Living As Christians In The New Administration
Uniting Behind Our New President
“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”
And so it was that with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible, our new president was sworn in to hold the most powerful office in the world. He assumes the presidency with a soaring approval rating and with the expectation that he will begin a new and significant chapter in American history. Back in 1963 Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a dream” speech to a large crowd on the Washington Mall never thinking that forty-five years later an African American would assume the presidency. No matter who we voted for, we must all agree that this was a historic occasion that deserves our attention, support, and prayers.
Our new president enters the Oval Office with a host of major problems confronting him. Internationally, there is of course the volatile Middle East with a cluster of countries waiting to test his mettle. Domestically, there is the economy, whose future is uncertain. Add to that a dozen other challenges and you can see that his “inbox is full.”
Obama got his start politically here in Chicago, organizing to improve the lot of poor communities. He was elected to state government before running for the US Senate and in that race he won handily over his challenger. He has self-consciously taken on the mantle of Abraham Lincoln and throughout his campaign has made parallels between the famed sixteenth president and himself. Just as Lincoln sought to unify the North and the South during a time of slavery, Obama wants to heal our land at a time of division and fear.
Both Lincoln and Obama hail from Illinois and both began their presidential bid from the Old State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln gave his famous “house divided” speech. Both men served four terms in the Illinois General Assembly. A few days before his inauguration, Obama rode the train to Washington following the same route as Lincoln. Little wonder the Chicago Tribune opined that Obama was “obsessed” with Lincoln.
No matter who we voted for in November, this is the time for all of us to unite behind our new president. We must pray for him and his cabinet; we must support him with our words and deeds. The biblical mandate is clear that we must honor those who have the rule over us and show our loyalty by obeying the laws of the land—unless, of course, those laws violate our conscience.
The ascension of Obama to the presidency says something good about America: we are willing to put race aside and vote for a man with a funny-sounding name and different-colored skin. No wonder African Americans believe that they have taken a giant step toward equality. But the election of Obama also says something else about America: it appears as if we are willing to set aside “family values” in the interest of pragmatism and a promise of change.
Our political process never gives us a clear choice where one candidate is right on all the issues and the other is always wrong; we must balance our options. Democracy is not a perfect form of government, but clearly it is better than the alternatives.
Are Hard Times Ahead for the Church?
Hope, fear, celebration, anger… the election of President Barack Obama brought all these emotions and more to the people of America. And while the election of our first African American president is undoubtedly a milestone, many Christians wonder if his policies will mean hard times ahead. Let’s hear what Pastor Lutzer has to say.
Q: In the article you mentioned that it appears as if America is willing to sacrifice family values in favor of other considerations. Elaborate.
A: Well, as we know President Obama has always been “pro-choice,” that is, he is in favor of liberal laws regarding abortion; he has also said he is in favor of “gay unions” which is basically homosexual marriage by another name. While McCain was a controversial figure, he did oppose both of the above agendas. The importance of these issues cannot be overstated; in fact, we will only understand how important these matters are if and when our president chooses to fulfill some of the promises he made regarding these issues.
Q: What other issues did you think were important during the campaign?
A: We have good reason to believe that the issue of Hate Speech will come before the congress very shortly. This means, for example, that if we as pastors were to speak about the biblical view of homosexuality from the pulpit and someone in the congregation then committed a crime against a homosexual, we as pastors would also be guilty. One member of congress said that funds must be set aside to prosecute those who engage in hate speech because it is “domestic terrorism.” In short, the purpose of hate speech is to criminalize free speech. The implications for freedom of religion are chilling.
Also, the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that many Democrats support means that if a controversial point of view is presented on radio or television, the stations would have to provide equal time for rebuttal. Think of what this would do to Christian stations throughout the country!
Q: Do you think that the election of Obama will be a plus for better relationships with the Muslim world?
A: I hope so, but I also fear it could be an opportunity for their ideals to make further inroads into our universities, financial institutions, and government at all levels. Their goal of conquest is well established and their methods are well known. Europe is further down that road than we are and so it is just a matter of time before Western Civilization in Europe will be replaced by Muslim rule. The freedoms Europe has known will come to an end. In some countries, that could still happen in our lifetime.
Q: What is the role of the church under this new administration and the challenges which lie ahead?
A: First, the church has to be the church, representing Christ in a broken world. This means that we have to keep loving the world and being agents of reconciliation and hope. We do this by both preaching the Gospel and living out its implications. Second, we are to be good citizens, involved in all levels of government and society. The Bible is clear regarding our responsibility of praying for those who have the rule over us, paying our taxes and helping the poor.
Q: The early church did not have any representation in the Roman Government, and yet they changed their society. How did that happen?
A: The holy lives lived by the early Christians repelled the world, and at the same time their love attracted the world. By their courage and love of the Gospel they turned their world around.
As the Christian influence in America continues to wane, we are finding ourselves in a similar culture where all views are tolerated except the exclusive claims of Christianity. If we keep in mind that in the New Testament suffering is described as a gift, we will face the future with optimism and joy.