I must admit I am biased, not for Obama, Clinton or McCain, but I do tend to view things from the perspective of the gospel. World events, elections, no matter what is going on, I ask myself: is this a positive or a negative for the Gospel? Initial excitement for a political candidate can quickly change to disappointment. I remember in 1976 when, then candidate, Jimmy Carter announced he was born again. It had been unthinkable for a politician to admit such a thing, so naturally I felt incredible joy. In retrospect our opinions differ on the effectiveness of the Carter presidency. Whenever we deal with humans we are bound to, at some point, be disappointed.
What about Obama? Now I know I risk the ire of some of my Christian friends, but based on the facts at hand and the candidates available, I hope he wins. I think it will be good for the Gospel. Now I don’t think it will make a huge difference, just a little one. Politicians, presidents and prime ministers come and go, while real and lasting change comes by the Gospel. That’s why it’s not a big deal to me who wins.
Here is my reasoning. Rightly or wrongly, the Gospel is associated with America. If America is viewed in a positive light around the world possibilities for the Gospel open up, while a negative view of America can have detrimental effects.
The Gospel is also about equality of people. Jesus’ death and resurrection has torn down separating walls. So why not have a president, who is the son of a white mother and an African father, who spent four years in Indonesia, and devoted his early career as a community organizer in Chicago?
America is a great country of hope and opportunity. Europeans sometimes consider their democracies superior to the Americans, and yet it would be a far-fetched idea that a person of mixed race would become the President in France or the Prime Minister of England. Take France as an example. It has Europe’s biggest population of African immigrants and yet there isn’t a single black mayor in any town across France. The National Assembly has no member who is a first generation immigrant. Yes, there are plenty of Africans on France’s national soccer team, but none in the halls of political power. If America elects a president of African descent, it could be interpreted as a sign that the message of the Gospel has actually had an effect.
What about moral issues like same sex marriage and abortion? Where did we ever get the idea that good morality was a result of one political party defeating another? Of the last fourteen Supreme Court justices, twelve were nominated by a president elected for family values. Still the Roe vs. Wade ruling on abortion hasn’t been overturned, and it doesn’t look like it will be no matter who the next president is. Similarly, the next president of the United States will have little or no effect on same sex marriages.
Important family values do not come from a political office, but from the human heart, transformed by the love of Jesus. Heart transformation leads to behavior transformation. At best, legislation can modify human behavior, while only the Gospel can bring about lasting change.
What about reports that Obama is a secret Muslim? Some Christian preachers keep emphasizing that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein, as if this alone would disqualify him from high office. What bigotry! What lack of understanding of the Gospel! Just like we need born again Tom, Dick, George and Harry’s, we need born again Mohammad, Hussein and Abdullas. Real Christian conversion is not in the change of the name, but in the change of the heart. Now, I’m not suggesting that Barack Obama is born again, but frankly I don’t hear any other candidates lift up Jesus either. Maybe, just maybe, an Obama presidency could be a positive for the Gospel around the world. I don’t think it would help a lot, but maybe a little. Your thoughts?