As I write this, the U. S. presidential election of 2016 has not yet taken place, although, given the ready availability of early voting, I have already voted. So, I do not know now what the state of our political landscape will be at the point this post goes live.
Like many, I have very strong feelings about this election. Normally I keep those under wraps, though the particular dynamics of this election cycle has made it harder than normal so that those who follow me here or on Twitter may not find my convictions too difficult to discern.
As a minister my commitment has always been never to identify with any one candidate or political party but to apply a biblical moral judgment to all. I supported the criticism of (Democrat) Bill Clinton’s moral failure during his presidency and I publicly called for the resignation of then Florida Senate president (Republican) John McKay who about the same time admitted to having an affair with an AT&T lobbyist.
When ministers and churches tie their horses to particular political wagons, when the wagon goes down, so do the horses with the resultant dilution of the Christian witness of that minister or church. The gospel message is too important to risk aligning with any one political party. It has been hard this election cycle to retain some semblance of neutrality as issues vital to Christian sensibilities were subsumed to fear and Christian concern for compassion and justice and mercy seemed to be assigned second place to concerns of personal liberty and economic and political prosperity. Where in the Bible is liberty championed as a cause greater than that of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger?
The election is behind us now and a new president has been chosen. The result will cause some to relax and others to fear. But what it should not do is alter in any shape the call and function of the church. The church is NOT to be a politically defined entity, though much we are called to do will have political implications. Our role is not in the least defined by who occupies the White House or sets policy in the legislative chambers. What defines us must be the call of Scripture to be those who love
To do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
As we are to be those who
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14, 15)
Much could be said by way of developing these things which I won’t do now. However, I’m certain that these are the things we are to pursue regardless of the political order and climate.