One is hard-pressed to find a national political issue on which one side or another doesn’t use scripture to defend its stand and to excoriate its opponents.
Welfare? One side holds up bushels of scripture references that deal with the poor as justification for extensive government programs to furnish food, health care, housing and more. Others invoke the standard of 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”) to limit the scope of such programs.
Business? Some partisans make arguments from a plethora of scriptures for private property rights and profits; others say the early church’s sharing all things in common (Acts 4) makes collectivism the Christian standard.
Abortion? Some say the admonition against murder in Exodus 20:13 includes killing in the womb, while others say the fine imposed in Exodus 21:22 for causing a miscarriage (or premature birth, according to some translations) implies different biblical values of fetuses and people already born.
Immigration, defense, crime response, penal codes, same-sex marriage, gun control and even international relations garner their share of biblical elbowing.
It is not the purpose of this editorial to referee which positions are more biblically substantiated. We invite all readers who call themselves Christians to resolve over the next several weeks to focus their biblical justifications on people, not policies.
If the Apostle Peter could instruct believers while under the tyrannical thumb of the Roman military state to “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV), then certainly American Christians who disagree with our current president can manage to be respectful toward him.
Those who assume a license to speak derisively of the challenger because he currently holds no office need look only a few words back, in the same verse. Peter admonishes, “Honor everyone.”
1 Corinthians 13 – widely known as “the love chapter” – gives us all the perspective we need. It lays out a host of gifts, works and sacrifices that might well tempt one to think well of himself, adding, “if ... I have not love, I am nothing.”
The Apostle Paul outlines a host of ways genuine, godly love shapes us, none of which remotely include even verbal savagery toward our political opponents.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
For American Christians, in this election season especially, the message is that while politics is important, love is paramount.
As Paul added, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).