A lot of times I am frustrated with government. In fact, on the federal level, I feel like government is out of reach. On the state level, I feel like government is run amok, even in a deeply Republican state. But, at the local level, I feel heard. I feel like I have some power. That is how America is supposed to function.
If you are like me, you might look at the federal government or the state government and feel like it is pointless to engage in 'politics.' Yet, the reality exists, that the state government is formed and held in check from the local government and the federal government is formed and held in check from the state government.
Basically, you are the smallest and most critical component of the government you don't like. By the end of the article, I hope you feel compelled to do something about the parts of government you don't understand or don't like.
As an example of how obedient Christ-followers leverage their position in government to propel their government towards justice and to advance the message of the gospel, we can look to Paul in the Bible. In Acts 16, we see an indignant Paul leverage his position where he had been treated unlawfully and unjustly to not only seek justice, but to also provide a type of check and balance to the local magistrates. The gospel had nothing to do with this interaction. Yet, he held their feet to the fire. He publicly humiliated them by making them grovel back down to the jail, apologize in person, and let him and Silas loose. Why? Justice. Government.
In Acts 16, Paul understood his proper role as a Christ-follower in assuring justice remained in the local functions of government. He had the position of power and he knew it. He used this position to seek justice for the greater community.
In Acts 21, Paul invokes his appellate right to go to Rome. This had everything to do with the gospel. God appeared to Paul and told him to preach the gospel in Rome. Paul used his position in his government to get a free trip (not a very comfortable one) to go to Rome. Had he stayed at the local court, he likely would have been set free.
In either one of these instances, we see Paul using his position in government that doesn't seem to be in line with the all-submissive, 'no questions asked,' philosophy that most in America today have interpreted his writings in Romans 13 to be. When we misquote Romans 13, we ignore the example set by Paul in his actual life and across diverse circumstances that are recorded. We also ignore the context of Romans 13 which is sandwiched squarely between examples of Christians living their lives devoted wholly to love. Love goes beyond ignoring injustice or precedent which has always led to injustice. To love you must take time to seek out the injustice and to use your position in government to make it right.
Could you research and began to engage in similar ways with your local officials? Do you even know who they are? Educate yourself. You are the government.
What does that look like in application? Below is an email I recently sent to our local leaders about a perceived unlawful action, which, if left unchecked, could lead to injustice for our kids and grandkids. It also serves to advance the gospel as I outline the hope of the Christian.
Commissioners, Prosecutor ______, Sheriff ______,
The government requiring a mask to conduct business required by the government is a peculiar issue.
I can’t continue to neutrally stand by on this issue because I am being compelled by the government to take action.
There is no action I can take that would prohibit me from having to wear a mask, in violation of a deeply held religious belief.
In detail, I have business I have withheld for a period of almost a year because I don’t want to wear a mask. However, the time is upon us where I may face criminal liability if I don’t violate this deeply held belief to conduct this business.
I am required by the State of Idaho to register a vehicle. New vehicle registrations can not be done online. Many require a VIN inspection. I have a new vehicle that is required to be registered.
A mask mandate in the county offices has been communicated and enforced at the door for over a year. I have yet to see any lawful order at the county level which would have been put in place supporting this order. It has been enforced, anyway.
As you, I’m sure, are aware, the Idaho Constitution in Article XXI Section 19 specifies,It is ordained by the state of Idaho that perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of said state shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship.
Your actions of posting a deputy at the door to require me to wear a mask to conduct required government business is in violation of this Constitution. The Constitution does not give me this right. It is a right I hold as an individual created by God and endowed by Him with inalienable rights. The Constitution restrains you, acting as the government, from infringing on this right. I have a right to be unmolested in my person or my property as I pursue God. No government can give me that right. No government can take it. If they could, it isn’t a right.
At this juncture, I am being deprived of the use of my property because of my mode of religious worship.
I live my life, to the best of my ability, in obedience to God. I left a career in the State Police because I felt it was obedience to God. I left a career in the corporate church because I felt it was obedience to God. I stand up for the rights of Christians, the oppressed, and for justice because I feel it is obedience to God I believe God is the ultimate decider of my fate. He is the ultimate decider of your fate. God, in the physical form of Jesus, came to instruct us in the principles of obedience and the matters of life, death, and the afterlife. He established again and again that this world is temporary. Whether you die at the age of 7 or 70, it is a blip in the scheme of eternity. Death has no hold on me. Fear has no hold on me. It is obedience for every Christian to relay this hope to the people they meet. It is the core tenet of the Christian faith.
The government’s requirement for a mask forces Christians with sensitive consciences to set aside this core tenet of their belief. If Christians are forced to portray to people around them that they fear death or that they fear they can cause death in others without the foreknowledge and prescription of God that it is their time to die, they have been stripped of the entirety of their faith.
If the government has a compelling government interest in exercising a police power which may infringe on this right, it has certain obligations. In first amendment restrictions, these obligations are intensified. You, acting as the government, must consider acting in the least restrictive means, to avoid violating the US Constitution, the Idaho Constitution, and various Idaho laws including the Idaho Human Rights Act.
Installing plexiglass, increasing ventilation, narrowing the scope of these requirements to appointments lasting longer than 15 minutes, scheduling appointments to reduce interactions, and / or providing a policy of curbside service for those who are in the same predicament are areas the government could explore to not infringe on the rights of citizens to pursue obedience to God. Have you done these in fulfilling your duty in your office and your duty to the people to be free? I have noticed that each of you have exempted yourselves from these same requirements at times while you are in the building. Couldn’t you find exceptions for others that are also in line with sound science?
Please don’t strip me of my faith. It is not within the purview of Government to restrict people in this way and force them to choose between their faith or jail and fines.
I am including below a link to Idaho Code 73-402 which I think is really important for you to understand in your deliberations as you consider what is required.
Thank you for your consideration and your service.