Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pastoring and Political Endorsements

Should a Pastor Endorse a Candidate for President?

This is an election year. This year, as every election year, will determine the President of the USA and the direction our country will be heading. Should a pastor, should I, be political? Should a pastor make a political endorsement of certain candidates?

There are some churches and pastors that openly, even from the pulpit, endorse polticians. I think this is wrong. Even if it is allowed and was legal, I don’t think a pastor should go so far as to endorse particular candidates. I think this is an issue of wisdom and priorities. Let me break this down into a few different lines of thought: offense of the gospel, Biblical issues inform political ones, and shepherding people from all parties.

#1 The offense of the gospel.
A pastor and church should never shy away from the offense of the gospel. The gospel will offend. That is a non-negotiable. But, we must be careful not to offend with things that are optional or secondary. By making an endorsement of one political candidate or party, we run the risk of offending those people who are for the other guy or other party. A pastor needs to make sure that the gospel is the first priority, not an election. The good news of Jesus is the primary proclamation that should come from the pulpit of a pastor. Everything a pastor chooses to say is also excluding something else he could be saying. To be overly political runs the risk of lessening the gospel of Jesus Christ.

#2 Biblical issue inform political ones
Don’t get ahead of me yet. While I think it is unwise of a pastor to endorse a particular political party or candidate from the pulpit this does not mean that he should not address issues and values. A pastor absolutely has a responsibility to preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. The Bible gives believers many mandates that are relevant to modern social issues. A pastor should never shy away from faithful proclamation of the Biblical view of these social positions.
For example, it is critical necessary for a pastor to preach sound Biblical messages on the horror that is abortion. The Bible is unequivocal on this issue. We can’t let politics hijack our courage from preaching the Biblical truth that abortion is wrong. Obviously, that Biblical position should be used by the wise Christian to guide us in who to vote for.
I think the wise course of action would be for a pastor to defend the sanctity of life without saying, “Don’t vote for so and so candidate.” Preach the Biblical truth unashamedly, but don’t mandate a particular vote. This is true for other important issues of the day that are addressed by scripture.

#3 Shepherding All
The pastor must shepherd, minister, and teach all different types of sheep and church members. Some are more mature in their faith, some are not. Some are from one political party, some from another, some from no party affiliation at all. The church is not an arm of the Republican National Convention. It is the body of Christ. As a pastor I lessen my leadership ability by being overly political from the pulpit. I need to teach the Biblical issues and lead the people no matter what party that they might prefer. It is my opinion that this philosophy is the wisest course for a pastor.
I do not think that this means a pastor cannot have a personal opinion. He does, and he does have a vote. I do and I will. I will not endorse a candidate from the pulpit, but if it comes up on a personal level I have no problem voicing my political opinions.

One more note. I hope this serves as a good example for others. As followers of Jesus, our home is not this world. We already belong to a political party – it’s called the kingdom of God. No human president is going to usurp the throne and power of our God. In fact, scripture is clear == God allows whoever is president to be president. So, no matter how this election turns out, Jesus Christ still rose from the dead and will return with the sound of a mighty trumpet. Let’s serve Him above anything else.