Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.
It is hardly a secret that conservatives do not approve of President Obama’s agenda. It is also no secret that most evangelicals are conservatives. Neither of these facts are problematic. What is problematic is how many in the church talk about the President of the United States.
I’m not thinking specifically of the “show me the birth certificate” controversy, or any other particular thing about the President. I am thinking in general of how evangelicals talk about President Obama. I will not write what I have heard him called, the names usually revolve around some variation of his last name that is insulting. I have heard him accused of being a closet Muslim, a closet Marxist, and I have heard Christians say that he is deliberately wrecking the economy in order to implement his radical leftist agenda. Such rumor-mongering and fear-mongering has no place in the church, and it is downright embarrassing that evangelicals participate in this kind of slander.
I’m all for evangelicals being bluntly against certain policies of the President and the Democratic party. But in our protest, we must always show honor to our elected officials. Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:1, 7). Barack Obama was chosen by the people of the United States in a fair election, but more importantly, he was appointed to that position by God. So when you talk about the President, be certain that you talk about him respectfully as one who has authority over you.Here’s a good test you can use to see how your heart is toward our President. Do you pray for him? Do you pray that God will fill him with wisdom and insight? If you believe that he is not converted, are you concerned for his soul? Or when you talk about the President, is it mostly to disrespect him and to scoff at his policies? If your speech is normally disrespectful, you ought to repent from it. It is sinful, and you are bringing shame on the church.
By all means, vote your conscience. I encourage you to write your President and tell him, respectfully, about things that you disagree with in his policies. (I have written him before, and the response from his office has always been prompt and polite, even if I did not receive the answer I wanted to hear.) I wonder if the folks who are disrespectful have even bothered to write the President? I’d be willing to wager that most have been content with grousing over his policies with another disgruntled conservative. (That person probably hasn’t written the President either.) I pray that evangelicals will show the deference to the President that the office deserves, and I pray that whatever we say to others about the President, it will be evident to our hearers that we respect the man, that we care for him as a person, even though we may have deep differences with regard to our political beliefs.