Posted by: thefourwinds | June 19, 2010

A call for Biblical responses to modern political leaders we disagree with

As I begin, let me make it perfectly clear that I am not at all a fan of President Obama’s politics or policies, but I have to wonder how many Christians who routinely bash him publicly, using what they consider to be witty epithets, are at the same time obeying the command of our Lord through the apostle Paul in 1 Tim. 2:1-2, which calls us to give “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (emphasis mine).  These sorts of epithets do not become us as believers, and they certainly don’t give any glory to God, who is sovereignly responsible for Barack Obama being the current president of the U.S. (Daniel 4:25 – “… the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will”). This is all the more important for believers who have extensive influence, but anyone with a blog or a facebook account can have a wide reach, if not tremendous influence.

I am not saying we shouldn’t criticize his policies if we disagree with him. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work to get others elected we agree with more. Our form of government gives us great power and responsibility, and we need to be responsible. What I am saying is that Christians who do these sorts of things publicly ought also to be following 1 Tim 2:1-2 publicly at least as much as they follow the other practices, since 1 Tim 2:1-2 is actually a written command of God. And even though many might be saying, “I already do those things in private,” even if you are, I certainly don’t see anywhere near as much giving thanks and prayers for President Obama in public by believers as I see vehement invective. This is how we lead by example as believers, and it is why people with influence are held to a stricter account (James 3:1). Maybe you are praying as much in private as you insult in public, but for those you have influence over, what are they seeing? What is done privately or what is done publicly? Jesus Himself said it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than to lead one of His little ones astray.

I also believe that people who compare themselves to Christ and His rebukes of the Pharisees are missing that He rebuked the Pharisees directly, in person, not passively, in such indirect mass comments on Facebook. The language Christ spoke directly to them was a rebuke only after calling on them directly many times to repent.

Many would also say Martin Luther used far harsher language in criticizing leaders of his day than any believers today are using. Those people would be correct. However, in the same way that we cannot hold Luther and others of his day to our cultural standards today, by the same logic we cannot appropriate standards that were accepted in his culture and unilaterally claim they’re acceptable in our culture. One cannot have it both ways. At any rate, though I don’t have a primary source reference for this, I believe Luther had repented of having written too harshly of individuals.

Finally, here is a question for any professing Christian – which do you care about more? The U.S. Constitution, an excellent though man-made document, or the Holy Word of God, breathed by the Holy Spirit, a Word that cannot be broken? It seems to me we shouldn’t be compromising the Word for the sake of anything else, even the safety of the U.S. Constitution. If we cannot save the Constitution without breaking the Word of God, I’d have to say God cares more about us following His Word.

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Responses

  1. A question that I had been dealing with for years is whether we should participate at all in the politics of the country in which we reside. I wonder if we are essentially Americans or, rather, if we are to be Americans, instead of pilgrims who are merely passing through. My conclusion says that we cannot maintain the pilgrimage, if, midway, we take up residence.

    • Hi Phillip, thanks for your response. The question you ask is certainly something every American Christian should ask. However, I don’t agree with your conclusion. The Bible doesn’t call us to remove ourselves from society; in fact, given the ability to influence our leaders, it seems irresponsible on behalf of the Gospel not to participate at all in the political processes of our country. However, we must certainly remain, as you say, pilgrims in a strange land, knowing that this temporary home is not permanent. We are indeed citizens of a better country.

  2. Great post. One thing I would add is that if any politician is shown to be unethical, it would be our duty to point out the error of his way, hopefully without engaging in slandering. This of course goes for those we agree with as well those with whom we don’t. Peace! nathan

    • Thanks Nathan. Agreed!


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