Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Should pastors be allowed to discuss politics?

There are some pastors on the left and the right who seem to do little else than rant about politics. I am one of those who has strong opinions about politics but will not publically endorse any candidates. I also do not "do politics" from the pulpit. For some, abortion and the sanctity of marriage are political issues and should therefore be off the table of pastoral discourse. But for a pastor to ignore the abortion outrage or the threats against a biblical construct of marriage would be pastoral misconduct.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to bring a biblical frame of reference to a whole variety of issues. In short, I am trying to "do" biblical worldview on this blog. That means, in part that I must deal with something as consequential as the election of our next president. It makes a difference who leads the most powerful nation on the planet. It would be ludicrous for me as a Christian and a pastor to act as if I had no thoughts on the matter or that Scripture was silent concerning such important issues.

On this blog I have made no secret of the fact that I could never vote for a pro-abortion candidate. I know that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate. We are all sinners and deeply flawed. But abortion is a non-negotiable for me. We all have them. None of us, thankfully, are pure pragmatists.

One of the things I am already noticing about the northeast is that there seems to be a very dismissive attitude toward those from the south and midwest. As a native Texan who lived and pastored in Wichita, KS the last nine years I am sure that some of my bretheren in Pennsylvania have a "bless his heart, he's never seen a Democrat" attitude toward me. The fact is, Kansas has one of the most liberal governors in the U.S. Also, the neighborhood in which I lived (College Hill) had a higher percentage of Obama campaign signs than any neighborhood I have seen since first visiting Philadelphia in June. What is more, I have brothers and sisters in the church I pastored all those years who proudly voted for Barack Obama.

As a follower of Jesus I must regularly interact with men and women with whom I have significant disagreements. It is a reality in which I live every day. I think, by God's grace, I do a pretty good job of agreeing to disagree in a loving manner. I don't expect my brothers and sisters in Christ to agree with me about everything. To my recollection that has never happened. I have worshipped and served with people who disagree with me about President Obama. Since politics is not my life I don't lose any sleep over that. I would hope that my brothers and sisters would extend to me the same love and acceptance.

I certainly have disagreements with our new President. But I will treat him with far more respect than President Bush was afforded over the last eight years. Barack Obama is my president. I will pray for him and hope for his success. I will not slander him. In addition to praying for his safety and that of his family I will also pray that the ideas of men like Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers do not find their way into his administration. This seems to me to be an honorable, indeed biblical position.

11 comments:

toothdoc said...

As I have traveled and lived in various parts of the country, what I find is that those of us who have lived in Wichita, KS understand the extent of abortion more than those in the "culture capitols" of the world. I find it interesting that east and west coast pro-abortion voters live in cities where their "planned parenthood" clinic only prescribes RU-486. Until you live in a community where you are forced to recognize that 9 month old, fully healthy, viable (I hate that word) babies whose only crime is still obtaining nourishment via an umbilical cord, are being partially birthed, their skulls pierced and killed and then removed from their mothers. Then tell me that abortion is not worthy of being the decided issue in a vote. I do not presume to know what it is like to live in the inner city so I defer to my brothers and sisters who do when it comes to the gravity of an issue. Unless Wayne, PA has a Dr. George Tiller killing preemies, they should tread carefully in regard to an issue that is esoteric for them and all too real for others.

rmkton said...

Todd,

You make some interesting comments in this post. I would agree that there seems to be an elitist "atty-tood" (which is how many Philadelphians pronounce it) on the northeast coast as well as the west coast...hence the dismissive "fly-over America".

What I am having trouble putting together is the notion that if abortion is a non-negotiable for you...agreeing to disagree would not seem very satisfying to me.

I have had many Christians tell me that if I voted for Obama they could not believe I was a Christian (or expressed doubt if I was a "true Christian")...and although I obviously disagree with them there is some consistency in their point of view.

Question is, if abortion for you is a non-negotiable what does that mean? Does agreeing to disagree seem satisfying on this point? Can "true Christians" vote for someone like Obama?

Mike

Deb said...

I'm so sorry you are finding a dismissive attitude here. But I understand, having moved here from Oklahoma twenty-some years ago. Pennsylvania was like a foreign country to me. Please be patient with us. We aren't all elitists. People are a little more reserved here and not so friendly when you first meet them. It just takes longer for us to warm up.

Todd Pruitt said...

Ric,
Couldn't have said it better myself. Many people do not understand that "fly over" Wichita is one of the abortion capitals of the U.S. George Tiller kills them and even offers to baptize the little corpses before burning them to ash in his incinerator. That reality exposes the ridiculous "I personally oppose abortion but I am pro-choice" argument for what it is.

Mike,
I think I am tracking with you. If I oppose abortion because it is murder then how can I tolerate anyone who is pro-choice? I suppose I can only say that I don't have any other choice. There are brothers and sisters in Christ who for whatever reason do not understand the moral horror of abortion. I hope I can change their mind. I trust that God will change their heart. Until then I must be patient with their continuing sanctification as so many are patient with mine.

I do not tolerate abortion. But I must love and seek to pastor those who do.

Deb,

No worries. It has certainly not been the majority attitude that I have encountered.

However there has been a little bit of, "Todd are you aware that Philadelphia is not Wichita? We actually have Democrats here." In Wichita and Houston all we had were some fuzzy films of Democrats lurching around in the wilderness much like the Patterson Big Foot film. Only now do I know that they actually exist!

rmkton said...

LOL! "...all we had were some fuzzy films of Democrats lurching around in the wilderness..." Glad that you have kept your sense of humor!

Mainline Mom said...

Todd, I'm very disappointed that you are getting ANY of that attitude in Philly or Wayne or wherever. I have never felt that way about "fly-over country"...perhaps because I've had the privelege of spending a great deal of time in obscure places in the US, such as Wichita. I assure you that Planned Parenthood clinics in the area to far more than prescribe RU-486. Having just relocated to Houston, I'm well aware of how "blue" it is. And ditto what deb said, we are not so warm and friendly as y'all, but give us time and we will warm right up to you. I miss COS.

toothdoc said...

Just so Todd doesn't get any heat for my comments, I am aware that abortions are done throughout the country, my comment re: RU-486 was simply to illustrate that many Christians around the country rationalize (conciously or not) abortion b/c it is not a reality in their community. You don't see constant picketing around a clinic that terminates 10 week old pregnancies, 14 year old girls are not flown in from out of state to have their late-term pregnancies terminated w/o notifying their parents about the trip, let alone the "medical procedure". A vote for a pro-choice candidate is a vote for those types of procedures, you don't get to "line-item veto" your candidates position.
I'm not worried about Todd in the Northeast. As you get to know him you will realize that he is perfectly suited for that part of the country. You will always know where you stand with him b/c his sermons reflect his life and his beliefs. He preaches the truth whether it hurts him or you. I would imagine you would want nothing less.

On a lighter note, several people have used the term "ya'll" in your replies. To clarify, "ya'll" is a southern term - Kansans don't have accents :) We just click our heels together 3 times to get home (btw, I look great in Ruby Red slippers).

Mainline Mom said...

Oops, I say y'all because I live in Houston now and everyone here uses it and I find it to be an incredibly useful word. I've spent a fair amount of time in Kansas I know it's not the "south".

Todd Pruitt said...

"Y'all" is a correction to a weakness in the English language which, unlike Greek, does not have a plural form of "you". Just one more example of the cultural and intellectual debt we owe to the south.

Ric,
Always good to hear from you, especially when you say such nice things about me. Aren't there any dental conferences in Philadelphia you can attend?

Mainline Mom,
People have been very friendly. The COS family has been incredibly gracious. They have made our transition a blessing. Karen and I have been very touched by the outpouring of support and kindness. What a great bunch of people!

Those who have never lived in "fly over country" tend (I think) to buy into popular misconceptions about the midwest. We have serial killers, abortionists, homosexuals, and all kinds of abhorant behavior in places like Kansas City and Wichita. We're quite sophisticated that way.

I can't resist commenting on your thoughts concerning Planned Parenthood. It is true that they provide "services" in addition to fetal homocide. They are very big proponents of state mandated sex education for instance. When I was a sophmore in high school (1983) my health class hosted a guest from Planned Parenthood who demonstrated the proper technique for condom usage on a cucumber (I'm not kidding). She also told us all where to come and what to say if we were in need of an abortion. But in addition to these services they are also the number one abortion mill in the country. They have A LOT of blood on their hands - literally and figuratively.

On a lighter note, I hope you are enjoying Houston. Lots to do there. My family has discovered WaWa. Don't know how we made it so long without it!

Mike,
If we can't laugh at ourselves then we are in sad shape. I'm glad you got the joke. I appreciate your presence on the blog.

blessings everyone!

todd

Noel said...

Mainline mom,

I'm a Spanish teacher and when I say "y'all" I explain to my kids that I'm forced into "poor grammar" because of the inadequacies of the English langague which has absorbed words from just about every other langauge in the world, except a plural "you" form. (Which Spanish does have!!!) You're not grammatically incorrect, you're just exposing our language's shortcomings. Say "y'all" all ya want! kuddos to you. English ain't perfect!

DreamCamelot said...

Todd,
I’m a native Philly guy, but TX educated, so I welcome your TX heritage. But most of all, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since learning that you’re coming to COS.
I could not agree with this post more, and appreciate your expressions regarding the Christian worldview and see a need for this to be addressed. As our culture has often attempted to minimize and privatize Christian faith into a corner, I am grateful to see that your willingness to address the whole counsel of Scripture.