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The election and Christians

Some Christians are overjoyed by yesterday’s election results and others are wearing sackcloth and ashes this morning. The election represents a lot of things. In general, it’s a “throw the bums out” result, a repudiation of war, of bad economic policies, and of divisive and cynical politics. &…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Some Christians are overjoyed by yesterday’s election results and others are wearing sackcloth and ashes this morning. The election represents a lot of things. In general, it’s a “throw the bums out” result, a repudiation of war, of bad economic policies, and of divisive and cynical politics.
 
And now the blogosphere is full of Christians reading the tea leaves.  “It’s God’s judgment on America,” they say.  “This ushers in the end times,” they say.  “The United States is godless,” they say.
 
What a limited, foolish response.  We Christians need to wake up and smell the coffee this morning.  If it’s a sharp, leftward swing, then those who have held power and have proudly worn the “born-again Christian” label have deserved it.  We haven’t seen such arrogance in our leaders since Nixon abused power back in the early 70’s.  Whatever else it was, it was decidedly not a “Christian” way to govern. 
 
What can we who follow Jesus learn from the last eight years?  Well, here are some actions that, it would seem, showed a lack of the humility and charity that Jesus espouses:
  • Compromising principles to broaden the political base.
  • A failure to make tough decisions about spending, resulting in an emphasis on consumerism that our grandchildren will have to pay for.
  • Hiring arrogant, unaccountable men like Rove, Rumsfield, and Cheney.
  • Hiring arrogant, incompetent men like Gonzalez and Brown.
  • A failure to include those with opposing views in the governing process.
  • A lack of humility in communicating with the American people.
There are a number of high profile Christians who equated voting Republican with following Jesus.  They put an emphasis on policies above character.  Last month my mailbox was full of junk mail from Christian leaders telling me how to vote.  They need to go back to the work of ministry and stop trying to do what Jesus never did* – that being to take his ministry to the political arena.
 
People are sick of so-called ministries like “Concerned Women” that exist to get Republicans elected.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t push for policies that Jesus would endorse.  But Jesus was more interested in character and accountability than he was in fighting for better government. In fact, Jesus, ever the champion of the underdog, spent a lot of energy tweaking an arrogant establishment in the same way that those voting for Obama tweaked the Bush administration.
 
People who follow Jesus and have used his name to leverage the candidacies of those who who have been unaccountable need to take two giant steps back and evaluate their complicity in giving the movement he started 2000 years ago a black eye.
 
*See yesterday’s blog for more on fighting in the wrong arena.

Comments (28)

  • B, this is so good… I woke up feeling spiritually exhausted this morning from absorbing all the political buzz from pretty much everywhere I turn. Last year a teammate and I spent some time reading and thinking about the civic religion of Christianity and how that can be detrimental to the way we walk out our faith when those lines of faith and politics gets crossed. The best kingdom on earth (even this is debatable) is still never going to be the Kingdom on God. How we love people is what matters… laws and people with political authority can’t govern the heart. thanks for bringing more light to this subject!

  • Seth,
    This is a very important message!
    One we all need to hear.
    I am excited about the change that we have in front of us over the next four years.
    God Bless America!

  • Sorry, Seth. But it seems arrogant to me for you to call faithful members of the Body of Christ stupid. (Those who say “this is God’s judgement.”) Personally, my hope is in Jesus, not a political party. But I appreciate brothers and sisters who understand what happens when the foundations are destroyed. And those who remember our roots. God does still speak to nations. He has spoken. But why is it that His body is not hearing the same message? Why are we divided and pointing fingers at each other? I had no great hope in McCain/Palin, but it astounds me that followers of Christ could rejoice over Obama being President of this nation. Call me stupid, but I believe the delusion will break eventually into great sorrow. We may not be of America, but we are in it. And there will be repercussions for generations to come.

  • Seth,

    Definitely agree on some of the critiques against Pres. Bush. Also, Christians are to be corrected/rebuked for putting too much faith in a politician to bring about spiritual ideals – that is clearly not the role of government. I myself have serious reservations about some of his actions. Yet, in fairness it should be said that he had a difficult road and he did not do everything wrong.

    However, when my two little boys have a very real chance of being taught that same-sex “marriage” is just as valid as heterosexual marriage, when a candidate like President-elect Obama supports abortion as vehemently as he does, I’m truly concerned about America’s direction. Here’s the thing, though: our spiritual state of apostasy, humanism and watered-down “Christian” materialism would have brought an Obama to the forefront sooner or later.

    My beef what what you said today is that I believe people like Dobson who are working legislatively to hold back the tide (the legislative results of our spiritual trends, above) are protecting innocent people like my children, and protecting, at least for a while, the proclamation of all of God’s truth from the pulpits. It’s not the kingdom of God breaking in, but it is an outward working of that kingdom, using natural means, to accomplish goals consistent with God’s kingdom – similar to what Wilberforce did in England. Yes, sometimes the talk and the expectation that some Christians & pastors have – that “if we just get this law or this candidate passed, then things will be OK” makes me nervous. However, that being said, I believe the legislative work is buying us more time to speak the truth of God’s kingdom. If hate speech legislation goes forward, and my hunch is Pres. Obama will want to see that happen, we are looking at serious ramifications for the proclamation of the kingdom.

    So yes, Christians who seem to be marrying God’s work with legislation need to know their true kingdom priorities. But, like Wilberforce, kingdom priorities do not eliminate things like campaigns for Proposition 8 here in CA, for example.
    I think I’ve gone on enough and it’s early.

  • Whatever reservations I have about Barak Obama, I cannot help but feel an incredible joy this morning in being an American.

    I love freedom! I love equality!

    To arrive on a slave ship, suffer through some of the greatest atrocities known to man and then rise above it all to become president of the United States of America is a great victory for freedom everywhere.

    I pray God will give President Obama wisdom. I pray that Obama will lead this nation in righteousness. That’s a big request but God says, “Is my arm too short that it cannot save?”

    As I type that, I hear the battle-call in the fight for unborn children. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world. There can be no doubt about that!

    Let’s persevere in prayer. God’s kingdom reigns no matter who sits in the oval office.

  • “To arrive on a slave ship, suffer through some of the greatest atrocities known to man and then rise above it all to become president of the United States of America is a great victory for freedom everywhere.”

    Ummm, Obama is not a descendant of traditional African Americans who were brought over as slaves hundreds of years ago. He flew over on an airplane from Kenya (or was it Indonesia?).

  • Seth wrote, “We haven’t seen such arrogance in our leaders since Nixon abused power back in the early 70’s.”

    Seth, please give me some examples of this arrogance. Honestly, (maybe b/c I’ve been out of touch in China) I can’t say that I have seen the “arrogance” that you say is so prevalent.

    Or is the arrogance just your perception based on your disagreement with decisions made?

  • I think it all comes down to that some “christians” give other christians a bad name.. sometimes myself i hate to say im a christian because of the actions of others it reflects on me. I just think its sad that when it comes time to vote that many vote for a certain person for all the wrong reasons, instead of being educated in why they are voting , and instead of going to God and praying Lord who is that you want in office . This election wasnt a surprise to God, they key is can we stand together and pursue for changes , and to be this country back to where we can be proud of it again.

  • Obviously there’s a lot of passion out there on this subject – it hits close to home. I appreciate all of your responses. We must begin listening to one another better. I accept Kathy’s rebuke of my use of the word “stupid.” I changed it to read “foolish” and want to emphasize I’m talking about actions people took, not the people themselves. I do a lot of stupid things myself; we all do. But those who serve us as public servants just need to be held accountable for their actions.

    Eugene would like an example of the Bush administration’s arrogance. I invite your response. Here’s one that I’m personally familiar with: My good friend David Iglesias and a group of his fellow U.S. Attorneys were inappropriately fired by Attorney General Gonzalez. The story is recounted in Dave’s book, “In Justice” and summarized in this blog: https://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=my-college-buddy-is-a-star-witness-in-a-scandal

  • I personally voted for Alan Keyes not because I thought he would win, but because I think he is right. That said, I was very impressed with President Elect Obama’s victory speech and am hopeful that this time, performance matches the promise. In the end, it will come down to what you identified, Seth: will he (and his colleagues in Congress) be humble servants or will this be another cycle of political revenge and partisanship?

    I continue to be concerned with America’s disregard for the sanctity of all life (for example, it looks like parental notification prior to teenage abortion will go down here in California), but I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will eventually lead us from this moral blindness…..

  • I agree most with one thing here, WE must get out of the political arena – from the standpoint of where we put our time and trust. Honestly IF as “Christians” we would start to LOVE like JESUS loved… we would not NEED a law to outlaw abortion or same sex marriage. The MORALITY of the country is NOT set by LAWS it is a MATTER OF HEART!!! I encourage all those who were so active in this campaign on ‘biblical” issues to now turn their focus to the STREETS where the lost and broken are in desperate need of your LOVE, no matter what political party is in charge. It is time to ADOPT pregnant teens AND their babies. It is time to LOVE the prostitutes and homosexuals…LOVE them (not preach to them or govern them) into the KINGDOM of GOD.. into the ARMS OF GOD!

    One thing is sure… EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE SHAKEN IS BEING SHAKEN!!!

    IT IS TIME FOR THE BRIDE TO ARISE!!!

    Many feel they can’t put their trust in OBAMA – GOOD!!!!!! PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD!!! The morality of this country is in the hand of true FOLLOWERS OF JESUS… It is time to pick up the sword people. GOD IS ON THE THRONE!!!!

    I BLESS PRESIDENT OBAMA… as David BLESSED Saul…. I pray for Obama, his family, his cabinet Lord….. Encounter him Jesus with your wisdom and revelation. Hold back the enemy Lord, send angels to take guard over him. I ask for you God to bless this man, and I ask for mercy for America! Help us to shift or focus Lord, give us grace Lord, give us wisdom. I ask for UNITY in the Body now more than ever God… The enemy would seek to divide us, Lord help us to supernaturally LOVE, to BLESS those that curse us, to stand firm in our walk with you, and to let the LIGHT of GOD shine forth to the darkness.

  • Thanks for sharing that story, Seth. Honestly, I had never heard of that scandal at all (probably b/c I was in China).

    But for each of the five names you mentioned in your blog as an example of someone incompetent, unaccountable, or arrogant, I can’t help but think that there are dozens or even hundreds of people who have been working for us these past 8 years who would not fall into any of these categories.

    It seems a little arrogant to paint the whole administration for the past 8 years with one and the same brush.

  • Seth,

    It has been a while since I looked at your blog but I was intrigued this morning to see what you had written.

    I am not sure what I feel at this point about what you wrote. I have been disappointed by our leadership for a long time. But, more importantly I have been disappointed by my fellow believers. And I have been disappointed by my own walk. I personally have spent way too much time worrying about this temporal world and not enough time engaged in the work of the Kingdom of God. Obama (or McCain had he been elected)cannot do anything that God does not infact allow. God in His sovereignty raises up who HE wills.

    President Bush had many issues, that is true. But, I must remember to thank him for his firm hand in the light of 9/11/2001. Who could forget that time? My heart aches for the families who lost loved ones in that terrible time.

    It remains to be seen just how all of this will play out. I agree that we must focus on living as Jesus would have lived. His grace, his mercy and his love need to be extended to all that we come in contact with. And our hearts, each and every one of us, need to be humbled to ask God for His wisdom and His will in all aspects of our lives.

    Thank you for daring to write what may not always be well received!

  • Carol,
    Thanks for writing that last line.
    This is what I love about Seth’s posts. He writes what others may not want to hear, or even think about!!
    I for one DEEPLY appreciate it!

  • Posted this on my facebook, hope you don’t mind, in hopes that all Christians who are currently judging a situation that God is in control of will read it! Thanks for this post Seth!

  • Thanks to Rob for expressing my thoughts and concerns more intelligently. Thanks to Eugene for pointing out that there are noble and unsavory “characters” in both parties. Thanks to Brandon for letting it all hang out. I’m wanting to understand, as best I can, the thinking of the upcoming generation. (I know I’m assuming you are a young adult; sorry if I’m wrong.) I love the sincerity and zeal I see for Jesus, yet it SEEMS there’s a disconnect with true history. I know the schools have somewhat rewritten history, and definitely excluded the presence of God in its retelling. It APPEARS their agenda has been effective even upon believers. Does the younger generation see its need for the older members of the Body of Christ, their perspective and some of the positives they have handed down? (It’s not ALL bad.) There is plenty to react to from the last few decades, but God sees and remembers the sacrifices and labors of generations past (those who fought in the revolution and founded our nation, and gave us the freedom to have such discussions) and is not unjust to forget it. If we react to only the times we are in, our perspective is skewed. Thanks to Seth for your posts that have brought life to us these last couple years.

  • well written seth. speak it. the truth is ultimately God is sovereign and that’s all that matters, not who leads this country. He works all things for good. i love your blog man. God bless you!

  • I like and support George Bush on lots of issues (to name two: prolife and Iraq). The surge worked. A war does cost alot of money and I believe this election was lost on economic issues not so much moral issues. I believe some conservatives voted liberal as a back lash of losing “MY” money (not God’s money). I think everyone is a sinner, Republican or Democrat so I don’t expect perfection from a Republican (if someone breaks the law prosecute them). Ideologically I try to vote against things like: The Fairness doctrine, abortion on demand for any reason at any time, and certain types of marriage. I will certainly pray for President-elect Obama and I genuinely like him even though I do not agree with him on essential issues and did not vote for him.
    As far as judgment on the land, I think we had better be careful. Seth (or any helpful soul) do you know the verse that says God judges a land based more on the behavior of the “believers” than non-believers. I’ll try to find it but it has been a while since I read it, maybe Ezekiel?. Thanks Seth.

  • Kathy, you have some GREAT posts! Thank you! Seth, I love your heart… love your courage.

    Seperating Christianity and politics is what got us into this anyway. I pray that more Christians would go into polotics (real Christ followers!). Polotics is a mission field! Babies being killed are orphans too.

    I, personally, am quite discouraged with the whole abortion, gay marriage… situation at hand… it is a situation you know….

    As for God’s judgement… well He does judge, and He judges nations. Why would any of these statements not be accurate. There are great prophecy teachers out there that feel this way. They study the Scriptures and have revelation that the average joe (or American in this case) does not have!

    Having said all that, I will be faithful to pray for my new president… already been on my face for him!

  • An intereting and provakative post. We need to be careful as followers of Christ to not be judgmentmntal. Lets face it, none of the choices in the last 3 elections (yesterdays included) have been what anyone would call great. Bush did good things and bad things, as we all do. Obama will do good things and bad things. I’d agree that as a stereotype, most Christians have been fervently Republican to their detriment. We’ve allowed and expected the government to do what we should be doing as a church – caring for each other, following God based on His word not on laws. This has made lots of current problems. Nevertheless, we are called to be loving to, pray for, and respect those over us, both those who are currently leading as well as those who will be leading in January. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Thank you for so elequently putting into words what many of us have been afraid to express. As a 53 year old Christian wife, mother, and grandmother, I have been so discouraged over the past decade with the idea that you must be a Republican to be a Christian. Although I don’t espouse everything in the Democratic party, I truly believe it is the party of “all the people” – not just the elite. It is the party that works diligently to end social injustice and to give a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in need. Personally I would much rather my money (taxes) be spent on those programs than to fatten the coffers of big businesses and their top executives. Trickle down economics does not work – as evidenced by the last eight years. As you can tell I am a Christian but not a Republican.

    I also was inundated with awful smear emails during this election – one of which was so vile and slanderous that I could not believe that it was being circulated by “Christians”. This email also went to my daughter living and working in the Middle East. She responded in such a thoughtful and mature manner that I would like to share her response with you:
    “I find this email very dangerous and deceiving. I live in the Muslim world, and I can guarantee you that we as Americans and as Christians are not at war with “the Muslim world.” I have learned more about the importance of prayer, faith, and obedience from my Muslim friends in Egypt than I have from the Christians there. “The Muslims” have absolutely NOT said that they plan on destroying the US from the inside out. While there is a very small percentage of Muslim extremists that commit terrorist acts, they are not at all the majority. Just like there is a very small percentage of extremists in the Christian church who have murdered doctors and bombed abortion clinics. I should hope that people don’t judge Christians based on the actions of the extremists within our own faith. In the Bible, God does not call us as Christians to be “at war” with the Muslims. But God does call us to spread the good news and to love all people (especially our enemies) as He loves us. As for Barack Obama’s faith, I believe that if a man proclaims himself to be a Christian, we ought to believe him. I certainly wouldn’t want someone questioning my Christian faith just because of my middle name or a school I went to as a child. Although his father and step-father may have been Muslim, a father’s faith does not automatically become his child’s. Should we question the sincerity of every Christian whose background was not in a Christian home? I may not agree with every policy that Barack Obama stands for, but I certainly believe that we ought to look at both him and John McCain with fair, objective eyes and not believe conspiracy theories that scared people put forth about either one of them. But I do agree with one point that this woman made … that we ought to each pray for the wisdom to make the best individual decision in our election.”

  • and thanks to kathy for posting so many comments which boosts the overall hits to the blog. nice work… 🙂

    no one really talked about how Christians tend to get very moral around election time and make strong statements they don’t make at other times

    no one really talked about how white CHristians in the midwest tend to vote over 1 or 2 issues (abortion; gay rights) but don’t think about the complexity of policy work. IE: being pro life but favoring death penalty and war…we like to be to camp verse camp rather than working together, an issue that Andrea Smith writes about in her book “the gendered politics of unlikely alliances”

    no one really wrote about how CHristians are loud but tend to be lousy activists…attending prayer meetings rather than marching or organizing (which is why Obama won in part because he is an incredible organizer and fund raiser). we project our issues on a national level but tend not to be involved locally. dumb.

    i hosted an election party at the college i work at and of the 150 students that attended and voted 70 voted for obama and 40 for JM. when the declaration was made the “minority” population exploded in celebration that went way beyond a normal presidential celebration (for obvious reasons)…and many of the white kids from the midwest had such fear in their eyes because they thought they had let down God. they think republican is to be CHristian and cannot articulate a spiritual worldview (or kingdom as everyone is saying on this blog) that addresses issues beyond abortion and gay rights. i used to be like that and I don’t know what I am now but I know that I am at least in transition…a dangerous but tough place to be

  • Seth said, “They need to go back to the work of ministry and stop trying to do what Jesus never did* – that being to take his ministry to the political arena.”

    This is a HUGE area I am wrestling in. Our city is corrupt- – terrible city council and many are encouraging my husband to run. We have a ministry in our town and we are a ministering to the poor. The poor in our city are constantly neglected by city and county officials. They now want to put a jail right in the middle of their neighborhood. We have been trying to fight it.

    Should we not fight in this political arena and just let the leaders continue to oppress them? Should we not stand up for justice for the poor?

  • Seth you are dead on my friend. I’m not trying to put words in Seth’s mouth, but it seems to me that he’s not calling christians stupid, but these irrational statements are stupid. And I agree completely. Give me a break! So NOW God’s judgement will fall on America? I’ve got news for any believer that thinks this is God’s judgement. You have a GROSS misunderstanding of the might and judgement of God. When God decides to judge a nation it’s not just His followers that know it. Everyone knows it from the beggar to the king.

    Seems to me that Christians spouted the same garbage when Bill Clinton was elected…the sky is falling the sky is falling! Granted Bill was not my idea of a good leader, but we survived it because Bill wasn’t in control, God was. I’m nauseated by the fear in so many followers of Christ, apparently the Church needs to focus on discipling believers in the knowledge of who God is and who they are In Christ.

    Sorry for the rant, if it’s over the top feel free to remove it, I understand. Great post bro!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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