American Idol

I’m no longer shocked, or scared, or angry. Now, I’m just kind of sad. I feel I’m watching the American Christian evangelical church topple. For years, it’s been perched on the edge of an abyss and the ground is slowly crumbling under it.

Our sin is taking us down. Not the moral failings of our culture, for which we’ve threatened doom over the years. Not the sexual immorality we ignore in our midst but for which we disparage the world. And we can’t blame this one on the LGBTQ community.

For years, we’ve made America an idol.

bible-american-flag

We’ve worshiped at the altar of her freedoms, her history (our whitewashed version of it, anyway), the comforts she affords, the safety she provides, and the power we wield in her leadership. We’ve blurred the lines between her Constitution and Biblical truth. We became convinced that WE were God’s chosen people. The abundant life Jesus promised morphed into the great American dream.

Instead of being the bride of Christ, we chose to wed the Republican party. We pledged to them our allegiance and looked to them to feed us, to teach us, to lead us. When they told us morality would save us, we were all in. The war had begun and we were on the side of right.

The men leading it stirred us in passionate speeches about the evils of the left and the biased media who could not be trusted. They pointed fingers at dirty deeds and described them in glorious detail. When some of them were caught in the same deeds, we mourned the fallen, and railed against the media for twisting the facts.

The church is as enamored with America as ever. We are willing to sell our souls for her “greatness.” We are willing to turn a blind eye to the world around us and the desires and needs of the people in our own country in order to protect our rights within her.

In September of 1998, Dr. James Dobson, then president of Focus on the Family sent a scathing letter of Bill Clinton to his supporters. In it he wrote this:

As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world!

Fast forward to 2016, and that same Dr. Dobson, wholeheartedly supports Donald Trump -a known adulterer, accused sexual predator, and habitual liar (among so many other things) – to lead this nation as President of the United States. Moral relativity, anyone?

Dr. Dobson is far from alone. Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee and while many in our party and in the evangelical church have distanced themselves from him, so many more are adamantly in support, simply because (in their words) “he is the only one who can save this country.”

His supporters may admit to his odiousness and moral failings, but they don’t care or are willing to overlook them because we must protect our religious freedom, the second amendment, babies, keep the Supreme Court from being overrun with liberal judges, and seal our borders from those who would blow us up or steal our jobs.

And, as a lifelong evangelical Christian and Republican, I want to know why. Because I look at this list of things we’re selling our souls to preserve and other than the baby part, this all seems completely self-serving. It’s all about our rights, our comfort, our way of life, our status quo. It has nothing to do with Jesus. 

We are admonished in Scripture to take up our cross and die to ourselves in pursuit of following Him. We’re supposed to expect tribulation and trials. We’re supposed to expect persecution, not avoid it. We’re supposed to remember that we’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

I’ve looked at the two greatest commandments. Loving our country didn’t make the cut. Loving our neighbor did. That means loving our immigrant neighbors, our black neighbors, our female neighbors, and our disabled neighbors, all of whom have been targeted by our GOP nominee.

So what do we do? Most of us find the Democratic choice to be morally reprehensible, as well.

First, we need to examine our individual hearts to see if/where we’ve made our country an idol and placed it before our sovereign Lord. In the same vein seeing if comfort, ease, safety, the American dream, etc, may also be idols, as well. It’s so easy to fall into that in the land of plenty.

Second, we need to stop the Chicken Little rhetoric that would tell us the sky is falling. Fear has no place here. Not only is it contrary to our core beliefs as Christians, but it also undermines our testimony to the world around us. What message of hope do we have to share if we are counting on a human savior to heal our land?

Third, I would love to wrap this up in a tidy bow and tell you, of course, we should all do _______ in this election. But, I can’t. There are third party options. If one should garner 5% of the vote, it allows that party to get federal campaign funds in the next election, therefore increasing the likelihood of a viable third party in the future. Or, you could skip the presidential part of the ticket and vote like mad for everyone else you wish to see elected. Just because we have the right to vote, doesn’t necessarily mean we have the obligation, especially if our own moral code prevents us from choosing any candidate. Don’t let anyone tell you that’s not valid.

Fourth, pray. Like most, I’m concerned about November 9th and beyond, regardless of the victor. Our country has much from which to recover.

Fifth, be the Church. Love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Charity

Be the glorious exception to what the world thinks when they hear the words “evangelical Christian.” Step outside your comfort zone to minister to the poor, give until it hurts, listen when you want to speak, read the other side to every issue, befriend people with whom you disagree and find your commonalities, make orphans a priority, never forget to look for Imago Dei in every person you encounter, and love everyone. Remember to be brave, authentic, full of grace, and to be there.

There doesn’t need to be a GOP President for us to be the Church. We have freedom in Jesus that no government can grant or take away. As my friend and former pastor, Jeremy Bialek commented:

Religious freedom to me is what Christ purchased on the cross. It is a freedom to actually be able to worship without the condemnation of death or slavery to sin. It can happen in a US church on Sunday morning, in a Chinese prison, or in an Arab desert before an ISIS executioner. It is not guaranteed by any governmental edict or court as much as it is by my Sovereign, eternal King. I don’t have to fight for that right. It is already mine and no one can take it from me.

I don’t know where America is headed or how she will recover from this. But I hope the evangelical church can recover by putting Jesus first, surrendering our need to be right, swallowing our pride, and loving people. We need to get away from all the talking and get back to doing, with the end goal of being. In other words, we want to be people from whom loves oozes. Maybe then, we can rebuild.

destroyedsyrianchurch

Picture: One of so many destroyed Syrian churches.

7 thoughts on “American Idol

  1. For me,this election is about the appointment of supreme Court judges Period. Never mind the FACT that the Democratic platform supports the murder of children in the womb.Hillary needs to amend her commercial about support of children to tell the truth….EXCEPT IF THEY ARE STILL IN UTERO!!!! AND UNTIL AFTER THE MOMENT THEY ARE BORN.She is the BEST political liar of our time!!! Such hypocrisy to say she supports women…AGAIN…the TRUTH is unless they have screwed her husband..them she has s out to destroy them!!!! And I could go on and on….

    • Please don’t – I don’t know how on Earth Hillary Clinton has been transformed into the anti-Christ – the Devil – the murdering, lying, untrustworthy blot on the world – and saddled with SO many untruths! Everything printed in the paper, on FB, certainly on Fox news, is not the truth. I’m not saying I approve of everything Hillary has said or done – or may do in the future – but for heavens sake she is the only one qualified to even know the first thing about running this country. Donald Trump is the lying, immoral, crude and disrespectful, adulterer, and absolutely bat-crazy “man” who would probably run us right into WWIII, if we even lasted long enough for that to happen. Try actually researching some of the attacks and claims against Hillary – truly researching and clearing your heart and mind to accept when the facts don’t line up with the hateful rhetoric driving your current beliefs. OK, enough because you’re probably never going to allow the clarity of the real picture to emerge. Donald is truly scary…

  2. I agree with your article and if I could find a church that does put love first, i might return. For now I will take the chance that following the New Testament as well as I can (except the Sunday church attendance) will be acceptable. If going to church is more about money and power than it is about scripture, then count me out. Jesus said something like Give unto Cesar that which is Cesar’s, He didn’t say control the government yourself and make sure your force your beliefs on others. The only way to truly spread the gospel is to live the gospel honestly.
    My other favorite verses involve judge not and he who is without sin. It is not mine to condemn a person, that power is God’s and it is presumes a lot to say we should. He said we would come before God for judgement, not the Lady’s Auxiliary.

  3. I have also thought along these lines about how we view our country. We are not God’s nation, and we never were. One additional thing about Trump I would like to add, is, will he even do anything about abortion (or anything we want him to do) if he is elected. We have no idea how he will lead, because he has never led in a governing office before. In addition, no Republican has overturned Roe vs. Wade, so why do we think one will do it now? Also, I think we are a lot like Israel who wanted a king when they had the Sovereign God as King. God gave them their desires, and it didn’t turn out that great. First with Saul, then there was a slight reprieve with David, but things continually went down. And those were men God appointed! It may just be the time for God to give us what we ask for – and I don’t think we are going to be happy about it. I think first and foremost what we must do is pray! Whatever happens, our country desperately needs it!

  4. Religious freedom is ours because Christ first won it for us and because people long ago worked to overcome the oppression of those who pushed their will on others. More and more we see that same kind of oppression growing. One day we may be hiding in our prayer closets because that is the only way we can worship.

  5. Trump tried to pressure his second wife – Marla Maples – into aborting their daughter Tiffany. Anyone who thinks an utterly self-centered serial philanderer like Trump is actually opposed to abortion is being a dupe. This is a man who says whatever he thinks will work. He’s written about doing that. He BRAGS about doing that.

    My vote goes to the candidate who is in church every Sunday morning, and has been for decades. The Methodist woman who works hard and has dedicated her life to public service. And who has gracefully weathered having enemies who scrutinize every action she takes, mischaracterize every word she says, and are obsessed with attacking her and accusing her over absolutely everything.

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