The presidential election of 2016 will probably go down in history as one of the most memorable. I would imagine most people, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent will monitor the Republication convention with interest, if for no other reason than to see the drama that is likely to unfold. I don’t know if I have ever seen such behavior, not only from the candidates, but also from others who claim the name of Christ. I expect such from non-believers, but Christians should know better than to treat each other in this way.
There are definitely strong differences of opinion on many issues between parties and between candidates of the same party. This carries over to the public as well. I am appalled at some of the political posts I have read on social media. And people are so quick to believe anything they read or hear whether the source is reliable or not!
But how does the church play into all of this? First of all, if you are a pastor, there are differing opinions and members of both political parties in your church—and you are the pastor of all of them. Just because a person is a Democrat and not a Republican, or a Republican and not a Democrat, doesn’t make him a non-Christian or reduce his worth in God’s eyes. So what should a pastor do?
The Bible is still relevant, and it has principles to guide us in every aspect of our lives. The pastor has a responsibility to preach the Word, “the whole counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27). If a moral issue is accepted culturally by some, and has become a source of contention politically, you should preach what God has to say about it—however popular or unpopular—and do not “turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deut. 5:32). Always remember to address issues from a biblical standpoint, not a political one.
As a word of caution in today’s climate, if you, as pastor, bring politics into the pulpit, be aware that you putting the church at risk of being sued or of losing tax-exempt status. As a minister, you should be careful about endorsing a political party or candidate publicly in the church. Are you entitled to your opinion and to choose a candidate? Absolutely. But wherever you go, people associate you with your church, and if you are viewed as a political activist, some people who disagree with your stance might turn a deaf ear to what you have to say about God. I know pastors who have become actively, and very publicly, involved in political things; and their actions and comments turn me off—I can only imagine what non-believers think. Because of this, my husband and I have made it a personal policy not to even put political signs in our yard.
Finally, encourage your congregation to seriously pray about the direction of our country and that God would give us the leader of His choice for this time in history.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.