Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


A Christian Response to the 2008 Presidential Election

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Part 1 of series: A Christian Response to the 2008 Presidential Election
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series
In November 2004 I put up a short series entitled – Presidential Election Results: A Christian Response. I meant for this series to be relevant to all Christians, those who supported John Kerry and those who supported George Bush. I was searching for common ground, for affirmations that would help all believers to respond to the election in a Christian way. So that my readers would know that my thoughts were not a result of my own response to the results of the presidential race, I wrote the entire series on the evening before the election itself. I put up the whole series early so people would know that I didn’t “cheat” by shaping my comments in light of some specific result. As you may recall, the election of 2004 promsied to be very close, with some polls favoring Bush and others favoring Kerry.
I want to put up a slightly revised version of my 2004 series because I think we Christians need to be reminded of a few things with regard to our citizenship (or citizenships, actually). At the moment I write this, most pundits are predicting a victory for Barack Obama. Of course, you never know how it will turn out until the actual results are tallied. But my comments are independent of the results of the presidential election. They’ll be just as valid, in my opinion, no matter who wins tomorrow. Of course there’s always the possibility that we won’t know the victor for several weeks, as in 2000. (Photo: Truman celebrates his “loss” to Dewey. One of the great photos from American political history. It reminds us that strange things sometimes happen in political affairs.)
Whatever happens tomorrow in the presidential election, some Christians will be glad while others will be upset. I can’t remember a year in which Christians were more obviously split in their party loyalties (except, perhaps, the 1976 election). No matter what happens tomorrow, some Christians will believe that the best candidate won, while others will believe the opposite. Post-election polling will show what sort of Christians voted for which candidate. But it will still be true that a vast number of Christians will have voted for the winner while a vast number of Christians will have voted for the loser.
Yet, though our emotions and prognostications of the future may differ widely, I believe that all Christians in America can and should be united in a five-fold response to this election. I’ll explain Response #1 today, with more to come in the next couple of days.
Facet #1: We Should Act Upon the Call of Jesus to Peacemaking in the Way We Relate to Our Fellow Citizens.
We should recognize that our nation is deeply and almost evenly divided on many, many issues. The fact that one candidate won the election in no way erases this fundamental reality. Moreover, our national divisions are not only ideological, but deeply emotional. When the next president is announced, many Americans will be ecstatic, while many will be profoundly concerned about our nation’s future. Furthermore, no matter whether we’re facing the prospect of President Obama or President McCain, we can be sure that the next four years will be filled with disagreement, dissembling, and disgust as both sides continue to duke it out in the political arena.
Can anything help to heal our nation? Can anything bring us back to more civil discourse about the crucial issues in our time? Yes, I believe so. I believe that the church of Jesus Christ can help to accomplish these worthy goals. After all, Jesus himself has called us to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9), to forgive those who wrong us (Matt 6:14), to be salt and light in our world (Matt 5:13-16), and to love, not only our neighbors (Matt 22:39), but even our enemies (Matt 5:44). We who follow Jesus Christ should treat our political opponents in the spirit of Jesus even as we call others to do the same. (I’ve had much more to say about this vision for the role of the church in our nation. See my series: “The Church and Politics in America.”)
Now of course I’m well aware, sadly enough, that the church in America often contributes to the divisiveness in our land, rather than helping to heal it. Some of the most vitriolic rhetoric in this last election has come from Christian pulpits and pundits. This is tragic and wrong. Though believers should speak their convictions clearly and courageously, they should refrain from doing so in a way that is inconsistent with Christ. Perhaps before becoming peacemakers, Christians in America need to repent for the ways we have contributed to the meanness of our national discourse.
I believe that all Christians and all churches, no matter what our political leanings, need to embrace once again the call and promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
Added in 2008: What you’ve just read is almost word-for-word what I wrote in 2004. It seems rather scary and sad that in the 2008 election some of the rhetoric from pulpits and pundits has been even more vitriolic than in 2004. Yikes! Yet, at the same time, there were moments of hope in this recent election. I’m thinking, for example, of Rick Warren’s televised interviews of Senators Obama and McCain in The Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. This was the most sane, balanced, and insightful interchange of the whole election. Rick Warren exemplified the kind of clarifying, peacemaking role that Christians can play in our civic discourse. Of course there is certainly a time for Christians to express their divergent views, to disagree, and to promote their visions for our country. But, even then, we should do this in the manner of Christ.



  • Thomas Buck

    May the Lord grant the new Administration and Congress, whoever they are, the grace to hear His voice in all they do.

  • http://www.steppingintothelight.net Diane L. Harris

    Great post, Mark. I’ve shared it on my facebook page.
    Diane L. Harris
    http://www.steppingintothelight.net

  • gary longest

    First, I agree with your comments that we, as Christians, should strive to be peacemakers after the elections.
    I am supporting Barack Obama because I believe he supports what I believe to be the core of Jesus’s message to us and that is for those who “have” to take care of the “have nots”. I understand the outcry about abortion but I don’t think our laws will change with either candidate. We just had a Republican president for 8 years and John McCain has been in Washington for 26 years and in neiher situation have I ever heard a peep about a push to revoke Roe vs Wade. And John McCain believes it should be up to individual states to have their own laws about abortion. Can you imagine what a mess that would be?
    I strongly believe that Barack Obama is a Christian man who can bring hope to our people and unit us unlike any president sense President Reagan. However, you have made me realize that if John McCain wins, my purpose as a Christian doesn’t change.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

  • Bill Goff

    I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama since I heard him speak at the Democratic Convention in 2004. I believe he has the potential to be an outstanding President. I have a cousin in Illinois who is a strong McCain supporter. We have exchanged e-mails expressing our different opinions, often exchanging cartoons and jokes about the candidates. Your pastoral admonition helps me to think how I should related to my cousin after the results of the election are known. I want to be gracious to my cousin no matter who wins.
    I also believe the Christian church can look forward to future elections. I believe the church has a responsibility to be prophetic as well as pastoral. By prophetic, I don’t mean predicting the future, but bringing God’s word to bear on the issues of the present. I believe that our churches can be a collective spiritual forum where the great moral/spiritual issues are discussed. These issues surely include war and peace, how best to preserve our planet, how to deal with the poor, appropriate responses to terrorism, racism, abortion, immigration, same sex relations, etc. I believe we need more light and less heat on all these issues. The church can do a better job helping all Christian as well as non-Christian citizens have a clearer idea of how the Word of God relates to these issues.
    I have already voted (by mail) in the 2008 election. I’m a bit weary of the long season of electionearing. But I want to look forward to the election of 2012 with the hope that the church in America will take the lead not only in being civil, but prophetic.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    Thanks for the generous spirit in which these thoughts are shared. I hope that all American Christians, conservative and liberal, are able to take them to heart, and move toward positive reconciliation.
    I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently thinking about the 2000 election. I hoped at the time of THAT great division that some humor could help the tone. I share it here, with the disclaimer (no longer obvious in 2008) that it WAS written before the results back then were decided: http://tinyurl.com/65vkxv

  • Mark D. Roberts

    Friends: Thanks for your comments.
    Mark BW: Very funny. Did anybody ever sing this? It was made for YouTube.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    Sadly, no. We were looking to get it sent to a local radio station at the time, but nothing ever came of it.

  • http://www.dailyscroll.net/archives/2000 It’s the final countdown | The Daily Scroll

  • Whitey Bird

    Dear Mark,
    I’m sorry but it pains and hurts me to hear you say “I was searching for common ground, for affirmations that would help all believers to respond to the election in a Christian way.”
    What happen to the idea of standing on the solid ground that God has provided for us? As an evangelical Christain minister and leader should you not be offering your hand to all; as you lead them from the shifting sands of ‘common ground’ to the solid rock that is the Word of Jesus? I’m sorry to be so critical but what you write here is just what the world keeps promoting and as a friend once said ” its like being on a see-saw in quicksand.”
    With my apology for being offensive,
    Whitey Bird

  • Mark D. Roberts

    Whitey: I’m not offended, only a little confused. What I offered in my first post in this series was, in fact, the teaching of Jesus, or to use your phrase, “the sold rock that is the Word of Jesus.” So I would think you would be able to affirm what I’ve said, rather than be pained by it. I do believe our common ground isn’t to be found in the quicksand of our culture, but in the rock-solid teaching of Jesus.

  • Whitey Bird

    Sorry Mark I guess I am confused as I just saw that today the headline was part 1 of a series. If you are refering to the love and peacemaking parts I suppose I can’t find the strength quite yet to be a peacemaker and love those that continue to disrespect the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman and think that killing unborn children is a right choice. To me there can be no common ground in those and other moral areas but I can pray for those who disagree. Perhaps they can pray that I can somehow have peace with those realities and just let God sort it out in the end.
    Thanks for your patience with me. I guess I’m just one of those “right wing radicals” that probably ought to chill a bit.
    Whitey

  • http://www.markdroberts.com Mark Roberts

    Whitey: I think it’s right to be passionate about issues of justice, especially when they’re derived from Scripture. I do think that Scripture gives us more to go on when it comes to the way we think and act in the world. This is what I want to develop, so that we might approach political issues from a more thoroughly biblical perspective.

  • J. Falconer

    Rev. Roberts, Thanks so much for the current post & all the thoughtful replies, too. Hopefully, In God’s eternal kingdom-no more war(s)and eternal prosperity for all. It sounds like Disneyland a place of total peace, prosperity & health. I sure have not found a place on earth like that. Ha Well we will all see what happens on the morrow. God Bless All!!! j

  • Randy German

    That’s what I call radical change ! Thanks for the reminder Pastor Mark.

  • http://none Lilly

    I was reading people’s comments about disrespecting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, I am assuming that refers to gay couple’s rights? I thought good Christians aren’t supposed to judge people, and why are people so angry and care so much if people love each other despite their gender. It seems hateful. God wouldn’t create people with those feelings if it were wrong. People who believe this is a nurture and not nature may lack education, but who would choose to a life style that receives such discrimination, hatred and hard times? I think no one. I also feel like good Christians should maybe spend more time adopting all of those unwanted babies born addicted to drugs, instead of trying to ban abortion, and try to talk some of the thousands of pregnant drug addicted mothers into getting abortions. I work with these babies. I end finding them in homes, neglected or deceased from abuse or malnurishment.

  • Yolanda

    I have been saying this for many years now; long before Obama. I am black and even though I voted for McCain, I am SO PROUD of Obama and the histroical significance of his election to the Presidency…

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    Lilly,
    There’s a lot more that others might say. For now, I’ll just note that the Bible seems to argue (there are those who have alternative explanations) that homosexual actions are sinful. Therefore, gay marriage is “out of bounds” for the Christian.
    That said, I do think it’s appropriate to discuss whether it is appropriate for the state to define marriage (based on biblical principles) for those may not follow the Bible or believe in God in the first place.
    However, I fear that I’m taking this thread off-topic.

  • AOB

    Friends – some of these sentiments are just wrong. Abortion is wrong – period. You don’t give up just becuase one or two people haven’t been successful in single handedly turning it over. Obama says late term abortions are OK, wants to change the constitution, thinks gay marriage is OK and wants to take from some people and give to others. I don’t know about you, but I pay a lot of taxes and I’m already giving to my fellow men. I sponsor two kids overseas and give generously on a regular basis. I don’t need the government to encourage me to be generous. I’m sorry, but I feel a vote for Obama was a betrayal to the Word Himself. Stop compromising with common ground on the most important issues such as sanctity of life and God’s intent for marriage.

  • Liz

    AOB,
    To say abortion and gay marriage is wrong is judging what is right for others. I find that to be unchristian-like. Why can’t it be wrong “for you” instead of wrong for everyone else? This is the whole problem with Christianity. There is a fine line between spreading the Word and judging. If we all spent as much energy loving others as we do judging and degrading them in what we think is the Word of God, the world would be a better place. If Jesus could vote, I think he would have voted for Obama because there are people to be fed, clothed and sheltered in this world. I find it a bit selfish to worry about taxes in such a sensitive time for the world, although I do understand that we just can’t pay more taxes. Obama’s plan on his site clearly states that no one making under $250k will pay more taxes. Let’s give the man a chance! Let’s read his plan before we spread nasty untrue rumors! Let’s unite together and work as a country instead of just worrying about our taxes!

  • SZ

    I think it is funny, but not in a ha ha way, when people who are not Christian think they know how Jesus would vote.

  • Dewain E Arndt

    To Liz:
    It’s amazing to me how you can speak of “loving” others while at the same time advocating the murder of the unborn (for that is what abortion is). Don’t you realize what you are standing for? I am trying to write this in as kind a manner as possible, but echoing God’s mind as recorded in the Bible is not “judging” any more than declaring that murder, stealing, and adultery are wrong. Christianity is defined by the Bible, and we as humans have no right to contradict God in what He declares is wrong or sinful behavior.

  • Jan

    Hi. Having read most of these posts. I feel sad as a Christian and frustrated at how to find a way to peace among the disagreement posted here. Tonight I was at a sports facility watching my son at gymnastics. I spoke with another Christian there in light conversation first about sports and stuff. Later, the conversation went toward the election. I am a liberal Christian, he is a conservative. I have to say, that although I tried repeatedly to find common ground and to respond in the spirit of love with my answers, the gentleman became loud and angry screaming questions, making quite a scene and spewing belittling comments at me-questioning my own faith and convictions. I have to say that his spouting sounded more like rabid anger, judgement and hatred mixed with racism. I did not find any compassion, love or forgiveness there. I stood quietly not arguing because I felt it was pointless to argue. Going home, I felt emotionally battered and bullied and less than loving to my conservative brothers and sisters in Christ. After much thought, I am still at a loss as to how to treat this person when next I see him.

  • Etoile Rose

    Jan, I feel your frustration and perhaps dissappointment at the way you were treated by one who perhaps wasnt being very Christlike. If by chance you happen to skim this page again, I would urge you to treat this person with love and respect, and Biblicly speaking, how you would want to be treated. Strive to be an example to them and pray that God will show him the folly of his perhaps inability to have a constructive disgussion with a brother in Christ. All you can do is Praise God with your everything. God will unquestionably take care of the rest.

  • http://no Pastor. Veernapu. SudhakarRao

    And the angel Said Un to them, Fear not; for, be hold, I bring you good tidings of great Joy, which shall be to all people. For Un to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke: 2:10, 11.KJV.
    Happy Christmas greetings to you in the majestic name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    I am writing this letter to Convey Christmas greetings to you. We all wish you and your family a Happy Christmas. Please convey our Christmas greetings to your Church members too. May Christ be born in the lives in all our Life’s.
    God has privileged me to share the activities of our ministry with you through this email for your kind co-operation for the extension of the kingdom of God in India.
    My name is Pastor. Veernapu. SudhakarRao. I have been doing the service of the Lord for the past 20 years. I got married. The Lord has blessed with two sons.
    Dear sir in the Lord we are all preparing for Christmas. We are praying for new cloths to orphan children that is my belief the Lord will give every need of orphan children for Christmas. Dear sir in the Lord, I am caring 40orphan children. They are desperate need of kind-hearted people of God like you who can strengthen us financially. I want you to please have mercy on these unfortunate children and show your love and compassion towards them.
    Happy Happy Christmas
    Kindly pray for our poor pastors and Gospel out reach service in different villages. Your any kind of encouragement are most fruitful to serve his deserve.
    I look forward to your kind response prayerfully and hopefully.
    Yours in His Win Yard,
    Pastor. Veernapu. SudhakarRao,
    Mahatma Poole (colony)
    Nidubrolu (post)-pin-522124
    Ponnur (mandal) Guntur (dist)
    Andhra Pradesh (state)
    South India
    E mail:pastor_sudhakarv@yahoo.co.in

  • Nickie

    You know…This is what happens when man is left to his own devices. God never intended for us to live in a Democracy. We are now trying to fit God into ‘OUR’ political process. Neither candidate in my opinion is ‘God’s Choice’. As far as I know, King David was the last ruler God chose. It is so silly to hear people putting God into these man made boxes. Democrat or Republican? What in the world? There are Christian values in both parties, and there are demons running rampant in both. Don’t you think God knew who we’d pick in 2008? The one thing that I know for sure is that the Bible calls us to pray for our leaders and that’s what I fully intend to do.

  • http://none Lilly

    I guess GOD had her way.. Obama won.. ahh hah hah, like god has anything to do with elections! These posts are hilarious.. Christians sound more like a bunch of judgmental nosy self righteous fools. If you dont want to live in a country where people cant love who they want with nosy Christians feeling threatened by it- it is clearly an indication about their own lousy terrible unstable marriages and that they have a lot of time on their hands. Those of us in happy marriages and relationships could give a rats ____ who any one else is in love with- be it man or woman, while you dissect your bibles to try and catch someone doing something wrong! ah hah hah – you holier than though pile. All of your judgments and imperfections need your attention a lot more than what happens in your neighbors pants. If you dont want religious freedom you should move out of this country.As well as your oppressive abortion = murder ideas. You have done more damage to the children you have let live by the narrow minded upbringing you have provided them than had you done them the pleasure of aborting them a long time ago when they were nothing but a scraggly old fetus unharmed by your wrath. long live abortions- unfortunately its not the Christians who are taking advantage of not raising any more narrow minded sheep. Lets hope you all use protection.

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