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Answers to a biblical-theological-ethical question

"Answers to a biblical-theological-ethical question" Continued...

So Peter was not naïve about the vicious world of government corruption and wickedness. He did not live in a “Christian nation.” He knew the depravity of human nature and the utterly ruinous corruption that political power can bring. This was the world into which he wrote our text. Verse 13:

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him. …”

And verse 17:

“Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

The point of drawing attention to Nero and Pilate and Herod is not to say that there is a Nero or Pilate or Herod in power today in America. The point is to say that if Peter could command the Christian community to honor the king and the governor, knowing the wickedness of Nero and Pilate and Herod, then how much more must we honor the governor and the president who are not in that category—even though they may endorse and promote acts which we regard as immoral and even barbaric.

A biblical-theological-ethical question

My question today is: How can I as a pro-life Christian honor President-elect Bill Clinton when he supports the right to kill unborn children for any reason up through the age of viability—24, 23, 22 weeks and falling—and for emotional health reasons even after that. We know this because he has expressed his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, which is before Congress and would give federal sanction to just those “rights” and would take from the states the right to make many laws protecting the unborn that are now being proposed.

This message does not aim to be political. But I realize that being a Christian today is increasingly putting us at odds with political positions. Just being an obedient Christian is increasingly becoming a social, political, legal issue. The aim of this message is to answer the biblical-theological-ethical question: How shall we obey God’s command in 1 Peter 2:17 to honor the king—or the president, or the governor—when they promote dishonorable deeds?

What our future president endorses is not the right to scrape a few fetal cells off the lining of the uterus, but that human beings who have a beating heart, give an EKG reading, show brain waves, grasp with their fingers, suck their thumbs, respond with pain, and carry all the genetic completeness of a human—that those humans may rightfully have their life ended by dismemberment.

And what I just described is the human fetus at 8 weeks, before which scarcely any abortions are done. To make the true position of the president-elect clear we need to see that not only that that little one will receive no protection from him but neither will this 12-week-old, nor this 5-month-old [shows models of unborn babies at those stages of development].

If you are sitting here this morning and thinking that the presidential endorsement of the right to take the lives of babies like this is an honorable thing to do—either because you don’t think they are babies or you think it’s the lesser of two evils—then your struggle is going to be different from mine. I struggle with the command, “How shall I honor a president who endorses the right to kill the unborn?” You must struggle with the command in the same verse, “How shall I honor people like this pastor who preaches what is false?” For the text not only says, “Honor the king,” it says, “Honor all men.” So it may be that in the answer I suggest for my struggle there will be something of use for yours.

Eight answers 

Here is my answer to the question, “How do pro-life Christians honor a pro-choice president?”

1. Humbling ourselves. We will honor you, Mr. President, by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6) and acknowledging that we are ourselves sinners and in need of mercy and forgiveness from God. We are not infallible. We are open to new light on this and every issue. We are not the final judge in this matter. God is. We stand before the cross of Christ on level ground with you, not above you, utterly dependent on mercy and seeking to live by the will of Christ.

2. Acknowledging God’s image. We will honor you by acknowledging that you are a man, created in the image of God, and distinct among all the beings in the world—as it says in James 3:9. You are not a mere animal. You have the glorious potential, like all humans, of being a child of God—if you aren’t already—and shining like the sun in the kingdom of God forever and ever. We honor you as an utterly unique, human being created in the image and likeness of the living God with untold potential.


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