Our Christianity and the 2012 presidential election

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by Rev. Shane Austin

The Church of Jesus Christ is a very diverse organism composed of individuals from many different ethnic groups, nationalities, cultural backgrounds and, as quiet as it kept, people with varying views on some issues on which even Christian scholars differ.

Shane-Austin
REV. SHANE AUSTIN

The implication of this is that Christians must learn how to disagree without being disagreeable, without becoming cultural imperialists and keeping in mind that what we can all rejoice about together is that our names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

News flash: God is not a White American male. Nothing inherently wrong with being a White American male, but there is also nothing inherently wrong with being a Black American male, or a White or Black American female. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a Latino or Asian male or female. So when we profess to take “Christian” stands, let’s employ some biblical self-criticism and make sure that we don’t put words or thoughts in the Bible that are not there.

God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He’s not even an independent. God is sovereign, period! If you want to participate in our American election process, and you should, then do so. However, don’t pretend that you are siding with the “Christian” political party when you pick a party or candidate to support.

You may disagree with a particular candidate’s stand on an issue or a party’s platform and that is ok. Just remember, you have Christian brothers and sisters who may disagree with you and support the opposite candidate. While you may disagree with them, you have no biblical right to harm them with judgmental disparaging. If this is true of anyone in the church, it is especially true of Christian leaders whether in the Church or in its institutions of learning, etc.

Several decades ago, an avowed Christian by the name of Jimmy Carter ran for re-election to the presidency. The evangelical church was manipulated by some on the political right to oppose his re-election and I would dare to say that most of the Christians who opposed him had no idea what was really behind the marshaling of evangelicals against him. It was not the abortion issue. Rather, it was the stand he took on a particular case of law that went against Bob Jones University regarding its racial policies in controlling the social interaction between Black and White students in its student body. Those who were angry about the legal outcome marshaled the Evangelicals as a voting block to oust the avowed Christian president.

This current presidential election pits a man who is a Christian against a man who is a Mormon. It pits a man who, whether you agree with his views or not, has been consistent in them, against a man who has consistently changed his views to seemingly suit his audience. This election pits a man whose character is only questioned by those who disagree with his politics against a man whose character is questioned even by those who agree with his politics.

Whichever candidate you choose, be honest and simply say you agree with that candidate’s politics. Please don’t pretend you are making “the” Christian choice. You are not. There are unrighteous positions on both sides. There are sinful positions on both sides.

Some of my Christian brethren don’t realize it, but they are subtly being culturally influenced by a culture that does not believe that a Black man is capable of leading this nation or has any right to do so. Just ask Donald Trump and John Sununu.

Just as the Bible teaches that a poor carpenter from Nazareth was a stumbling block to many in the nation in which he was born, a Black man in the most powerful office in this land is a stumbling block to many who knowingly or unknowingly hold cultural values that say this should not be.

Why else would some claim to want to take “our nation back.” Take it back from whom? Did the Russians invade? Has China taken us over? This is not just perpetuated by Whites, there are some Black Christians who exhibit disdain for President Barack Obama as well. Everyone will claim it is because of his stand on this or that issue. Really? So you would agree with everything the candidate of your choice stands for? If that is true, then you have made a political platform your Bible. If that is the case you have raised a political platform higher than the Word of God and that my friend is idolatry.

We must keep in mind that our government is a government … “of the people, by the people and for the people.” I am okay with that to some extent. It is, in my opinion, the best form of government when it works. But it is not the government of the Kingdom of God. Abraham Lincoln may have called this country the “last best hope of earth” but we must not mistake our country for the Kingdom of God. Neither political party can claim to be “God’s party” although some will try to convince you otherwise. Don’t fall for the hype.

This government does not work when half of it is determined to prevent it from working because they want to see the current president fail. To make that a goal and priority borders on treason. To attempt to derail ones’ own economy to make an administration fail is a betrayal of the whole country. And to disrespect the current president is to violate Christian principle.

The Bible states: “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” [1Tim 2:1-3 MESSAGE BIBLE]

Being or voting Republican or Democrat will not get you into heaven. Voting for the pro-life or pro-choice candidate will not secure your eternal well-being. Supporting or rejecting Gay marriage will not constitute your heavenly citizenship. But you can choose to share the love of God with the heterosexual or the homosexual. You just might save a soul. You can choose to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the woman who thinks she has no other choice but to get an abortion and you might save two souls. You can choose to let your life and words show the Republican and the Democrat that God loves them both and you just might save some souls.

President Obama is the president of the United States. He is not my pastor, not my priest, not even my elder. He is our president. Even if you do not agree with him on all things, he is still the president of the United States and therefore deserves honor, respect, and most importantly, our prayers. He must be the president of all citizens of this nation, those who are Christians and those who are not Christian. I do not expect him to be a pastor, that is my calling. I do not expect him to preach against sin. That is my job, not only as a pastor, but as a believer in Christ.

I submit to you this word…

“For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.” [1Pet 2:13,14 New Living Trans]

Keep in mind those of you who represent Christ in life, to raise any political platform above the living Word of God is to risk chasing someone away from Christ, all for the sake of your political view, which at best, can only be partially biblically correct and at worst is not biblical at all.

My name is Shane Austin and I approve this message…

(Reverend Shane Austin is senior pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Oakmont, PA, an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh and program director of the Marriage Sustainer’s program of the TWOgether Pittsburgh project and Family Guidance, Inc. in Sewickley, PA. You can e-mail him at profsha.)

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