Don’t Blaspheme The President
(Or Anybody Else!)
Is that a shocking statement from a politically conservative, evangelical Christian? It’s meant to be. We need to hear it.
As I listen to the comments following the State of the Union, the latest debates and the primary voting, there is a lot of harsh rhetoric being hurled around. Last night one of my sons read someone’s comment online, that if Candidate X wasn’t the nominee, he simply wouldn’t vote in November, because there wasn’t a bit of difference between Candidates A, B, C, or Incumbent D.
Really? No difference? None whatsoever? Not in their experience, their policy positions, their personalities, their family life?
It struck me that Jesus had warned, “I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)
And I thought, You know, I wouldn’t want to try to convince the Lord that that comment was an honest, objective statement to make.
This is what someone dubbed “the silly season,” the time for political grandstanding. It’s like the early stages of the playoffs in stadium sports – everyone is encouraged to pick a favorite and cheer for their hometown celebrity and all that. Most of us guys understand the trash talk and ribbing before and after the game are just the spectators’ share of the competition. All in good fun. Hating the Yankees is a family tradition and all that. Dad went to State so of course we boo for Tech, and so on.
But there is a serious difference in politics, and I’m not talking about the serious aspect of choosing leaders and lawmakers. In sports, you’re cheering or jeering for an institution, the “team.” In a campaign, you’re talking about individual men and women. That’s when you have to beware of blasphemy.
It’s just this: When Paul wrote to his associate Titus on the island of Crete, he said,
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
That term “to speak evil” is the Greek word blasphemeo – “to blaspheme.” If you consider that the New Testament applies this word to men and angels as well as to God, it means something broader than dishonoring the divine majesty. Compare the other verses where it appears, and you realize that blasphemy means to make a railing accusation that impugns somebody’s reputation – even if he deserves it.
Blaspheming God means you deny His holiness and take away the worship He is due; you falsely accuse Him of being less than He is. Blaspheming a man means you assassinate his character. It’s the difference between saying a man is acting foolish and saying he’s a fool.
That’s why this conservative Republican turns off some talk radio commentary he otherwise agrees with – because I am tired of slander which parades as analysis. And it’s not a one-sided problem, it comes from all directions of the political compass.
As we pursue the privilege of choosing our own leadership this year, we ought to remember those warnings. There is a real need to consider the character and actions of men and women who want the honor of governing our country. There is a godly and constructive way to compare and contrast the alternatives – at times, to criticize them sharply or even ridicule them (think of Elijah). But there is a limit, and past that line, we’re blaspheming – and we will give account for it one day.