Friday, October 21, 2016

What Pragmatic Christian Voters can Learn from 300 Spartans

(image source, adapted from original)

by Steve C. Halbrook

Politically pragmatic American Christians can learn a lot from the Spartans who courageously died at the Battle of Thermopylae. Here, a mere 300 Spartans led by King Leonidasalong with some other Greek alliesbattled King Xerxes' vast army of Persian soldiers (thousands, if not over a million)one of the largest armies ever.

The Spartans lost: all were slaughtered (although not without inflicting massive Persian casualties); nevertheless, they refused to capitulate to Xerxes by giving in to his demand to acknowledge him as their ruler. 

And yet while these pagan but courageous Spartans were not willing to "vote" for Xerxes to be ruler over their landeven at the cost of their livesmany American Christians regularly capitulate to anti-Christian, humanistic politicians by voting them into office. (A new low was hit in the previous election when Christians supported the Mormon Mitt Romney for president, and this year, many Christians are supporting the foul-mouthed, trash-talking Donald Trump.)

How often does one hear something like, "Yes, I realize candidate A is bad, but I must support him because candidate B is even worse." Such Christians often realize that they support evil candidates, and yet, out of fear of a more evil candidate, they vote for the seemingly most electable "lesser evil" without consideration of religion and biblical ruler qualifications

The reason is self-preservation; while the "lesser evil" is still a tyrant, the hope is that he won't infringe on their liberty as much as the "greater evil". Thus standing on principle by refusing to vote for anyone besides a biblically qualified, Christian candidateeven if it means not voting at all and being willing to suffer the consequences for the sake of honoring Godis jettisoned for comfort in this life.

And so, to support an enemy of God as a ruler in the hopes of attaining better treatment is analogous to treating with Xerxes in the hopes of attaining better treatment; and thus, unlike the Spartans, is to refuse to stand one's ground and suffer the consequences, no matter what they might be. 

(We are not advocating violence, or revolt once wicked rulers are in power; our concern here is voting.)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, on the other hand, were in a sense Spartan warriors. When Nebuchadnezzar  threatened them with death for not worshiping his idol, they were willing to fight to the death using the word of God. As they told Nebuchadnezzar before he tried to execute them:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:16b-18)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood well that while duty was theirs, the results were God's. 

Just as the Spartans refused to bend their knee to Xerxeseven if it cost them their livesShadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bend their knee to Nebuchadnezzar's idols, even if it cost them their own lives. They refused to “vote” for their political freedom by rationalizing that God’s righteous standards against idolatry didn’t existFor them, capitulation, or political pragmatism, was not an option. 

Rather, it was either Nebuchadnezzar's capitulation to the Almighty God, or death to the last man. (It would be the former: God blessed their faithfulness.) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saw more liberty in battling (in a spiritual way) tyranny than in giving in to it, even if it meant being roasted alive in the fiery furnace.

And thus, may our fellow American Christians learn this lesson well. When it comes to obedience to God (whether regarding biblical ruler qualifications, or anything else), there is no middle ground. One either obeysand is willing to suffer the consequences for God's gloryor one disobeys by yielding to the demands of sin. 

With this in mind, note that the Spartans, had they capitulated to Xerxes, would have been been granted the title "Friends of the Persian People." And similarly, whenever we as Christians capitulate to the world, we become "Friends of God's enemies" and thereby oppose God. Scripture says, "whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4b).

Let those of us who are Christians then be like the Spartans by being unconditional in our resolve; no, actually, let us be better. Spartans, for all their courage, were still pagans without the Holy Spirit. Christians, on the other hand, have the Holy Spirit, and so are much more empowered for dealing with conflict. As such, there should absolutely be no terms in which God's enemies can buy us off with. 

If Xerxes couldn't buy off mere pagans, how much less should our modern Xerxes-system be able to buy off Christians? Let us therefore work to vote biblically qualified rulers into officeregardless of the oddsor die trying (that is, be willing to suffer persecution for obeying God). Either way, God is glorified.

So, fellow Christian, why worry about the odds? The enemy has so many arrows that, when fired, they blacken the sky? Fine. Then we fight in the shade.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)


photo credit:

Photo at the top:
Adapted from "Battle of Marathon"
© Cleber.knfire / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY -SA 3.0) (license). Retrieved from 



Eric Wetzel said...

Saul, as king of Israel, was the opponent of Goliath (1 Sam. 8:20). Though Saul wasn't a very good king, and his appointment as king was a rejection of God by Israel, his rule would certainly have been preferable to domination by the uncircumcised Philistines. So David came, fought against Goliath, and managed (by the hand of God) to decapitated the giant and scatter the Philistine army. This wasn't necessarily God's (or David's) endorsement of Saul or his often psychotic ways, but it was a military and political defeat of the Philistines. David surely didn't approve of Saul's governance, and he often had to flee to avoid being a victim of Saul's evil. But surely Saul on the throne was preferable to Goliath and his ilk.

In time Saul was dispatched by God as well, and David was elevated to replace him as king. So finally Israel had a king after God's own heart, a man who would do God's will (Acts 13:22). While it took many years for all this to work out for the good, David's fight against the greater evil first was a step in the right direction. Had David chosen not to pick a side because neither Saul nor Goliath was up to God's good standards, the Philistines would have won.

Anonymous said...

Well, you don't want women running for office. How about voting? And how about working in the church as teachers or even as writers?