Democratic Idolatry

Democracy has an unsuspecting way of usurping a Christian’s confidence in God’s sovereignty.

Perhaps the biggest reason this happens is the dissonance between the truths of Scripture expressed in passages such as Romans 13:1 and the experience of entering a voting center and submitting a ballot. How can God be appointing presidents and congressmen when I just voted for them? With man carrying out the entire democratic process, we tend to forget that God oversees the whole thing, even the results.

Not only does our experience of democracy unconsciously desensitize us to God’s rule over human government, but the nature of democracy itself puts man at the center and head of government and pushes God into the corner. Democracy is, as Lincoln famously said, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Democracy veils the fact that God’s kingdom reigns over all kingdoms and imperceptibly, over time, makes us believe that we really are in control.

Now, sadly, much of what has transpired this election year has been motivated by what I call democratic idolatry. That is, the belief and ‘plan-B’ sort of attitude that says, “If we’re unhappy, we’ll just vote them out of office.” As Americans, that is our right and privilege. But as Christians in America, this kind of attitude is more idolatrous than patriotic. It exposes our prideful self-reliance that says, “We can handle this,” rather than what ought to be our confidence, “God is still king no matter who sits in the Oval Office.”

I suggest that such idolatry is at the heart of much support for the Republican nominee. “Make America Great Again” – could there be a more perfect tagline for this type of idolatrous thinking? Furthermore, the bullish and fallacious argument, wielding fear and guilt, that says, “A vote not for Trump is a vote for Hillary,” is as much a product of such idolatry as it is nonsense. That kind of rhetoric should not be coming out of the mouths of Christians.

While democracy might be the best form of government we have in a fallen world, it – like many other things – is both vice and virtue. It’s no surprise that God’s kingdom is a monarchy. Jesus is king (and you didn’t have a say in the matter). And his kingdom is unshakeable, unstoppable, and unending.

While our nation tosses and turns, may we resolve to unwaveringly put our hope in a greater country (Heb. 11:16).


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