Apology

I would like to formally apologize for my blog post last week. My goal was to promote the possibility of meaningful discussion in a presidential election where most conversations I hear on the topic fall squarely within the spectrum of despair. I don’t think despair over less-than-perfect candidates is an appropriate Christian way of dealing with elections, and so I intended to provide a non-despairing perspective.

What I in fact wound up doing was effectively endorsing one candidate. That was a big mistake. As a pastor at South Dayton Presbyterian Church, posting on my church’s blog, and then broadcasting the post via Facebook, I made the impression that our church endorses one of the candidates for president. That impression was misleading. Our church does not endorse any candidates for elected office, never has, and probably never will. I am sorry for the implications of my post.

That said, I still find something vaguely sinister about the tsunami of “anti-whichever-candidate” statements arising out of Christian opinion pieces, blogs, and mouths whenever they turn to the question of the 2016 presidential election. I hear on the one hand that, “We can’t go with this candidate because it would ruin our credibility.” On the other, “We can’t go with that one because we never thought in a million years that we’d vote for _____ (either name works well here).”

Having listened to these conversations for the better part of a year, I find myself under the growing impression that these same spokespeople would have advised Daniel against working for tyrannical pagan dictators, would have strongly encouraged Mordecai to do disobey King Ahasuerus’s decree rather than let his niece get mixed up with that monster, and would have recommended that Paul send a warning rather than a greeting to those who work in Caesar’s household (Phil 4:22). After all, each of these monarchs matches the basic definition of a despot, and none of them wanted anything to do with the God of the Bible.

The fact is that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will almost certainly be elected to the Presidency in November.

As a Christian, I believe I have a responsibility to work for the good of this world. (In our world “good” almost always means “better than some alternative.”) As a citizen of a nation where I have the right to vote on important questions, my commitment to work for the good of this world means that I will vote on which of these two directions our country ought to go for the next 4 years.

I further intend to speak and act in a respectful manner toward whoever is our next president, and thereby “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Pet 2:17). My hope does not rest in a positive political outcome. I await the full dawn of the Kingdom of God in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. 

- Mike