Can we use the Bible to inform public policy?

Hi @maxjeganathan ,

First, thank you so much for your insightful comments regarding the difficult topic of political discourse, especially between believers.

I will preface my question with the following: From my personal experience living in the United States all of my life, I have seen some believers take up two views regarding scripture and public policy. The first view argues that it is a Christian duty to vote for or against policies that support or degrade the moral framework laid out by the Bible. The latter argues that Christians have no business influencing public policy with said moral framework.

In your last response you made the following statement:

While He wants us to live out our discipleship and advocate for Christian principles, the Bible is not written as a public policy textbook.

Given the above preface and quote, my question is: What Biblical argument would you make for asserting that the Bible is not written as a public policy textbook? How would you respond to the believers who are at odds on this issue?

Thank you for all you do.

God bless.

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Many thanks for your thoughtful and important question Joshua.

As is often the case, I believe the answer on this one lies somewhere in between the ‘two camps.’ That is to say, the Bible is neither a public policy textbook nor is it a shield behind which we can hide from our responsibilities as Christians citizens.

In my view, three important Biblical passages in this context are:

  1. Jesus’ declaration to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21)
  2. Paul’s teaching on submission to both God and then governments in that order (Romans 13)
  3. Jesus’ declaration that the manifestation of His Kingdom is not to be measured against worldly constructs (John 18:6), which necessarily includes politics.

Verses like these make it clear that the Kingdom of God is both misunderstood in nature and underestimated in power if it is reduced to a public policy agenda.

However, I don’t believe this means that this amounts to a conclusion that Christians must therefore stay out of political discourse. On the contrary, there is much to clarify and guide our imperative to further Christian moral ideals in the public and private spheres. The importance of the nuclear family, the status of the institution of marriage and the intrinsic value of human life are all examples of biblical moral truths that warrant public advocacy. Furthermore, the ideal of justice is clearly set down in books like Amos, Micah, Isaiah (e.g. Ch 58) and of course Matthew chapters 5-7. From these and similar passages, it is clear that the Discipleship call to ethical Christian living is to be lived out in every aspect of our lives - including but not limited to our engagement with politics.

May we continue to serve our communities, our cities and our nations as active, thoughtful and prayerful citizens, remembering that our responsibility to pursue better societies is important but it is the Lord who will ultimately bring about the final redemption and renewing of His creation.