A Better Way to Teach Support for Government: Political favoritism can become dangerous if we neglect the complete picture.

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on September, 30, 2021

A Better Way to Teach Support for Government: Political favoritism can become dangerous if we neglect the complete picture.

Political favoritism can become dangerous if we neglect the complete picture.

Paul J. Bucknell

Synopsis

Teachers need to increase the discernment of their students by identifying and defining evil, its effect on leaders, and presenting the vibrant hope we have in Jesus Christ’ righteous rule.

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After homeschooling for three decades and observing the increased decay in our present society, I see a greater and greater need to clarify the Christian’s vision for teaching patriotism and government support. Although this affects everyone, let me narrow my focus to Christian education.

There is nothing wrong with patriotism—a vigorous love and respect for one’s country. The caution is that blind patriotism, or a commitment to a political party, can become a major life focus. I’ve traveled to many places in the world and have worked with diverse Christian leaders, all affected by their home country’s politics. I am thankful for my own country, the USA, even though the Apostle Paul’s description of a society in decline—its moral decadence, a crippling of reason, the negation of conscience, increased violence, and limitations on freedom (Rom 1:26-30), is witnessed in the States today.

The fear of the Lord and Biblical values shaped the founding of our country. The Constitution and the structure of our country have greatly restrained the effect of moral decay on policy. Unfortunately, this restraint has been weakened in recent years by powerful outward and inward forces that have compromised many of our governmental leaders and infiltrated various government agencies.

So what has made the United States of America so resilient? Several factors come to mind.
I am not stating that America has been faithful to God or pure through the centuries, but only that the government’s ability to do evil has been restrained. Good civic and history books highlight these points, but their effort is insufficient.

  • The people are certified to have their God-given rights. The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence declares “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
  • The federal government is prohibited from intruding into or otherwise mandating religious affairs: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
  • The federal government’s power is divided into three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial (originated from the Old Testament).
  • The federal control over state governments is limited, though it remains in constant tension.

I appreciate the reformed and conservative camps of Christian belief that bolster a sense of patriotism; however, if we neglect to provide a holistic perspective, a flurry of distorted viewpoints will result as evil grows. Even now, many college-age young people are supporting insensible, alternative policies because they assume the political foundation that they were taught isn’t working and is to be discarded and replaced.

A Better Way?

People wonder if there is a better governmental system with the onslaught of wickedness and infiltration of evil into our government and other influential places.

Over the last few years, I’ve read through the Old Testament annually. The corruptness of God’s chosen people, Israel, becomes an overriding theme in the historical and prophetical books—one which I tire of reading. How many bad kings do we need to read about? Why spend so much time recording the Israelite’s foolishness which sent them into exile?

God warned Israel from the beginning that if they sought a king to be like other nations, it would lead to oppression.

19 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam 8:19-20;10-18).

The Israelites chose to exchange trust in the invisible God for methods and people they could see. As time progressed, we find occasional kings and legislators even dared to kill the prophets, like the prophet Jeremiah who was lowered into the bottom of a well to die (Jer. 8:1-10). God is our leader; we cannot rely on good leaders, especially top officials.

The Lord identifies a key problem: many people are willing to trust in individuals and earthly institutions rather than in Himself alone. The transfer of allegiance from God to the world is ever so subtle, even among faithful Christians. This reliance on our party, politics, governments and even religious institutions can warp our point of view and keep us from seeking God who can rightly correct our ways. Evil can and does creep into the best of societies.

The Systemic Problem

Have you ever seen a good, promising man enter a political or other high position of authority and then turn sour and act compromised? This seems to be happening more frequently. It is an extraordinary discovery to find leaders with integrity, those who keep to their good values. There is a problem behind leadership problems. Paul reveals, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).

God’s Word testifies to a host of evil powers swirling around us that we cannot see. “In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). These leaders fall victim to stronger attacks when taking up their leadership positions, Christian or not. It’s for this reason Paul exhorts God’s people to pray regularly.

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim 2:1-2).

The world’s power exerts a strong, ongoing push towards evil. When the first beast’s head (alias Antichrist) arises at the end of our world, he will make excessive use of his deception and authority to oppress God’s people (Rev 13). Sometimes morality and politeness disguise the evil, but at other times, a decadent society, such as ours, unapologetically exposes its wickedness for everyone to see.

Sin’s deceitful programming causes systemic failure every time without Jesus’ righteousness providing new guidance and power.

The Lord knew the solution would never be our local governors but in people who know Him and live out a life to His glory—like salt sprinkled in the world; this is the kingdom of God (Rev 1:4-7).

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Mat 5:13).

The Repudiation of Patriotism

When we neglect to teach our children about this evil bent in humans, our society, with its powerful influences, can easily persuade our children to adopt other viewpoints. Rejection follows great disappointment.
In each case, the students are disappointed at what they learned and react against it. Sure, there will be some who can see the truth behind the masquerade; they will be bright stars, but we lose a generation as they retreat from their former confidence.

  • Critical - They can become cynical of corrupted clergy, governments, etc., decrying the patriotism and loyalty they learned at school or home. An example of this is Absalom, King David’s son, who led a rebellion in Israel due to David’s neglect of justice. (His brother Ammon raped his sister with no consequences.)
  • Absence - They react by refusing to talk or teach anything positive about leaders; their hopelessness turns to indifference.
  • Perverted - They conclude that what they learned about the present system is not the answer. They naively adopt other alternative political solutions without discernment and broader teaching, often worse than the one they rejected.

The Full Lesson

When teaching support for political leaders, political parties, or governmental leaders, we rarely identify the evil tendency within mankind that influences politics. This awareness would help our students better distinguish between the “system” and the evil. Discernment enables them to respond rather than outright reject the system.

We teach the strengths and weaknesses of any system but must connect it to the influence of sin on leaders and policies. The astute teacher will link this evil bent to each students’ heart, making them aware of their personal compromises, even though they attend a Christian academy. (They themselves need Christ!)

Identifying the core problem of evil must steer our attention to the solution, not in a political party—though some are better than others, but to the Savior Jesus Christ who reigns over all now, not just in the future.

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).

We must persistently identify how Jesus reigns and exercises His work through His truth and people now. Upon His return, He will bring full vengeance and institute a new heavens and new earth where righteousness fully reigns. Jesus Christ is our perfect Politician!

With our confidence in Christ our King, our students will hold to a greater, unchanging hope when He will return to straighten every crooked road. This same confidence will moderate our trust in any politician or government, thus limiting our disappointment, knowing full well for it.

Our Careful Instruction

As a society increases in wealth and security, people are increasingly mesmerized with the world, finding less need for Christ or righteousness. Wealth harbors many cesspools of sin where the King of righteousness is unwelcome. For this reason, especially in good times, we need to espouse Jesus as the true answer for any political or spiritual system.

We must insist that our instruction goes beyond identifying general societal issues and touch on the specific ways corruption affects political systems. For example, the constitutional republic in America will improperly function when leaders are corrupt. If we put oil, rather than gas in our car, we get many unwanted complications.

We need to identify forms of corruption—allowing inflation, the decay of the currency, favoritism of the wealthy over the poor, rewarding of non-productivity, immorality, deceit in its many forms, the taking of bribes, the willingness to compromise the respect for human life, immorality, etc.. They all counter righteous, fair policies.

At the same time, we must show the superiority of a righteous society where fairness, morality, equality, kindness, fair expectations, and expedient judgment of evil occurs. Mary declared God’s Word by the Holy Spirit when saying that His mercy is on those that fear Him.

“And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50).

However, as God warned the people in Samuel’s day, our well-being does not rest in the kind of society we have, but if the people follow the Lord. A good society is not found in a democratic republic more than an authoritarian or totalitarian state if the people do not espouse righteous living. God is willing to condemn wickedness even in the temple openly!

““For both prophet and priest are polluted; Even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:11).

No matter what country, state, city, or town in which we reside, “We must fear the Lord and keep His ways.” Mercy only rests on the generation that restrains its evil and allows the good purpose of God to permeate the government to protect the people from invaders.

So much more can be said of the excellency of Christ and the depth of wickedness hiding in high places. Good leaders can only gain or hold onto their integrity as much as we uphold them in prayer. How different our country would be if we didn’t take prayer out of our schools! Instead of looking to God, we look at our fallible systems and leaders.

Our students must recognize the tendency of wickedness in their own lives. They must see the danger of putting their trust in leaders, for they too can fail. Leader failure can cause them to quickly follow after other theories and reject their government. The problem is not the kind of government but the evil lingering within people.

Our school curriculum must describe the oppression, poverty, shame, and pain that come from all forms of evil.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

The clearer we mark out evil’s pain and shame, the less willing our students will be to pursue its path and seek a system and leaders who contemplate the need for God’s mercy in their own lives and the desire for Christ’s kingdom.

Lastly, we should point our students to the excellency of Christ the king, who now reigns. He extends this period of His grace so that more people can see their sin and become loyal to Jesus Christ. The world is His; any unwillingness to surrender to His goodness and rule displays wickedness in one’s life.

““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).

Final Thoughts

Our instruction, whether homeschool, private or public, must identify the evil that resides in each person, student, and teacher. We must show how this evil becomes more devious in positions of authority, who are further oppressed and seduced by evil powers. Furthermore, we must highlight how specific practices come about through evil, in high or low places. (Current examples are the profit made from abortion to sell body parts or selling children in sex trafficking.) We must go beyond the critique of governments and regions by name and identify the evil that happens under those circumstances. In the above example, people are willing to hurt others for personal profit, a common wicked theme through the ages.

When observing evil in our generation, we must humble our hearts and seek mercy for forgiveness through Jesus—for our lives and our society (cf. Neh 1). We must claim Jesus not only as our Savior but as Ruler of our lives, thus living out the kingdom of God on earth. We unabashedly carry out His love and truth in our lives and society through our kind treatment and hold to His standards no matter what opposition we might face. Christ’s full display of power will only come about at His second coming, bringing full vengeance at the Day of the Lord (2 Thes 2:8-12). At that time, he will regather all His loyal and believing subjects in His newly created heavens and earth, untainted with sin and rebellion and full of His glory.

Bad substitutes cause trouble!

Discussion Questions for Patriotism, Government Support, and Loyalty to God

  1. Is one government better than another?
  2. What is the chief problem of any government?
  3. Why do leaders tend to compromise once in leadership?
  4. Who reigns as king now? What are the implications of this?
  5. Why does Jesus the King allow this evil society to continue on?
  6. How do you personally respond to the One overall ruler, King Jesus? Are you loyal? What does He expect of you?
  7. How does Jesus’ mercy work along with His divine rulership?
  8. How should we respond to calls to patriotism? Explain your reasoning.
  9. Why do students often reject our present political system?
  10. How might we counter this practically in our teaching?
  11. How does the author’s challenge of linking the forms of evil with specific evil behavior help?

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