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Try Again.

There is an article making the rounds written by Dr. Russell D. Moore who is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Moore’s article is entitled “Christians, Let’s Honor the President,” in which Moore makes the argument that as Christians we have a duty and responsibility to honor and respect President Obama and submit without question to the his civilian authority.

To which we say, “heifer hockey.”

Dr. Moore writes:

We are going to disagree with the President on some (important) things; there will be other areas where we can work with the President. But whether in agreement or disagreement, we can honor.

Before we “honor” someone, it would be good to know what the word “honor” means. After all, how can we “honor” someone if we don’t know what “honor” entails?

As we are dealing with the Bible, the best place to look for the definition may be in Strong’s which defines “honor” as:

honour which belongs or is shown to one
a) of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds

It is here that the first chink in Dr. Moore’s argument begins to show. It is not to Barack Obama we should show honor, but rather to the Office of the President. It doesn’t matter what person fills the position, our duty is to honor the position, but not necessarily the person in that position. This means we have a duty to honor the office of the President but have no duty to honor Barack Obama the man.

We don’t even have to look very far within the Bible to see how this type of “honor the office and not necessarily the man” plays out. In 1 Timothy 5:17, we are called to accord “double honor” to those who preach and teach within the church.

How did Christ “honor” those who taught in the church? He called them names in a decidedly “un-honorable” manner:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Matthew 3:6-8 (NIV)

Does that sound like “honor” to you?

Even though 2 Peter 2:17 commands that we “honor all men,” the question has to be “is that commandment an absolute?” We aren’t looking for excuses or justification for committing a sin, but rather since it is clear that Christ did not honor the Pharisees the commandment cannot be an absolute. We could go further and ask should we “honor” a murderer? A thief?

Or given that we are directly commanded to “honor thy father and mother,” does that mean a child should honor the father or mother who sexually abuses them?

We can find no Biblical support that allows for the idea that honoring any particular individual is absolute.

None.

Yet despite the name of Dr. Moore’s article being “Christians, Let’s Honor the President,” the first actual verse he quotes doesn’t have anything to do with honor, but rather submitting to civil authorities. In most cases, one would first support their main contention (that of honoring President Obama) but Dr. Moore does not. He writes:

I am always amazed by those Christians who will dispute the command to honor, arguing that “kings” in our system are the people, and therefore we’re called to honor the Constitution but not elected officials. But the Scripture doesn’t command honor simply for the ultimate authority (which is, of course, ultimately God, in any case). Humanly speaking, the ultimate political authority in the New Testament context was the Emperor. And yet, the Apostle Peter specifically calls the people of Christ not only to show submission to the emperor “as supreme” but also to “governors” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

1 Peter 2:13-14 reads:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority,
14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 1 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV)

Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? The verse seems to be an absolute commandment.

Yet if you believe the verse to be absolute, what do you do with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were cast into the fire by King Nebuchadnezzar for failing to follow his legal, approved by God, civil authority?

Your answer may be “well, that is a spiritual matter and in spiritual matters, we have to follow God’s direction” and we would agree. But by saying there is an exception to the “submit” commandment of 1 Peter upon which Dr. Moore is relying, his point that we must submit to civilian authority simply because they are an authority goes by the wayside. Furthermore, if you want to take the position that the commandment doesn’t apply to spiritual matters but only to secular issues, what do you do with the Magi, who disobeyed Herod and returned to their home country without telling Herod where Christ was as he had commended?

Once again we see that Dr. Moore’s key foundations are like the proverbial house built on the sand – they simply do not stand.

Oddly enough, the argument of honor, respect and submitting to civil authorities was the same argument faced by pastors and church leaders prior and during the American Revolution. They came to the understanding that while civilian authorities should be seen as a higher authorities, but not the highest authority. They came to see that it is God who we must answer to in everything and not just in spiritual matters. Thus, the fight against tyranny and evil is both a secular and religious fight in which one must seek God in all arenas. Even though the American Revolution meant going against civil authority, the pastors and church leaders were for it and their discernment in this matter led to the founding of the county.

Throughout history, we have seen similar God fearing men and women come to the same conclusion. Martin Luther rebelled against both the spiritual and civilian leadership of his day. The American Civil War was often cast as a war to set men and women free, in spite of laws to the contrary. Dietrich Bonhoeffer not only defied civilian authority, he tried to end that authority in an assassination attempt on the life of Adolph Hitler. More recently. the modern Civil Rights movement was against civil authority.

Yet sadly, by demanding that Christians submit to civilian rule as well as honoring and respecting those who perpetrated evil on others, Dr. Moore would have had Christians sit on the sidelines in all of those issues.

God gave us the means and ability to discern what is right and what is wrong and to lay that ability aside in order to accommodate some misconstrued, cherry picked verses from the Bible cannot be within God’s will. Barack Obama’s ideas and beliefs are evil and contrary to God. We will not honor or respect any man who spews forth evil.

That is not to say Dr. Moores article is devoid of useful and sound spiritual advice.

We can pray for him to be granted wisdom and health. We can pray that God would prosper his good ideas, and change his mind on his bad ideas.

While we will do those those things, we will also continue to respect and honor the office of the President. We will abide by those laws which conform to God’s laws. But don’t for a second think that we are going to honor or respect a man whose beliefs and actions are the antithesis of God’s love and the foundational American idea of freedom. We will not respect a man who seeks to chain us all in sin.

Not this Christian.

We won’t fall for the idea that being nice is the same thing as loving a person. We won’t agree to the idea that evil should be accommodated. We won’t accept the notion that we should dishonor those who follow God’s teachings by honoring a man who does not. We won’t agree that we should respect a man who doesn’t respect our beliefs and who seeks to forcibly stop us from practicing those beliefs at the point of a secular, governmental sword.

Sorry Dr. Moore, we just won’t agree to what you are saying. We see the world in a more good vs. evil sense than it appears you do. You want to honor and respect evil and sin? That’s on you.

We won’t.

Go back to the keyboard and try again.



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