Hosea 4.1-7 – God and politics
Posted: 10 January 2011 in Hosea

“Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

When we see Christians indulging in the not very edifying spectacle of judging other people, it is easy to think that they should take due notice of Matthew 7.1 (Judge not that ye be not judged), and stick to judging themselves in the light of the New Testament.

There is undoubtedly some truth in that, but the danger is that it can encourage us to think that morality only operates at the level of the individual. However, as the above passage makes clear, sin can have consequences which operate at the societal and national level. That being the case, religion cannot just be a matter of private devotion, and verse 4 in particular makes it clear that we have no business trying to keep God out of the political sphere. Nor have we any business allowing secularists to do it for us:

“They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not:”

Obviously we no longer live in an age when absolute monarchs rule. Translated into terms of the government of liberal democracies, this verse implies that decisions made by our political parties must always be made in the light of Christ’s teaching and example. It is perhaps unfortunate that the American experience has led people to think that a politics informed by Christian morality must necessarily be right wing politics. In Europe the Christian Democrat parties can just as easily be parties of the left, or parties of the centre, as they can parties of the right.

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