Politics are an interesting game. We have to have them in our form of government, yet politics can quickly cause even the most resilient of stomachs to turn. From the earliest primaries and elections to the career politician in the Senate, the entire enterprise feels corrupt, dirty, and unholy. We’ve already seen presidential politics heat up in the last few weeks with the first series of debates for the presidential primaries that begin early next year. And, as expected, these debates have been filled with critiques of the current president and personal attacks against the policies, practices, and qualifications of the other Republican contenders.
Next year, once the presidential candidates have been selected, and the race is well underway, we will be confronted with having to choose between two fallen and imperfect candidates. As a preacher, I will have to fight the temptation to endorse the candidate who more closely aligns with a Christian worldview on social issues. And as always, the party that does not closely align with the Christian worldview will threaten to remove the tax-exempt status of all those churches who encourage their people to participate in the political process and vote using their sanctified and informed conscience.
And then we’ll do it all over again in four years.
I suppose, at the end of the election cycle, losing your tax exemption status isn’t so bad. It could be worse. In Mark 6, we learn of a preacher who lost a little more than his tax status. John the Baptist, as we all know, lost his head at the hands of the power-hungry, morally depraved politicians of his day. Something tells me that John wouldn’t have softened his message even if he had known that it would cost so much.
In today’s political climate, it is fully appropriate for partisan politics to remain out of the pulpit. Truth be told, if preachers are doing their part in “correctly dividing the word of truth” then they would never need to endorse a political party or candidate. A Christian worldview should sufficiently inform Christ-followers of how they should cast their ballots. That being said, preachers must not ignore the moral decay of our culture. Preaching against sin, and calling sinners to repentance will always have a place in our culture, even in the political arena, even if it become dangerous to do so. Proverbs 14:34 is a clear reminder of this – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” A faithful proclamation of the Gospel demands that sinners be called to repentance. If you ask John, those sinners can even be the most powerful in our culture – no matter the cost.
Fortunately, we live in a country where we have the freedom to speak out against sin. There may be those who call for our tax exemption, but they can’t call for our heads – yet.