First Corinthians 5:13


This passage (verses 9-13) presents a conundrum for modern Christians. Throughout the bulk of Christian history, the average Christian wouldn't have had the authority to vote on laws. They simply would have had to obey the law of the land forced upon them by the ruling elite.

Here Paul tells the Corinthians that it isn't for them to judge non-Christians (those "that are without") for sinning. In full context, a Christian would appreciate the fact they can't expect those who aren't believers to follow the ethical/moral standards of the faith. (See 1 Corinthians 6:11 where Paul connects the relationship between the Spirit and not sinning which implies they can't expect those without the Spirit to not sin.)

Modern Christian now have the ability to vote, and given that all laws are inherently an expression of morality the Christian church now struggles with the question, "what morality should they promote?" Obviously, things like murder are easy wins. But what about covetousness, which modern translations of the Bible translates as greed and swindling? Fornication? Drunkenness? Wearing clothes of mixed fibers?

If Christians have the ability to vote on legislation how should they vote? It is evident they shouldn't expect non-Christians to follow Christian standards, any more than they should be held to Sharia law. But up to what point? When should they pass laws against (or for) things? Should Christians support legislation that punishes corrupt business people for greedy swindling of the poor? If so, then why not fornication?

This passage doesn't offer an easy answer. Of course, the Corinthians wouldn't be facing this sort of "burden of freedom." But the principle of not expecting non-Christians to adhere to Christian standards is a particular policy that can inform modern Christian voting practice, though it will obviously be one that is fleshed out in fuller understanding with other sections of Scripture - for example, the exhortation in both Old and New Testament scriptures to protect the impoverished, the widow, the orphan, and the sojourners.

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