About two hours ago, President Obama signed the Health Care bill he has said will define his presidency. Politics aside (this blog has dealt with politics a bit too often recently), the pressing concern for evangelicals has been the effect the bill would have on government-funded abortions. Christian leaders like Al Mohler and Russell Moore have been on the front lines in fighting against the bill for this very reason.
I have a few links for you, all of which I have found very helpful in thinking through the implications of this $940 billion new HCR system. One, here’s an informative Q&A specifically about the bill–how it passed, what this Executive Order for Pro Life Democrats really is, and what it means for abortions. Hat tip to Justin Taylor for the link on his blog this morning. Two, here are some really helpful thoughts from Russell Moore about how we conservative evangelicals should respond to the new bill. Conservative Christians are afraid about all kinds of things under the Obama administration, but we need not fear any temporal government. This part was particularly helpful:
Most of us don’t preach “hellfire and brimstone” sermons anymore, on hell and God’s judgment. But hellfire is exactly what Jesus said we should fear. “And do not fear the ones who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” our Lord tells his disciples. “Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Jesus not only teaches this; he lives it. Jesus doesn’t fear the crowds attempting to stone him. He doesn’t cower before Pilate. He isn’t afraid of the Sanhedrin. He’s confident and tranquil, even when he’s being arrested. But when he faces drinking from the cup of judgment of his Father, he sweats drops of blood.
If we were half as outraged by our own sin and self-deception as we are by the follies of our political opponents, what would be the result? If we rejoiced as much that our names are written in heaven as we do about such trivialities as basketball brackets, what would be the result?
So if what you’re afraid of is a politician or a policy or a culture or the future of Western civilization, don’t give up the conviction but give up the fear. Work for justice. Oppose evil. But do it so that your opponents will see not fear but trust, optimism, and affection.
“So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
Fear God and, beyond that, don’t be afraid.
Amen. Again, read the whole thing.
I remember when Obama was elected, many of my friends and relatives were very concerned about the future of our country. On election night, when the outcome was all but secure, I sent out a mass email to my college friends that Obama had won. The replies varied from minor celebratory remarks (from people with more liberal backgrounds) to rather grave messages (from those in the majority who came from conservative households). Now, this is a conservative, evangelical, historically Baptist campus — most students are very, very conservative politically. So it follows that the high majority of my friends fit into the “grave messages” catagory.
One particular email said something like, “Yes, this will certainly be an interesting four years!” to which another friend retorted, “I don’t understand why the next four years will be any different than the last four years.” His comment sprouted from a general ambivalence about politics and the election. He chose not to vote out of principle — why should we support a pagan American culture by voting in such an election?
I disagree with his statement now more than I did at the time. I am convinced that politics is important, and if we are serious about “engaging the culture for Christ” (as Cedarville relentlessly reaffirms to us — mostly for good reason) then politics is a key battleground in that endeavor. We should be concerned for true justice, mercy and peace, especially for the smallest and most helpless among us — the unborn child. Too many Christians talk about justice and shalom without having any cultural, let alone biblical, understanding of what those terms mean. Our more liberal friends say we conservatives rail against abortion without engaging the more numerous pressing issues like capital punishment, Darfur, HIV/AIDS, global poverty and the lack of healthcare coverage for the poor in this country. Capitalism has crept into Christianity, they say, and it’s time we take our faith back. Jim Wallis said as much, by the way, two weeks ago.
To which I reply: indeed, we should be concerned about all injustice, not just abortion, but we need to deal with the issues in thoughtful, effective ways rather than by throwing money at the government or holding pep rallies for the poor on Christian campuses without ever addressing the other (historically more effective, I would argue) ways we can confront the poverty issue. To return to my initial point, politics is a prime place for Christians to have a voice, and not just a voice of disgruntled frustration about how messed up our country is. It’s time we get involved in practical, effective solutions for national and international problems. It’s time we elect good leaders who won’t support the murder of unborn children. It’s time we elect leaders who allow professional doctors and nurses to deal with the healthcare problem, rather than arrogantly sticking their noses into it, saying they can fix a problem they don’t understand and throwing almost a trillion dollars at it to do so. It’s time we Christians get involved in the most controversial things, including the military. Yes, the military. Who do you want to have their finger on the trigger of a nuclear bomb: an atheist or a Christian?
So in one sense, I strongly disagree with my friend. Don’t be passe about critical issues or elections. Christians, get involved in politics. Be concerned when leaders with whom you disagree are elected. It’s your constitutional right to feel that way. And be passionate about important issues, and have the courage to stand up against governmental injustice.
But, I agree with my friend too, though for a different reason. Yes, in a sense the next four years won’t be much different than the last four years in that God is still on the throne today just as he was in 2006. And he’s not surprised by healthcare legislation, or Roe v. Wade, or anything else. As Moore said, don’t be afraid. Our hopes do not lie with a political party or leader — the Lord is our refuge and strength. We need not fear man. Fear God, for His purposes will be accomplished, regardless of what our government does.