ERROL CASTENS: Priorities: God before country



On a morning when most of us are looking forward to parades, barbecues and fireworks, pardon me a bit of pondering about politics and religion in the wake of the recent runoff election that left a lot of conservatives feeling stabbed in the back.

Some of us feel our choices this fall are not just bad but awful if the nominations are already settled – a choice between one, whose party seems to delight in destroying much of what we value as quickly as possible and the other, whose party seems to delight in destroying it slowly by milking it to death.

Some of my fellow conservatives are near despair. By the grace of God only, I am not.

I believe that votes and political principles are resources that Christians in America must use wisely and faithfully, just as we must steward well the time, influence, talents, money, knowledge and other resources God entrusts to us. Why are they not of ultimate value? We live in a unique time and place with degrees of liberty, peace and prosperity unknown to most of humanity in different ages and places, and that is a circumstance we take for granted. But we take it for granted at our own peril.

It is all too easy in the American South to equate Christianity with patriotism, to presume that America is a Christian nation and thus defense of national virtues equals defense of the faith.

Not so.

Governmental guarantees of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are good and useful circumstances, but for Christians the bottom line is the advancement of a Kingdom that will not be brought about by human hands and minds and which does not perish.

For 2,000 years, the gospel of Christ has advanced under far less favorable circumstances than those we enjoy. It thrives, although its adherents suffer, even today in places all over the world where persecution for practicing or preaching the gospel of Christ ranges from social disfavor to legal sanction to torture and execution.

The recent election mattered, but only in whatever way God has already designed for it to matter. Regardless of who wins Mississippi’s currently contested Senate seat, God is sovereign and utterly good.

The Apostle Paul reminds believers not to idolize politics or any other human endeavor: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Kingdoms come and kingdoms go. As much as we may love it – I cannot sing “land where my fathers died” without choking up – America will someday be but a blip on the radar screen of history. Time marches inexorably toward one event: the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Errol Castens is a reporter for the Daily Journal and the Oxford Citizen. Reach him at (662) 816-1282 or

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  • Dillard Jenkins

    This country is not a theocracy Mr. Castens, and I am thankful for that. As far as Mississippi is concerned, it’s government is only second to Louisiana in the level of corruption.

  • FrereJocques

    Mr. Castens, I usually agree with you or can at least tolerate your opinion. This time, I cannot. You have failed to learn the lessons of history, of what happens when religion is allowed to rule civil governments. This occurred during a period now known as the Dark Ages. You talk about Christians today being persecuted and even tortured because of their faith. Back then, it was the CHRISTIANS who were doing the persecuting and torturing. And given the authority to do so, they would do it again TODAY with no hesitation. It is no coincidence that the AFA has become known as the Dark Side of Tupelo.

    People have a duty to God, but they also have a duty to their fellow man. That duty includes giving them the freedom to live how they want, whether it meets Christian standards or not. Civil Government is set up to rule how the people to relate to each other, not to God. Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him, nor called upon the civil government to enforce His law. God gives ALL humanity the choice to follow Him, or not. Civil Governments should follow the same principle. It is not Caesar’s responsibility to enforce God’s Law.

    God will reward His followers at the End Time, and the sinners will be destroyed. That is good enough for me. Government is not God’s instrument here on Earth to enforce His law. Inviting religion into running Government will not bring peace; it will bring Hell on Earth. All you have to do to see proof of this is look to the Middle East. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and even India to a degree are poster children for this.

    Be careful what you ask for. You just may get it.

  • 1941641

    Castens: “God is sovereign and utterly good.”

    Reverend, How do you explain the various moods that from time to time constitute a “loving” God’s “not so good” Wrath upon mankind?