Thursday, November 10, 2016
Thoughtful About . . . God and Democracy
Well, here we are, on the other side of the election. The results are in, the new president is declared, and some less-than-peaceful protests are under way. I have friends who are gloating, friends who are weeping, and friends (the vast majority) who say something along the lines of, "God is in control. He put who He wanted in the White House."
Um . . . er . . .
This has been rubbing me wrong for months, every time that's someone's reaction to the election. I've been letting it churn around inside my little head, trying to pinpoint why. But I think it comes down to this:
God is in control, yes. God is capable of doing anything, yes. But God also gave us that beautiful free will thing, right? We can't say, "Well obviously God wanted me to steal that necklace, because He didn't stop me." or "Obviously God wanted me to sleep with that guy," or "Obviously God doesn't care if I cheat my customers. He's in control. But I still did it."
That's just silly, and everyone knows it. So why do we extend it to the national level?
Most of the quotes I see go back to Romans 13, where Paul tells us that we're under the authority of our leaders, because all authority comes from God. Well, yes. That means I must honor and respect my president, whoever he or she is. That does not mean that every person who holds an office is the best person to hold an office, or that if I voted them there, I'm not responsible in part for their actions while in said office. Moreover, those who want to read this so strictly ought to have a problem with the very existence of the United States. Those in the Revolution certainly didn't think they had to kneel before the authority of King George just because he was their God-appointed king.
Here's the thing: we live in a democratic republic. We vote. That means we, the people, are responsible for the politicians elected to our offices. Us. Not God, any more than He's responsible for any of our other choices. Inherited monarchies, like those we see in the Bible, are different. And also irrelevant to us today. Because our officials are chosen by our free will.
Does God know who will win? Of course! And sure, everything's part of His plan. But so, then, is our sin--that doesn't mean it's good, doesn't mean it's the right way, doesn't mean it's what He wants us to do. It's what He lets us do.
Now, I'm not saying one way or another that this election's results pleased or displeased God. What I'm saying is that it's theologically dangerous to assume it pleases Him just because it happened that way.
I'm saying God didn't put Donald Trump or Barack Obama or George Bush or Bill Clinton in the White House--we did. We, with our free will and our choices. We get the president we ask for.
I'm saying that this win for the Republicans isn't God giving the country one more chance. And if we think it is, we might just be resting in the wrong authority--we might just be trusting our president-elect to fix things, when he can't.
We might be shrugging responsibility for change onto his shoulders when it's ours. WE need to fix this country, from the bottom-up, on our knees, reaching out to our neighbors, teaching our children, redefining the national morality to line up again with the biblical. No president can do that. WE must.
We can't rest easy now, my friends. We have not won a spiritual victory with this election--we wouldn't have, either way it had gone. We've just exercised the democratic process. The spiritual battle is still raging, as it was before and as it will do after and as it would have done had Mrs. Clinton won as well.
Yesterday someone shared a prophecy a young pastor had made, which basically said that God told him He was going to use Trump as a trumpet to sound forth and point out evil and corruption. I won't disagree . . . but we also have to remember that God rarely works as we expect Him to. He has certainly used Trump this election cycle to point out evil and corruption--but not just in the opposition. His behavior has also pointed out corruption within the church, some leaders of which have bent over backwards to defend some pretty indefensible actions this fall. Because of him, I now know that racism and sexism are much more prevalent than I thought. But he wasn't the one shouting against it.
He's being a trumpet . . . but are God's people hearing the right message? Or are we dancing to the battle cry?