Modern Political Wisdom and Biblical Admonitions ~ Romans 12

by faithgibson on June 13, 2012

I  am perplexed by the meanness of spirit in the current ‘take no prisonors’ partisan political debate. I  know its an election year, but the idea of American politics as a blood sport promoted by many who profess to be sincere Christians disappoints me deeply. When did Christian charity become un-American?

For instance, many  politicians and political commentators smugly insist that unemployment insurance is an unjustified  government handout that must be reigned in to reduce the budget deficient.

Of course the unemployment insurance fund works like any other form of insurance. In this instance, every employee and employer regularly contributes small sums of money into a mutual savings account, with the assurance that the smaller number who are laid off can be economically supported during extended periods of unemployment. In an economy with 8 to 18% unemployment, there is no blame or shame in being unable to instantly able to find another job.

Not only are unemployment payments an important aspect of a civil society for us as individuals, but they are a vital part of the greater economic cycle.  This money is quickly  circulated back into the economy as  purchases of groceries, gasoline and other necessities, thus creating employment for other American workers and wealth for business owners. Unemployment compensation is a structural ‘job creator’ that is also consistent with “loving one’s neighbor as thyself”.

For those who profess to be Christians — whether Republican or Democratic, Independent or Libertarian — I believe the body politic could be and should be improved by applying the practical wisdom in Paul’s letter to the Romans on how to conduct ourselves in ‘everyday ordinary life’.

Here are a few ‘pearls of great price’ from chapter 12, as translated by modern biblical scholar and pastor, Eugene Peterson in “The Message: New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs“.

“…. if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teachings; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you are called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. 

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Be a good friend who loves deeply;

Don’t quit in hard times; … Help the needy; be inventive in hospitality. Get along with each other. Don’t let evil get the best of you but get the best of evil by doing good.”

The attitudes, behaviors, and actions recommend by Paul in Romans’ 12 are an important contribution to the matrix of democratic ideals and public policies in the interest of social justice & a fair economy. To me, this is part the intelligent design that i describe as the “Middle Way”  and the authors “The True Patriot” (Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer) call a ‘civil religion’.

Upcoming Post ~ The contemporary political wisdom of Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer from their  two best-selling books “The True Patriot” ( and “Gardens of Democracy” (

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