Of the many issues that have saddened me in this current election cycle, there is one that has grieved me more than any other. It is so egregious that it cuts deep into my spiritual makeup and wounds me to my very soul.
Let’s face it. Politics has always been contentious. Thomas Jefferson’s campaign accused John Adams of having, “”hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Adam’s camp fired back with accusations that Jefferson was part Indian (Native American) and part African. The slander just grew from there.
The political smears grew so nasty between Vice President Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that they exercised their second amendment rights and engaged in a duel which led to Hamilton’s untimely demise. In the English Parliament, some days are more like Wrestling Matches than political discourse.
Still, like many, I have been discomforted and irritated by the antics and misconduct or our current political line-up. The name calling and alleged illegal behavior has been beyond even the lowest of expectations for leaders. I have been embarrassed for the nation that God placed me in, and wonder how people around the world view us. Still, with all of that, there is something that has cut me even more deeply.
At a time when the Church in America needs to be praying, repenting and seeking the will of God more than ever, many in the Church seem to have inherited the spirit of vitriol from the political pulpiteers of our time. I recently witnessed ministers, who I have admired and respected greatly, devolve into vitriolic attacks. These attacks were not merely leveled against the candidate they oppose, they were waged against their brothers and sisters in Christ.
While many of these same ministers stood silently on the sidelines as politics eroded centuries of cultural foundations, they have now found the wherewithal to attack fellow Christians who do not see eye-to-eye with their political candidate. I have been shocked and saddened to hear several ministers demonize their spiritual kin who were simply struggling to swallow the lack of moral character in a particular political candidate long enough to check the “appropriate” proverbial box.
While passions are understandably high and the stakes are even higher, let us not forget that we will be returning to our churches on November 13 to worship, pray and sing beside those same brothers and sisters we have attacked. Let us not forget the admonition of the Apostle James,
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. – (James 3:9-10 NIV)
John Calvin the great Church reformer once said, “When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers.” While I certainly hope and pray that this is not the case in this election, the tone of our national debate – especially in the Church – has certainly not proven to be our finest hour. Let us strive to fulfill one of Jesus’ most heartfelt prayers, that we (His disciples) might be one, even as He and the Father are one. (John 17:21)