It’s probably not too big of a surprise for people that I was a little disappointed–to say the least–with the election results from Tuesday. There was much more at stake here than simply the title of “President.” This was a war of values, honestly. I don’t know if there has ever been such a huge ideological gap in our nation’s history, so it was interesting to see how America voted. It wasn’t just Democrat vs. Republican. It was a man who views pro-life advocates as “bullies” (a term he would never use to refer to the terrorists on 9/11/12), has no regard for the God-ordained institution of marriage, has waged war on our religious liberties, and who is willing to spend us into oblivion in order to create a bigger government versus a man who respects the sanctity of life, respects the Biblical boundaries of marriage, stands for religious freedom, and who knows how to balance a budget. If you look at it that way, it’s amazing that President Obama was re-elected. So here are some post-election thoughts that I had.
1. God is just as much in sovereign control today as He was last week. He ordains every government. From a Biblical perspective, this much is indisputable. He knew and ordained the results for this election from all of eternity. That doesn’t mean that this is a good thing or that He’s blessing America, because God ordains wicked, evil governments at times as a means of furthering His own plans on the earth. We might not understand why He would ordain as President of the United States someone with the blood of 50 million murdered babies on his hands, but God does. And that’s good enough for me, because I know that God is both sovereign and good.
2. You can’t expect good fruit from a wicked root. Our culture has become increasingly depraved. At the same time, Evangelical Christians have become increasingly silent and silenced. With that said, it shouldn’t surprise us when people who don’t just accept or tolerate sin–but who CELEBRATE sin–vote in someone who shares their values. California, Florida, and Nevada are the pornography capitols of the United States. If those states had embraced Christian values and voted Republican rather than Democrat, Governor Romney would have won the election 296-213. A nation which embraces wickedness and thereby invites God’s judgment cannot simultaneously expect to experience God’s blessing.
3. Debates don’t matter anymore. Let’s face it: Governor Romney destroyed President Obama in that first debate. In the second debate, it was a little closer, but the polls revealed that most people still thought Romney won. In the third debate, the same. If you were to judge each debate like a boxing match gets scored, it would have been 10-8, 10-9, 10-9 . . . all for Romney. So what happened? People forgot. Hurricane Sandy happened (more on that in a second). A few weeks elapsed, and Romney lost momentum. Maybe that’s his fault for not doing anything worthy of serious attention during that time, or maybe it’s the American public’s fault for having a short-term memory. Either way, debates no longer matter. My opinion is that they should have the final debate a couple days before the election or do away with debates altogether, because Americans either forgot or don’t care that the President lost 3 debates in a row in convincing fashion (not to mention that the Vice-President also lost his debate).
4. Romney lost at least partially due to the fact that he refused to politicize Hurricane Sandy. The President, on the other hand, got out there and made sure that the media caught him acting like…well, like a President. And America noticed. In other words, he politicized it. There’s that short-term memory problem again.
5. The Evangelical church has lost its voice. I’m going to be brutally honest for a moment here, and this might sting a little bit. So if you need to brace yourself, do what you have to do. The American church is extremely dysfunctional, if we’re being honest. We’re like a family that can’t seem to get along. Why? There are probably a number of reasons, but I would propose that one of the primary problems with the American church is that we want to quantify our success. How many came forward for the altar call? How many were baptized? How many came to church on Sunday? Prior to the invention of the altar call in the mid-1800′s, the emphasis of the Christian life was to experience victory over sin, gain theological understanding and knowledge, and to exhibit Christ-like behavior more and more consistently. The altar call changed our focus from sanctification (i.e., growing in holiness) to the initial moment of justification and glorification. In other words, too many of our churches and too many of our congregants are content to focus on initial forgiveness and then just sit around until Heaven. In the meantime, they don’t grow in theological knowledge, they don’t wage war on sin, and they don’t increasingly reflect Christ-like character. I had a conversation a few years ago with a pastor of a pretty big, fairly well-known church who bragged that many on his staff were pro-choice. He was proud to pastor a church with that type of diversity and tolerance. I’m not kidding! When I told him about myself and what I was doing in Arkansas, and how I liked to teach the Bible, he told me that that kind of stuff was suited for a Bible study of 2 or 3 people, but that I’d never be able to pastor a church if I preached theology. This is a prime example of what I’m talking about. That pastor speaks regularly at pastor’s conferences nation-wide, too! If that blows your mind, congratulations–because it should. But that’s the modern American church. That’s what happens when you try to quantify success with things like response for an altar call or church growth. We are called to disciple people–that means much, much more than preaching the gospel and hoping that something sticks. It means helping people grow in their theological understanding, helping them to understand and practice Biblical values, and when you do these types of things, you get a people who experience victory over sin NOW rather than waiting to get to Heaven to experience it.
So what do we do now? Pray for our nation, pray for our leaders, be salt and light, and be disciple-makers. That doesn’t guarantee that America will embrace God’s value system, but it’s a step toward winning back the right to speak God’s truth and be heard.