Provocative Bible Verses: Honoring Obama Even When You Completely Disagree

Posted: September 28, 2009 in Gospel and Government
Tags: , , ,

This morning I was confronted with one of those Bible passages with which we like to do one of two things. It is a passage that we either try to ignore altogether or explain it away so that we become convinced that it could never apply to our situation. The passage deals with giving honor to leaders, even bad leaders, even if you vehemently disagree with what they are doing. The words come from the Apostle Peter in 1st Peter 2:13, 14 and 17. “13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good…17 Honor everyone. Love the Brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor” Peter goes on to talk about also honoring your boss as well as being willing to suffer for doing good. Those are not easy things to put into practice.

Now before I go any further let me make it clear, in the last election I voted for the other guy so this is not coming from an apologist for the current administration. Rather, I am trying to look at this from the standpoint of making Christian witness a priority over political ideology. What I have seen in recent months, in terms of political rancor and vitriol is not new, at least not in my eyes. One advantage of being a child of the sixties is I have seen demonstrations against the government that make the G-20 demonstrators look like a Sunday school class out for an ice cream social. So I am not concerned about the general population getting all angry and nasty in politics. That is nothing new no matter what the media says. What does concern me is the level ridicule, bitterness, and anger bordering on hatred that is being poured out by many claiming to follow Christ. Instead of attacking the issues that we disagree over, many are falling into the time honored tradition of attacking the person expressing the ideas.

I always find it humbling to the extreme that the first century Christians continued to honor the Emperor with the exception of worshiping him as a god, even as he was having some of them put to death for their faith. Peter makes it clear why this was to be the practice of Christ-followers. 1st Peter 2:21-23 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” That is the kind of life that we as Christ-followers are to demonstrate to the world around us.

But what is the purpose in it? Peter also makes that clear. We are to live this way, honoring those in authority even when they make us suffer so that they will glorify God. “Keep your conduct honorable among the gentiles so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1st peter 2:12 This is why I say I am more concerned with our Christian witness than I am with political ideology. Peter says that the ultimate goal is NOT for us to shape the government. Certainly we are to be involved in the process but if we get the public policy we want and do not live in such a way that leads people to people glorify God, then we have failed. It would be better to have lost the policy debate and have won people to Jesus than to have won the debate and lost our witness and our souls.

This is why Peter says that we are to honor others. We are to treat them with respect and dignity, even serving them while we disagree with their policy or their methods. We debate the issues. We don’t attack the person. We should be involved in the public debate in order to demonstrate what a Christ-follower is really like, not just what we think, but how we love and honor others. So disagree all you want with President Obama, with your governor, mayor, town dog catcher. If you are in another country the same applies to you. Disagree with policy but honor the office and the person in it. It may mean that you will suffer for disagreeing, because we should never be surprised when unbelievers don’t play by our rules. But that is never an excuse for us to do anything differently from how Jesus did it.

Comments
  1. Scotty says:

    Good post my friend.

  2. Carol says:

    Excellent, Dan. I have read many (all?) of the comments on Facebook as well and would only say this. Whether we like it or not, at least SOMETHING is being done rather than the NOTHING that has been done over the 40+ years. Honor the leadership — when all is said and done, perhaps it will be a good thing. And don’t listen to the talking heads—they seem to be the ones inciting good people/Christians to do and say bad things. I really enjoy your input and points of view. :)+

  3. Joy says:

    Thank you so much for this! I am in absolute disagreement with everything that our president doing! BUT, I believe strongly that his presidential term will put into motion the fulfillment of much end time prophesy and so am excited at the same time as disgusted lol! Even in my disgust, though, I am called to respect. Our president is our country’s leader and while many of us don’t agree (and there will ALWAYS be someone that dislikes the current leader), we must not slander, curse or speak ill of him/her in obedience to God’s word. James 3:8-12 talks about the tongue. So many Christians praise God in one breath and the next is beating down the president “who has been made in God’s likenss 3:9″. “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” 3:11. Let’s choose to pray for our leaders instead of curse them!

  4. Mark says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for this timely post. I was able to use the verses from I Peter in a conference today. The message also resonated in my mind about some of the ways I am/was seeing the policies of the present administration and the importance of real debate rather than argumentation.

  5. tracywc says:

    Thanks for this post.

    I’ve always tried to show my kids that we give honor to those placed in authority over us; teachers, bosses, police and yes, even presidents. So I told them right after the election that, although I didn’t vote for this president, I didn’t want to say bad things about him and wanted to make sure to pray for him.

    Sometimes this can be very challenging when things are not being done the way I think they should be done. I have to remind myself that my Lord is indeed the Blessed Controller of all things.

  6. Danny Kam says:

    Thanks for sharing this post.

    I want to agree with almost everything you are saying, but there is a part of your post that reminds me with a “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality that I find inadequate to describe the kind of love that Christ would have had. What I found in this post was dislike everything the president does, but honor him. I am not sure what kind of “honor” this speaks of, but it doesn’t seem to be all that ‘honorable.’

    The real question comes down to what Peter would have meant in the text and how that translates into our contemporary context. It seems to me that the world Peter lived in was not one of whether or not they would get their particular public policy (for they would not as often poor outcast members of a larger society) been involved in public policy at all. They would have largely been a fringe movement.

    I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say, and I am not entirely disagreeing with you. Just throwing in my two cents.

  7. Dan Lacich says:

    Danny,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on the blog. I really appreciate it.
    I think one thing to clarify would be this. The honor given is ultimately that of honoring the office and authority that has been established by God. The Bible is pretty clear that all authority come from God. So whatever rulers we have over us, derive their authority from God. So when we dishonor that authority we ultimately dishonor God. There is also the related verse in which we are told to love our enemies. We are not told to have warm fuzzy feelings about them, but to treat them with dignity afforded one created in the image of God. We are to carry out acts of kindness and love towards them, even when we don’t feel like it or like them.

    I think there is a great deal for us to learn from the first century followers of Jesus and how they reacted to and responded to the governing authorities of their day. One of the things that continually presents itself is that they honored all leaders as long as they were not required to sin.
    Dan

  8. Danny Kam says:

    Thanks for responding Don,
    I agree that we can learn a lot from the first century Christians. One of those things is not finding our identity in any kind of nation-state. They honored the emperor, but I would hope they were more concerned about living with the poor and being with the least-of-these, that any kind of public policy (usually designed to help the middle-class and the upper-classes) would become irrelevant.

    I also think that Christians should become more and more “irrelevent” (in other words, caring about those who don’t “matter” to the nation-state) and “foreign.” It is, in this sense, that I believe we are strangers in a strange land.

  9. TUESDI TRUJILLO says:

    thank you so much for clearing that up about President Obama, I know several proclaimed Christians who forget that Jesus is all about LOVE for everyone and everything, we all need to be Godlike as much as we can. you cleared the air for alot of people who question the Bible and Verses in it. Thanks again

  10. Jerry says:

    what a bunch of superstitious wackos on this board.

  11. Dan Lacich says:

    Jerry,
    Would love to hear more specifically what you mean. What is your take on all this?
    Dan

  12. Hal says:

    Even the Bible stats: NOT TO LISTEN TO YOUR GOVERNMENT LEADERS IF THEY ARE GOING AGAINST GOD’S WORD! I haven’t found the exact verse or verses yet, but they are there, I know they are. Hal2012

  13. Dan Lacich says:

    Hal,
    I certainly agree that we have clear examples in the Bible of disobeying those in authority when they require us to violate God’s law. Moses mother sparing his life as an infant as well as Daniel continuing to prayer are two examples. However, that is different from the other clear teachings of scripture that we are to honor and even obey those in authority over us even we we disagree with them. The issue in the Bible is always whether or not those in authority are requiring us to violate scripture. If they are not, then we submit. We can disagree but we do so with respect and the love for our enemies that Jesus commands.
    Dan

  14. Ormond says:

    I agree with the author of this article completely. Ouch that still hurts to say in some parts of me. This is something I have had to work on over the last few years with relation to bosses, religious & political leaders. It is the most trying task I have been called to try to master because I am such an independent thinker which makes me a bit of a rebel. I rarely go with the group (any group). I thought there was righteousness in going against the grain (with purpose of course). I have learned so much from these passages in the Bible over the last few years. It amazes me how many Christians and conservatives just loved to refer to these passages when President Bush or President Reagan was in office, but you rarely heard/hear the citing of these passages when President Clinton and now President Obama is in office. Here is what has changed in me since I have worked at trying to adopt these passages on honor even when it tears me apart on the inside.

    I have been blessed with ways to communicate more effectively with what I deemed to be unreasonable bosses/leaders.

    My approach was calmer, more relaxed and with the BIG PICTURE in mind. As a result, the “unreasonable” leader or boss has been more receptive. Now there are always those leaders who are so far out of touch that no amount of wisdom, blessings or anything else will work in the favor of good. Those are the people that given the right amount of power would be Hitler-like and commit genocide the first chance they got & we would be first in line to experience their wrath.

    That is far better than where I was before which was coming from a more self-serving place always thinking how those leaders effected ME. Now I am forced to think of the greater picture being our GOD. As I put HIM & HIS WILL first, HE allows me to work for HIM and my work is accemplished more smoothly.

    When I made it about me in the past (not thinking I was making it about me & actually thinking I was fighting on behalf of the “underdog”) I could not move as effectively because I was doing it under MY terms for MY satsifaction of what I THOUGHT was the right thing. It was noble but not biblical. We humans don’t know right from wrong without JESUS being at the center of every thought we have and every action we do.

    I think what GOD is saying in these passages is first “I GOT THIS”. We get so caught up in fighting for HIM that we start to think we are “helping HIM” in some way. HE does not NEED us. HE loves us and wants us around, but HE does not NEED us. When we get those thought patterns right in our heads, we can kind of step back and say ok I don’t like what President Regean, President Clinton, President Bush or President Obama is doing, but I get that YOU (GOD) are still on YOUR THRONE and nothing or no one here on earth can adversely effect my gift of eternity with YOU.

    They may cause me to be with you sooner, but it is positively impossible for them to alter the FINAL RESULT which is our eternal life with YOU. HOW POWERFUL IS THAT?! No one can change the life that really matters. They can mess with you here all they want physically, mentally, emotionally, & psychologically, but they can’t touch your spiritual place when it is rooted in JESUS.

    I don’t get angry or as angry with people anymore. I actually feel a sympathy and love for those who are full of jealousy, insecurities, lack of direction or guidance, lack of discernment in knowing or caring what is right vs wrong, & lack of GOD in their lives. Even the fact that I describe their issues in these terms shows that I am more understanding because of the Holy Spirit.

    I can’t & don’t try to fix it all in a day or that person. I accept the person in a loving way (ouch) and I leave it to GOD after I have done my small part of service within respectful boundaries. I don’t expect results in my impatient time line. I realize that person may not recognize certain faith factors until they are 98 yrs old and on their “death bed”.

    Before I would have called them hateful and many other negative terms. Now I realize I don’t know what that leader/boss has had to endure as a child or as an adult or even now. The further off the mark they are, the more troubled the soul. How incredibly sad is that? I don’t look down on anyone (never have), so the sympathy is not coming from a place of me thinking I have it all together and they don’t.

    It comes from a place of realizing sometimes people probably view me in the same way at times. It comes from a place of knowing that we are all in this battle together against evil and its hideous distractions it imposes on us to keep us from HIM. We all fall for it at least once a day, several times a week and multiple times in a year. We sin daily if only in our thoughts. My sin is no better than the sin of a manager or a president. Their sin is no worse than mine. So who am I to stand in judgment? I am not & I can’t.

    THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO i

  15. Kiler says:

    President Obama is a believer.

  16. KatieTaylor says:

    This shouldn’t be that hard of a concept to grasp. What this means is straight-forward. I very often bring up the particular situation at the time something was written, but in this case it doesn’t even matter. emperor, governor, it’s all leadership. All of these negative comments have to do with the fact that almost every Christian out there (yes, I’m generalizing so don’t get offended if this doesn’t pertain to you) talks crap about Obama whenever anything political is being brought into a discussion, and wants an excuse to continue doing so. That’s the real reason people have a hard time with this post. It’s apparently okay to consistently bring up things you don’t personally struggle with in debates and pointless youtube arguments, like homosexuality, but god-forbid if someone brings up something that you struggle with on a consistent basis. Kind of brings things into perspective doesn’t it? You can vote against a particular president you don’t want in office. Duh. But when he gets inaugurated, it’s time for us to respect him, for it says in the Bible that God placed them in that place for a particular reason. I’m going to be frank here, but suck it up. It’s up to us to pray they make the right decisions, and not up to us to slander them and bash them. Our boss, our governor, our president, they’re all in very important and God-given positions.

  17. Mike Kearns says:

    Very well spoken Katie.Slandering and bashing is not honoring it’s dishonoring.If we do this to the highest ranking authority in the USA then imagine what we will do to someone like me.What does other countries think about us? To me personally,our president is not letting us down,we’re letting him down.Why want we join in with him and give it a honest chance,work with him,trust him,encourage him,and above all pray for him.Words are still the most powerful force in the universe.Everything our father created he did it with words.I must ask myself each and every day,what will I create today.He’s given us creative powers too.It truly is up to us.(God’s true and faithful servants.)

  18. Phil says:

    Funny how this is still appropriate! Thanks, great article

  19. snebbie says:

    Thank you for this excellent post

  20. Brandee says:

    Thank you for this post. I will continue to pray for our leaders.

  21. Pat says:

    It is a shame there are so many Ministers walking around preaching the Word of God with hatred in their hearts. I pray, that this will bring deliverance to them and their congregations. The world will know us by our LOVE- NOT – HATE – FOR EACH OTHER!

  22. Ronna Williams says:

    I am a Christian who voted for him. I have been saddened by many of the things said about not only him, buy his wife and the children. These sometimes horrible things are said by people who do it under the cloak of Christianity. They are misguided. They aren’t reading the word for themselves. They are saying things like “I know it’s in the Bible somewhere, but I’m not sure where that we don’t have to accept him.”
    Jesus does not honor this kind of behavior. I am so glad that I found this post. It has healed my heart to know that there are other Christians, Republican Christians who honor God’s word. I know your side did not win the election, but the ultimate ruler is our Lord in Heaven. President Obama winning the election did not take an omniscient God by surprise. Christians from all parties and denominations need to join together and pray for our president. That would please the Lord.
    Ronna

  23. Dan Lacich says:

    Well said Ronna
    Thanks for taking the time to comment
    Dan

  24. DeWayne says:

    This is where the entire teaching of Christ and His Apostles is important, there is important context and verses that need be remembered.
    Example is showing ‘proper respect’, and here might be asked whose authority are we talking about, that of Christ and His, or that of Satan and his?
    Verse gives example of two important authorities, one is mentioned that does you good, not to make their work difficult, is there any question who these authority are.
    Verse gives another example of an authority, describing that of the Gentile that rule over the people, calling themselves beneficiaries of the people… and example of that for which we are not to be as. Is there any problem discerning whom these Gentile authority represent?
    Perhaps most important, the one given all authority, not only of this age, but the age that is to come, is there any confusion about which authority to follow, if in diverse contradiction?
    Last, what does it mean, admonishment to, ‘have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them? What He whispers in your ear, proclaim (or shout) from the rooftop.
    Judgment, related, but what does the word say, don’t you know you will judge the world, that the spiritual man will make judgment in all things (is there doubt this is in the will and furthers the purpose of God?). Then as authority, what is meant by ‘judge not lest you be judged’ mean (?)… could this instead be immature and perhaps a carnal situation? Lord God lead us into your word, our media is over run in division, suggesting we instead agree to disagree.

  25. DeWayne says:

    I am a Conservative, and a Liberal, in the clearest sense of the Webster dictionary. However I am reminded of the men Christ admonished, for having good understanding of the signs of the weather, but no ability in discerning the sign of the times.
    Christ spent years teaching the disciple about Gods wisdom and knowledge, but before sending these mature out into the world said, wait, ‘I am sending you out (into the world) like sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves’.
    Verse admonished a person about going to war possibly against an army much stronger… the question this verse seems to ask, are you as prepared as you need be in this (secular world) spiritual war.

  26. Totally agree!! Thank you for saying this. My husband and I often say this in our many discussions on politics. Pray for our leaders.

  27. michelle says:

    I struggle with this. I some time step over the line of respect vs. disrespect for our president when I know by his actions he is not truly following God (the God of Jesus Christ) in his rule over this land. My problem is I feel he is hiding behind a veil of deceitfulness (wolf in sheep’s clothing) which urges me to warn people who are blindly following after him and his ways, which are obvious to me, they do not line up with God and His ways. This is a struggle I will continue to have, but I am realizing it will affect my witness when/if I come off as hateful of slanderous. I have begun to realize that peoples actions will speak for themselves…that goes for the presidents, but mine as well. So I will respect the office which He holds I cannot respect decisions he has made for our country concerning many issues that the Bible clearly calls sin and condemns. Speaking out about an issue that God does not want us to endorse is something I will continue to do but being careful not to dishonor the presidents authority is something I have been working on.

  28. Betty Cox says:

    I totally agree with this writing. To me, it is so very simple to understand. If we obey and honor the one God has put into leadership over the citizens of this great country, He will surely bless us.I have a problem understanding how one can love God with all his heart, and not want what He wants/commands of His people!! I have such a different perception/opinion of our president than many; I believe he is a good, honorable man, I believe he loves and takes care of his family, I believe he loves this country and wants what’s best for its people, and I have no reason to question it when he says he is a born-again Christian. I certainly don’t believe he is Muslim! what a different people we would be if we just followed God’s commandments when it comes to our president…

  29. CB says:

    This was a very good post. I must tell you that if you are siding with Democrat or Republican you are truly not looking at the individuals in office, but rather the party that you are associated with. I can assure you that neither party is in alignment with the Lord. You have to stop looking at everything as Right and Left, the Lord does not stand with a party, he is just. The truth is that both parties are motivated by the love of money which is the root of all evil. You only have to look at the legislation that has been passed over the years, and how many times we have bailed out the “have’s” under both Democrat and Republican led governments . Wake up people, and stop listening to the mainstream media.

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