomfort. The only obstacle we have to sharing the gospel is our own cowardice or lack of love. I often take these blessings for granted. I know it is pleasing to the Lord to assemble together on Sunday. I know what is appropriate for Sunday. But …Tuesday is voting day …
Unlike North Korea, many will go to the polls unhindered and unafraid. Is it an exercise in futility, or worse, a compromise to participate in an evil system? The Scripture says, “when the wicked rise in power, men hide themselves” If I do not vote am I hiding myself and is that not shirking my responsibility? Scripture also says,” a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Daniel, I wish you could give me some guidance – where is my thinking wrong? And…
Daniel … what should I do on Tuesday?
A Christian registered to vote in Forsyth County