Reflections on My Years as a Legislator
By Tim Moore
Looking back over the past 13 years of my service in the Kentucky State Legislature, I am struck by the way the Lord has blessed and guided me. When first elected in 2006, I did not think my tenure would last so long. Yet even while I was there God was preparing me for this new call on my life to serve Lamb & Lion Ministries.
Enduring years of frustration and outrage while my political party was in the minority, I learned to wait upon the Lord. Interacting with people clamoring for policies and outcomes, I practiced being clear but tactful in proclaiming truth from a biblical perspective.
Through various political skirmishes I experienced firsthand the forces of darkness in this present age. I learned to rely upon the full armor of God to engage in battle as I lived out the Christian faith in a place of great spiritual darkness. The Lord used me in spite of my shortcomings, as He does with all who belong to Him. As I cross over into a new chapter of life, it seems appropriate to pick up a few memorial stones from the stream I have just crossed.
Israel’s Transitional Memorial
What I am referring to is what the Children of Israel did in response to God’s miraculous leading of them as they transitioned into the Promised Land. At Joshua’s command, the priests leading the procession of tribes stepped into the Jordan River swollen to flood stage. The waters immediately backed up in a heap, allowing the Hebrew nation to cross over on dry ground — just as they had done when crossing the Red Sea under Moses’ leadership. Once again, God manifested His providence for His people and showed His approval of the nation’s leader.
To ensure that this historic transitional moment was not forgotten, Joshua commanded a man from each tribe to return to the riverbed and collect a stone. He placed those 12 stones in a pile on the west bank of the Jordan, creating a public and lasting testimony. Joshua instructed:
When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, “What are these stones?” then you shall inform your children, saying, “Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea…that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Joshua’s intention was to create a marker to testify to God’s power and providence. It was to provide a visual aid for the Israelites to teach their children about God’s gracious provision for them. And, it bore witness to all the peoples of the earth that their God was mighty.
With that understanding, it seems appropriate to select 12 lessons from the past 12+ years of my life that can stand as a memorial to what God has shown me.
1) Good people need to serve in every sphere. There is a misguided attitude among some Christians that certain roles and professions are more appropriate than others. They elevate the Christian or church positions like pastor, evangelist, or minister above secular roles like business, trades, and blue collar work. But this is not a biblical worldview. Every task should be undertaken as if serving the Lord, because in reality Christians are serving the Lord wherever they are and whatever they are doing. The political realm is no different. It is critical that good and godly Christians continue to step forward to serve in this precarious arena. The challenges are many and the task is wearying, but without followers of Jesus Christ serving as salt and light in that role, our laws and policies will become increasingly unbound from biblical truth.
2) Our political system is designed to impede extremism, but now rewards the bombastic and extreme. Our political system is primarily designed to maintain stability. Like an aircraft in flight, it may undergo turbulence from time to time, but our Constitutional order tends to dampen out disruptive forces and extreme positions.
Having said that, our modern media-driven society lives in the “NOW.” The result is that crazy ideas and extreme positions gain traction because they are instantly transmitted to the masses and gain a sort of momentum that would never have been possible in the past. Loud and unbridled voices are given outsize attention.
3) Some public servants are self-serving and power-focused — just as is the case in every other arena of life. Too many politicians enter that realm relatively poor and end up rich after a few years. Some elected officials do line their own pockets. That usually does not involve stealing taxpayer dollars; often it simply requires inside knowledge of policy changes or future road projects or any number of circumstances. As President Harry Truman once said, “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.” Others simply become addicted to the power and prestige.
It is easy for people to see the dysfunction in any arena and smear every person endeavoring there. That certainly happens in the political realm. I’ve heard countless voters say, “They’re all crooks up in Washington (or at the state capitol).” Sadly, there are crooks in those settings. But that generality is not true of everyone.
Many public servants lose money endeavoring to serve the greater good. The opportunity cost in terms of income and time is significant. Serving in elected office requires an honest person to make personal and financial sacrifices.
4) There are selfless servant-leaders in every sphere and at every level. Some of the greatest experiences I had as a legislator were observing staff members who served with quiet dignity for years. They did not receive the accolades that were heaped on the elected officials, yet without them the function of state government would cease. That is not to say that we should not cull down bloated bureaucracies, but many in the bureaucracy do strive every day with little fanfare to make our lives better.
In the legislature itself, we had show horses and work horses. The show horses had an uncanny ability to position themselves in every photo opportunity while the work horses quietly but consistently got things done. Jesus severely rebuked those who like to position themselves in the best seats and seek the public’s adulation (Matthew 23:1-12). That kind of adoration is hollow and fleeting. A greater reward awaits those who do not seek the praise of men but labor as unto the Lord Himself.
5) What is said in public does not necessarily reflect what is done in private. Too many politicians have become quite adept at telling people what they want to hear. Instead of stating their position clearly, deceitful politicians purposely muddy the waters and deflect attention from what is really happening. I served alongside one legislator who proclaimed his pro-life position at home every election, but then chastised his fellow Democratic members for daring to support pro-life bills. His own voters were taken in by his misleading claims for years. Eventually, his hypocrisy became so apparent that he was voted out of office.
This tendency to tickle people’s ears is not limited to the political realm. Speaking of the Church, Paul told Timothy that “the time will come when [people] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). Too many preachers of the Word of God water down their message lest it offend. Some entire denominations are succumbing to this truth-barren approach to preaching.
6) Respect for biblical truth is waning. There was a time when American politicians universally respected the Word of God. But today, citing Scripture as a source of Truth in any public dialogue is frowned upon or simply scoffed at outright. Even our prayers are cursory.
In Kentucky, as in most state legislatures and the US Congress itself, each legislative day opens with prayer. While not all of those prayers ascended to heaven, what became more apparent during my time was the callous disregard for prayer itself. Some members avoided entering the chamber during the prayer, preferring instead to stand outside making snide remarks.
The great falling away from Christian faith in our society is well-documented. Suffice it to say that the elected representatives of the people reflect that sad trend. Accordingly, many politicians claim faith at home but seldom reflect it in their role. I’m reminded of a meeting I had with a group of constituents from one legislator’s district who spoke of his membership in a very conservative denomination. They were shocked when they were told that no one had ever seen any evidence of his faith in the legislature. His foul language, his attitudes and his voting record bore no evidence of his allegiance to biblical truth.
7) The great divide in America is growing deeper and wider. Once again, this trend is apparent to anyone with eyes to see or ears to hear. Every realm of our society is being politicized and is embracing the social and sexual revolution. Evidence of this is rampant in the political realm.
Just consider the issue of life. There was a time when national political figures within the Democratic party were unashamedly pro-life. Today, every contender for the Democratic nomination for President has vowed to promote unimpeded abortion on demand. That same dynamic has trickled down to the state level. In 2007 there were a few strong pro-life Democrats in our House of Representatives. Today, they are all gone. Even though there are some who lean toward pro-life, they quickly put aside their pro-life views if they decide to run for statewide or national office.
The partisan divide is evidenced by our populace as a whole. The entire nation is hyper-politicized. Political scientists who track such trends tell us that every single state legislature has become more polarized every year for the past 50 years. They also tell us that the nation has not been so divided since 1861 — right before the Civil War.
8) Christians already are a minority, and will continue to lose collective influence. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows a 12 percent decline over just 10 years in the number of Americans who identify as Christians. Based on surveys from 2018 and 2019, only 45% of Americans now say they attend religious services at least monthly. Even that number is thought to be inflated.
Heralding significant generational decline, 84% of the Silent Generation (1927-1944) claimed to be Christian, but only 76% of Baby Boomers (1945-1964) and 49% of Millennials (1981- 1996). What the numbers tell us is that the social pressure to even identify with a Christian worldview or belief system is waning quickly.
That trend is also evident in the legislative realm. When I got to Frankfort (Kentucky’s state capitol), I could only discern a handful of committed Christians in the House. Few consistently stood on Christian principles — and fewer did so when they came under pressure.
Think of any arena and you will recognize that Christians are a dwindling minority. Once again, in business, government, the military, academia, entertainment and even some churches, the number of people who put serving the Lord Jesus Christ first and consistently operate from a biblical worldview is shrinking year after year. And, in some of those realms, Christians are already feeling the sting of persecution in ways that would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago.
9) The judicial branch continues to be a battleground, and will trump the other branches in violating the Constitution as long as it is allowed. While much focus is placed on Presidential and statewide elections, far too little consideration is given to the outsized role of the judicial branch. That blind spot has shifted with regard to the US Supreme Court. Evangelicals have come to recognize that the occupant of the Oval Office matters when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. America would have a far different Supreme Court had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016.
Christ-followers must recognize that maintaining a Senate that will uphold and appoint Conservative justices and judges throughout the federal judiciary is paramount. Christians also need to realize that state level judicial races are critically important. Although Kentucky has finally passed a number of pro-life bills, those bills are often stymied in the state and federal courts. The same thing is happening across the nation.
10) It is important to stay engaged in the political process, but that is not where our hope lies. Some Christians believe that the political realm is no place for followers of Jesus Christ. The pressures and temptations and unseemly dynamics are just too unbecoming. But, doesn’t that describe every realm of man? If we are to be “in the world,” where in the world can we go and avoid those challenges? As the world becomes a darker place spiritually, shouldn’t we be engaged in every sphere — offering salt and light in order to, by God’s grace, lead some to salvation?
To drive that point home, as our society rushes headlong toward post-Christian secularism, shouldn’t we redouble our efforts to shine the light of Jesus Christ? It is grossly unbiblical to suggest that we should simply hide our light under a bushel while the world gropes in darkness. Tellingly, the biblical prophets of God were committed to speaking truth to the politicians of their day and age.
It is imperative that we do not sit idly by. We must advocate for godly principles and policies, recognizing that God will hold our nation accountable for failing to stay true to its Christian heritage. Indeed, I believe that like Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum, our nation has received incredible blessings but has strayed grievously. Surely our land will also be found wanting on God’s day of judgment (Matthew 11:20-24).
Having said that, we cannot elevate the importance of any sphere of man above its proper place. That especially includes the political realm. With the culture politicizing everything, Christians can also fall into the false expectation that if we simply tweak public policy just right or pass just the right laws or elect more members of our preferred political party, we can craft a godly society. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the end, our hope does not lie in the political process or a particular party or candidate. No set of laws or policies will stem the scourge of sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ sets men and women free from sin and secures an eternity with the Almighty. “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
11) In spite of all else, God still accomplishes His will — even when leaders and potentates shake their fist at Him. No scheme of man can thwart God’s will. Even Satan with his demonic hordes cannot staunch or sway God’s plan for human history. From the beginning, Satan has been trying to upend God’s plan for mankind. He has deceived those made in God’s image — trying first to destroy the Jews because they were chosen of God and now to impede and undermine Christians. He will become increasingly desperate as the end draws near because he knows his time is short.
If Satan cannot succeed (witness the cross), man’s efforts to stand against God and His Anointed will also prove futile. In fact, we know that “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4). So, when self-important officials at any level “take their stand and take counsel together” to establish laws contrary to God’s stated will, they too will eventually experience His wrath.
In the end, God’s will cannot be deterred — and His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:10-11). We are only blessed when we take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:12).
12) Regardless of your calling or position in this world, the greatest joy comes in glorifying God and pointing others to Him. Joshua’s reason for marking Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River is instructive to us still. In addition to passing down a witness of God’s goodness, omniscience and omnipotence to succeeding generations, it was to bear testimony to “all peoples of the earth…that the hand of the LORD is mighty” (Joshua 4:24).
There were 12 other stones left behind as a memorial at the Jordan River. Joshua also arranged 12 stones in the middle of the river where the priests had stood. Even when the river flowed again those stones testified that the LORD God held back the waters while His people crossed over. While we are in the world, we are living stones — bearing testimony that God preserves and protects His people through the evil that floods the earth.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
In my last year in office, Kentucky passed four major prolife bills. I will be forever grateful to have been a part of the effort that led to that accomplishment, but God gets the credit for our success. In due time, when Jesus returns to reign over all the world, He will put an end to the scourge of abortion on the earth — as well as every other evil. He will wipe away every tear, and His own righteousness will flood the earth.
Until then, I will focus my energies on proclaiming the soon return of Jesus. Using the language of Psalm 2, not only kings and judges need to show discernment and take warning (Psalm 2:10). Every person needs to “worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” If you do not already know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, “do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath [will] soon be kindled” (Psalm 2:12).
If you already know Him as Savior and worship Him as Lord, endeavor with me to live out the chief end of man: “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That proclamation of the 1647 Westminster Shorter Catechism captures our purpose here and now yet points to the glory to be revealed when Jesus Christ comes again.
May these 12 stones of remembrance resonate with the truth of the trends in our politicized society even as they glorify Him on whose thigh is written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16)