On the loss

The vast majority of conservative thinkers thought that the polls were weighted too heavily toward the Democrats, and that Romney would win. In fact, the polls were right, and the vast majority of conservative thinkers were wrong.

So starting Wednesday, collectively from the right side of the Internet, there was an outcry: We were robbed! Obama cheated! The election was stolen!

Oh, wait. That didn’t happen.

Actually, what happened was a lot of mea culpas. From the guys I read (we’re not talking anonymous blog commenters here. They’re terrible on both sides.) there was surprise, disappointment, and honesty: Wow. We read this totally wrong. The electorate is not what we thought it was.

I’m disappointed too. There are permanent consequences to this election. But the reaction on the right gives me hope. There can be sober analysis without self-delusion, and we can learn from this. If we’re willing.

***

As many on the right have pointed out, the USA is not a center-right country anymore. A center-right country does not elect Barack Obama twice. Republicans must realize this, and here for me is the most important point we must take away from this election: We must find leaders who can persuade.

We need guys who will go before hostile and skeptical audiences and make the conservative case, across the board. We need to refuse to be portrayed as anti-poor, anti-woman. These are lies, and they need to make us angry. Instead of being terrified that we’ll look anti-poor or anti-woman, we need to show righteous indignation at that charge. We need to point out that those attacks are simply fear-mongering, and show exactly why our policies are better for the poor, better for women, and so on.

We need a nominee who will go to the NAACP and say “You’ve been voting lock-step with the Democrats for 50 years. Has it gotten you anywhere?” We need a nominee who will go on with Jon Stewart, laugh some at his own expense, and then absolutely destroy the cliché arguments that get thrown at him– and have fun doing it.

We can’t play it safe anymore. We have to talk about big ideas, knowing that about 55% of the country is not inclined to agree. We have to change their minds.

***

Along those lines, here’s a speech I kept wanting Romney to give this summer:

You know, the other side’s been talking about me having a lot of money. He’s right. I made a ton of money last year, and I gave a ton of money away. You know how I got my money? I’m damned good at my job. You know what my job is? I come in and fix things when they’re bad. I take things that are losing money and make them make money. Then the people in charge make money, and they hire more people, and those people make money. I’ve done this a lot.

I also raised some eyebrows the other day when I said I like being able to fire people. You know what? I do like being able to fire people. I think if people don’t do their job well, they ought to be fired. Their bosses ought to fire them. That’s called “accountability,” and we need more of it in Washington, not less.

Now I’m asking you for a job. You’re the people in charge. I’m asking you for another chance to do what I’m really good at: Turning things around. And if you hire me, and I don’t perform, then you get to fire me. How’s that sound?

If the president wants to talk about my money or my background, that’s fine. I welcome that talk. I’d go up for a job interview against this guy any day of the week.

We all get to dream, you know.

***

With this, I’m taking a little break from politics for a bit. Which brings me to my final thought: I have a ton of respect for the guys who do this stuff for a living– the Senators and congressmen and governors and all that. Because after a bummer election, I can stop thinking about it for awhile, but they have to get up the next morning and figure out what to do– how to regroup, where to compromise and where to stand firm, all that. I don’t envy them.

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Guys, man up and show your love.

This fall the Bible study we host in our home is studying lesser-known OT figures. This week was Jonathan, the son of Saul and friend of David.

There are several passages describing David and Jonathan’s friendship.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
(1 Samuel 18:1-4)

And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.
(1 Samuel 20:41-42)

“How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.
(2 Samuel 1:25-26)

Be honest: These passages make you a little uncomfortable, don’t they? They do me. I don’t talk like this with my guy friends. And as you might expect, there’s no shortage of speculation about the details of David and Jonathan’s relationship. Interestingly, the same is true of Abraham Lincoln. There are ridiculously unsubstantiated fringe rumors that Lincoln was homosexual, based on his healthy friendships with men and the fact that he shared a bed with another man in a rooming-house– an entirely normal practice in his day.

In fact, read letters between men from about 1900 or earlier and you’ll be surprised at how open they are in expressing affection. In contrast, guys today typically express our positive regard by making fun of each other, or we don’t express it at all. Our loss. (It’s worth noting that David and Jonathan, who were willing to express themselves as above, were quite masculine, what with all the bear/lion/giant-killing and the multiple-soldiers-overtaking and such. It’s not like they were over at the coffeehouse reading Derrida all day.)

Why is this? I think that, ironically, it has to do with our culture’s obsession with normalizing homosexuality and blurring the distinction between the sexes. It is very rare that you’ll find an article about Christianity and homosexuality that doesn’t bring up David and Jonathan (or, even more strangely, Naomi and Ruth). The reason that’s ironic is that the alleged sexual liberators are supposed to be the ones who are comfortable with people being secure and free about their feelings. But let two men express affection, and suddenly they’re a closet case. Men have learned this lesson, and now we know: Don’t show your love for another dude. It’ll be taken the wrong way.

It’s a shame that this is where we are. It’s a shame that our culture can’t appreciate masculinity and femininity in all their varied forms, that we have to flatten the distinctions and ignore the obvious, lest we be accused of bigotry. But we don’t have to bow to it, guys. We need good, healthy, life-giving, and yes, affectionate relationships with other men. Part of getting there is being willing to express our love for each other, without fearing that it will make things weird.

Is ordination biblical?

Recently on Facebook (attention-getting opener NAILED IT) someone I like and respect said

The false distinction between “clergy” and “laity” is perhaps Satan’s most effective tool to both prevent the spiritual maturation of believers and to maintain division within the church.

There are a few ways you could interpret that, and below you’ll find me agreeing with one of them. But it seems to me like he’s saying that there should be no clergy or laity– no distinction at all. Certainly there are people who feel this way. When I was ordained we had some friends who wouldn’t come to the service because they believed ordination itself was an unbiblical concept. They said, “You know we don’t think he needs a special title to serve God!”

So it’s a fair question: Is ordination biblical? Short answer: Yes.

In the OT we see God calling specific people to specific tasks. Often there’s even a ceremony, we might say, in which that person is installed in their role. So God tells Moses (Ex 28-29) exactly how Aaron should be installed as high priest over Israel, and that same procedure is repeated for Aaron’s descendants. God also chooses kings for his people. Saul (1 Sam 10) and David (1 Sam 16) are both anointed by Samuel, God’s representative, just as Aaron was anointed by Moses.

Under the New Covenant, Jesus is our Prophet, Priest and King. There is no other mediator between God and his people. But Jesus rules his people, his church, through human beings. We see this as he sends out the apostles with this commission: “Whoever receives you receives me” (Matt 10:40).  So when we read the words of Paul, Peter or the other apostles, we’re reading Christ’s commandments to his church.

As it happens, both Peter and Paul speak of offices, or roles of leadership in the church to which some Christians are called and some are not. Addressing the church at large, Peter refers (1 Peter 5:1) to “the elders among you,” and to himself as a member of that group: “I exhort [the elders] as a fellow elder”. Paul speaks (e.g. 1 Tim 3, Titus 1) of both elders and deacons, and he gives instructions for how to select them: they must meet certain qualifications, they must be “tested,” then they may serve.

We also know from Acts that Paul’s normal church-planting procedure was to “set apart elders in every church” (Acts 14:23) and when that was done, he considered his pioneering work complete (Rom 15:23). He found this process so important that he left Timothy and Titus in Ephesus and Crete, respectively, to shepherd the churches there in large part by identifying and training leaders (Titus 1:5). Paul spends a good chunk of the pastoral epistles telling Timothy and Titus how to select and evaluate officers. And if it’s the “ceremony” that bothers you, notice that Paul specifies that the laying on of hands is a key element of setting apart elders, referring to Timothy’s receiving a spiritual gift “when the council of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Tim 4:12) and warning him not to “be hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Tim 5:22).

To say that some Christians are called to vocational ministry, and most are not, is not to set up a special class of extra-spiritual people. (I am a pastor with lots of pastor friends, and let me tell you, we ain’t extra-spiritual.) Elders and deacons don’t have a special hotline to God; he doesn’t love us more than he loves the teachers or the computer programmers or the stay-at-home moms among us. God calls all of us to serve him in different ways. One of the great rediscoveries of the Reformation was that we serve him just as nobly in a secular calling as in an explicitly Christian one.

So if that’s what my friend is getting at, then yes. It is bad to say that the only way to really serve Jesus is by becoming a pastor (/missionary/nun/church secretary). But to say that there are some who have a particular calling to teach, lead, and shepherd God’s people is simply to affirm what all of Scripture teaches. Discerning who these people are, acknowledging their calling, training them to serve, and installing them in their office is a very natural and biblical way to go about things.

In fact, the Bible doesn’t just permit this, it commands it.

Love and the Law

Jesus in the gospel of Matthew:

 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 22:36-40)

Paul in his letter to the Romans:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
(Romans 13:8-10)

I have occasionally heard Christians say something like “Keeping the Law doesn’t matter; what matters is loving people.” I don’t think that’s what Jesus and Paul mean here. If they did, it’s unlikely Jesus would say this earlier in Matthew’s gospel:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-20)

Neither Jesus nor Paul thought the Law was overbearing or unnecessary. So when they say that loving God and neighbor is the fulfillment of the Law, I think they mean that “Love God and love your neighbor” is an accurate summary of the Law; it expresses the heart behind the Law.

Does this render the Old Testament law unnecessary? Not at all.

In a perfect world filled with perfect people, God could say “love me, and love one another,” and that would work. But we’re sinful people living in a broken world, so that isn’t enough. We need to know how to love God; we need to be told how to love one another. That’s what the Law does. It describes exactly what God expects from his people. And since his people are sinful, it graciously gives provisions for how we repent when we fail to keep his law.

Another dimension to the Law: One feature of our sinfulness is that we tend to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. So rather than leave it at “love God and love one another,” knowing that we might well respond like the rich young ruler and say “All these I have kept from my youth,” God shows us how high the bar is. You say you love me? Have you ever taken my name in vain? Have you kept a weekly Sabbath of rest and worship for your entire life? You say you love others? Have you ever told a lie about someone else? Have you ever been jealous of someone else’s property?  The Law shows that we can’t keep the Law. It makes us want to look for a Savior. That’s by design.

Far from relaxing the Law to a broad we could claim to have kept, Jesus and Paul are showing us what the Law is about. It’s about loving God and loving our neighbor. We can’t do either of those, which is why Jesus came. His life and death covers over our failures, and frees us to pursue obedience with a renewed mind and heart.

Sprints and marathons: an encouragement for parents in the trenches

A snapshot of Bible time at our house, when it happens.

Dad. Do you guys remember the name of the man we’ve been talking about? The one who built the boat?

Foard. Owen.

Sam. NO FOARD, it was NOAH.

Foard. Oh. Noah. HEY I KNOW NOAH! (He does.)

Dad. Sam, please use kind words with Foard. Yes, it was Noah.

Foard. Yeah. Noah. And if there were bears that came into our house, they would make a mess. And Daddy would say “Who made this mess?” (This was part of an illustration to the Noah story, weeks ago when we started it.)

Dad. Yes. Ok, so God told Noah to build a boat…

Sam. And Dad, did you know that Changer-Man can change into a boat? He can change into ANYTHING.

Dad. OK, but we’re not talking about superheroes right now, it’s Bible time and I want you guys to listen.

Foard. Yeah, and I’m SNEAKY-MAN. I’m Sneaky-Man, Sam is Changer-Man, Mommy is Power Girl, and Eliza is… what’s Eliza’s superhero name again?

<threat against more talking>

<cursory reading of brief Bible passage, skipping over non-central points>

<quick selection of 1 of the 3 application questions in the book>

Dad: Let’s pray.

And scene.

For my last two years in college, I was very consistent in spending the first 30-45 minutes of the day in the Bible and prayer. I don’t have an explanation for it (I see that hand. Yes, the Holy Spirit. Thank you.); I just locked into a routine: Wake up, make coffee, open Bible.

I don’t remember a single insight or “Aha!” moment I had during that time, though I’m sure there were some. I have the journals somewhere. I do remember that the last several months of school, I went through a serious spiritual desert– never felt anything, it was hard to pray, etc. But as I look back, those 2 years were probably one of the top three times of spiritual growth I’ve had in my life.

Similarly, I doubt that my kids will ever think “There was a Tuesday in September of 2012 when my dad told us how the Flood reminds us that God will rescue his people from his own wrath. Awesome insight.” But God willing, they’ll remember that a lot of the time, after dinner we’d sit and talk about the Bible. Because whether we’re talking about our own devotional time or our frantic attempts to teach our kids, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the results come in years, not days.

Hang in there, fellow trench warriors. We’re playing a long game.

Never, no never, no never.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
(John 6:37)

When Jesus says “I will never cast out”, he uses a double negative. If you want to be fancy (and why wouldn’t you?), it’s οὐ μή ἐκβάλω ἔξω: something like “Not not I will cast out.” In English this is bad grammar; in Greek it’s for emphasis. (Also in Czech, for what that’s worth.) In fact, it’s pretty much the strongest negation available in Greek.

The English phrasing I like the most for this idea is at the end of the hymn “How Firm A Foundation”:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes!
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

That’s what Jesus is saying here. He will never, no never, no never cast out the one who comes to him in faith. There is no circumstance under which he will reject those who trust in him. I’m not saved by how well I hold onto Jesus– not so well!– but by how well Jesus holds onto me. And he is, as my daughter’s name means, “God of the oath”– the One who always keeps his promises.

So when I’m at my worst, selfish and self-absorbed, seeking my own little kingdom at the expense of everyone else, there Jesus is: holding onto me. Not casting me out. That’s very good news.

Jesus isn’t a jerk, but sometimes he’s awkward.

In John 4 Jesus is having a perfectly nice conversation with a Samaritan woman. By the standards of the day he’s being nice to talk to her in the first place, her being a woman and a Samaritan and all (v. 9). And he gives her a beautiful picture of the Gospel:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (4:13-14)

She’s sold. She wants this water. She asks for it. Then Jesus makes it awkward.

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (4:16-18)

Now this isn’t Jesus having a little faux pas, like when my dental hygienist apologized for hurting me and I said “That’s ok, if you came to me for marriage counseling I’d probably make you cry,” and she said “You’re probably right. I went through a divorce a couple years ago…” It wasn’t like that at all, because Jesus isn’t a blabbering fool like me. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows this woman has a particular sin pattern, and right at the point where she seems ready to believe his message, he baits her and brings it right out into the open.

In the process of sharing the Gospel, Jesus pointed directly to someone’s obvious, external, sexual sin.

Can you imagine what we’d say if we heard someone preaching the Gospel like this? We’d call him a fundamentalist, or at least a jerk. We’d say he wasn’t being missional, or incarnational, or sensitive. We all know that kind of preaching is no good anymore.

But Jesus isn’t a jerk, and he went there.

My point is certainly not that we should go around constantly pointing fingers at people’s external sins. There were plenty of times Jesus didn’t do this. Also there’s the whole omniscience thing, and the fact that he knew things about this woman she didn’t know about herself. And we can be certain that what he did here was out of love, out of a desire for this woman’s good, not a desire to shame or humiliate her.

But Jesus’ love is often very different from our culture’s view of love. In the case of this woman, the rest of the conversation shows she’s very willing to talk about spiritual things, but always wanting to keep it on the level of the theoretical. So he shows his love for her by poking that bubble. He makes it personal, brings it down to earth. “You’re a sinner, and you need a Savior.”

We cannot be more loving than Jesus. We can’t be kinder or wiser or more sensitive or more missional than he was. And yet, sometimes he was quite abrupt, even awkward. (As we see here, it wasn’t always with conservative religious types.) We don’t have the exhaustive knowledge or wisdom he does, but surely there are times when we should speak with that same kind of boldness.

A post in which I upset some friends

First things first: I consider myself a conservative with a decent libertarian streak. I consider libertarianism to be a helpful in-house critique of conservatism. So the presence of Ron Paul and Ron Paul fans in the Republican party is largely a good thing, I think.

But Ron Paul fans are a diverse lot. You can largely filter them by asking the question “Will Ron Paul ever be President?” If their answer is “No, but I’m voting for him to send an important message,” then no worries, and you can probably have a good thought-provoking conversation. I’ve had several and enjoyed them.

If their answer is “He’s the only one who can beat Obama,” or “the party bosses would never let that happen,” or  “Yes, if it weren’t for the system / Romney’s evil minions / the secret cabal of Communists meeting at Chris Christie’s house,” I find it best to back away slowly. These are the guys who use “neocon” like a curse word for everybody other than Dr. Paul and claim there’s no difference between Obama and Romney. (Now I have my qualms with Romney, but as I tweeted recently, if you can’t tell the difference between him and Obama, you deserve Obama.)

Which brings me to my point. A lot of Paul fans are frustrated that the party isn’t taking them seriously, to which my response is: Why should they?

You have all these voters who 1) can’t out-and-out win a single state for their guy and 2) are not going to vote for the nominee. Voters supporting a Republican candidate who argue that the Republican candidate is perhaps a worse choice than Obama. In other words, these are not Republicans. These are folks who are going to take their toys and go home if things don’t go their way. From the standpoint of the party, they’re haters– people you’re never going to win. So why should you try?

Barack Obama would be foolish to spend one cent or one moment’s worth of energy to persuade guys like me to vote for him. It’s never going to happen. The same is true for Romney and some– not all– Ron Paul fans. The thing for him to do is talk fiscal sanity, make his case to those who are persuadable (whether to his right or left), and not chase the haters. That just makes sense.

The best kind of heartache

You get married, and the thought of kids is terrifying. The loss of freedom, the sudden responsibility, the questions about money. After a few years the terror subsides– hey, this could be fun. Gotta start sometime. So you talk, you make plans, you dream. Then real life happens: you don’t just check a box and get a baby. Biology has a role, and it doesn’t always cooperate. So you wait and hope and pray and are disappointed. You read books and visit doctors and have well-meaning people say “The second you stop thinking about it!” Your perspective changes. You wonder how you ever thought this could be an inconvenience.

Then, it happens! The drug works, or you actually do stop thinking about it and it actually helps, or the agency calls with good news. And while you’re celebrating and laughing and picking out paint colors, it hits you: this could break my heart. One more person in whose life your own is now inextricably tied up. One more set of potential catastrophes that could turn your world upside down. One more subject of desperate prayers: “Please don’t let anything happen.”

After a near-infinite series of miracles, with cells dividing and heart beating and good movement (now? now? now?), this new gift arrives in your house. Before you’re home from the hospital, your world has changed. He has nothing to offer, makes incessant demands, and you have never loved anything so much in your life. You didn’t know you had the capacity to love like this.

Or to hurt like this. Because nothing is guaranteed. A normal pregnancy doesn’t guarantee a normal birth doesn’t guarantee a healthy baby doesn’t guarantee a healthy child. And even if they stay healthy and breathe all night (now? now? now?), one day they will hurt. Kids won’t play nice, or friends will move away, or you’ll move away, or the favorite toy will be lost, or the boyfriend will turn out to be a jerk. Their hearts will get broken. And in all likelihood they’ll break yours.

You add to the brood and the love you thought couldn’t get any bigger grows. It has room for more. More joy, more amazement, more laughter, and yes: more vulnerability. More possibilities of disaster. You would do anything, you would give everything you had in you, to protect these little people from the slightest hurt, from any little disappointment. But you can’t, and even if you could, you know you shouldn’t. Life will hand them beautiful and terrible things, so you try to prepare them for both.

You pray, you play, you discipline, you teach. You read the same book 12 times a week. You look forward to them being bigger, and then you cry because they’re getting bigger so fast and you miss the little them. It is so exhausting, so hard, so fun, so beautiful, so good. And you’ll never be done. One day they’ll leave, but the love will never stop, and the responsibility will never stop, and the vulnerability will never stop because the potential for heartbreak will never stop. Not in this world.

Worth it? You bet. This is the best kind of heartache there is.

On pastors and politics

I love politics. I have since I was a dorky little kid. I’ve told Melissa that I’d like to live 4 lives: one as a pastor and theologian, one as a musician, one as a chef,  and one as the President of the US. (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones would play “Big Country” at my inauguration.) (I’m being really vulnerable right now, and I hope you appreciate it.)

But as it is, I have one life, and it’s the one I really want: as a husband, father, and pastor. How does that work with my interest in politics? Is it OK for a pastor to talk politics in public, to blog and tweet political stuff, or does that hurt his witness for Jesus?

In the US people get this wrong every whichaway: Some churches seem afraid to speak clearly where the Bible does, but others seem entirely in the tank for one party without putting much thought into it at all. Neither of those errors are confined to the right or left. In Europe most people could care less what the church thinks; that’s a different problem.

I escape a good bit of this by living and working where I do, which is fine with me. But I still have to think about what’s wise and what’s not. So I’m a conservative with a pretty decent libertarian streak, and I’m also a Christian who believes the Bible is the final voice on all matters on which it speaks. But I’m an ambassador for Jesus, not for William F. Buckley. I want people to know the one true God, to worship him and enjoy him forever, and I want that a lot more than I want people to vote the way I do.

So I try to be careful. I don’t want to reinforce stereotypes that will turn people off from hearing the gospel. The gospel is offensive enough without me being offensive myself. But I also think people are grownups, and in general can handle the idea of a “man of the cloth” having personal opinions as well.

These may be kind of arbitrary, but I have some “best practices” I try to follow. Some are just to avoid unpleasantness, some to avoid feeding my own idols, and some are career-specific.

  • No politics in the pulpit. Generally I try to preach exegetically, so the topic is determined by the Bible, not me. I probably wouldn’t ever instruct people to vote for a certain candidate, although in a case where the passage I’m preaching on clearly addresses a topic I wouldn’t hesitate to point it out. I can’t for the life of me imagine having a candidate address the congregation during worship. That has always given me the heebie-jeebies, whether it’s a Republican or Democrat.
  • I don’t bring up politics when I’m meeting or getting to know people. If others bring it up and I disagree, I try to change the subject. (Those who know me well would be really surprised at the restraint I sometimes show.)
  • Most of the time I try to stay away from politics on Facebook, and I’m more unfiltered on Twitter and the blog. The blog does push to Facebook, but I figure the people who are interested enough to read it actually want to hear what I think. Generally, I’m not interested in arguing, unless I think the relationship with the other party can handle it and there’s mutual respect and willingness to listen.
  • I try to keep my speech gracious and respectful. I’m sure I have a broader view of what that might permit than some, but I do have a filter, and there are many comments left on the cutting room floor. (“If you knew all the things I didn’t say…”)

Who knows. I may decide one day that I’ve been wrong, and that I should keep my mouth shut entirely when it comes to politics. But this is where I am now.

What do you think? Is it bad for pastors to talk politics? Any horror stories?