Yesterday Rod Dreher posted a piece, noting, “You can’t build a movement on the rage and unreason of radio talkers and expect that the weaponized grievance will stay pointed at liberals only.” This has long been a concern of mine for biblical reasons. As we say in our book, Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption:
Christians are sometimes in danger of becoming so accustomed to the status quo that they fail to realize that the way things work is worldly in the negative biblical sense. Worldliness isn’t limited to entertainment or dress. Worldliness can be found in every aspect of life, including political activities. It is possible for worldliness to be present in political discourse–even the political discourse of people who are right about the issues.
Paul admonished Christians to render to Nero the honor that God said he was due (Rom. 13:7), and Paul himself determined to render the biblically required honor to a corrupt high priest (Acts 23:4-5). So today Christian citizens ought to render the honor their leaders are owed by virtue of their office.
Honoring leaders doesn’t mean they’re above critique, even searching critique. If they’re acting unlawfully (by God’s law or just human laws), then the Christian, like John the Baptist, can forthrightly state this even if it results in being jailed. But Christians should be able to deliver these critiques in a way that still renders due honor.
Even if the political opponent could be considered an enemy in the fullest sense of the term, Christians are to love their enemies. This means that the Christian should treat his political opponents with kindness (1 Cor. 13:4). He shouldn’t rejoice when political opponents are caught in wrongdoing (13:6). Believers shouldn’t be arrogant or rude when dealing with poltiical opponents (13:4-5). Nor should they be irritable or resentful when their opponents win (13:5). The Christian shouldn’t believe every negative assertion made against his opponents, nor should he dismiss negative reports about his own side. The Christian should be scupuous about being fair and truthful to all parties.
Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Teacher’s Edition, 275.
Later we note:
Within the context of government, Paul tells Christians to ‘speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people’ (Titus 3:2).
This sounds unrealistic. Is Paul really saying that a Christian can’t say anything negative about a political opponent? Can he not argue with his policies or expose his corruption? That isn’t what Paul means when he says, ‘Speak evil of no one,’ but he’s still saying something that serves as a sharp critique of American political practice. The Greek word that underlies ‘speak evil’ is the verb from which we get the word blaspheme. Paul is prohibiting angry or abusive speech, insults, slander, and defamation.
Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Teacher’s Edition, 281.
I’ve wondered more than once this election season about the potential that our electoral choices in November might reflect a judgment of God. If it is a judgment, we might do well to consider that it may be a judgment upon us for our own sins and not only for the sins of others.