I come from a place, literally, philosophically and religiously, where people struggle greatly with President Obama. Many in fact do more than just struggle; they have such strong convictions and feelings that it’s just a step this side of hatred. Be honest. Some of you are (sadly) there and some are almost at that point.
The reasons for such strong feelings vary. For some it’s the intrusion of government into our lives. For others it’s the lack of economic discipline, the trampling of religious freedoms, or the specter of socialism. For many it’s all of the above.
It’s good to have differences with the President. I have no problem with people who disagree with him on his health care initiative, his stance on marriage, his soft support for Israel and his position on abortion. Our democracy was founded on the right of the minority (sometimes the majority) to openly and vigorously express their dissent with the direction our leaders are taking our country. But for the Christian dissent cannot be regulated just by our constitution. In a higher sense it must first of all be regulated by our faith.
So how do we respond to a President with whom we have such great and consequential differences? I think that there are several things that we can and should do as Christians.
1. Pray for the President.
This isn’t just a good suggestion, it’s a divine directive. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Period. Not if we like him, agree with him or voted for him. Just pray for him. And not just pray that God would remove him from office. That’s not the spirit of the passage. Pray that God will use him. Pray for his health. Pray for his family. Pray for him to have wisdom. Pray for him to make the right decisions. And while you’re at it you might pray that your heart will be right before God.
2. Respect the man.
We like to say that we respect the office but not the man. That’s a Christian cope-out – not to mention unbiblical. There’s no place in scripture that teaches that Christians can disrespect anyone. In fact just the opposite is true. The Apostle Peter wrote, Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king (1 Peter 2:17). We may not have a king but that doesn’t change the message. We are to honor to all people including our leaders, no matter how strongly we may disagree with them. Peter’s king was Nero who unleashed one of the greatest waves of persecutions against Christians up to that point in history, using them as human torches to light the city of Rome. Yet Peter’s message was that we are to honor (a word that refers to placing a value on something or someone) the king. How can you honor the President if you don’t first of all respect the man?
3. Agree with him when you can.
The popular sentiment in our political culture seems to be that if you are from one political party or persuasion you can never agree with those from another party or persuasion. For conservatives there is a fear that if they ever agree with the President they will be labeled with a scarlet M (as in moderate) which for many would be tantamount to political suicide. But you don’t have to be a moderate to agree with someone from the other side; you just have to be more interested in doing the right thing than in the political fallout. Are we to believe that there is no single issue on which we can agree with President Obama? If there is an issue on which we can agree, then isn’t opposing him at that point not only betraying our values but more importantly, betraying our faith (honesty vs. dishonesty)?
You don’t have to be on board with everything the President does, and I hope that you have differences with him on a whole range of issues that we as Christians hold dear. But neither should you reach the point where your passion leads you into sin. Strong disagreement is fine, hatred, disrespect and unkind words are not.
It’s important to remember that President Obama, for all of his political positions with which we may disagree, is not the enemy.
Stay in the Word