We are in the thick of our next presidential race, and there is no shortage of personal opinions about candidates, platforms, issues, and outcomes. We see friends posting all over social media, we hear opinions on the news and the radio, but should we also hear endorsements from the pulpit?
Should our pastors get involved in politics? Is that part of their role? Should we look to them for advice on who to vote for, on how to feel about issues at hand, on how to engage with our nation’s government?
Dr. Tyler Scarlett, Adjunct Professor of Homiletics at Liberty University’s School of Divinity and Pastor-Teacher of Forest Baptist Church, ultimately says no.
He uses Romans 13 and 14 as the basis for his argument. If you aren’t familiar with these chapters, reading the NIV version alongside The Message paraphrase gives us a helpful and relevant starting point.
“Not only do pastors have a Romans 13 obligation to not publicly endorse a candidate,” Scarlett explains, “but we also have a Romans 14 obligation. In that chapter, Paul speaks directly to gray areas in the Christian life – issues that are not clearly spelled out as right or wrong in Scripture. He repeatedly says that there are matters of conscience where Christians can genuinely disagree. He states that we should not require others to necessarily do or think as we do. When these issues arise, we should not “judge” one another nor view each other with “contempt” (Romans 14:10). But rather, we should “have our own conviction before God.” (Romans 14:22) Basically, Paul is saying that while we should agree on the objective teachings of Scripture we will, at times, disagree on the subjective application of Scripture. Backing a specific presidential candidate is an effort at such application.
The combination of Romans 13 (respect the laws of the land) and Romans 14 (respect the conscience of your brother) is reason enough for pastors to exercise prudence and avoid endorsing candidates publicly.”
While Scarlett argues that pastors should not directly endorse specific individuals, he does express the importance of Christians engaging with politics.
“As Christians, we do not merely believe that He is Lord of what we do on Sunday in a church pew but that He is even Lord of what we do on a Tuesday in a voting booth,” Scarlett says.
As Christians who are also Americans, we have an opportunity to be part of choosing the leaders of our country, and we have a responsibility to demonstrate what we believe through our actions.
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SOURCE: Crosswalk – Rachel Dawson