I’d like to share some personal reflections concerning president-elect Barrack Obama and how I have chosen to respond to his recent election to the highest office in our land (save for that of the local church preacher.)
I shall state from the beginning of this post that I am a conservative. That does not mean I am a Republican. Nor does it mean I am not a Democrat. What it means is that I believe certain things about fiscal responsibility, certain things about morality, and that I believe certain things about personal responsibility. It does not mean that I am a misogynist, homophobe, redneck, indigent-phobe, or racist.
It does mean that I think homosexuality is a sin (although for some conservatives it does not mean this at all), men are men and women are women and we are not alike, and that America has come a long way in its race relations since the Emancipation Proclamation. It does not mean I think America is the best place to live for everyone, but it is the best place for me to live (and that our history is rich, diverse, and blessed.) It does not mean I think America is perfect. It does mean I think a lot of places in the world would be rather bad-off if the USA didn’t exist. It does not mean I love war and violence. It does mean that I am not so naïve as to think a world, fallen as it is, will be devoid of war apart from the reign of Christ. It does not mean that those in elected-office get a blank check from me, but it does mean that I respect the office they hold and that per the Scripture, I should pray for them. It means that I think abortion to be one of the most despicable, heinous and outrageous crimes a person can perpetrate against the human body, against life. It does not mean that I think those who have had abortions have committed the unforgivable sin.
Being a conservative gets a bad rap because most think it means being intolerant of those who are living differently or believing differently—as if God’s grace depends upon the rightness of our opinions and convictions. Being conservative does not mean we are intolerant of people even if we are intolerant of certain ideas that people hold or certain lifestyles that people, for whatever reason, live. For that matter, intolerance does not mean or equate to hatred. My conservatism flows out of my being a Christ-follower and not the other way around. It doesn’t mean this for everyone, but it does for me. Being conservative means not being liberal. Neither idea means being less than or more than human. It means having ideas about things that matter this much.
I have made a very difficult decision to champion Barrack Obama. I have written critically of President-Elect Obama and some of his (political and theological) views at my own blog. I had an argument with family members at a summer picnic because they already supported him (actually they just opposed President Bush). I have harbored terrifying thoughts about what an Obama presidency might hold for America. I have read the blogs of those who also live in terrific fear of what an Obama presidency might hold. Like here. And here. And here. (And there are many, many more just like this.)
Suddenly it came over me last week at a prayer meeting, as I listened to a man I know speak about some of his concerns and how God is using this shake this and squeeze that and how the church needs to get ready, that I don’t need to or have to fear a so-called liberal president. Why should I fear? Whom shall I fear? The Psalmist wrote, “Some trust in horses and chariots, but we trust in the Lord our God.” Whom shall I fear? I will not live the next four years of my life in constant fear of some imagined agenda people have put into his mouth. I have other things I’d rather worry about—like prayers, Scripture, those God has put in my life and the lives that God has shoved me into. Fear is not high on my list of fun ways to live, nor is it on my agenda for tomorrow.
So I have decided that I will be a supporter of Barrack Obama for a few different reasons.
First, I will be a supporter of Obama because it is not in my nature to act like an ADM. That is, I will not be one of those who will sit back and engage in schadenfreude. The writers of .info have always impressed me not because I agree with the position they take in regard to everything, but precisely because they do not engage in delight at the failure of others. I don’t want him to fail. Granted, I hope some of his policies fail and do so miserably. But I can hope for him, without supporting his particular ideas about morality.
Take abortion for example. When I went to Great Lakes Christian College in 1991, I remember gathering one night to pray for upcoming elections. The candidates were Bill Clinton and George Bush. We had one issue, mostly, on our minds: Abortion. Then Clinton was elected, much to the chagrin of many people. And you know what? Not a thing happened concerning Roe v. Wade for 8 years of the Clinton Administration. Then George W Bush was elected. And not a thing has happened to Roe v. Wade for 8 years of his administration. I’ll grant that Mr Obama is a flaming lunatic when it comes to his opinions on abortion, but I’m not naïve enough to think that John McCain, had he been elected, would have suddenly swung the pendulum so far right that Roe v. Wade would have been overturned. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. I’m just saying that perhaps it is time for Christians to find alternative ways for dealing with the abortion issue besides putting all our stock in a presidential candidate who will ‘get the right people on the Supreme Court and get Roe v. Wade overturned.’ I think that is a pipe-dream at best.
To the point, I will not engage in schadenfreude when it comes to Pres-E Obama. I am not an ADM and I never will be.
Second, I don’t have to live in fear of him. He is a man and I just find it impossible to believe that it is his stated or secret goal and purpose to ruin the America we all know and love. Fact is, if he produces policies that differ from my point of view that is fine. If he produces legislation that is forcibly contrary to God’s Law, I have the biblical obligation to disobey. I don’t have the obligation to live in fear of Obama any more than liberals had reason to live in fear of George W Bush or than first century Christians had to fear Caesar. I will not conduct myself or raise my family or practice my faith based on fear of any man or woman in political office. The only fear I have a right to practice is fear of God.
The bottom line for me is this: God is still Sovereign. I heard someone say the other day that our fate lies in Obama’s hands. Pshaw! I saw an ad on facebook that has a picture of Obama with the word “Hope” underneath. Pshaw! I have heard people comparing him to the Messiah. Pshaw! I hear people say that the president of the United States is the most powerful man in the world. Horse****! He is none of these things for me because Christians are strangers, pilgrims, sojourners and aliens…I have as much fear of him as I do for the little old atheist lady who lives next door. Christians live under the sovereign watch-care and covenant-love of God Almighty. Whom shall I fear? This is not so much about should I support him, as much as can I support him. The answer is yes. I didn’t vote for him, but I’m not about to abandon him either. This is a matter of trust: Do I trust God who loves me or fear a man who cannot do me any harm?
Third, why not give peace a chance and take him at face-value? Pres-E Obama said he is a Christian and that his hope is in Jesus Christ: Why should I believe differently? For example, I might not like the things his pastor (Jeremiah Wright) said, but on the other hand…I don’t suppose that Jeremiah Wright would like everything I said about America either (and who’s to say that behind the sound-bites and rhetoric Wright is not making a larger point about which he is, well, right?) Point is, as a Christian, I belong to God first and America last. I am happy to be an American, but I am not defined by my nationality in the Kingdom of God. I’ll give Obama the benefit of the doubt and accept his word that he belongs to Christ. It’s the ADM culture that calls other people’s confessions of Christ into question, not .info’s. Barrack may have worshiped at a church for 20 years that has some questionable theology, but unlike many politicians, he was at least worshiping. Besides, whom among us doesn’t have impaired theology? None of us, not one of us, has it all right.
Fourth, I will support him because Jesus told us to love. He said, Love one another. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love your enemies. Love those who persecute you. Well, at this juncture, the worst Obama is is my neighbor. He’s hardly persecuted me. He’s hardly my enemy. In fact, if he claims Christ as he says he does (and who are we to question that?) then don’t I have a biblical obligation to love him as I love myself? Even when Jesus said, “Love your enemies” he did not put any conditional strings on that love. He didn’t say, “Love them until they do something that offends you.” When he said to pray for those in positions of authority, he didn’t say, “Pray for them so long as they make policy decisions that you agree with.” He said: Love. Pray. He left these terms profoundly undefined and agenda-less. If Obama is my brother in Christ…well, love keeps no record of wrongs. Is God’s grace only efficacious for those of us who are not politicians we disagree with fiscally and morally or preachers we disagree with theologically? Is being a liberal senator an unforgivable sin now?
Fifth, because I will not treat Barrack Obama the way liberals (and many conservatives!!) treated George W Bush. My heart breaks for President Bush because he is a good man who became president at the wrong time (or the right time!) and he has been treated like absolute garbage by everyone. It is downright shameful how people have treated that man, that fellow American, that brother in Christ (as he too claims). He has protected our country—perhaps in ways we disagree with—and done a good job. He was called to serve and did so.
I read an essay at Wall Street Journal online by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro who makes this very case. He wrote:
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time. Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty — a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.
You know what? I will not treat Barrack Obama that way. Jesus also said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I will not stoop to the levels that many Americans have with respect to President Bush.
Finally, I will support Barrack Obama because I prayed that God’s will would be done and I trust that it was. Many Christians spent a lot of energy and blog space lamenting the campaign and election of Barrack Obama (I no less than anyone else). I have a friend who wonders how the nation is even going to survive the next 20 years. Well, you know what? It might not. We might all be swallowed alive tomorrow by a flying spaghetti monster, but does that matter? Tomorrow, the stock market may crash and we may have to actually start planting gardens instead of going to Wal-Mart for food. Or perhaps tomorrow the rights of the church will be taken away: We could lose tax-exempt status, or be forced to close our doors, or told we can ‘no longer speak His name,’ or perhaps people might start burning down our buildings and then what would we do without heat and air? So what? Do we think that this means God has suddenly abandoned us? Do we think that this means God’s will is suddenly being thwarted?
Are we the type of Christians who think that the election of one man to political office suddenly means that God has been escorted from his throne? Do we think God cannot handle such things? Do we think this is a mere eventuality to God? Do we think that this makes God shake and quiver?
I’m going to support Barrack Obama because I can, I should, and I must. I can because God is Sovereign. I should because he is my brother in Christ. I must because he is the president for the next four years. PT Forsyth wrote an amazing book back in 1917 called The Justification of God. It is a fabulous book written to the world in the midst of a Great War and a time of economic peril. It was reissued again after WWII. In that book, he said this:
“It is not easy to believe that the Kingdom of God is the greatest Empire now in the world—and especially at present it is hard. But faith’s greatest conquest of the world is to believe, on the strength of Christ’s Cross, that the world has been overcome, and that the nations which rage so furiously are still in the leash of the redeeming God.” (158)
He’s not my choice. I didn’t vote for him (neither did I vote for McCain), but I will support President Elect and soon to be President Obama because my faith is in God who is faithful. I will pray that he will be a vessel of God’s grace, an agent of mercy, an ambassador for freedom and liberty that we in America enjoy because of God’s grace and mercy. But I will not just ‘support’ him in some meaningless, backhanded way. I will go a step further and do for him what others have not done for George W Bush: I will love him, his wife, and his children, and give honor to whom honor is due. I can either work hard to make it hard for him and more difficult or I can love him and pray for him. I will love him because I am commanded to love, because I want to love, because I choose to love, and because I have been empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to love. Perfect love casts out fear and God has created us to love, not to fear; to love, not hate; to love without an agenda all those created in his image.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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