“God is in control,” shouted one church-going woman recently in a conversation about politics when a man suggested that someone other than her candidate might win the election due to millions of Christians’ lack of political involvement. But is she right? Is God really in control? And if this statement is true, then what does it really mean? Is the election rigged…by God? Are our efforts in voting, campaigning, and sharing our various political platforms meaningless and unfruitful? Does the real outcome on November 8 belong not to the American people, nor corrupt politicians, but really to God Almighty?
If you ask many Christians, I think they may answer yes. But is this what the Bible says?
As I mention in my book, Good God ; The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace, the Bible never states ‘God is in control’. Rather, the Bible portrays a world where personal responsibility matters and where humankind receives the fruit of the seeds that we plant. But this biblical truth of personal responsibility is often eclipsed by what I refer to as “the doctrine of the extreme sovereignty of God.” And although the idea that
“God is in control” has become a normal way of viewing God, it sadly leaves people to assume that everything that happens in the world, including the outcome of elections, was either approved by God or directly caused by our heavenly Father.
The reality is that the doctrine of extreme sovereignty is birthed out of convenience. If everything that happens is “God’s will”, then it’s easy to divert the attention off our personal shortcomings, or political apathy, and chalk up the outcome of life, and the upcoming election, to God’s master plan. I suggest that this is exactly the line of thinking which has allowed and perpetuated the current anti-Christian culture and lack of biblical values in our society. Christian apathy in political participation has resulted in the passage of unconstitutional laws, which have unduly and illegally separated church and State. Christians have falsely concluded regardless if they get involved in the political process, the outcome is divinely rigged. Whatever God wills will happen.
Because of this, corruption has thrived, values have become distorted, and all the while the church is mostly silent – after all, God is sovereign.
Or is he?
Some might be surprised to discover that the word sovereign never appears in the King James Version of the Bible. While it is found over three hundred times in the Old Testament of the New International Version – as in “sovereign God” – it is simply used a moniker equivalent to what is translated in the King James Version as “Lord God.” In fact, never in one instance, even in the New International Version, is “sovereign” used to describe God in the sense of “controlling everything”.
With regard to politics, some would argue that Romans 13 definitely substantiates the idea that God is responsible for “establishing all authorities”.
However, the Message bible shines some additional light on the meaning of Romans 13:1-3 which reads,
“Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”
Another translation (J.B. Philips bible) provides additional insight by stating “all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority”.
Paul never intended this passage to be a blanket endorsement from God for all those who are in power. He simply stated that legitimate authority comes from God. This isn’t referring to particular candidates and specific individuals, as if every politician has been hand selected by God, but rather it’s speaking to the benefit of the rule of law, and how godly laws help protect society from an infestation of evil and those who participate in it.
Some might attempt to prove God’s hand in the political process by referencing Old Testament passages in the Bible that mention God appointing certain men to be rulers in the Old Testament, like King David, Jeroboam, or even the prophet Jeremiah.
But we have to take note that these men were in a nation that actually recognized God’s directives and leadings. Israel, when they weren’t in rebellion, gave God a say in the governance of their nation and, as a result, God’s voice was often heard and the people affirmed his leading through their acceptance of his choice. Today is no different, throughout the earth, God is still preparing and elevating people to lead and govern, but this doesn’t mean that every nation always accepts his choice or acknowledges his plan. In fact, a perfect example of this would be 1 Samuel chapter 8, where Israel demands that Samuel appoint a king over the people. In this instance, the people rejected God’s form of government for the nation, and instead forced Samuel to appoint a king for the people – a king who’s reign was full of lies and ended in corruption and rebellion against God, I might add.
God’s will for Israel was originally rejected, causing him to pivot and eventually give the people what they wanted – an earthly king. But think of all of the pain and hardship that could have been avoided, however, if Israel had sought God’s plan for their country from the beginning. How many lives would have been spared? How many wars would have been avoided? We may never know, but what we do know, is that the people played a role in the outcome of the nation. The same is true today.
We stand at the crossroads of one of the most important elections our country has ever had. The media wants us to believe that it is a circus and a laughingstock, yet the potential results are anything but funny. The next president will most likely appoint three or more Supreme Court justices who will define the rule of law regarding moral and social issues like abortion, sexual identity, and religious freedom. In addition, they will be at the forefront of perhaps one of the greatest oppositions that this country (and perhaps the world) has ever faced – radical Islamic terror. Who stands in office matters. Your vote matters. Your political involvement matters. There is no separation of church and State, because the church is filled with individual private citizens with a right to vote, speak out, and be involved. Should we do so in love and respect? Absolutely! But whatever we do, let us not for one second succumb to the lie that God is in control of the outcome of this election or any election for that matter – because God doesn’t rig elections and he loves mankind enough to allow us the freedom to decide our future, our politicians, and the outcome of our nation.
What will you decide?