Do We Need an Evangelical President?
It's the beginning of Republican primary season and most of us, though we try, can't help but be interested in the dynamics of the unfolding drama. It's the time when political conservatives come out in full force and when GOP candidates hit the hustings, pitching themselves as the solution to America's problems. One of the perennial questions, especially in the primary race, is the faith of the candidates. Many of them are quick to establisher their "evangelical bona fides." And it's the time when the media tries to figure out exactly what an evangelical is. What's even more interesting is our reaction to the media's attempt to define us. I think it says a lot about the depth of our faith.
We're a typically reactive bunch. We don't like when the New York Times mischaracterizes us. We feel we have to stand up and push back. Hey, we're cool. We're not weird. Stop being mean. And then we push hard to get one of our guys in office, as if to prove that we can hold power. But even though voting and electing people of faith is a good thing, I wonder if we put too much stock in this earthly kingdom, rather than the Kingdom of Heaven. We take satisfaction at earthly victories, as if putting a Christian in the highest office will somehow prove that our faith is valid. Because having a Christian President means we've won something.
But Jesus said that Christians would always be a minority. True Christianity won't be cool. And in our search to be loved by the world, I think we lose something. We lose authenticity.
I wonder if a humble spirit of forgiveness wouldn't be a better model. Sure, we should work to make America a better place. And we should vote our values. But a Christianity that demands respect, that whines about perceived persecution--does that kind of faith properly live out the gospel? And does it win anyone over?
I'd love to have a believer in the White House, if only because he/she will have access to the Holy Spirit's power to direct his or her life. But I also cringe, because a pushy, arrogant Christianity is a poor representation of the humble, servant-like posture of a true disciple.
So as I make my choice for President, I won't vote for someone merely because they checked the "Christian" or "evangelical" box. I want to see how that faith is lived out in the public square. I'll also look at their positions on other issues and their ability to lead, how they treat their political enemies, and their temperament. It could be that someone who doesn't profess faith might make a better President. Though faith is preferred, history is full of God working through leaders who weren't believers.
Mostly I think we need to get over the idea that a Christian President somehow validates our faith. It doesn't at all. What validates the message of Christianity is something that happened 2,000 years ago: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.