Barack Obama is in damage control mode this week as he is trying very hard to distance himself from his former pastor’s statements that America should be damned, among other things. But Obama himself has recently been guilty of mishandling Scripture in quite an egregious way.
Let me make clear here that my aim here in this post is decidedly un-political. Politics is the least of my concerns here. As a conservative, reformed, evangelical, Christian pastor, my concern is that someone who happens to be a political figure running for public office is publicly condemning statements made by his own pastor, while he himself is at the same time guilty of an egregious misuse of Scripture during a speech on the campaign trail. It’s the hypocrisy and the misuse of Scripture that I’m bothered by here, not the politics. If a Republican candidate had done this, then I still would have posted this.
Fist, here’s part of what his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. said in April 2003, which Obama is now condemning:
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes three-strike laws and wants them to sing God Bless America.
“No! No No!
“God damn America … for killing innocent people.
“God damn America for threatening citizens as less than humans.
“God damn America as long as she tries to act like she is God and supreme.”
Regarding the terrorists attacks on 9/11 he said:
“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye,”
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because of stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own backyard. America is chickens coming home to roost.”
Incendary? Sure. Ridiculous conspiracy theories? No question. Irresponsible? I think so. Totally wrong? Not quite (I’ll explain below).
But is it worse than what Obama himself told a college crowd in Ohio last week?
“I don’t think it [a same-sex union] should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state,” said Obama. “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.“
There’s something in the Sermon on the Mount that condones homosexuality? One passage of Scripture is more central than another?
Let me translate that. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul, in keeping with several Old Testament passages, clearly and unequivocally condemns homosexuality as a sin, but somehow Barack (and many others) think that Jesus’ remarks in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 actually contradict what Paul says. Even though Jesus never mentions homosexuality in His Sermon, somehow Barack, and those like him, think that something Jesus said in that Sermon condones homosexuality.
Usually passages like: “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” or “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” are appealed to as the Sermon’s basis for the acceptance of homosexuality. Somehow these passages are given greater weight than the clear statements in passages like Romans 1 that categorize homosexuality as a sin in the same list as murder, deceit, violence against others, etc.
These same people think murder and stealing is wrong, and have no shame in saying so, and yet they absolutely cannot accept the clear Biblical teaching that homosexuality is wrong as well. So, since homosexuality has become more culturally acceptable and defended as an acceptable and even moral (!) way to live, any statements in the Bible that appear to condemn homosexuality must be ignored, explained away, relegated as “obscure,” or somehow made “less central” (whatever that means). They therefore put the clear statements of Paul about homosexuality in direct contradiction to statements of Jesus that don’t even address the issue directly!
But Jesus’ statements DON’T contradict Paul. Jesus Himself repeatedly taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. In fact, He’s the One who instituted marriage in Genesis 2! Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere will you find support for homosexuality or any other sin in the words of Jesus, just like you will not find it in Paul or any other part of Scripture. You will only find clear condemnation of it as a sin.
But here are a few of the ironies with Barack and his pastor:
- Barack is condemning his pastor’s remarks as wrong, but he uses Scripture to support something that is patently wrong.
- Barack disagrees with Wright who says America should be damned for killing innocent people. He seems to be referring to his belief that America was the cause of 9/11, but isn’t it true that a nation who aborts millions of children each year is in danger of God’s judgment? Yet Barack supports killing of innocent people through abortion and defends himself by saying: “I certainly don’t think it makes me less Christian.”
- Wright is being condemned as a bad man for making remarks against the greatness and integrity of the United States. Obama is being hailed as an almost messianic figure, and his remarks against the unity and integrity of the Holy Scripture are ignored as unimportant.
- Remarks that condemn America’s goodness are condemned, but remarks that condone America’s evil are not condemned.
Sure, I think Wright is terribly wrong about his views. But what is being overlooked here, is that so is Obama and his views. Everyone is appalled at the pastor’s views (and rightly so), but no one is even questioning Obama’s! They’re assumed to be uncontroversial, completely mainstream, and unoffensive to most. I disagree. I really don’t believe that his views are mainstream, as much as the media would love for them to be, and they are unquestionably offensive to a good number of people, including me. I find them completely untenable with Biblical Christianity.
Here’s the issue as I see it. The attitude of our culture is this: Whatever is intolerant of anything anyone wants to do is evil. Whatever is tolerant of anything anyone wants to do, even if it is evil, is good. Do or say whatever you want, just don’t tell me that what I want to do or say is bad. That makes you bad, not me. And if I want to call myself a Christian and reject parts of the Bible and even justify certain sins as acceptable, who are you to tell me that I’m wrong?
Our culture’s self-consumed, hedonistic, authority-rejecting, deification of self is a curse on society, not a blessing. When a society rejects God’s ways for their own, it’s a recipe not only for anarchy, but judgment. Just ask the ancient Jews. (But since you can’t, you can read about it. Start in Judges and read through 2 Kings. Oh, and please make the effort to do that before you rip me in the comments.)