After reading and discerning various Christian perspectives on the 2012 elections which took place last week, I’ve decided to put my own pen to paper regarding the matter. I usually wait about a week, analyze things with a sober mind, reflect upon what others have said, and look at the situation after the dust has settled. This is not a political blog and you’re not going to get a political analysis as such. What I have to say here concerns God, His church, and the spiritual situation here in America. So here goes…
In light of what happened last week, the situation in America does indeed look dire. The most pro-abortion president in the history of these United States has been re-elected. It wasn’t even close. President Obama is also the first president in American history to publicly profane the institution of marriage. Following the lead of the President, the citizens of four states went to the polls to do likewise, voting to give sodomite relationships the same legal status as marriage. Many prominent pro-life candidates went down in flames along with various pro-life measures on the ballot in several states. The first openly practicing homosexual was elected to the U.S. Senate. What I’ve described above is just the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say, a brief survey of the 2012 elections shows us a dismal outlook for the future of our nation.
Like almost every election in recent memory, this was a fundamental clash of worldviews. In many ways, today’s national elections serve as a measurement of our collective values. From what we can see, America is quickly becoming a secular nation while at the same time becoming less and less tolerant of biblical Christianity. A result like that is to be expected in a secularizing nation. What many of us didn’t expect was how rapid this transformation would take place. So what is really going on and what does this mean for the church?
In biblical terms, what is happening in America (along with the rest of the Western world) is the judgment of Almighty God. His wrath is being poured out upon our nation. I’m not even talking about national calamities or natural disasters, though God can (and does) use those as a means of judgment. It is clear that the people of our land have actively suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18) as they tolerate numerous forms of evil. When God’s judgment is manifested in the life of a nation, it begins with God giving a people over to a debased mind to do such wicked things (vv. 24-32). Notice in Rom. 1:32 that this doesn’t include just the individuals who practice such depravity, but also those who merely approve of their actions.
In our nation today, God is openly mocked and blasphemed without any shame whatsoever. Sexual relations outside of marriage are no longer considered immoral. Homosexuality is not just tolerated, but promoted as a morally acceptable alternative lifestyle. The slaughter of unborn children is considered a constitutional right, promoted as a moral good, and now a majority of voters apparently wants it to be funded with our tax-dollars. Meanwhile the Republicans nominated their party’s most pro-abortion candidate since Gerald Ford. The GOP leadership is now talking about jettisoning their party’s pro-life stance in order to better appeal to the voters. Their stance on the marriage issue will probably be on the chopping block as well.
In addition to the policies mentioned above, both of the major political parties eschew the rule of law, launch unjust wars, promote social programs which degrade the biblical work-ethic, advance policies which oppress the poor, and eliminate any notion of fairness. A brief survey of the political landscape of America dispels the myth that we are a “Christian nation.” As many have pointed out, we have entered what is called a “post-Christian” era.
Will there be persecution in the years to come? I don’t know if I want to use that term. Nobody is going to be burned at the stake and the American church is the freest in the world. Yet suffice to say it may in fact become more difficult for Christians to live out the faith. As a professor of mine once said, we are moving away from a situation of religious liberty into a state of religious toleration in which the government sets fixed boundaries for religious expression. Given what is happening with the Federal health care mandates, the horizon doesn’t look good. I suspect that eventually there may be a 21st century equivalent of the Clarendon Code which our leaders in D.C. would use to enforce the growing secularism of our day.
As we look all around us, there are very few people willing to stand in the gap. I wonder if this election (and the general trajectory of politics these days) is God’s way of chastening the church for being focused too much on politics–too much on the things of this world. How much of a difference would there be if we gave evangelism the same time and energy that we give to politics? For a long time, Christians in America have put politics above the Gospel. This was evident during the campaign season as many prominent Christian organizations were willing to downplay the fact that Mormonism is a non-Christian cult just so they could cozy up to Romney.
In simple terms, we have an identity crisis. The church needs to start being the church again. In other words, the church must recognize her place in this present evil age. Do we want to be identified with the things of this world which are passing away or do we want to be known as an extension of that which is eternal? That’s who we are–the already, but not yet. Yet even with this advice, I must caution my readers to be balanced in this approach. We don’t want to go from one extreme to another. While Christians shouldn’t make politics their sole focus, neither should they adopt the Anabaptist position of non-involvement. Burying our heads in the sand won’t accomplish anything. We ought to use the freedoms we still have (and there are many) to fight for our liberties in the political arena.
We need to be upfront and vocal about praying for our President. Christians make a huge mistake when they speak ill of the man. If his policies are so horrible (and I believe they are), then this is all the more reason we ought to be on our knees before God, praying that Obama’s heart will be changed. We should also pray for members of Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as our State and local governments. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to pray for those who rule over us. This is our duty as believers.
The church isn’t a political party or a vehicle for “social change.” We need to recognize the limitations of state power, its temporal nature, and the proper role of the church as she relates to the state and the rest of the world. James Henley Thornwell said it best:
[The church] is not, as we fear too many are disposed to regard it, a moral institute of universal good, whose business it is to wage war upon every form of human ill, whether social, civil, political, moral, and to patronize every expedient which a romantic benevolence may suggest as likely to contribute to human comfort…. The problems which the anomalies of our fallen state are continually forcing on philanthropy, the church has no right directly to solve. She must leave them to providence, and to human wisdom sanctified and guided by the spiritual influences which it is her glory to foster and cherish. The church is a very peculiar society;…it is the kingdom of her Lord Jesus Christ.
Should we express moral outrage at the results of this election? We most definitely should as we don’t want to grow numb to the evil we see before us. The church has an obligation to call evil for what it is, a practice which is compromised when the church gets immersed in politics. Our hope is not in the civil state or any other temporal sphere of the world. Our hope is in the one true and living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer is that these recent events will serve to spur a reformation within the church. With this in mind, perhaps the best reaction to this election is to boldly proclaim the Gospel in this land all the more.