Students gathered in room 221 of the Bowld Commons on Thursday night to hear Zack Pruitt, director of public policy at FACT, the Family Action Council of Tennessee, speak about the intersection between Christians and politics and how Christians can be good stewards in politics.
FACT advocates for issues related to life, family and religious liberty.
Andrew Edmiston, junior physics and math major and president of Life139, which hosted the event, was excited to hear from Pruitt.
“Just thinking about what a great gift the American political system is – it’s far from perfect, but we’ve been given great opportunity. The Bible says ‘to whom much is given much is expected’,” Edmiston said. “So we were just really wanting to know how we could steward that well.”
Pruitt began by exploring what government is from a Biblical perspective.
“The Bible says a lot about government yet it also says very little,” Pruitt said. “It provides very little in way of policy. It does certainly provide principles by which we can develop policy.”
Pruitt looked specifically at Romans 13:1-7. Verse 1 tells us that all authority has been granted from God and verse 6 tells us that these authorities are considered ministers of God.
“Government is something that has been instituted by God and should be treated as such by Christians,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt reminded the audience that family and church have also been instituted by God.
“We steward the institutes that God has given us: family, church and government,” Pruitt said.
He also said that Christians should combine Romans 13 with Genesis 1, where God gave Adam authority over creation to subdue the earth before the fall.
According to Pruitt, the purpose of government is to create order and promote justice. He said that is important for Christians to be involved in the process of politics because sin can pervert government and its function as well as our own lives.
Pruitt said that the Christian’s role in government is obedience to authority unless it compels or forces one to sin, such as in the stories of Daniel or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The Christian’s other role is to honor the government, praying for and interceding on behalf of leaders.
Pruitt then looked at what stewardship of government looks like. He said that the first thing that Christians should do is be informed.
“I really don’t think that there’s an excuse for a Christian to be uninformed about government and about society and about the political process,” Pruitt said. “I’m not saying you have to be experts, but I think you should know what’s going on in the world.”
He said that there is a responsibility for Christians to be winsome and debate in a manner worthy of the Lord.
“Political discourse right now is most often characterized by mud-throwing, name-calling and other nastiness. This comes from Christians as well,” Pruitt said. “This has especially been brought out with this presidential race… I would say Christians are not really being winsome there, and I don’t think that’s an effective way to steward our authority.”
He said that another way for Christians to steward the government is to get involved, whether that be through lobbying, advocating, blogging, running for office or simply donating time, money or effort.
“It’s very easy for Christians to say ‘I’m one person, what am I going to do?’” Pruitt said. “So much of what happens on state politics is actually way more impactful in your day-to-day life than what’s happening nationally. This past August, we had primary elections across the state. There were six races that were decided by less than 100 votes statewide.”
“To be indifferent is not an option for Christians. I believe it to be neglecting authority which God has given us… without acting, we drift further towards evil,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said that he places a bulk of the blame for the shift on American culture on the church.
“When the church neglects its duties with regard to stewardship and being salt and light, that vacuum is filled by something or some other people,” Pruitt said. “People affect culture, culture affects law. There’s been a complete absence in many cases with regards to the church when it comes to social issues.”
The only issue, Pruitt said, where the church has stayed engaged over the last couple of generations, is abortion. He drew a connection between this and the demographics that show the numbers moving in a pro-life direction.
“Everything else is trending opposite,” Pruitt said. “There has to be more than a simple correlation there that the church has been engaged on abortion and absent everywhere else, particularly with regards to marriage. You’re seeing the numbers plummet on one side and seeing them go the right way on the other.”
He said that Christians are supposed to influence the culture.
“What we are to be doing as Christians is to be affecting the culture, to be aware of it and to shine a light on it, to be that reflection of God in our culture,” Pruitt said. “It’s incumbent upon us as Christians to live out salt and light. What happens when we do that? It starts impacting the people around us, that impacts culture, and that impacts law.”
Pruitt said that cultural renewal is ultimately the responsibility of Christians and urges Christians to look at stewardship over authority as a calling on their lives. While they aren’t responsible for the outcomes, they are responsible for the callings that God has given us and can trust God with the outcome.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.