Breaking the Third Commandment for Politics
When I was a kid, I used to think that the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” in Exodus 20:7 meant not saying, “Oh my God!” I’ve realized now that it’s way more than that. Here’s an excerpt from an article I read: When we misrepresent Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith as proclaimed in Scripture, we take the Lord’s name in vain. When we say we love Him, but do not do what He commands (Luke 6:46), we take His name in vain and are in danger of hearing Him say to us, “I never knew you. Away from me” in the day of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23). The name of the Lord is holy, as He is holy. The name of the Lord is a representation of His glory, His majesty, and His supreme deity. We are to esteem and honor His name as we revere and glorify God Himself. To do any less is to take His name in vain. This leads me to something thats really been bothering me through these elections: That Christians, even Christian leaders who are supposed teachers of scripture, have used the Bible to promote their candidates in the coming election. The more I think about it, “bothersome” is a weak word for how I feel every time I see a Bible verse defending a candidate, or every time I read a “Thank God! He’s answering us!” when a candidate of theirs is showing good signs. This is something I see going on all sides of the political spectrum and not just one candidate. I think a better word is “terrified”. I’m terrified at how we’re willing to outsource our thinking to “leaders” or “personalities”, as if their being high profile means they understand civil government better. Would you have your pastor run your company or choose where you spend your money? Why would you default to his opinion and not use your own brain? We live in a society that discourages thinking for yourself. If someone else is always doing the thinking for you, whose mind gets the exercise? If someone else is doing the pushups for you, whose body is getting stronger? You have your own brain. God gave you one. Develop it by using it. I’m terrified at how easy it is for us to take God’s Word and twist it for our own agenda. I’m terrified at how proud we are to presume that the Bible is there to agree with us, agree with our candidates, when it is through humility that we are exalted, and humility means allowing God’s word to refine our hearts and minds, NOT picking a position and searching the Bible for proof, and then quoting it as if it were God’s word. I’m terrified at how easy it is for us to tear each other down, dishonor candidates, while at the same time, quoting verses, quoting the same book that says, “In your anger, do not sin.”, that reminds us “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”, and, so that we avoid any confusion about what matters most among seemingly contradicting priorities, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”, so that we would never mistake, in our quest for a better life, that love is front and center of God’s plan. I’m terrified that we’ve forgotten that as we are caught up in the euphoria of this political circus. I’m terrified because, if all it take for us to forget our most basic Christian values of love for Christ and love for others, is an election year, then our faith is in vain. If all it takes for our “Christian leaders”, “Bible teachers”, and “Men of God” to compartmentalize their theology, quoting one verse to defend their pick while at the same time completely ignoring another opposing verse, is an election year, then where is the credibility? Why should I listen to any of them as God’s mouthpiece? I’m terrified because this is incredibly prideful to say, “My pick is God’s pick.” And pride comes before a fall. It’s incredibly prideful to take God’s beautiful word and use it to promote injustice, unkindness, unfairness, immorality, and ungodliness, without thinking about the Owner of those words, about what His whole word has to say. I’m terrified because Proverbs 30:6 says, “Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Reading that gives me the chills, as it should. Who Should I Vote? I was explaining this to someone, who responded, “Who should I vote then? If I use the whole Bible as a basis for my pick, none of the candidates would remain.” I said, “It’s simple but not easy. It’s simple because you should vote based on your convictions. And your understanding of the Bible should help you form your convictions. So for example, if the Bible says, “Don’t steal”, then your conviction should be “Don’t steal”, and if it says, “Don’t murder”, your conviction should be “Don’t murder”. Now given that no one is perfect, you must use the Bible to order and prioritize what is more important than the others. While all issues are valid, and all are important, not all of them are of equal importance. So based on this ordering of importance, we now choose a candidate who represents our convictions most and whose flaws are most forgivable as based on our hierarchy of loves. This is why it’s not easy. The formulation of values and life principles is a rigorous process. The ability to cut through the noise, think for one’s self, and not compartmentalize our convictions but immersing in truths, allowing their blazing heat to refine us, is full of painful effort, yet leads to enlightenment. He said, “You still haven’t told me who to vote.” I said, “Your choice is your privilege, a gift and a responsibility from God when He gave you freedom and a mind. You honor God when you allow His word to define the priorities of your freedom and the thoughts of your mind. We dishonor God when our own thoughts and own priorities define His word. So vote who your carefully crafted principles have led you to. Just remember that it reveals the priorities of your life. Whether your principles are pleasing to God is between you and Him. But don’t use His word to endorse your chosen candidate, because your adding to His words. Don’t use it to tear others down for what father delights in seeing his children use his own words to curse one another when he loves them all? How can this be Christian? And if we are applying His word to promote people, ideas, parties, and agendas that are un-Christian, all for an election year, then what are we?