A Deep Sigh

Following the election, a story from one of my mentors has come to mind.

When I was a young man in pastoral training, being dandled about upon the knee of Dr. Roy Blackwood as it were, he would tell me stories of the 17th century Covenanters in the United Societies of Scotland.  Often I heard him describe how these men and women, persecuted, pastor-less, and poor, would have rigorous discussions over Bible texts regarding life matters that were before them.

One issue they faced was whether to pay the king’s cess (tax) or not.  They knew these monies would be used to fund the armies that were pursuing them as they sought to worship, already driven to the wilderness in order to assemble.  Good folks struggled mightily over what the right thing to do was.  Citing Scripture, some would argue for trusting the Lord by honoring the king and paying taxes even though the funds would be used for evil.  Other, citing similar verses, would urge trusting the Lord would best come by exercising civil disobedience to the king and withholding taxes to seek to prevent the evil.  That these folks had seen loved ones tortured and/or put to death made their Bible studies ones of utmost earnestness.

Though we do not now have the same personal immediacy of that situation, many life-and-death issues are before us in our land.  From the abortion issue to unsustainable, generational debt to forced healthcare to the homosexual assault on marriage to nuclear disarmament of rogue nations to the remaining wars, the stakes are high.  We have completed an election where we had two presidential candidates who were far from perfect choices.  They especially did not profess with both mouth and life allegiance to the true Christ.   If our comment section is any indication, this complicated matters for believers with respect to voting.  Like those Covenanter studies, good folks on either side struggled to know how to best honor Christ as King in their voting.  Following this election, we will almost certainly find ourselves with even greater difficulties and perplexities lying ahead.

However, we are not without hope.  Helpful analysis is being offered and good ideas are emerging. Can we not take a deep, collective, and prayerful sigh over our frustration, then move ahead by pursuing the faithful living out of our heavenly citizenship through, in part, faithfulness to our earthly one?  Though we may continue to struggle to know how to best do this, I know that I personally have received the following encouragements from the discussion.

  • Remember that voting is an important civic duty but it is not an all-important one.  The Lord ultimately sets rulers over us.
  • Encourage the congregation more in working to get to know and to pray specifically for local leaders.
  • Be sure calls from the pulpit occur at appropriate times for people to consider serving in public office.
  • Find positive ways the church can be trained and involved in the political process after this election but before the next one.
  • Work hard at making disciples who are not just thinking about being, but are practicing being, salt and light.

Good words from others follow.  Let’s not forget that even our Lord sighed deeply when confronted with this world’s pains and unbelief (Mark 7:34).  But then He went on to touch and engage it.  Let us be sure to do the same.

Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Elections – Albert Mohler gives his usual insightful analysis and points out what the political landscape is revealing to us.

Diversity, Diversity, Diversity – David Murray at HeadHeartHand explains how the Republican Party must relate more compassionately to minorities.  “There’s plenty advocacy for businesses and for the middle class. But why don’t conservatives equally speak for the poor and for those who are discriminated against? If we don’t speak for people, if they don’t sense that we are their advocates, that we have their interests at heart, we won’t get a hearing from them.”

Five Christian Responses to the 2012 Election – Rick Philips at Reformation 21 says, “It was grievous to witness a political party set forth a clear social agenda centered on the availability of abortion, the advancement of liberty for sexual sin, homosexual marriage, the legalization of narcotic drugs, and government intolerance for religious freedom. To then see this agenda lifted up in triumph over the American electorate is to witness the defeat of the conservative Christian political agenda and to tremble over the future of our morally libertine society.”  He then offers some ways we as believers may need to respond.

Wretched TV – Here is the case being made for how the results of elections should be traced back to the church of all places.  The American church really does need to do some soul-searching at this time.

12 Comments

  1. Jake Terpstra November 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Thank you Pastor York! Always an encouragement to look at how the Lord sustained our Fathers and how He is and will be yet faithful to His Bride!

    • Barry York November 9, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Glad it was an encouragement. Thank you to you and the others for your comments.

  2. Jeff Kessler November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Barry:

    Thanks for your post. I probably write on here too much, but I do have to quibble with David Murray’s comments a bit.

    In explaining why the GOP lost he makes the following comment: “too few speakers from these groups”, meaning blacks, hispanics, and women. However, this is a list of speakers at the GOP convention w/ prominent speaking roles:

    -Mia Love, a young, articulate, black mayor of a Utah city running for a house seat.
    -Artur Davis, a young, articulate, black, former Democrat congressman from AL
    -Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban/American from FL
    -Gov. Nikki Haley of SC. Of Indian descent
    -Former Sec. of State Condi Rice, a black woman
    -Gov. Susanna Martinez NM, hispanic woman (perhaps the best speech at the convention)
    There are more elected hispanic officials in the GOP then the Dem. party. None of it seems to matter.

    The Bible is clear of the Christian’s duty to help the poor. However, as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have made abundantly clear, doing so in the modern American culture is much different than when Jesus walked on Earth. The poor’s number one health problem is obesity. By and large, they have automobiles, air conditioning, and of course, cell phones. The Church needs to figure out how to help the “poor” in this context.

    The Bible doesn’t say much about helping the rich, but perhaps the Church should stick up for them a bit. Class warfare is wicked and does little to help the poor or anyone. It is mostly rich who hire and create jobs. They are the ones with capitol to invest, etc.

    • Barry York November 9, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      Jeff,

      Your comments are always welcome!

      I agree that the convention highlighted many gifted people from minorities. I think David Murray’s point was meant to be seen more broadly than just the convention, as he mentioned pundits, representatives, nominees, etc. But the convention was encouraging in this regard.

      I agree as well about how helping the poor in our nation does not mean more handouts or wealth redistribution. The church needs to disciple our land on the wisdom of honoring private possessions and wealth, coming alongside the needy and working with them to address their problems, engaging them winsomely in the value of work, etc. The church has a lot of work to do in this area!

  3. Nathan November 8, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Thanks for this post, Mr. York.

    Quick question for Jeff. Why add the word ‘articulate’ to the description of black speakers? I could easily see a reader of that comment think that word choice helps make Mr. Murray’s point. Just a thought!

    • Jeff Kessler November 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      “Articulate” was used along w/ “young”. With Sec. Rice, an older black woman, I didn’t use it.

  4. keng smith November 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Good word. The failure — if noted in this election — really comes back on the Church in the USA. In earlier days the Church addressed issues and called its government officials to truth and integrity. In this election the only Church heard from was the Roman Church relative to forced provision of contraceptives and abortion pills. We miss James Kennedy’s regular words to the nation on Sunday night T-V. But I’m also convicted that in all my years of ministry, I failed to push our congregations to be involved locally. As far as I am concerned, winning this election (however one may take it) in no sense awakens the sleeping, distracted, comfortable, duplicitous Church! “If the trumpet (read church)gives an uncertain sound, who can prepare himself for the battle?” I Cor. 14:8.

  5. timbloedow November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Kevin Swanson has spoken very well in my view to the long-term trend that has to play out on this cultural decline because of forces set in motion by Christian apathy and what’s being taught in the gov’t schools, etc. I won’t summarize him here, and don’t have a specific link to point to, but I’ve heard him more than once – including the worldview conf. in Canada when we had him speak a couple years ago – and he makes a great deal of sense for anybody who wants to dig up his comments. Until Christians reprioritize discipleship (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2) and worldview, things won’t change.

  6. timbloedow November 9, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    The kind of superficial thinking we still have today comes out in subtle ways such as Mr. Mohler’s article subtitle “A Catastrophe on Moral Issues” which then discusses matters like homosexuality, rather than seeing all issues as moral issues. These subtle often overlooked comments reflect HUGE errors and problems in Biblical worldview thinking.

  7. timbloedow November 9, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Sorry, but I can’t reconcile anything in David Murray’s article with Biblical understanding. I am very concerned about comments I’ve seen in recent months by conservative Christian Americans who seem to be abandoning the spirit of colour-blindness for an apparent overt sensitivity to people’s colour and ethnicity.

    Let me tell you a story. I attended a far left university in Toronto, Canada a couple of decades ago. This was a place where my TA for a course was a regular rep. at the literature table for the marxist-leninist or communist school association. I guess that represents all universities these days. There was a really annoying teachers pet at the front of my political theory class, who probably drove many crazy and certainly did me, not simply because of her demeanor and voice, but particularly her ideology. So one day, she’s going on asking how a man can truly represent women in politics and how one or the other group can represent another.

    This time I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – restrain myself, so I interrupted and said, listen, I know a number of women like Margaret Thatcher and whoever else I mentioned, who represent my views better than many men, and I probably mentioned our Canadian Prime Minister at the time. And I said I know many black men like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams who represent my views better than many white men I know of like Joe Slovo, head of the South African communist party, and whoever else I mentioned.

    Let me tell you that at least 90% of that classroom of 100 students erupted in spontaneous clapping and almost a standing ovation for my comments.

    Colour-blindedness is not a dead standard or position. I’m white with German/British heritage. My wife is black, from the Caribbean. I am conservative/theonomic/libertarian. She’s almost there!! I don’t ask her what the black take is on this or that moral or political position. She doesn’t feel uncomfortable as the only black person in our rural RP congregation because it’s not an issue.

    I am quite disturbed by the kind of sentiment in Murray’s article and similar sentiment that I’ve heard in other comments in American RP circles and other conservative Christian circles. It’s still time to get over it and move on. I’m sure there’s a more gentle way of saying that. But it’s time to move on, whether from a left or right, Christian or humanist, perspective. Whether it’s because of the past with slavery or whatever, it’s time to move on. And if it’s not time to move on, I’d like to see a Biblical argument for that position.

  8. TimBloedow November 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I should add a brief clarification on one point that might not be picked up by those who do not live and breath politics. My ref. to my political leanings and comment that my wife “is almost there” was a joke in light of the fact that most people bill my political and ethical positioning as far, far right, and many if not most of those who characterise it as such see this as a very white American ideology, so it would come as a shock to many that a black person might have such theological and ethical sympathies – perhaps a watered down expression of the “don’t all blacks think alike” presumption, and a form of that sentiment that is probably more widespread than many people would like to think.

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