It Was Never Personal: The Obama Presidency

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On January 20, 2009 my wife and I watched with great pride and joy as Barack H. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold the office. It was a historic moment for the nation and us.

We celebrated in the Moore house even though we knew what an Obama Presidency would bring. The historical significance of his rise to the most powerful office in the land was worthy of celebration. For those who do not know me yet, let me share that while I am not a fan of labels, for the sake of this blog l will say that I am politically conservative. Theologically I would be considered a Conservative Evangelical Pastor. Now that that is out of the way you will see where I am going. I celebrated the historic event of Barack Obama becoming president all while knowing that his liberal policies would fly in the face of what I believe and stand for. Our worldviews are for the most part at polar opposites.

I am at opposition to the majority of his policies and I do not believe that they have been good for America or good for strengthening the social ethics of our nation. Yet, it was never personal for me. My disagreement was always around policy.

Over time I actually grew to like and respect the president. Am I ready for him to leave office? Yes! I have had enough of Obama’s presidency. I have had enough of bait and switch politics on healthcare and the incoherent foreign policy. I don’t like the fact that Russian planes now buzz over our naval ships and they can get away with it because there is little fear or respect for the US military anymore. With all of that, I can still say that it was not personal.

This is not so for many of my conservative friends. The Obama presidency became very personal for many of them. I have never witnessed such vitriolic disdain for a person like I have witnessed among conservative evangelical Christians. I have never heard one positive or affirming thing said about President Obama from this group. I have never read a post on Facebook that credited him for one thing good. There is an old adage that a broke clock is right at least twice a day!

Even when I have witnessed prayers for the president, they have always been prayers of lament. In other words, they find ways to critique him to God. I have yet to hear any prayer that spoke blessing over him and his family. I have heard no prayers asking for protection for Sasha and Malia and for their welfare as they grow. The prayers are often complaints about what he is doing wrong.

I can think of very little that I appreciate policy wise from the past eight years. However, let me do what many of my fellow conservative Christians can’t do. I will offer a few things that I have appreciated about him. I appreciate that he used the protocols that Bush established to capture Osama Bin Laden and had the courtesy to call Bush personally when it occurred. I appreciate that he kept the Faith Based Initiative started under Bush and I am okay with his opening up relations with Cuba. Most of all, I appreciate the husband and father that he has been. See, not too hard. No bad taste in my mouth – because it was never personal.

Now, I can almost hear many of my friends who are Obama supporters cheering me on as I give it to my friends in the evangelical community. Not so fast! This same rebuke is also towards them. They did the same thing to Bush. My friends on the left could not even give him credit for keeping us safe after 911 and for the steady hand with which he guided the nation afterwards. He (Bush) also was a good husband and father. My Christian friends of the Democratic Party also made it personal.

My friends, my point is this: we have to cut this mess out. We cannot allow our partisan and political philosophy to curb our call to Christian charity for our neighbor no matter the party. Barack Obama is my neighbor. George W. Bush is my neighbor. Trump is my neighbor. I do not want to see him in office but he is my neighbor. I have an ethical responsibility that comes from scripture as to how I treat my neighbor. I also have a responsibility straight from scripture as to how I am to respect those in leadership and those who rule a nation.

I have a feeling that I will suffer another four years with someone in office that I am diametrically opposed to philosophically – be it Clinton or Trump. However, I am already prepared to pray for either of them and afford them the respect due. It does not mean that I will not offer criticism and dissent. But it will be on policy. It’s not personal!

Brothers and sister we would do well to heed the scripture: “…I say to you ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” Matt. 5:44-45.

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