President Obama and the Christian Ethic
I do not get into politics much as a pastor, but after yesterday's speech by President Barack Obama where he laid into his political opposition as being mean and essentially anti-American, I felt that as a clergyman, I had to at least say something. The public square was calling…
First, our national politics stinks.
Second, what saddened me about yesterday's speech was how President Barack Obama gave a pointed political speech, not a policy speech, as it had been touted. He resorted to the name calling, mean spirited attacks that he believes will get him re-elected instead of being a president giving a major policy address.
President Obama kicked off his political re-election campaign in a most sad way, kicking off his campaign so negatively. The election is more 18 months away, I hoped the negativity would come later. President Obama, instead of talking about how his plan is better, spent half of his speech attacking conservatives and conservatism. The "balance" that the White House was expressing was nowhere to be found since the president went "pedal to the metal" on attacking Republicans.
Comparing and contrasting Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's speech when he announced his debt reduction plan to the president's yesterday, Congressman Ryan refrained from any below-the-belt attacks and focused very directly on why his plan to reduce and eliminate the deficit was a good and solid plan. President Obama could have very easily taken a liberal political view of Ryan's plan and contrasedt it with his own and still not spend time attacking Ryan and fellow conservatives in a very negative, "below how I expect my president to act" manner.
Make no mistake, President Obama has been attacked viciously, at times, during his time in the White House. When I have seen some of the remarks by a small number of people, who have accused him of some rather ugly things, it has broken my heart. Maybe I have a "pie in the sky" view of the presidency. Even though I did not vote for him in 2008, Barack Obama is still my president and when he is smeared in such a cruel way, it angers me. When I see him being burned in effigy in other countries, it hurts me. He is my president, regardless if I voted for him or not. I think the office is something to be looked up to, where the person who occupies that seat is more forward thinking, above the everyday political fray, and who is looking out for all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.
But yesterday's attacks, I didn't like. It showed a lack of respect for the office. The president should have never gone on the attack so cruelly.
I believe a good example for how to act in the Office of the President is the man who preceeded him, President George W. Bush. When people attacked him by calling him "Hitler," said that he had blood on his hands for going to war, and the numerous other stupid and disgraceful ways they mocked him, President Bush tried to stay above it all. When conservatives railed against him for not attacking back, he showed great respect for the office he held, saying that Americans had the right to free speech, even if he disagreed with it.
That is why when President Obama attacked his political opponents yesterday, it just made me sad. He stooped down low, rendering his title to something less than how I view it. He was just an everyday politician, caring more about his backside than the country he was elected to lead. During the past couple of years, I have grown in my respect for President Bush. When he was attacked and mauled by the public relations machine of the far left, he never attacked back.
I think President Obama should learn by watching President Bush's example.
Third, I hope these debt reduction plans start a great national debate — should we follow the liberal ideaology of President Obama or the conservative ideology of men like Paul Ryan? What I hope for more is that this debate doesn't fall into the "Your momma wears combat boots" mentality of our national politics. We need a serious debate, not one where one side accuses the other of trying to kill grandma to give tax cuts to the rich. A serious debate over the future of the federal government would be good..
Not that this debate will settle anything — as it is with politics, the national political climate changes rather fast with liberals taking over and then doing something that makes conservatives run and take back control of the government, or vice versa. But what I believe what we need is a debate.
Fourth, my Christian ethic compels me to write about this topic. As Christians, we have an obligation to love our neighbor. We have a moral duty to be different than what the sinful world pulls us to be. Calling people names? Drawing pictures of our leaders with Hitler mustasches? Smearing people for the fun of it? That is not what our Christian faith compels us to do.
In fact, our Christian faith and ethic drives us to show that we are better, different in all aspects of our lives. In the understanding of the two kingdoms, (we are in the world, not of the world), who we are to God (bought at the price of His Son's death on the cross for our salvation) plays a direct role in how we are to live in this world. We are sinners, forgiven through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. How we take this reality of who we are and show it in our lives is critical to living out our faith as an example to the world. An example? Yes! We show what our God means to us in how we live. We, forgiven and Baptized sinners who rise to new life each day, are different than the unrepentant, sinful world we live in.
Does a Christian call his political oppoent someone who wants to hurt grandma in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy? No. A Christian tries to put the best construction on what our political opponents do.
We can disagree politically, but it is how we disagree that defines our character more than anything. To confess for a moment, I have not always held to this ideal. I was a rabid political animal, ready to destroy my enemies rather than sit down to share a cup of coffee with them.
But as a Christian, and as a pastor today, my faith drives me to be a better person.
Fifth, I believe Charles Krauthammer on Fox News last evening spoke to the heart of the matter: