Taking a break from theology for a bit, because today is a historic day, and I wanted to write about it.
I don’t care what you think of Barack Obama (or any president, for that matter) – watching a peaceful exchange of power is always an amazing thing. The spectacle of the parades, the bands (I’ll be watching for my DC military band buddies!)… the whole event is bound to be worth watching. Not to mention the speeches! I’ll openly admit that I’m a lover of great speeches, and our Presidential Inaugurations tend to produce some of the best. Top that off with today’s inauguration of one of the greatest speech deliverers in history, and I think we’re in for a treat.
One thing that has disappointed me since the election back on November 4 has been seeing how many of my Christian brothers and sisters have expressed sorrow or resentment regarding the results. If this describes you, let me say that you are entirely too caught up in the affairs of this world if you think that a political leader is going to affect – for good or for ill – the accomplishment of the Will of God.
This goes as well for those who, while lamenting Obama’s election due to his perceived spiritual and moral defects, celebrate Bush’s presidency based on his supposed moral superiority and evangelical convictions. Have we been watching the same man for the last eight years?
I won’t rehash my previously stated admonition about Christians tying themselves to a political party. Suffice it to say that I no longer see any great differences between the two major political parties nor their candidates. It is a well-documented fact that the vast majority of evangelical Christians in this country have voted overwhelmingly Republican for longer than I’ve been alive. I can only surmise that this is because the Republican party has been more effective than their counterparts in courting this key demographic, because it’s certainly not due to the candidates themselves being overtly more evangelistic than their opponents.
But wait! George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian! He’s been way better than Gore or Kerry would have been!
This is, of course, the bait that caught me, and many other young, Christian voters, hook, line & sinker in 2000 (my first election). I happily voted for Bush, and genuinely believed that his every decision must be a good one, because he was an evangelical Christian.
I’ll even admit that I voted for him again in 2004, though it was much more difficult that time… more on that in a bit. I have often regretted that decision.
Today will be the first time I will see the inauguration of a man for whom I did not vote. Such fact has been inevitable since long before the election, considering that I also did not vote for John McCain, and our country is a long way from ever allowing any candidate outside the “Big 2” to ascend to the highest office.
I contend that the great irony of the day is that President Barack Obama was elected on a campaign of “change”. Surely there will be many changes in governing style, and likely many changes in our laws as well, but when it comes to the big picture, I don’t think much will really change.
For example, look at the biggest criticisms of Obama by his “right-wing conservative Christian” detractors: (1) He’s a Socialist! (2) He’s going to ruin education/immigration/insert hot-button issue here! (3) Though claiming to be Christian, he’s spiritually dubious!
For the sake of “change”, he would have to differ greatly from the man he’s replacing and the man he defeated, right?
(1) Socialism – Obama’s been called the “most liberal Senator in Congress“, and accused of being Socialist by just about every pundit and politician in Washington. Yet who has presided over the biggest period of growth in government and spending in American history (and mostly with a Republican Congress to boot)? Who engineered and pushed through these massive economic bailouts and nationalization of the banking and auto industries? And let’s not forget which candidate actually suspended his campaign to make sure they passed through Congress.
(2) Domestic issues – For all the talk of being tough on immigration and border security, the outgoing administration has done basically nothing productive to correct the problems… or even to demonstrate that they actually believe them to BE problems. As for education, ask any teacher what they think about “No Child Left Behind”. I may not like Obama’s selection to head up Education, but it’s not like Bush did anything fantastic, either.
(3) Christianity – It is not for me or anyone else to judge someone’s salvation, for salvation belongs to our God. But for all the arguments questioning whether Obama’s profession of Christian faith is genuine, I’ve heard next to nothing calling out Bush for his recent spiritual ambiguity, admission that he does not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and implications that God is not sovereign. Don’t believe me? Watch this video.
After this interview aired, there was some small outcry… some evangelicals felt betrayed. But it should not have come as a surprise. The following interview is from 2004, during the last election campaign.
Are these the words of a great spiritual leader, much less a committed, Spirit-filled believer? John 14:6 may suggest otherwise.
I do not mean this to degenerate into a “Bush-bashing” or anything. I mean merely to remind Christians that, while we ought to stand up for Truth and righteousness in our world, we cannot rely on any elected official to do it for us. It is done on a personal level, not a political one. We are called to submit to our political leadership, while walking according to the Spirit.
As an earthly citizen of this country, I have supported my President these last eight years, when his laws have not conflicted with Scripture. I plan to continue to offer the same support to my new President. But most importantly, I will, as must we all, remember the words of Philippians 3:10 – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made 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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Pray for your President, and enjoy the festivities!