Have you flipped through cable news channels recently? Even when talking about the same event, the news anchors spin their reports into remarkably different stories! Read three or four newspapers or news magazines and it will truly feel like the writers are in alternate worlds.
One of the most stunning realities of America in 2018 is the extreme divisiveness of our political, social and media environments. The present daily fight between Democrat and Republican warriors will not go well. Our hearts cry out for an authentic third perspective that can also affirm all the good principles in both the Democrat world and the Republican world.
Have you noticed that generally even when Christian people promote standards for civic responsibility, their selection of principles is determined by their political preferences as Democrats, Republicans or Independents? Far too often it seems that fellow Christian people's loyalties to a political party or a political movement are stronger than their commitment to our LORD and to the Holy Bible. Now in our highly politicized environment, merely having Democratic or Republican principles only divides – including dividing the Church, friendships, and even families. Literally providentially, the best principles are not defined by political parties and their platforms, but by the Bible.
In 2004, I helped the National Association of Evangelicals to write and endorse Seven Principles of Civic Engagement as part of its "For the Health of the Nation." Those are principles 1-7 that I briefly summarize below. I was also a contributing author of a helpful book related to that wonderful NAE event: Toward an Evangelical Public Policy, published by Baker Book House in 2005.
Back in 2004, I also argued for an eighth principle: "Pursue Racial Reconciliation." Personally, I have actually put my life on the line for racial reconciliation. Additionally, I have labored for multiethnic respect from my earliest teenage years. For decades I have often been stunned by many other people's blindness to utterly obvious racial and ethnic bias. Racial Reconciliation is an enormous theme in the Bible, and failures to "Pursue Racial Reconciliation" have contributed to huge crises, harmful divisions, and enduring disempowerments of American Churches in the 1840s and ever since then. Thankfully, recent events have reawakened our leaders at the NAE to urgent racial issues. Consequently, the NAE has just this year voted – 14 years after my initial urging – to include my eighth principle! Hallelujah!
However, since 2004 I have become convinced of two additional principles as essential for Biblical civic responsibility:
- Make Restorative Justice the Prime Purpose of Criminal Justice Programs
- Universally Empower with Language-Arts in Homes, Churches, and Schools.
These three additional essential Biblical standards are summarized below as Principles 8-10. All these ten principles are firmly Biblical, so that their numerical order has nothing to do with priority.
Here is an especially revealing recommendation for this list of reminders of Biblical teaching: Among these top ten Biblical principles it is quite telling that half of them have been in recent times well-promoted by the Democratic Party leaders, while the other half are well-promoted by the Republican Party leaders. It is a shocking tragedy that we have these top Biblical principles only in pieces. It is disappointing when some Republican leaders are quick to protect the lives of babies till in the womb, but who have much less commitment to a safe and healthy environment once the baby is born. It is just as disappointing when some Democrat leaders articulate intensely important environmental concerns but have not one word against elective abortions that are senselessly killing millions of human babies. Is it not far better that we enthusiastically embrace both the sanctity of human life (Principle #2) and equally important care for all of God's creation (Principle #7)?
What would the world be like if we guided our civic engagement by these uniting Biblical principles? What would America be like if we were awakened by Godly consciousness to uphold divine standards with enthusiasm? By God's amazing grace, may Christian brothers and sisters – who are also Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – hold our politicians accountable on all these ten precious Biblical principles.
1. Nurture family life and protect children.
Marriage is the primary Biblical model for human relationships. Whether we are married or single, it is in the family that (a) we learn mutual submission and responsibility, (b) we learn to live in an ordered society with complementary roles, (c) we learn to love and to trust, (d) we learn both justice and mercy, and (e) we learn to deny ourselves for the well-being of others.
2. Protect the sanctity of human life.
Because God created human beings as divine images of God, all people share in divine sanctity. Infanticide, abortion-on-demand, euthanasia, and irresponsible human experimentation and other unnecessary death and damage violate the God-given sanctity of all human life.
3. Defend religious freedom and liberty of conscience for all.
In religious liberty, we reach out to all others (a) in personal respect, (b) to seek mutual understanding and (c) to collaborate on points of common purpose, including especially as common purposes may support these Ten Biblical Principles of Civic Responsibility.