Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, distributed the following letter of analysis, charge, and encouragement in the wake of our recent national election. I am so grateful for his thoughts and clarity.
“Last week Americans went to the polls to participate in our biennial electoral ritual. Evangelicals were rightly disappointed in the election of President Barack Obama. During the campaign the president vocally, clearly, and persistently advocated for same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, and a majority of the American people rewarded him for it. For many of us, it was a stark reminder that there are millions of our fellow citizens who embrace the culture of death (or who at least are not sufficiently provoked by it to vote against politicians who endorse it).
“As I watched the election returns come in and it became clear that the American people had embraced a larger, more intrusive federal government that tramples on religious liberty, that celebrates what God hates, and that refuses to protect the weakest among us, I wrote down a number of thoughts and questions that I’d like to share with you. These reflect my own views only and not necessarily those of BCS as a whole.
- We seem to be witnessing the triumph of envy, resentment, and blame-shifting in American culture. The President ran ads saying that Romney is “not one of us.” He stirred up crowds with “voting is the best revenge.” For his entire first term, he blamed America’s woes on George W. Bush, House Republicans, the Japanese Tsunami, and so on. And 51% of the American people rewarded him for it. Class warfare worked. Demonizing success worked. And perhaps it worked because many of us are full of envy and resentment ourselves, and because we hate to take responsibility for our actions. If the culture is eight months pregnant with a particular sin, then the church is five months pregnant and starting to show.
- This looks to me like a “father hunger” election. A fatherless generation is looking for a Father in Washington. The President won single women by 38%. The President, as a man abandoned by his own father, is in a unique position to appeal to the needs, desires, and fears of the fatherless (there’s a deep connection between father hunger, sexual “freedom,” and envy). He put out a famous ad about the life of Julia, a single woman who has most of her needs provided for her by the federal government, from high school through old age. In the liberal vision, the State replaces the father as the direct provider for the family. I predict that the State will make a lousy dad.
- This election is a further flowering of the 1960’s sexual revolution (and associated movements). The media, government schools, universities, and culture-makers are overwhelmingly progressive and hostile to the gospel and the Scriptures. As someone said, you can’t fight a culture war if you don’t have a culture. It seems to me that figuring out what a godly culture is and cultivating it within our churches and communities is one of the chief challenges for Christians.
- Some day President Obama and all those who support the murder of unborn children will stand before the God who gives life. That’s a terrifying consolation.
- A hermeneutical question for Bible-believing Christians: Does God still judge nations today for specific sins, and do we have the ability to recognize his intentions in historical events? Natural disasters, willful blindness of leaders, societal disintegration: are these God’s judgment for specific sins and how can we know? It seems to me that recovering our prophetic voice means learning to stand in God’s council and then to interpret the present time in light of God’s authoritative word.
- A practical question for Bible-believing Christians: Will we continue to hold the line on the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender in the face of increasing hostility, opposition, and marginalization? Will we continue to be the 7,000 who don’t bow the knee to Baal?
“Here’s what I’m preaching and praying for myself in light of the downward trajectory of this country:
- Love your wife. May she never desire to look to the State for provision and protection.
- Love your [children]. May they never pray in their hearts, “Our Father which art in Washington.”
- Teach your students. May they think and feel and live like Christians all the way down.
- Pray for the mercy and justice of God. May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
- Remember that there are only two ways to live and two ways to die. And in God’s world, faithful death always leads to resurrection.
- Cultivate a genuine counter-culture where God has planted you. Generational love and faithfulness; honor to godly authorities; wise husbands and fathers who provide for their households; strong wives and mothers who don’t fear what is frightening; care for widows, orphans, and the unborn and their mothers; and a readiness to give gospel love when the Lie comes undone.
- Hope in God and laugh at the time to come.
Gladly trusting in the Lord of history.”