November 8, 2012

3 Lessons from an election hangover

by Jesse Johnson

ObamaWednesday morning brought no shortage of political analysts musing that evangelical Christians have lost their political influence. One can only hope.

We are living in the middle of a Holocaust  where an untold number of people are killed every year because they are inconvenient. This election was at the very least a referendum on if Americans care about that fact–obviously the majority does not. But did we really need an election to tell us that?

I remember when Bush was reelected eight years ago, and a roommate of mine was so excited because exit polls said that evangelicals are what swung the election his way. The danger with that kind of news is that evangelicals get drunk with supposed power, and they begin to think that maybe elections really are an effective way to exert influence. To the extent that any evangelicals did imbibe, yesterday was the hangover.

Now that the lot has been cast, this day of disappointment has caused me to take note of a few lessons. This is what I’ve learned:

1) I may be disappointed, but God laughs (Stephen Altrogee made this point especially well). The outcome of this election is clear evidence that much of our nation scoffs at morality and scorns God’s standards. In some sense, it was as close to a mutiny against divine law as the circumstances allowed. Yet God is not troubled. The nations may rage and the people may plot an evil thing, but God still reigns. In fact, he must look with amusement at our attempts to overthrow his rule.

2) Elections are the fruit, not the root, of morality. While certainly the next four years will make it practically and logistically easier to continue the holocaust in our midst, the election is not the cause of those deaths. People will die because they are killed, and they are killed because the human heart is selfish and desires to murder. This election simply reflects the fact that our culture either does not view abortion as murder, or simply doesn’t care all that much. In that sense, the election is the thermometer, not the thermostat. If that is true, then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be angry at the outcome. Disappointment is appropriate, but if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, it is silly to blame the mirror.

3) Politics are not an effective means of steering a culture’s morality. People are changed when the gospel is at work in their heart, and this is a work of the Lord. If Psalm 20 were written today, verse seven might say “Some trust in politicians, and others trust in elections, but we trust Yahweh.” If the goal is the glory of God revealed in the world, the means are evangelism and gospel faithfulness. If the goal is something more practical—such as fewer murders—the means are the same. The only tool God has given us is Spirit-empowered evangelism.  I don’t mean this as a critique of Christians in government, nor as a justification for apathy. I’m thankful for those in government who recognize murder as evil, and for those who recognize that the government’s main job is to check evil. I simply mean that it is discipleship that changes lives, not voting. Or, as one prophet of our age is fond of saying, Government Can’t Save You.

I did not learn those three points yesterday. Yesterday simply gave me the opportunity to reflect on them, and to consider the fact that our God is in heaven, and he does whatever he pleases. To the extent that Tuesday’s election reminds Christians of the folly of trusting in voting to change a country, I hope it is a lesson we only need to be reminded of once.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA.
  • http://www.facebook.com/lbouligny Larry Bouligny

    Well said, brother.

  • Jonathan Anderson

    Well said, Jesse! It seems that the Lord must be grieved when His
    children ascribe power to politics that is God’s exclusive domain.
    Thanks for highlighting the omnipotent power of the gospel of Jesus
    Christ. This blog turned my thoughts toward Psalm 46:6, “The nations
    made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered…” (picturing all the collective
    muscle of world superpowers flexing to accomplish their own ends) “He
    raised His voice, the earth melted.”

    Let’s pray that our
    unshaken hope in the gospel and lack of alarm at assaults against the
    church (Phil. 1:28), would vindicate the power of the gospel in our own
    hearts. It seems that when Christianity is alarmed by things more
    superficial (politics) than what Paul knew we would be tempted to be
    alarmed at (spiritual opposition to truth; Phil. 1:29), we are clearly
    experiencing a hangover from drinking at the well of the fear of man.

  • jen

    Really? to assume that people who didn’t vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket all “scoff at morality” is false at best, and a shortsided moralistic judgement. I don’t scoff at morality- I scoff at big business, at profit at all costs government, and at a presidential candidate who has very little value for women, the poor, and children (after they are born). I do my best to line my morality up with what I see Jesus valuing, and what I see in scripture is him valuing the least, the last and the lost.

    I also value the unborn- and feel very strongly that the culture of death in America must change. I just don’t think it will change by legislation, or that we would be even able to legislate it- both Bushes were VERY strong advocates against abortion, and in their combined 16 years they accomplished very little to stem the tide.

    The way to change the culture of death is through education, through health care, through empowering women, through reducing helplessness, but more than any of that, through Christ. Now, the government can’t do anything about the last (and most important) one, but it can certainly make great strides in the first 4. I will vote for the candidate that funds those things rather than cuts them.

    I will also vote for the candidate that is pro-LIFE, not just pro-birth. it is short sighted to think God only cares about the unborn until they’re born- and while no pro-life person I know would SAY that, functionally, that is their position. Money and effort focus only on ending abortion, not on creating a healthy and sustainable life for both mother and child. The woman must bear the full weight of this child, in many cases alone.

    A culture of LIFE is concerned not just with abortion, but also with the death penalty, with reducing the accessibility to military grade weapons, with changing the culture of fear in America, with providing the basics of life to all- food, shelter, access to health care.

    Now I wish the church was doing a better job of doing all of this- and of loving people to Christ and discipling them, because truly, that’s the only way the demand for abortion will change. But until we do, I will continue to vote the morality that Christ convicts me with.

    • http://thecripplegate.com Jesse Johnson

      Jen,

      My point–with out trying to re-litigate the election results here–is simply that in areas of biblical morality, Obama and his platform are the most radical America has ever had. Which is fine…at least they are overt about it. Abortion on demand, abortion funded by taxpayers, funding abortion clinics, and funding pro-abortion advocacy are all parts of their platform. I mean this is the big E on the eye chart. If you can’t see the hideousness of this, I don’t know how to help. And if you think that the differences in approach to food stamps, education, economics, immigration etc. are enough to outweigh the grotesqueness of abortion on demand, then that IS my point above. You are making it exactly.

      If someone is running for dog catcher, and he thinks it is ok to kill dogs by pulling their limbs off and sucking them up in a vacuum, then the details of that candidates approach to cleaning the cages and landscape plans for the dog center are sort of not worth mentioning (“yes he is in favor of butchering the dogs, but he has a sweet xeriscape proposal!”).

      My like tertiary point is that because of the infanticide positions of the democratic platform, this election was a referendum on if people think the issue of abortion is horrendous enough to outweigh differences in tax rates, etc. I think your comment sort of makes my point. But that could still be my election hangover talking.

      • http://thecripplegate.com Jesse Johnson

        One more thing though. I guess Jen and I do agree that government is not the best way to advance morality. That gets back to the larger issue of voting though. In voting we did have a choice–not between preaching the gospel and legislating morality), but between the candidate that can best suppress evil.

      • jen

        Thanks for your reply. I am working out my understanding of what it means to be pro-life- in part because I just discovered that 30 years ago the evangelical stance was diametrically opposite of what it is now- challenged some presuppositions and lead me to start researching when, biblically, life begins. it’s not as cut and dry as I had assumed (conception or quickening). Traditionally, Jews believe that life begins with breath- both in the creation account and beyond. That is the stance of the Talmud. In my studies of scripture thus far, I can’t refute that as a biblical stance. While God may knit us and know us in the womb, there is no clear discussion of when life actually begins. In trying to understand, I am trying to be open to the Bible taking a different stance than I have always been taught and believed.

        All of that do say, I don’t take this lightly. I am doing my best to apply a correct hermeneutic to scripture as I discern what God has to say about it. No need to post all the pro verses here- I know them, and am really looking at them.

        • http://thecripplegate.com Jesse Johnson

          Sweet. Ask for Grace, and then press on.

          Also, I’d suggest you go check out abort73.com. They have a lot of info that might be helpful for your study. Thanks for interacting here Jen, I appreciate it.

    • Getreal

      Jen I would suggest you do an in depth study of Romans 13;1-6 and find out what God intends for secular government. The primary job of government is to keep its citizens free and safe. That empowers all, not just women, to get on with their lives.
      “Money and effort focus only on ending abortion, not on creating a
      healthy and sustainable life for both mother and child. The woman must
      bear the full weight of this child, in many cases alone.” This whole problem is avoided if we get back to family as outlined in God’s word. It isn’t the government’s job via the tax payer to support the 40% of children that are now born out of wedlock. There are definite consequences when one deviates from God’s plan of one man and one woman for a lifetime. It is here that the church and one’s family should step in and advise, and help when necessary.

      “A culture of LIFE is concerned not just with abortion, but also with the
      death penalty, with reducing the accessibility to military grade
      weapons, with changing the culture of fear in America, with providing
      the basics of life to all- food, shelter, access to health care.” It is interesting that the death penalty is never rescinded in Scripture. Out of the 16 capital crimes in the Old Testament, only premeditated murder could never be commuted if they had sufficient witnesses (Numbers 35). It is up to government to decide whether or not to impose the death penalty for crimes like murder. I would also be interested in learning of any nation in history that unilaterally disarmed and survived in a sin-filled world. It is naive and irresponsible to think the Bin-Ladens of this world will play nice if we lay down our arms. There is absolutely no historical precedent for this. It isn’t government’s responsibility to provide food, shelter, or health care. It is my responsibility as Christian to work. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16 has some very pointed things to say to those who won’t work but expect to be taken care of. Paul says that one does not eat if he does not work. If government is to provide all the above, then what about entertainment, clothing, transportation, lap-top, iPad etc etc etc? When will the takers be satisfied?

      Further, we need to guard against a partisan spirit and disposition that lends credence to the class-divide talking points of the media and certain politicians. Leviticus 19:15 makes it clear neither the poor nor the rich should be favored “…you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge one another fairly.” Big Business is no more evil than Big Government. The poor are no more righteous than rich by virtue of their poverty. Any government that favors one over the other is not the government of the people for the people.

      As Proverbs 14:34 declares “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people”. The infanticide of 1.5 million babies a year, many of them baby girls who will never get to be part of the fictitious war on women, is hardly righteous. The promotion of same-sex marriage and gender bending of God’s creation ideal in Genesis 1:27 and 2:23 is called an abomination and sin all throughout Scripture. We have now enshrined these along with many other Romans’ 1 sins, and we dare to call it “choice”, “freedom”, and “progress”. God calls it the pathway to judgment. We are well on our way.

      • jen

        Sorry I wasn’t clear- I didn’t mean disarming our military, I mean removing access to military grade weapons from the general public.

        on the rest of it, we can agree to disagree.

    • Christina

      Very well written post. Thank you for sharing your views; you so
      eloquently said so many of the things I was thinking as I read the
      original post. It bothers me that so many Christians don’t try to understand the reality so many people are living. I too will continue to vote as I feel Christ would have me and I will continue to pray for our nation and its leaders.

    • http://profiles.google.com/pedalingparson Mark Christopher

      Jen I recognize your argument–it is a simple regurgitation of Jim Wallis’ “Consistent ethic of life” argument. There is nothing Scriptural about it. It is rooted in Wallis’ artful sophistry to detract from the real issue at hand and diminish the murder of 1 to 1.5 million pre-born babies every year–feticide. It is simple sleight of hand. I would encourage you to honestly examine the Scriptures apart from Wallis or whoever else among the emergent community you are relying on. Abortion is no different than when Judah offered their children to the fire god Molech:
      “For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight,
      declares the Lord.… And they have
      built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in
      the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Therefore,
      behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it will no more be called
      Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for
      they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere. And the dead
      bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts
      of the earth, and none will frighten them away. And I will silence in the
      cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the
      voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste (Jer.
      7:30–34).”
      I pray you will flee to the Scriptures and honestly evaluate what God has to say on the matter, instead of relying on the relativistic ramblings of Wallis, or whoever is punting his view.

  • Matt

    VERY well said Jesse.

  • Heather

    Thanks for your insights, Jesse. I agree with you on all points. Amen.

    I am totally at peace with the outcome of this election. The Lord has chosen (period). The Lord, obviously, never intended Romney to be the President, which has been making me think a lot about the role Christians played in this election. Had we absolutely known months ago that the Lord would not choose Romney to be President, I wonder how different our motives and actions would have been during the election months?

    Yesterday Nathan said, “At the end of an intense election season, it can be easy to forget that our main mission in this world is spiritual, not political.”

    I have to be honest and say this statement really saddened me. If only Christians would have remembered this is our main mission DURING the election months and not after the fact.

    For me, one outcome has been really positive. I have NEVER been interested in Mormonism and sharing the Gospel with them, as I am now. And, not to be disrespectful (because I do so respect him), but I hope Billy Graham will put Mormonism back on the list of cults. And I don’t say that to spite Mormons at all, I say it because I’ve realized how much it is truly a cult and has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ, and how much I yearn for them to know that and come to know Him as their personal Savior…especially Mitt and Ann Romney. Also…I have never prayed for Barack and Michelle Obama (and the girls) as much as I am now. I hope that if they don’t already know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, they will accept Him as their Savior and grow in the knowledge of Him. It may not change the direction of our country, but it would be one more family won for the kingdom of God!

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  • Alexandros

    I heard this in a message on abortion by Reed Jolley (Santa Barbara Community Church).
    “Their feet rush to sin, and their are swift to shed innocent blood. …. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us.” –Isaiah 59:7, 9

    “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance. For truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter.” Isaiah 59:14

    Truth has stumbled in the public square, our country has made a mockery of it. Many are ostracized and ridiculed for standing up for the unborn rights.

    How many more innocent will die so that others can live the way they want to?

    • Jaye Jaye

      Dude that passage has nothing to do with abortion. Republicans love wars which kill lots of people ( as you might know that are yet to receive Christ) if you are so pro life why do you support wars that send folks str8 to hell without an opportunity to give their lives to Christ. Hypocrisy I say!

      • Alexandros

        Sure it does … our culture has accepted infanticide as a woman’s right .. we even go as far as to celebrate it. Shedding the innocent blood of millions of babies each year.

        And I am not pro war, so ease up on those assumptions my friend. I believe that all life has value (other cultures, religions and the unborn) and don’t believe violence or war should be used for any purpose (religious or non-religious)

  • Jaye Jaye

    As a Christian, I understand the sentiments some of you have regarding abortion, I do not support abortion neither do I condone it. My stance on this is clear, however as a health professional I know the number of abortions done in this country yearly is increasing. So the question is are people committing aborting because it is legal or are they doing so because they have committed fornication and have become pregnant as a result. We as Christians should bring our kids up with the fear of the lord and the understanding of his word, so that when they are in the world they are not easily swayed by temptations. Now saying that one presidential candidate is closer to God than they other implies that we can get to God based on our works. The truth However is ..”we are saved by faith through grace lest anyone should boast”. Whether you like it or not,the bible says that “To many that believed he gave the power to be called children of God”.
    Obama professes Christ( no additions) Romney is a Mormon who has chosen to add another book supplementing the Bible and many of you support him because you think he is against abortion. I hope that you have really encountered Christ and have the spirit of God in you for as I read your responses I begin to think that you feel that you deserved your salvation and can achieve it by good works

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  • Flyaway

    Thank you. This discussion has been very helpful. I left my old church in 2008 because all three pastors and up to 1/2 the congregation voted for Obama. I am praying that God will open their eyes to the truth. In Jude 23 we are told to “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” We now have same sex marriage in Washington state and I feel like I’m living in Sodom and Gomorrah. I plan to spend more time with the Lord these days. The joy of the Lord is my Strength! Also:

    Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, II Peter 3:3

    3 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. Proverbs 22:3

  • Flyaway

    How do we pray for evangelicals who think disarming America of nukes, feeding the poor, and other social justice issues are more important than preventing unborn babies being ripped limb from limb in the womb and more important than the deception of homosexuality being forced on society?

    Romans 1:18-27
    Unbelief and Its Consequences
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions ; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural , 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.