In case you missed it, the United States is currently looking down the double-barrels of a presidential election. The way the internet reads, public sentiment is sour at best, and few people are thrilled with the two major candidates. Frankly, the third party candidates are lousy, too. (Excluding Vermin Supreme, of course. He is delightful!)
Regardless of your political affiliation, I suspect that something like 65% of American voters will wake up on Wednesday morning and be disappointed with the newly elected president. How can 35% of the voters elect a president? Simple. We’re all voting against the other guy, and not for anybody. I wish Brewster would have shown up and saved this election. #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary would have fit nicely with the #NoneOfTheAbove campaign. #NeverAnybody (Also, please note that I’m making up my 65-35% numbers.)
If you’ve not seen it, it’s a pretty great movie. However, I can’t speak to the content, which is likely objectionable. I watched it when I was a kid, but it was on cable, and it was doubtless quite sanitized. Let’s be real: it’s Richard Pryor.
But let’s get back on track. This election is just like the mayoral race in the aforementioned movie: both candidates have pumped scandalous amounts of money into slick ad campaigns that have demonstrated little more than their ability to slander one another and squander campaign contributions. That’s pretty much where we are today.
But take heart!
We’ve got something that they didn’t have in 1985: Facebook! We have the distinct ability to create our own news through the use of memes and articles published by irreputable websites. Depending on which site you like, the “other” candidate is the most unqualified, crooked, filthy, perverted, murderous no-goodnik ever to walk to face of the earth.
It’s fine if you think one or the other candidate is not a good choice. That’s your right as a voter in these United States. Frankly, I would hope that you can find a candidate that you like, and then vote accordingly.
However, if you are a Christian (and Christians, you are my target audience this morning), you are firstly a citizen of Heaven, and only a secondary citizen of the USA. If and when your candidate loses, you must accept that result and respect the newly elected commander-in-chief.
Let’s see what Paul had to say on the matter:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. —Romans 13:1-7 (emphasis mine)
Clearly, Paul is referring to Godly leaders, right? Emperor Constantine? Ronald Reagan? Nope.
Paul wrote this letter in or around 56 A.D. Do you know who was emperor of Rome in 56 A.D.? I’ll give you two hints:
- It wasn’t Hillary Clinton.
- It wasn’t Donald Trump.
Actually, it was Nero.
Nero is one of those guys who has established for himself a decidedly terrible reputation, and rightfully so. By the age of 18, he was emperor of Rome, married to his first wife, and romantically involved with another woman. Due in part to his mother’s disapproval regarding his choice in women, her and others in the family attempted to make Nero’s younger stepbrother, Britannicus, emperor in his stead. Oddly enough, Britannicus died while these plans began to take shape. Historians generally agree that Nero poisoned him.
Nero then found himself another girlfriend, and then had his mother killed because she would have disapproved of him divorcing his first wife to marry another. Following his mother’s “untimely passing,” Nero divorced his first wife and had her exiled, and just in time to marry his now-pregnant girlfriend. The public outcry against her exile was great, so the emperor graciously allowed her to return, but she was executed shortly thereafter. Solution oriented, that guy.
To quote Suetonius, a Roman historian, Nero “showed neither discrimination nor moderation in putting to death whomsoever he pleased.” Ain’t that the most tweetable thing you ever did read?
When his second wife died (some think he murdered her, but that is uncertain), he mourned for a while, and then hooked up with another married woman. It worked out, because within the year, her husband was driven to suicide and she was free to wed. About a year later, Nero forced a former slave to be castrated, and then married him, as well. History says that this man bore a striking resemblance to Nero’s deceased second wife, and Nero often referred to him by her name.
Also, Nero is the emperor who is said to have strummed his lyre during the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. Despite the fun imagery that comes with a crazy emperor, history generally refutes this claim.
I could go on and on with his indiscretions, but I think you get the idea.
Also, Nero was the emperor who had Paul thrown in jail for his Christian faith. This is the leader he exhorted the readers to render submission.Click To Tweet
What does Nero have to do with anything?
Paul lived under a leader whose life was marked with sexual immorality, who thoughtlessly murdered his political opponents, and who held a great hatred toward Christianity. Clearly, religious liberty wasn’t high on Nero’s party platform.
Without question, Nero was a worse leader than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be. Therefore, it should be obvious that Paul would exhort us to submit to either one of these as our president, should they be elected. In addition, the text is clear that God has allowed that candidate to hold this high office, and even that He has appointed that person for this point in time. And further still, resisting their authority is resisting God Himself.
In case it isn’t obvious, resisting God is a bad idea.
No matter what you want to think about our political process, about freedom, democracy, and those other grand American terms, our next president has been selected by God for such a time as this. He graciously gave Obama eight years to accomplish whatever God placed Him there to accomplish, and will now permit the next to have their turn, to accomplish another piece of God’s will for our country and our world.
This is not to say that we should sit idly by and let the leaders drive our county into the ground, picking fights with diverse world leaders. Quite the contrary:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. —1 Timothy 2:1-4 (emphasis mine)
Pray for all people, to include your rulers, be they kings, presidents, senators, mayors, or school board members. Pray that they may be peaceable in their dealings, that they may prevent disputes, whether global wars or heated arguments. Also, pray that they find an inner peace, that which is a fruit of the Spirit, which only comes from coming to the knowledge of the truth and living a life submitted to the Lordship of Christ. God wants to infiltrate our government, and our governors, whether by electing Godly leaders, or by making our leaders Godly. Clearly, it is His will for all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. This includes politicians.
Today might be a great day to start being more gracious about the candidate for whom you are not voting. You are absolutely free to think that one is better than the other, but you must do so respectfully. Name-calling is not allowed. You ought not call Trump a repugnant buffoon. You mustn’t refer to Clinton as “Killary,” so matter how catchy it may be.
If you believe the Bible to be true, you must believe that whoever is elected is appointed by God to rule this country at this time. This is true even if they rig the election and cheat their way to the top. Don’t you think God could prevent election fraud?
All that being said, I’ll leave you with a bit of wisdom from John Wesley:
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election and advised them: To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy; To speak no evil of the person they voted against; And, to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” —John Wesley, October 6, 1774
Your candidate will either win or lose in the upcoming election. Do not be a poor sport of your candidate loses, or offer any haughtiness should your candidate emerge victorious. At the end of the day, you’ve got to live with your neighbors.
You must be nice. You must vote in a way that allows you to be content with your choice, and you must allow others the same rights.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t support a candidate. I am. I’ll be voting early, and voting often, for Vermin Supreme.