Civility in Politics
Why do our politicians seem so confused about relatively obvious solutions? The Bible has several explanations.

paul asks: I watch the news and politics these days about the debt? We have a president Obama who is bringing the country down and Congress just as bad or worse. Does the bible say anything about politics. my Tea party friend says God worries about politics is this really true/
Question about Right and Wrong in the Bible: Politics
Motivation - Curiosity: General interest; Something happened: I heard something said
Bible view - A religious guide - [question 55, Tuesday, 13-Sep-2011]

US Politicians Appear Confused About the Debt Ceiling

President Obama
The President and everyone else in DC appear incapable of solving important national problems.

Throughout the summer of 2011, the world witnessed a remarkable example of ugly political partisanship in the handling of the debt ceiling issue by the United States Congress and the White House. The executive and legislative bodies of the United States government seemed to be in a state of confusion over an issue perceived as highly critical to the stability of the world economy. On August 2, 2011, CNN reported the results of a CNN/ORC poll:

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said elected officials who have dealt with the debt ceiling have acted like spoiled children. Just 17 percent believe the politicians have acted like responsible adults.

In answering the question “who won the debate over the debt ceiling?”, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said:

'When three-quarters say that elected officials are behaving like spoiled children, it's probably safe to say that there are no winners,'

This is truly puzzling behavior for an issue that cried out for the politicians to put aside political and personal agendas, and come together for the good of the United States and, in a sense, the world. After all, most of these political folks are reasonably intelligent and have access to the brightest economic minds in the world. A well-reasoned realistic plan that would produce actual results seemed possible in view of the circumstances. Yet, the best they could do was to pass the buck to a so-called 'super committee'.

As expected, the 2011 super committee went the way of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin Commission, and the Gang of Six Senate process. Recent commentary predicted this result:

Already, the smart money in Washington is betting that the congressional super committee created by this week’s debt-ceiling deal to develop a plan for taming the long-term federal deficit will stalemate along party lines and fail. … The wagering in Washington is that each party will find stalemate safer than rattling their base by accepting more taxes or entitlement cuts. [Ronald Brownstein, “Bold is Beautiful: The Super Committee Offers a Glimmer of Hope”, National Journal (August 5, 2011) internet article.]

Anyone who manages a household budget can see that unless there is real action taken to address the deficit issues, a genuine catastrophic crisis will happen someday. Yet, at the end of the day, no politician wants to make the difficult decisions to steer the United States government in the correct direction when it comes to the economy. This behavior defies explanation when experienced politicians behave in such a way as to commit political suicide along with taking down the United States, and possibly the world, economy.

To most Americans, the obvious question is why do our politicians seem so confused about the severity of the issue and any real solutions?

Biblical Perspective on National Politics

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
- Proverbs 29:2 [NASB]

While there are several biblically sound explanations for confusing behavior of modern politicians, we present three most likely for today, proceeding from general explanations to a possible specific explanation:

  • Sin
  • Selfishness
  • God’s Direct Influence on World Affairs

Mankind's Sin Problem - The overarching reason for trouble in this world is found in every Bible passage from Genesis to Revelation. It is the sin of the human race. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and the Bible finds us all guilty:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
- Romans 3:10ff [KJV]

The Good News is that God has solved mankind’s sin problem through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and He has made this solution available to every human being:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 6:23 [KJV]

Selfish behavior - Perhaps the most widespread result of sin is selfish behavior of individuals, and politicians are not exempt. Indeed, they are more susceptible to coveting (longing for anything that cannot be gotten in an honest and legal manner) than most people due to the power they wield.

It appears that, for the most part, the politicians in Congress and the White House have two basic goals; namely, to be re-elected and to keep or place their political party in power. In addition, some politicians seem to carry almost religious fervor for certain ideological goals. No matter what the consequences for the country, these personal goals trump any differing decision, even if that decision is best for the country.

Self-serving behavior like this is condemned in the Bible. Five of the Ten Commandments deal directly with specific acts against other people (Exodus 20:13 through 17, see especially Thou shalt not covet), and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7) reinforces these commandments and applies them to everyday life. But God holds national rulers to a higher standard than individuals. A very sobering Bible verse should guide the footsteps of all who seek political office:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. [Proverbs 29:2, KJV]

Direct Influence of God - The set of circumstances outlined here causes me to propose that there is a possibility that God has confused the minds of our political leaders. Yes, divine intervention to confuse the thinking of the U.S. Congress and the White House is a very viable biblical explanation for childishness, lack of viable solutions, and gridlock in today's politics. If you believe the Bible, then you must appreciate that God is sovereign, immutable, and has confused the minds of national leaders before. If He did it in Bible times, He could do it today.

The Bible gives several examples of God confusing the thinking of national leaders. Two classic examples from the Old Testament are Pharaoh in Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon.

Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar
These two men from secular history, the Pharaoh of Egypt and the King of Babylon (southern-central Iraq), were influenced by God to accomplish certain purposes. God might be doing the same thing today with US politicians.

Let’s look at the situation with Pharaoh. On multiple occasions God 'hardened' Pharaoh’s heart. See Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 34, 35; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8. The Hebrew word hāzaq is translated into English as hardened. While it has a number of meanings, here, it means:

be hard, i.e., not be willing to learn information, implying the information would change the response to a situation (Ex 7:13); [Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

In the absence of the biblical account in Exodus, which provides a contextual background, Pharaoh’s actions would have been puzzling at best. Even after great suffering by his people, he still did not listen to Moses and Aaron and still did not let Israel go. Pharaoh’s behavior ran counter to common sense with devastating consequences. Does this sound similar to the behavior of our politicians if they do not get the United States’ financial house in order?

In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had warned Nebuchadnezzar that he had to change his ways or suffer judgment. Daniel 4:25-26 spells out the details of the judgment. Nebuchadnezzar did not heed the warning, and judgment happened as recorded in Daniel chapter 4:

Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' [Daniel 4:29-30, NASB]

Nebuchadnezzar was completely coveteous, full of himself, and his downfall was instantaneous. The next verse reads (emphasis added):

While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you'
- Daniel 4:31 [NASB]

God removed Nebuchadnezzar's reign from him and drove him out into the field to live like an animal. After that, he was allowed to come to his senses, and he later characterized the event (emphasis added):

'But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; … 'At that time my reason returned to me. … 'Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.' [Daniel 4:35ff, NASB]

When God judged Nebuchadnezzar God took his 'reason' (Hebrew mǎnd) away from him because after the judgment had ended, his reason returned. The Hebrew word mǎnd translated as reason means:

2765a-1. LN 32.6 understanding, comprehension; with the focus on what is understood (Da 2:21; 4:31[EB 34],33[EB 36]; 5:12+), for another interp, see below; 2. LN 32.26 understanding, discernment; with the focus on capacity for understanding, which may be esoteric (Da 2:21; 5:12+); 3. LN 30.1-30.38 sanity, understanding which focuses on proper thought processes (Da 4:31[EB 34],33[EB 36]+), Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Aramaic (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Does not the behavior of our politicians over the past several months cause one to believe they have lost their mǎnd?

by Steve Belsheim

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:44:50 GMT, unknown: 642326 ABHbf0MAJRkE6
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