24 March 2008

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals, Even in Politicians

The news is still buzzing, bloggers are still writing and television talk shows are still discussing the Obama/Wright controversy. I suppose that our ability to discuss the issue is evidence of how far we have come since the Civil Rights Movement and how much further we have to go. It is also evidence of our inability to think logically let alone biblically on the matter of racism.

The political arena is a messy one. Let's face it, we all think our politics are better than those who disagree with us. I maintain there is room for disagreement on some political issues. The bible says that we are to be as iron sharpens iron to one another. The sharpening process happens because of friction. Conflict does not have to be unhealthy. Conflict was assumed and written into our constitution as a way of making certain there would be checks and balances in our system. We call that conflict bureaucracy and we complain about it, but it was placed there for a reason; to keep one party or person from hijacking what belongs to us all. That something is Democratic Freedom and while that is important, those who profess faith in Christ have an even higher standard to uphold; the Word of God. The commands to love one another and love our enemies do not come with caveats for ethnic or cultural distinctions.

Our country is full of double standards because it is full of double-minded people. A predominantly white church posts a sign that says they are "unashamedly white and promote a white agenda" and that provokes the anger of those who are not white, and well it should. The non-white people shout that they have constitutional rights. White people respond by standing up and saying: "I do not identify with nor believe those things that the church promotes" and the non-white people say, "Then do something about it. Talk is cheap. We see your lips moving and yet this church still exists!" So the white people hear their cry, read the constitution and change. Most determine to think about the non-white people differently and strive for equality. A minority of white people are not moved to change, but thankfully their numbers are diminishing.

Later, a predominately black church posts a website that says they are "unashamedly black and promote a black agenda" and that provokes the anger the people who aren't black, and well it should. The people who previously heard the outrage of those who are not white speak out and say "Hey! This is wrong! This is racism! We cannot tolerate this! We have a constitution!" And the black people say, "You have no right to speak out against black people! You are racists! Besides, you non-black people treated black people shamefully before and we're still mad at you for doing it!" The non-black person says " Wait! I am not a racist! I agreed with you, racism is wrong so this is wrong!" But their cry is drowned out by the yelling and name calling and media spinning stories in 30 second sound bites. And Satan laughs because it is so easy pique the flesh of men. He watches with glee as men and women on both sides chase their pride and constitutional rights while forgetting all about their responsibility to God.

My friends, truly we are at the mercy of the Almighty to change hearts over amending and enforcing constitutions. God's law condemned us, it didn't change us. It is the fear of God that keeps us from breaking the law. We are transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and renewing of our minds. The gospel taking root and transforming lives is what will set us free from this mess. It will take nothing less.

Geraldine Ferraro made an assessment of Barak Obama's presidential readiness or fitness. She voiced her opinion that Obama has only remained in the competition for the presidency because he is black. What did she mean by that comment? I think she was saying a black man with minimal political experience and achievement can be considered a presidential candidate because the country is rife with "white guilt." Is that true? Are there voters in this country who want to be done with both racism and guilt for racism? How many are willing to vote for a candidate to assuage this guilt? I think there are many. Does her evaluation of why he remains a viable candidate make her a racist? Do my questions make me one? I think not. Being elected senator is no mean achievement but what have we heard of this man's accomplishments while in office? Oprah likes him, but so what?

At the very beginning of this battle for a party nominations I said to a friend that this would be an interesting time for historians and sociologists to reflect upon. There are so many ways to spin this. Would a woman have a better chance than a black man against the white male politicians in the competition? Would experience win out over charisma? How would sympathy play out? For a black man? For a white woman? For a white man whose wife has cancer? For a man who was a POW? For a man whose religion is considered a cult? Now that we are down to two Democratic candidates, are we at the part of the nomination process where people who cannot distinguish between political positions vote for the person with whom they most identify? Are blue-collar white men more likely to identify with a white woman or a black man? Are black working women more likely to identify with a black man or white woman? Both senators have lived privileged lives, how will the poor relate to them? How do believers identify with either of them or the Republican nominee? In this particular case I think the swing votes belong to the blue-collar working men but make no mistake, it is God who puts people in places of authority. (Daniel 2:21)

Whether it is Senator Clinton or Senator Obama that receives the nod and becomes the Democrats' nominee, there will be more ugliness. Politics is ugly business and we can't help ourselves. We fight the wrong fights, willing to strain gnats and swallow camels. (Matthew 23:24)

Meanwhile, I hold my ground, Obama's church affiliation matters. You cannot equate the relationship between Wright and Obama with John McCain and Oral Roberts or Jerry Falwell. Neither Roberts or the late Falwell were McCain's pastor (to the best of my knowledge). The relationship with the pastor of your church is an intimate thing. A pastor is a mentor and shepherd who cares for souls, not an old uncle or grandfather who speaks out of place. He is an instrument or tool to help shape biblical integrity and character. The goal of the godly pastor is that his sheep become more Christlike. It is a pastor's responsibility to do this in accordance with God's Word and the responsibility of those being shepherded to be discerning and test what the pastor teaches by that same standard- the Scriptures. In this regard both Wright and Obama have failed and I see no evidence of repentance. Bad company does corrupt good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). Bad theology condones sinful behavior.

This post is for you, Jenn. Hopefully I cleared things up for you. Don't be afraid to post your comments publicly.

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