A friend relayed to me a remarkable quote from a recent sermon at his congregation:

“And if I thought that you could substantially change human behavior by laws then I might think about becoming a politician, but I have zero faith in politics to actually change the greatest problems on this planet because you can make all the laws in the world but that would not change the human heart. You could make a law that outlaws racism. You could make a law that says ‘Don’t be racist’, but no law is going to turn a racist heart into a heart that loves all people. The only person who can do that is God. Only God can do that. God has got to change the human heart. In John 8:31-32 Jesus says ‘If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples then you will know the truth and truth will set you free’.”

I firmly believe that if churches are to become more liberty-minded and opposed to the violence of statism, the best thing that could happen would be for ministers to lead the way. As it becomes more apparent that the State is not the kingdom of God and is in fact among the greatest threats to the church worldwide, I hope we’ll begin to see more ministers and Bible class leaders being this bold.

Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded LibertarianChristians.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • No one can make law except Yahweh (Isaiah 33:22 & James 4:12). Consequently, in this respect, this quote is flawed. Man-made edicts (which inevitably contravene Yahweh’s law) calls good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20), thereby making legal what Yahweh has made unlawful and making illegal what Yahweh has made lawful.

    Because all true law originates with Yahweh, His law, in fact, can change human conduct, even impact the human heart:

    “The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of YHWH are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of YHWH is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Psalm 19:7-8)

  • David

    What’s the balance here, though? On the one hand, I agree with what’s said here, on the other hand, a minister’s main goal should be to preach the gospel. How much time should a minister devote to opposing the State?

  • Every chance they get!

    “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and EVERY lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish ALL disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

  • I don’t think it is a “talk about nothing else than this” thing, but as much as we have heard ministers in the past promote statism, there is much good that can still be done.

    And the Ephesians 5:11 quote is quite relevant as well. :)

  • David

    My dad’s our pastor so I’ve kind of been thinking about this post and what advice I should give him. He doesn’t completely agree with me on politics, but he’s not completely with the religious right either (I’d consider myself a Biblical anarchist, whereas my dad is more of an Old Right conservative, somewhere in the same ballpark as Rand Paul.) And while I know there are a lot of churches that are total shills for the State, my dad doesn’t really address politics much one way or another. The furthest I ever saw him go was when he was discussing Genesis 2 and he mentioned how abortion is evil because man was created in God’s image. I had no objection at all to him saying that, its Biblical, but I told him after that I wish he would have addressed collateral damage as well. I presume you’d agree with me, and not him (he says he didn’t deliberately not address it, and I believe him, but I also wonder if even if he had thought of it if he would have been willing to risk the opinions of his conservative congregation..)

    What are your thoughts on this? And in general what’s your view on fellowship with Christians that support the warfare state? This is something I wrestle with because I feel like if you had a Christian who said that he thought adultery and homosexuality were acceptable (To be clear, I’m talking about morals here, not laws, in other words, the person thought these actions were not sinful or were acceptable for a Christian) .. would we continue to fellowship with such a person? Yet war is somehow one of those issues that we can “Agree to disagree” on? I find the idea of bombing innocent people overseas far, far more serious than even homosexuality or adultery. What are your thoughts along these lines?

  • member_of_the_congregation

    God’s law is not man’s law, necessarily. Also this is not the theme of the whole message of this sermon but a simple quote that I thought was great. God’s law is written on our hearts, obviously. It says so in scripture. I’m pretty sure he’s talking about forcing people to obey v. changing hearts w/ love. Which method should a Christian adhere to?

  • David, I’d say the general rule is to work slowly and don’t burn your bridges. Find ways to bring things up that take politics out of it and that lift Scripture and the church as more important than “political victory”. Check this out for a way that I have found helpful in the past:

    Christians should not support the welfare state, because it operates via taxation/theft of resources. Nonetheless, I don’t think someone is an “not my brother in Christ” because he or she disagrees with me on that, and even a number of other issues. I may think those issues are quite important, but it is more important to help my brother along than to disfellowship myself and act like I am just the superior person. And yes, I actually agree that I find the idea of bombings and war even more offensive than sexual sins. Still, in order to change people we need to understanding and gentle in our treatment of others, while also being firm and resolute in our principles.

    Is that helpful at all, or just gibberish?

  • David

    That is very helpful. My mother mentioned 1 Corinthians 13 to me this morning and I’m definitely convicted over that as well. I’m going to try to (mostly) take a break from politics for awhile and simply try to get the love and compassion straightened out.
    At the same time, I still have questions that I’m wrestling with. For instance, you mention that you agree with me that bombings and war (essentially state sanctioned murder) are even more offensive than sexual sins. Going back to sexual sins, how do you believe that the church should deal with someone who believes that adultery or homosexuality are moral behaviors, and how should this compare to people who believe that state-sanctioned murder is moral? How should the church deal with someone who is actively engaging in homosexuality or adultery? How should this compare to how they should deal with members of the church that are “Serving” in the military? Particularly in a combat role, although Laurence Vance’s arguments as to why a Christian should not be a chaplain or medic in the military either are sound.
    I guess where I’m wrestling is, Paul would probably say that at the very least those who actually participate in those behaviors should be commanded to repent, and if they refuse, they should be excommunicated, as per 1 Corinthians 5 (I know you already know this, but I’ll mention that this is also a good proof text for why homosexuals, adulterers, and other sexual sinners should not be punished by the State.)
    I guess ultimately the question is, are these “political” issues or are they ultimately just moral issues?

    BTW: I am not questioning anyone’s standing before God. The only precedent in scripture I can see for ever doing that is if someone preaches a false gospel, such as the Judaizers preaching that faith + circumcision is required for salvation, as opposed to just faith in Christ’s atoning blood. I would not judge someone unsaved because of their stand on a moral issue. But I’m not sure if its just something we can “agree to disagree” on like infant baptism, eschatology, etc. Will a homosexual who is regenerated by God immediately recognize that his homosexuality is wicked? Will he immediately give up this sin? I would not definitively state this to be the case. But I wouldn’t view the person participating, or supporting, this sin to be in good standing either. On the other hand, David (The Biblical one, not me) was a polygamist, and while I’m not certain that he was in a continual state of adultery, this was clearly not God’s design either. So maybe cultural context does matter? Any thoughts on this?

    (I’m rambling too, bear with me.)

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