Robert the Bruce: A rebellion has begun.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Under whom?
Robert the Bruce: A commoner named William Wallace.
Robert Bruce Sr.: We will embrace this rebellion. You will support it from our lands in the north. I will gain English favor by condemning it, and ordering it opposed from our lands in the south. Sit down. Stay a while.
Robert the Bruce: This Wallace, he doesn’t even have a knighthood, but he fights with passion and he inspires.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: And you wish to charge off and fight as he did? So would I.
Robert the Bruce: Well, maybe it’s time.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: It is time to survive. You’re the 17th Robert Bruce. The 16 before you passed you land and title because they didn’t charge in. Call a meeting of the nobles.
Robert the Bruce: But they do nothing but talk.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Rightly so. They’re as rich in English titles and lands as they are in Scottish, just as we are. Admire this man, this William Wallace. Uncompromising men are easy to admire. He has courage, so does a dog. But it is exactly the ability to compromise that makes a man noble. And understand this: Edward Longshanks is the most ruthless king ever to sit in the thrown of England. And none of us, and nothing of Scotland will remain, unless we are as ruthless. Give in to our nobles. Knowing their minds is the key to the throne.
Though fictitious, the above dialogue from Braveheart acutely captures the predominant way in which today’s politicians think concerning the policies they choose to support or ignore. Whatever principles may be espoused to gain votes during the election season, if the primary goal is to gain and keep power, then those principles will always be subject to compromise.
Of course not everyone is bad; I’ve met some politicians who are more like the Bruce (Jr.). They took office out of a genuine desire to change things for the better, but were persuaded by others that the best way to accomplish this is through compromise. Though well-meaning, I believe this philosophy of improving Pennsylvanian legislation by compromising biblical morality is the key reason that we are dying as a state. A full examination of the biblical, historical, and practical arguments against compromising biblical morality can be found in my article, Abolition is Immediate and Uncompromising.
For the purposes of this article however, I want to speak to the reason behind why some Christians believe that compromise is necessary — namely that they are placing their trust in man’s power and political maneuvering rather than God.
When Jesus Ran For Office
Many Christians don’t realize that Jesus actually ran for political office during His time on the earth. The particular structure of civil government was different in His day, but due to His lineage He qualified and ran for at least two different offices.
- As son of David, He was eligible to rule Israel from David’s throne (Isa 9:6-7)
- As son of God, He was eligible to rule the heavens and the earth from His Father’s throne (Act 2:32-33)
Authority over Heaven was obviously the greater political race. Jesus gained authority over the kingdom of Heaven through obedience to His Father in dying on behalf of mankind (Heb 12:2); then the throne was awarded to Him in His resurrection and ascension (Mat 28:18).
This higher throne came specifically because He lost the people’s approval for His reign on David’s lesser throne. To put it another way, Jesus lost one election, so that He could win a more important one.
We know that until the final week of His life, Jesus sharply avoided political office (Jhn 6:14-15). He spent most of His public ministry working to correct the false assumptions that the people of His day had concerning the mission and reign of the Jewish messiah. Yet there came a point when His demeanor toward earthly political office changed, such that He specifically orchestrated an opportunity for Jerusalem to recognize Him as king.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”…
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”…
But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. (Mat 21:1-5, 8-9, 15-17)
During His final entry into Jerusalem, Jesus did not stop the crowds from recognizing and proclaiming His kingship as the son of David; to the contrary He orchestrated and defended the entire procession. This was His bid for political office as the king of the Jews, a race which He knew ahead of time that He would lose, leading to the unfortunate demise of His own people.
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luk 19:41-44)
Despite the initial approval He received from the people of Jerusalem, public opinion quickly swayed against Him through the interference of Jerusalem’s existing civil authorities, the chief priests and the elders (Mat 27:20-23). In the end He lost the race for the throne of David, and was crucified by Rome as a criminal under the charge, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (Mat 27:37)
My Platform: REPENT
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (Jhn 3:16-19)
Lose a Race To Win the War
Of course it was impossible to keep Jesus in the grave (Psa 16:8-11). The politicians of His day conspired to keep Him out of office, so that they could retain their position and authority in a city that would be destroyed by Rome in a few decades. In contrast, by losing an election for the throne of David, Jesus was given an eternal kingdom over all the heavens and the earth, purchasing with His blood forgiveness and eternal life for all who would enter His kingdom.
This is the genius of God, who uses the plans of the enemy as his own undoing. As followers of king Jesus, we should not be predominantly driven to win earthly elections at all costs, even if we are well-intentioned and want to use political power for good. Sometimes losing is the way to change the course of history — whether one is losing an election, or a vote on a bill, etc.
The key is to never compromise the word of God. Jesus could have easily taken the crown while avoiding the cross; this was the very center of Satan’s temptation to Him in the wilderness (Mat 4:1-11). Yet He chose instead to take the hard road of speaking truth to the existing political establishment of His day — The Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians etc. — even when it required a harsh and politically detrimental rebuke.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Mat 23:13)
Truth has a power that compromise can never approach. Though we are all sinners, and we will all compromise in various ways, when we recognize our failure, following Jesus requires us to repent, and do what we should have done in the first place.
To provide some examples of how trust in God might play out in the political realm, the following are some roadblocks that one might run into when running for office as a disciple of Christ, together with counterintuitive victories that may flow out of it.
Problem: Not Enough Signatures
For me, running as an independent candidate, I needed roughly 332 signatures to get on the ballot. This was actually quite challenging, and the temptation would be to water down the platform to gain more signatures. If I gave in, it might be easier to get on the ballot, but I would have lost the very thing which distinguishes me from other candidates. If I stayed the course, I could have failed to get on the ballot, but like Jesus I nevertheless shared biblical, heart-transforming truth with people in my community, and truth has power. Additionally, I increased my network of likeminded Christians who may choose to help me in the next race.
Problem: Split the Christian Vote
Biblical Christians predominantly believe that voting for republican candidates who support “pro-life” (biblically compromised) bills are better than voting for “pro-choice” democrats. Some Christians are radical enough to support a platform of repentance; others believe in the power of numbers, so they vote republican believing that such a candidate is more practical, if not ideal. This ends up splitting the Christian vote in District 29, such that the democrate “pro-choice” candidate takes office.
On the surface, this looks like a loss. The candidate works to undo “pro-life” legislation, which did nothing helpful to stop abortion anyway. In the next election, the republican party is scrambling to find someone who can unify the Christian vote again, and puts someone on the ballot who promises to put forward a bill of total abolition. The Christians vote for that candidate, and long-term, refusing to compromise with sin forces the politicians to support biblical morality.
Problem: Not Enough Votes
Let’s say I get on the ballot, but there is no humanly-conceivable way that the people of District 29 will support a candidate calling them to repent of their sin. The temptation once more would be to water down the platform to gain more votes. If I give in, I may win the election, but I lose the very point of my candidacy. If I stay the course, I may not win, but I’ve had an open door to share Christ with an entire political district, and truth has power. Additionally, I may gain wider respect and support of Christians in the next race.
Problem: Governor Vetoes a Bill of Abolition
The temptation would be to present a compromised bill that’s less likely to be vetoed. But the purpose of a bill of abolition is not exclusively to end abortion. Classifying abortion as murder in a bill causes state-wide debate and polarization. As men and women are confronted with their sin (rather than being told that it is healthcare), Christians are given the opportunity to share with those who are broken the forgiveness of Christ. This is the very purpose of law, to reveal our sin so that it will drive us to Christ. As the state experiences revival, more and more people support a bill of abolition, and ultimately children are protected once more from being murdered.