Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Post-Election Reflections: One Pastor's Dilemma

How should a pastor address those issues that are at the nexus of biblical morality and politics? As someone put it recently, we ought to avoid partisanship, but anyone who provides pastoral leadership will necessarily address political issues. Here's a sampling of my pastoral dilemma, as I've been wrestling with it for some time now:

1. How do I speak clearly and directly to foundational moral issues that appear in the political sphere, without sounding like a shill for the Republican Party?

2. How do I explain Scripture's warnings to a congregation in a nation shaped by a party whose platform incarnates Romans 1, without ignoring flawed or unjust—if less cataclysmic—elements of another party's platform?

3. How do I criticize the immoral aspects of the President's agenda without appearing to deny my African American brothers and sisters the appropriate opportunity to rejoice in our nation's progress, and without glossing the white evangelical racist past?

4. How do I assess and respond to complex structural injustices in the American society and economy, without embracing imprudent public policy or marginalizing other justice issues such as abortion and religious liberty?

5. How do I speak plainly about the erosion of religious liberty and the emerging pathway towards tangible repercussions for pastors and churches, without undermining the obviously biblical truth that we should expect persecution?

We're only beginning to see what new challenges will confront pastors who will not abandon Scripture when gender, abortion, and religious liberty issues converge. Long after this President's term is done, the electorate that reaffirmed his party's platform will remain. Perhaps it's time to read more about the Puritans in the mid-17th century.