Before I make my comments this morning, let's take a brief detour to ancient Israel and visit with Nathan the prophet as he confronts King David . . .
Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. ‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! ‘Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. ‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” (2 Samuel 12:7-14)
After church today, I got online and saw the news about Rod Parsley withdrawing his endorsement of John McCain after McCain repudiated Parsley's remarks about Islam (which I thought were spot on for the most part). Earlier, John Hagee withdrew his endorsement of McCain after the contretemps over Hagee's criticisms of Roman Catholicism (which, again, I thought were spot on for the most part).
This underscores one problem Christian leaders have when we allow politics to take too much of a front seat in our lives. I have always believed that Christians need to engage in politics. We have as much a right to a place at the table as other groups. We are, after all, citizens of the United States.
However, we must never, NEVER give up our prophetic call. Christianity transcends politics, and one of the most important roles of a pastor/prophet is to confront sin, even when said sin has been committed by rulers and authorities. When we endorse candidates for office, we set ourselves up for precisely this type of incident, and the church ends up taking the black eye. Remember what the Apostle Paul said . . .
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin (1 Timothy 5:22).
Of course, in context that passage is dealing with church matters, but I think it's an excellent principle for relations between politics and the church. We ought not to "lay hands" on any candidate too hastily. When that officeholder shows that they have clay feet and end up taking unbiblical positions, our own credibility suffers. Henceforth, let's talk about biblical positions on issues. Let's urge people to vote through the lens of a Christian worldview. But let's not endorse candidates.
In the past, I have publicly endorsed candidates. I will no longer do that. I might mention likes and dislikes. I might even say who I am voting for personally. But it will never again be without caveat, and it will never again be an official endorsement.
One other thing. If pastors (or other Christian figures for that matter) speak the truth on something, that is nothing for which to apologize. I wish today's pastors would once again have the guts of Nathan the prophet, instead of rushing to issue mea culpas just because the New York Times frowns at their words.