The latest political controversy that involves the Christian faith is one I’ve had to think about more than usual. Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in California, has been tabbed by Obama to offer the invocation at the inauguration.
My first reaction was one of disbelief: how could Warren possibly join Obama on the platform and invoke God’s blessing on his administration?
My second reaction was to think more about the responsibility we all have as Christians to pray for our elected leaders, no matter how much we may disagree with them. Perhaps, I reasoned, this is God’s way of putting someone with His heart near the heart of this new administration. After all, didn’t Billy Graham counsel both Democrat and Republican presidents?
The prophet Daniel served at the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. His presence there was a way that God used to bring His message to that pagan monarch.
Christians do have a responsibility to pray for government officials. If we have the opportunity to influence them, we need to take it. So why should I not want Warren to pray at the inauguration?
I know all of this, yet I still have trouble with this latest development. If Obama wants to receive counsel from Warren or any other evangelical with a proper understanding of God’s righteousness on issues of public policy, that is one thing–and it would be a cause for rejoicing. But to pray at the inaugural itself is tantamount to a public profession of solidarity with the new president. Our role is to hold up God’s standard and lead officials closer to what He intends for government. I’m afraid that Warren’s presence on that platform will appear to be more of an endorsement.
Now, I know Warren does not endorse Obama’s views on abortion, and that his church took a decided stand against homosexual marriage. It’s possible that people will realize this, and in the eyes of those who are part of the great American “middle,” that confused mass of humanity that doesn’t know what it thinks, hearts and minds may be opened to rethink their views.
Already the main problem is that Obama is getting grief from his homosexual supporters, as they demand that Warren be removed from the agenda. Perhaps that reaction will accomplish the opposite of what the protesters desire; people may reject their protest.
I understand the various possibilities for how this could turn out, and some of it could be for the good. Yet I remain unconvinced. I ask myself, “Could I do what Warren is being asked to do?” Quite honestly, I could not.
I welcome the perspectives of my readers on this issue. As long as your comment is civil, I will publish it.