Standing Up to Leviathan

In years past political parties used to speak of their “platform,” a formal collection of their positions and aspirations. “Planks” made up their platform, statements and positions on individual issues such as tax rates, domestic goals, foreign policy, and so forth. In years gone by, civil debate and discussion took place between politicians and constituents regarding the planks and platform of political parties. In such times, Republicans and Democrats were often friends. They played golf together. They went to church together. They married each other. They did so because most policies were not overtly moral in nature. They were political opinions.

But times have changed. It is because many of our cultural issues and spats can no longer be characterized or catalogued politically. In times past most policies were just that, policies. But because the long arm of Uncle Sam decided it would venture outside its political realm and into the moral realm, the game changed.

Some yearn for a return to the “good ole days” when politicians and voters debated, negotiated, compromised, and moved forward together. I am sorry but those days are gone. It is so because there is little to compromise when it comes to matters of morality. Most cultural issues today fall under the heading of right or wrong. Or more theologically precise, righteous or unrighteous. There is nothing to debate or compromise. When God speaks on a matter, we are not at liberty to give ground.

Pastors and churches that understand this are not leaving their pulpit and sphere and becoming “too political.” Politicians and governments are the ones who have left their chamber and sphere and have become “too religious.” Instead of fixing roads and putting bad guys in jail and other rightful responsibilities that are theirs, they have ordained themselves as clergy.

How did we arrive at such a place? Western culture and our nation once acknowledged God’s lines of responsibility. The family, church, and state have their designated job descriptions in Scripture. But that old book lost its authority when we became Enlightened. Endarkened is now the better descriptor.

In his book Slaying Leviathan Glenn Sunshine writes that when the government claims the right to all areas of our life “You end up with a totalitarian nightmare, a monster that reaches into everything we do, everything we say, everything we think, that claims authority over everything we own and lets us live only in line with it values and interests. What you get is Leviathan.” Sunshine takes that word from Thomas Hobbes who wrote a book on political theory in the 17th century. Hobbes got his word from the Bible—in Job and a couple other texts. In Job 41, Leviathan is a giant sea serpent, twisted and coiled and ferocious. It is a creature that only God can tame and destroy.

And this is the problem we have with Leviathan today. Only God can tame its unsatiable appetite. And we, the church, are His representatives and ambassadors. Leviathan knows this and wants to shut us up. We will not. God has given us our mission. And one day He will punish all human expressions of power and resistance to the Kingdom of God.

In the meanwhile, we will not cower in fear and silence. We will engage. We will love. We will stand for truth. We will do so even in the face of a monster.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
November 18, 2021

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