On November 7th and 8th, a number of my Christian Facebook friends posted some variation of the following:
“I voted for the right candidate, Mitt Romney, and he lost. We are stuck with four more years of that guy and it just makes me sick. He has not, does not, and will not speak for me. He does not represent me as president because he isn’t my president. He’s never been mine and never will be. I look forward to the day when I have a president in the Oval Office.”
You know what you call a country in which leaders and citizens disown one another? Venezuela.
President Hugo Chavez has traditionally made no bones about his support of only certain segments of Venezuela society. He has announced laws by saying, “And this one’s really gonna hurt my opponents…” During El Jefe’s rule, officials and departments routinely turn blind eyes towards the illegal actions of his supporters and fabricate charges against many who vote against them. President Chavez openly responds to shouts of “Not my president!” by saying, “Darn right, I’m not! Watch me, and I’ll prove it to you!”
Want to see an even more extreme example of leaders and followers who hold each other in contempt? Fly to Rwanda.
Hutu and Tutsi groups have struggled with one another for years. Eventually, the Rwandan government responded to people who said, “That guy is not my president” by saying “And you aren’t our people.” The government’s response was a bit heavy-handed: 1,000,000 dead.
We head down a dangerously greased slope when we react badly to the election of Obama or anyone else. I realize it is hard for us as Americans, possessors of a stable democracy, to envision anything truly negative resulting from a simple rejection of an elected official. I realize there’s quite a bit of milage between our current situation and that of Rwanda or Venezuela, but it’s really only a matter of degree.
In my opinion, the fastest way to see the US goverment continue its hostility towards the issues that most politically conservative Christians hold dear is for Christians to declare, “Any president who disagrees with me on these issues isn’t my president. He lacks legitimacy, and I’ll do nothing more than tolerate him.”
In my opinion, politically conservative Christians who disown President Obama are no better than political liberals who contacted the Canadian Embassy after George W. Bush was elected.
In my opinion, any Christian (liberal or conservative) who disavows a president (liberal or conservative) is acting a way that dishonors the divinely-ordained command that we respect and obey our leaders. I don’t think I need to expound on that too much, since most readers here are familiar enough with Paul’s writings to see my point.
In my opinion, any Christian who claims to love the nation and society in which he lives cannot summarily reject a president without hurting that nation and society. Our rejection does not take place in a vacuum, and it will have consequences.
I’m not saying we must agree with all of Bush’s actions or Obama’s policies. Instead, I’m calling for Christians to understand that we cannot – must not – overlook the dangers of rejecting the legitimacy of a duly-elected president who legally represents us, whether we like him or not.