Saturday, September 5, 2009

Parents, educators ponder whether schoolchildren should be shown Obama address - Kansas City Star

Parents, educators ponder whether schoolchildren should be shown Obama address - Kansas City Star

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The controversy regarding President Obama’s address to school children causes me to reflect on how we can disagree with certain views and policies a politician holds, while still respecting the office that she or he holds. The Apostle Paul strongly admonishes;

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. . . This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:1-7.

It is obvious from Paul’s own life, as we see it in the Acts of the Apostles, that he is quite willing to resist authority when it stands in opposition to the freedom of the Gospel. Paul is a virtually a jail-bird in Acts. Yet Paul’s world is not the situation we find ourselves in today. What is the proper response today in a democracy that has enshrined our religious freedom? Clearly we have the freedom to speak our mind and a responsibility to do so. We also have the responsibility to vote in harmony with a properly formed Christian conscience. What kind of respect is owned to those who hold legitimate office even if their political views are not always clear? What if the pattern of their voting record shows they lack integrity in key ethical areas? Clearly we can vote against them at the polls but in a pluralistic society they may still get elected to political office. Even if we think a particular politician lacks a well formed moral compass, we still owe them respect when they govern the nation or proposed laws which are in harmony with the dignity of the human person and the common good. In many political situations there are no easy answers. Paul’s admonition to the Romans suggests we still need to show respect for the person’s office. Perhaps the most fundamental way to show this respect is the pray for those in authority. Later in his letter to Timothy, Paul writes,
First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity (1 Timothy 1:1).

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