Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Never Preaching about Politics

Let it be clear: I never preach politics. Ever. Nor will I ever allow myself to endorse a political candidate or party from the pulpit.

I preach only from the witness of bible and from stories of history, which inoculate our souls against the demons that afflict humankind. Just as there are dark yearnings at play in our own souls, so too are there Powers that tear at the souls of cultures and nations. A pastor who ignores those things is doing a disservice to their community.

So in the past several years I have preached on many things. Challenging our sinful love of violence, I've used sermon illustrations from the civil war in Spain. I described the rise of Europe's most successful fascist experiment. I've talked what that looked like under Franco, who co-opted Christians into his bloody rise.

I've called to mind the self-destructive propaganda of the old Soviet Union, where basic principles of agriculture were set aside in favor of ideologically acceptable "alternative agriculture." Starvation ensued.

As a warning against charismatic charlatans, I've sounded scripture off of the story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple, and what it looks like when people fall under the thrall of a demonic narcissist.

I've preached and taught from the Proverbs, which teach the difference between biblical wisdom and foolishness. The wise are measured, moderate, circumspect, and humble. They speak carefully. They understand the impact of their words. They do not stir passions. They are constant, diligent, and thrifty. They seek peace. They are faithful to their commitments and their mates. Fools are none of those things. They shoot off their mouths, fail to restrain their anger, and always blame everyone but themselves. They are flighty, shortsighted, and wanton. They foment discord. They base their choices on the lies they tell themselves, and not the truths of God's Word and the reality of God's creation.

I preached against the deadly sin of pride, using as my illustration the tale of William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States, who passed away in office because he was too stubborn to wear a jacket in the rain. Or so the legend goes...the truth, as always, is a little more complicated.

On another recent Sunday, I preached about what we owe the emperor and what we owe God, referencing recent studies on the human tendency towards authoritarianism, and how...even though Jesus shows us what servant leadership looks like...there's still a part of many of us that yearns for a despot.

I have done all of those things. I will continue to do so. All are utterly biblical, and speak to the Principalities that seek to drive grace from our culture. Is that politics? No. Partisan politics has no place in the pulpit.

But a faith that does not speak to our life together and to our identity as a people is meaningless.