Friday, January 23, 2009

Supporting a President You Disagree with

I would like to address a question that I’ve been asked frequently since the election of our new 44th President Barack Obama. The question is, “Can we support a President with whom we have serious disagreements?”

Before I answer that question, let me emphasize the fact that I do have serious disagreements with President Barack Obama. These disagreements are on crucial issues.

For instance, I disagree with President Obama on the issue of life. Though he thinks that determining when life begins is a question he can’t answer[1]; he adamantly defends the right of a women to abort her child.[2] To put it another way, he is not committed to putting an end to the painful killing of innocent human beings. I also disagree with Obama’s lauding the gay Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson[3], who, according to the Washington Post, left his wife and daughters to fulfill his lust for another man.[4] I disagree with President Obama on the issue of global warming[5], just as I disagreed with Al Gore on the issue of Y2K. If you’re spending money on mythology, it precludes the possibly of spending those same resources on issues that affect the poor and the downtrodden. I disagree with President Obama in lauding T.D. Jakes[6], who has clearly manipulated and pillaged the poor with his silly occult metaphysical constructs disguised in the garb of biblical pretext. I disagree with President Obama in his mischaracterizations of the Bible, including his statement that Bible suggests slavery is ok.[7] I disagree with President Obama’s definition of sin, which he says is “being out of alignment with my values.”[8]



Despite all of the above disagreements, the question still remains, “Can I support a President with whom I have strong disagreements?” The answer is this: Absolutely! Yes I can. Just as Rick Warren prayed for Obama at the inauguration, which was quite a mesmerizing event, I think we should pray for and support our new President.

Here’s what the apostle Paul said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom 13:1). That’s a foundational principle, and we should underscore that principle in our minds.

We should submit to and, in some sense, support political leaders with whom we strongly disagree; unless of course they command us to do specifically what God forbids or prevents us from doing. If he’s asking us to do something that God forbids, or if he’s preventing us from doing something that God demands, obviously we can’t accept that and there is biblical precedent for that.

Remember the Jewish ruling regime that commanded the apostles not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. What did Peter and John do? They said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Of course what did they see and hear? The saw and heard from the resurrected Christ. Therefore, they were first committed to Christ in a milieu in which Caesar was hailed as Lord, they were going to say, “No! “Christ is Lord” and He is our ultimate King and Ruler, and we are going to obey Him before all other things.

Here’s the bottom line, the Bible commands us to pray for our governing authorities. If you look at what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2: 1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” So again we have an opportunity to be good citizens, and we may disagree and thankfully in our country we can have our disagreements heard, we can make a difference; we have a place a the table. In fact we should be involved in political debate, education, and the arts, but ultimately we should serve our King, and help extend His kingdom, because there is going to come a time when the nations are ruled by Jesus Christ.

God himself will live with us and be our God and we will be His people. He says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4). We heard all sorts of soaring rhetoric about what we can do as human beings, but the bottom line is this, we live in a cursed creation, there’s always going to be turmoil and trouble, but we can look beyond that to the hope and the promise which is Paradise lost is going to become Paradise restored. In that day, we are going to have true peace and prosperity, and we’re going to be able to do things then that we can’t do now. We look forward to that which we do not have, and we wait for it patiently and in the meantime: “Yes!” The answer is, we can pray for and support President Barack Obama.

1. CNN: CNN Live Event/Special: Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum, Saturday, August 16, 2008.

2. Barack Obama Website, Issues: Women (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/womenissues). Accessed January 22, 2009.

3. Laurie, Goodstein, “Gay Bishop Is Asked to Say Prayer at Inaugural Event”, The New York Times, January 12, 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/us/13prayer.html). Accessed January 22, 2009.

4. Alan Cooperman, "A Divided Episcopal Church?; Conservative Faction Opposed to Decisions on Gays Seeks Own Province, "The Washington Post, August 09, 2003, Saturday, Final Edition, Section A, Pg. A03

5. Barack Obama Website, Issues: Energy and Environment (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy). Accessed January 22, 2009.

6. Barack Obama Website, News and Speeches: Call to Renewal Keynote Address” (http://www.barackobama.com/2006/06/28/call_to_renewal_keynote_address.php). Accessed January 22, 2009.

7. Ibid.

8. Steven Waldman, Beliefnet, “Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani”, a transcript of a 2004 interview Obama gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. (http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/11/obamas-interview-with-cathleen.html). Accessed January 22, 2009.

18 comments:

John Tucker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Tucker said...

Hank,

In my view, supporting President Obama means supporting his policies and vision for America and hoping he succeeds as President with his agenda. I cannot do this. However, I can, and do, pray for him just as I pray for all the leaders of our nation: that they will come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your ministry and continued battle for the Truth.

In Christ,
John T.

Anonymous said...

Hank,

Sorry about the first comment.

We're just tired of people bashing Christian films, but you're a good guy and we truly regret the tone of the response.

Please forgive us.

God bless!

O.B.

Leslie said...

Thank you for this post - I needed to hear the things you had to say on the subject. The very question of supporting a president I disagree with has been on my mind ever since the election. Thank you for the clarity and I'll definitely forward your post to those I know who are struggling with that same question.

Dominick said...

Mr Tucker he didn't say support Obamas liberal policies that go against scripture he said support him as a person, president, and obey as far as it doesn't oppose your commitment to Christ. Great article thank you Dr Hanegraaff! You're such a blessing to the family of God, and it's such a contrast to the typical emotionalistic, rabid, if not barbaric posts that people online try to continue to spread. God bless you.

John Tucker said...

Dominick, I read Hank's article carefully and understood it perfectly. :) However, as I've already stated, "In my view, supporting President Obama means supporting his policies and vision for America and hoping he succeeds as President with his agenda." This doesn't mean I am not praying for his salvation, protection, etc. I guess one could say that I'm supporting him AS A PERSON through my prayers. -John

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I am supporting President Obama's policies and vision for America and hoping he succeeds as President with his agenda. But then, I voted for him, in February, and again in November. He's not perfect. He's not any kind of messiah. He doesn't claim to be. But what he offers represents something closer to practice of Christian values than anything I have seen in my life time, at least as close as a worldly government can approach.

RC Metcalf said...

Hi Hank,

I agree with everything you said! I would simply add that I also disagree with Obama's policies on the Middle East and Homeland Security. Nevertheless, we MUST support him with our prayers, praying not only for our country but also for his personal awakening.

Hope you're doing well!

RC Metcalf

reality check said...

Absolutely ridiculous! I guess Paul didn’t realize that God was going to put the anti-christ into authority when he wrote Romans 13. So when the anti-christ enforces his policy of receiving the mark, I’ll be sure to follow Paul straight to Rev 20:4.

Siarlys, you are a Socialist and you can get out of my country. Move to Venezuela since you like socialism so much. My 16 month old daughter thanks you for voting to tax her into debt with the stimulus bill that was just passed.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but delusions of the anti-christ can never hurt me. What alternate reality are you checking in from? Hank is always coherent, thoughtful, and well grounded in Scripture, whether I agree with his conclusions or not. It would be nice to keep the Comments to the same level of coherence and courtesy. This country has 300 million sovereigns, so nobody should get too possessive about it. As to how you deal with a president you disagree with... after every election, between 40 and 49% of us have a president we disagree with. It is part of the American experience.

reality check said...

Siarlys, your still a socialist by definition, whether that definition breaks your bones or not, I do not care.

Our President has sworn to uphold our Constitution, not his liberal socialist interpretation of the Constitution. He is leading our country into Socialism and when we disagree against his tyranny, he will enforce his liberal interpretations by gun and then we will be communist.

Hank is well grounded in whatever interpretation serves him and his business best, just like our President.

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."

reality check said...

oops, one more thing Siarlys; Socialism has never been part of "The American Experience". Hence, what reality are you checking in from?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

My dear master of unreality, if you can't be courteous, at least recognize that your words and my words are two different things. YOU described me as "a socialist" knowing nothing about me except that I appreciate what Hank offers for discussion, and that I have no regrets over having voted twice for President Obama. Whatever Barack Obama is, he is not a socialist. I ought to know, because I am (previously unbeknownst to you) a devoted fan of a great home-grown American socialist, one who was definitely an inseparable part of the American experience, Eugene Victor Debs.

I guess you pop up so often because previous contributors found there was nothing further to say. As the old proverb goes, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Now what happened to the notion, so widely talked up in the past eight years, that "God chooses our leaders"? With or without Paul's permission, did God put the anti-christ into office? Really? I find that hard to believe. But then, people said things equally uncomplimentary of Abraham Lincoln.

And now, I will follow the wise example of others before me, and say nothing more, remembering the adage "Never argue with a fool, people might not be able to tell the difference." Go ahead, insult me by also remaining silent.

Psalm 22 Ministries said...

Great perspective!

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Anonymous said...

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AJ said...

Glad to read your article "Supporting a President You Disagree With." I disagree with Obama on similar grounds.

I am saddened, however, that you did not publish the same article during the presidency of George Bush, who had as many repulsive policies as Obama, only with a difference in that Bush's policies and world-view supported greed, aggression, torture, irresponsibility and treachery of the wealthy, and loathing and oppression of the poor.

That you would publish your article now implies that you--like most other conservative politicians, but very unlike our Lord--put sins in ranking order. To you, some sins are bigger and badder than others.

I pray that all other people who read or listen to you do so with a critical and discerning ear, too.