Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Christian Headlines, November 20, 2014.
Why We Should Support Our Leaders But Trust in God
Conservatives are very pleased with the results of the recent elections. For some, there is the partisan satisfaction of Republican wins across the nation. For others, the Administration's failures in economic, military and foreign policy have caused great concern; it can be hoped that the GOP will take measured steps to redress them, to the extent possible. And for social conservatives, there is the nascent if modest hope that some good things can be advanced and some others be stopped.
The past six years under Barack Obama have seen the advancement of policies inimical to the priorities and convictions of social conservatives. From abortion and same-sex "marriage" to religious liberty violations and government corruption, conservative "values voters" have been dismayed by the actions of an Administration often at odds with their most deeply held beliefs.
Indisputably, Tuesday's electoral wins were sweeping. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the GOP will have at least 52 seats in the U.S. Senate, the largest House majority since 1947, 31 governorships, and more than 4,000 state legislative seats, the most since 1928.
A fundamental reason is a deep sense of uneasiness with Mr. Obama's presidency. "In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released (just before the election), 67% of registered voters said they want to see Mr. Obama change the direction he is leading the country 'a great deal' or 'quite a bit'."
This is particularly striking in light of the President's comments last month at Northwestern University: "I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle is pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: (My) policies are on the ballot -- every single one of them."
The President's candor was refreshing; let's say, at least for the sake of argument, that his analysis was substantially correct. Thus, it can be argued that on November 4, Mr. Obama's policies were repudiated decisively.
This should encourage those of us who agree with the Manhattan Declaration that "in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions."
However: The biblical charge for Christians not to put their trust in princes is as relevant today as it was on November 3. As long as sin remains in the world and finiteness remains in man, our leaders will do wrong things and/or make unwise judgments.
For Christians, these things should be axiomatic. Yet in the flush of political victory, there can be a temptation to believe what Churchill called "the broad, sunlit uplands" of enduring and beneficent transformation are just around the corner.
They're not: We can make serious if usually incremental change, but nothing in this world is final except our mortality and fallenness.
We will never through political action of any kind - local, state, or national - create the kingdom of God on earth. Beachheads of that kingdom, yes: Look at the Christian pregnancy care center movement and the ministries helping trafficked and abused women, and consider the many pro-life laws enacted at the state level in recent years.
We can also rejoice in the fact that God can give us great leaders; Abraham Lincoln and William Wilberforce come to mind. We can pray that other such leaders will be raised-up by a merciful Lord. Yet there is but one Savior; He is the second Adam, not a son of the first. There is but one eternal country, and its kingdom is not composed of 50 states but all the universe.
So, although Christians must work wisely and vigorously to articulate right and justice into our public laws, for both the glory of God and the good of our fellow citizens, we must do so with the humility of those who serve Him Who knows the end from the beginning and is sovereign over time and eternity (Isaiah 46:10). And as American citizens, we must make our policy arguments on the basis conscience and reason, the "self-evident" "laws of nature and of nature's God," upon which our Founders grounded the liberties we have for so long enjoyed.
Let's pray for our leaders, support them when they're right, oppose them (with both grace and truth) when they're wrong, advance "faith, family and freedom" in public life, and stand always for the truth that always "abideth still." Yet let's also remember the words of Psalm 146:
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever; Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry.