I try to stay out of politics because it's not my arena. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I've never believed government to be of the people, for the people or by the people. This year however, politics and religion met like I've never seen before, and that intersection was often ugly. What bothers me however, has been the church's role in this ugliness.
All too often, it seemed that many Christians were willing to put aside their Christianity to defend their conservatism. Many preachers stood in their pulpits and preached lies and hate toward Obama as a man. I don't wish to relive those arguments, but it is interesting considering that the bible says that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If Obama's stand on abortion, or some democrat's stand on gay marriage led you to vote republican then say that. If you believe in John McCain's economic plan over Obama's then say that.
But when a preacher stands in a pulpit and proclaims overtly or covertly that Obama is a Muslim terroist sympathizer for wanting to pursue diplomacy in the Middle East or that support for him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil" because of his stance on abortion; those words are not spoken from an abundance of love and truth in the heart. The bible tells us to pray for those in authority over us. That command is no less enforceable when the guy in charge isn't the one you voted for.
Now that we are post election, many of the hate has become a root of bitterness. The bible cautions us when it comes to this root of bitterness and how it can cause us to fall. The latest story, which has inspired this blog posting is this, a priest denying church goers communion because they voted for Obama. The reasoning is Obama's stand on abortion.
I would feel remissed not to admit that I voted for Obama despite being 100% pro life. Yet, as a father who never missed a prenatal visit for either of my kids, and a believer that God knows us before we ever emerge from the womb, I myself don't and won't ever see abortion as justified. Yes I think rape and incest are awful occurrences, and the health of my wife was very important to me. At the same time, I think it is more than a coincidence that my 2 year old daughter, who get overly excited in the womb after my wife ate anything with chocolate in it, will dance every time she sees a candy bar.
But to deny communion to anyone who voted for Obama is not justified. From a political standpoint in regards to abortion, the only time it ever becomes an issue is during an election. President Bush served the majority of his time with a republican congress, and during his terms abortion was made no less legal or abundant than under a democratic regime. When voting between two imperfect men who represent two imperfect parties, there is debate as to which is truly the lesser of the two evils. The results of the election however is not justification for division in the body.
I have my political convictions, but it is from a spiritual standpoint that I fundamentally and vehemently disagree with this intrusion of politics on the pulpit. First I have to point out the fact that regardless of the popular vote, the electoral college, the senate, and the house of representatives; God is the only one who gives authority. God is the one who has given Barack Obama the authority to be president; the same way he gave George Bush the same authority. Because that authority has come from God, does that mean that God is not fit to take communion?
My second objection to withholding communion is that the bible tells us that a man is supposed to examine himself before communion. There are sins that need to be confessed before partaking of the elements, however not voting for your priest's candidate is not one of them. In church, communion is referred to as the Lord's supper. It is described as a ritual to proclaim what Jesus has done, and his imminent return. It is not a political privilege, it is a spiritual sacrament.