My Silence Is Not Compliance: Why I Don’t Preach Politics from the Pulpit

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I don’t speak on political issues in my church. I don’t support candidates. I don’t address legislation.

And I’m tired of being called a coward because of it.

On behalf of myself and many Christians like me, I’d like to make a request. Stop accusing fellow Christians of doing nothing just because we’re not called to do what you’re called to do.

We may not preach on political issues, but that doesn’t mean we’re sticking our heads in the sand. There are other options.

 Read more at Pivot

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4 thoughts on “My Silence Is Not Compliance: Why I Don’t Preach Politics from the Pulpit”

  1. Karl,
    I agree with you 100%. From the beginning the “issues” have been present and the approach of the prophets varied. Not only must there be a balance of grace and truth, we must be aware of which is needed at the moment. Keep up the good work!!

  2. I appreciated what your wrote, and it makes sense. Ad hom attacks about politics (or the lack of it from the pulpit) are out of line. I also understand your caveat at the end. But, are political issues always something to be avoided? What are your thoughts about Martin Luther King and racial discrimination in the South. In particular, King’s letter from a Birmingham jail. If I understand his assertion correctly, he was calling out some pastors who were failing to deal with the social injustices of their day as they also preferred the proclamation of the Gospel.

    Given what you align with, what would the Gospel proclaimed be like if you were a pastor in the South during those times? Considering some of the issues of our day — refugees, gun violence, same-sex marriage, etc… These are contemporary challenges that have political impact and are addressed from a political perspective. What does the faith integration piece look like in your pulpit — teaching God’s perspective and living it out with our neighbors/in our community?

    I think I hear what you’re saying but could you flesh it out? While not involving oneself in politics (power, perhaps?), how do you (do you?) help people (believers) navigate through issues of pertaining to policy? Could/would you “define” politics and preaching on politics, that could give a clearer picture of what you mean? Thx.

    1. Great questions:

      “Are political issues always something to be avoided?”
      No. As I wrote in the post, “Preaching from Scripture often means taking an unpopular stand on hard moral issues. Sometimes those stands correspond with current affairs.” Including politics.

      “What would the Gospel proclaimed be like if you were a pastor in the South during those times?”
      It would address those issues because the Bible addresses those issues. For instance, I don’t go out of my way to talk about abortion and gay marriage, but I addressed each issue from a biblical perspective when I preached through Romans recently. I also address race and gender equality when I teach on passages that deal with those topics.

      Here’s an interesting story about how living our convictions intersects with current events. Two months before 9/11, our church had sent a missions team to work with a church in Northern Ireland, working with Catholic and Protestant children to help bridge that divide. When 9/11 happened, I reminded my congregation that several of us has already been working with children of terrorists (the IRA) and had seen God do great work in their hearts. It gave us a handle on how to work, pray and keep fear at bay as we worked through the aftereffects of 9/11.

      “While not involving oneself in politics…?”
      When the Bible is taught in a balanced way, it deals with every aspect of the human condition. But, by “tak(ing) my cue from God’s Word, not the current obsession of the 24-hour news cycle” it has a greater ring of authority as I address issues that have a political bent, and it keeps me from “being distracted by the shiny sin-bauble currently in the news.”

      “How do you (do you?) help people (believers) navigate through issues of pertaining to policy?”
      I don’t. But God’s Word does, when preached and taught in a strong and balanced way. Better to have a Christian vote well because they’ve applied scriptural principles to the issue than because their pastor told them how to vote. Teach a man to fish…

      “Could/would you “define” politics and preaching on politics?”
      I would define that as endorsing or not endorsing candidates, legislation and propositions. But, if the passage I’m preaching on deals with the underlying issue, I preach on it.

      The main point to note is that I’m not opposed to people who preach politics from the pulpit. It’s just not what I’m called to do. For reasons I don’t understand, the Lord has led me and my church to do a lot of hands-on ministry with alcoholics, drug addicts, homosexuals, divorcees, abused women and children, abortion victims, Republicans, Democrats and more. When I make declarations about specific sins and/or issues, I tend to lose the chance to keep those conversations and relationships alive. But when I preach a balanced word, without regard to politics, people respect that and can hear things they disagree with. Often that leads to a wonderful change of hearts and minds.

      When I preach politics, I win arguments. When I preach scripture, it changes hearts and minds. I’d rather do that.

      (BTW, I may use a version of this response as a new blog post soon. I’ll keep your name off of it, though.)

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