oreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers . . . (Exodus 18:21).
Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you (Deut. 1:13).
It is common to lament about political problems as though they were outside of our control. But the current sorry state of our political affairs did not appear ex nihilo, nor was it imposed on us against our will by any outside force. We live in a republic, and we are thus privileged to choose who will rule over us. The responsibility for the kind of government we have therefore belongs to us. If we have God-hating tyrants ruling over us (and we do), then we must recognize that they rule by our invitation. Our civil government has rebelled against God. But it could not have done so unless we rebelled first.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to exercise our voting privilege in submission to Jesus Christ. We are choosing representatives, people who will act on our behalf in the realm of civil government. Thus, we must choose those who will represent us accurately. They must exemplify obedience to God in exercising their legislative responsibilities. When we place ungodly representatives in public office, their disobedience becomes our disobedience, and the responsibility for the tragic result falls on us. Because we are responsible for the state of our civil government, we must establish it in obedience to God's Word. Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1:13 set the standard.
First, our rulers are to be able men. As uncomfortable as it makes people, gender matters. God created men and women with different abilities and gifts, and suited them to different callings. The responsibility of civil, ecclesiastical and family leadership is given to men. Women fill those rolls when men abdicate their responsibility. Just as a single mother is a rebuke to an absent father, it is an embarrassment and a reproach to the men to have women ruling a nation (Is. 3:12). The problem is not with the women, but with the men. It is a sign that something has gone wrong.
The men we choose are to fear God. The unregenerate do not fear God by definition (Rom. 3:18). Instead, they fear whatever voting bloc or special interest wields sufficient power to make or break their political destiny -- those who can only kill the body, so to speak (Matt. 10:28). Rather than godly government, it always produces the kind of political spoils system we currently are required to endure.
We are to choose men of truth. This does not simply refer to a man who tells the truth, although honesty is certainly part of it. It is also necessary that he recognize truth. He must be able to distinguish true from false and good from evil. A man who honestly believes erroneous doctrine may be sincere, but he is also deceived. The error will ruin him (Ps. 5:6). Truth is a preservative to a godly ruler (Prov. 20:28, 29:14). King Solomon's one request was for an understanding heart to discern good and evil so that he might judge God's people righteously (1 Kings 3:9).
Rulers must be men hating covetousness. This sounds like a no-brainer, but envy and covetousness form the foundation of our government economic policies. Every single government subsidy is based on the premise that one person is entitled to take, via the power of taxation, that which belongs to another. When a ruler hates covetousness, our property is protected not only from the avarice of our neighbors, but from the greed of the government. A ruler who loves covetousness will be short-lived, but his reign will be one of oppression (Prov. 28:16).
A ruler must be wise, understanding and knowledgeable. Government is not a career for those who cannot get a real job. It requires intelligence and mental dexterity. The civil ruler must not only know the facts, he must know what to do with them. He who aspires to civil office must study. He must know the Word, he must know doctrine, and he must know history. He must be able to apply his knowledge to the problems that will come before him. He must be able to deal with people and situations with wisdom and grace.
From this list of qualifications, it is apparent that, biblically, it is only professing Christians who are qualified to hold public office. Our forebears understood this, and thus many states required a confession of faith as a condition of inauguration. Over time, however, the religious left has been so successful at disenfranchising Christians that we are almost embarrassed when one of our own brethren offers his political services.
Because we no longer understand the necessity of biblical faith in civil government, we actually prefer the ungodly. Why should we continue to choose representatives who don't portray biblical truth? Why do we call for rulers who do not embrace the biblical doctrines that qualify them to rule over us at all?
While politics is certainly not our savior, reclamation of the world for the gospel requires us to exercise obedient faith in the political realm. We need to demand of our representatives that they submit themselves to Jesus Christ, or be turned from office. We need to encourage qualified brothers to go to the seat of government and exercise godly rule on our behalf. The church must communicate the doctrine of civil government to her members with as much authority as she preaches the doctrines of self government, family government, and ecclesiastical government.
We appear to be a long way from success. Christians have so completely surrendered that we must fight every battle anew. There will be many lost
battles, but Christ has already obtained the victory and it only remains for us to obediently claim what is ours. The sooner we begin, the sooner it will come.