Though we shared many of the same values, in the fishbowl where I swam, we didn’t call ourselves Evangelical. In fact, it wasn’t until the first semester of seminary that I was introduced to the term for the first time. That was more than twenty years ago. Since then, I have been swimming in evangelical waters.
It was the biblical values that drew me. I learned to value the authority of the Bible as the revelation of God, in practice as well as doctrine. I believed in the centrality of conversion in the life of faith. And through my fears, I embraced the call to make disciples of all nations.
So I’m an evangelical insider. Though I’ve tried to avoid labels, since seminary, I have identified with evangelicalism. And while I have had much to say about cultural or popular Christianity, I have not been publicly critical of Evangelicalism; until now.
This is a big step for me. I have made it a practice to steer clear of the political debates. It’s proven a minefield of tribal division. But I’ve come to realized my silence may contribute to the frustration so many feel about the silence of the evangelical herd. The absence of my voice may be viewed as assent to much of what I do not believe.
Evangelical support for the current administration in the last election has exposed us before the world and demands a reexamination of our values. It seems the public values we have long held dear were sacrificed on the alter of one—a conservative Supreme Court. We’ve put all our eggs in that basket with the hope that the conservative courts will safeguard the other values. But now, family values, the sanctity of marriage, moral leadership, and even moral decency can no longer be advocated without manifest hypocrisy.
Sinful means does not justify a righteousness end.
The continued unswerving support of conservative political leadership, and the forfeiture of the other values suggests a need to rethink our spoken values versus our intrinsic values.
Maybe it’s our guns that we value, even more than family and decency. Maybe our political and economic values outweigh our moral values. How else do we explain the silence at grabbing women and paying off strippers to cover infidelity. How else do we explain the continued defense of the one who clearly embodies the antithesis of our values—unless he doesn’t. I hope I’m wrong, but maybe we too are simply responding to the dog whistle of a return to American greatness.
These are the valid questions others are asking about us. This is what they are saying about us. Even if it’s not true, the appearances are reason enough to rethink our approach. Our witness is a stake. We have already lost much public credibility. Can we value a meek and lowly Savior and King and as a voting base remain in quiet support of caustic and pugnacious political leadership.
I will admit I may not be seeing it fully. An individual perspective by default is limited. If there is something I’m missing, I’d like to know. Maybe our silence is shame. Maybe we had to hold our noses to cast our votes. I’ve get that.
Sadly, however, what we are not silent about are handouts and stimulus checks to the poor and irresponsible. We are vocal about people having to work for what they get. It’s such a questionable stance for a people who’s chief treasure was free.
The old saying is, “if a man tells you who he is, believe him.” Are we telling the world who we are, or are we simply missing the mark. I pray it’s the latter. If it’s the latter, all is not lost. It can be an opportunity to demonstrate the humility and repentance of which we continually stand in need. After all, Jesus came for people like that.