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; he adamantly defends the right of a women to abort her child. 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, who, according to the Washington Post, left his wife and daughters to fulfill his lust for another man. I disagree with President Obama on the issue of global warming, 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, 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. I disagree with President Obama’s definition of sin, which he says is “being out of alignment with my values.”
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.
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.