23 November 2009

Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8?

If you have not heard, there is a new crazy Christian idea out on the Internet. People are selling products with the slogan "Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8." The verse in question says:
May his days be few; may another take his office!
Very cute use of words indeed. Sounds pretty harmless at first, until you read the next verse:
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!
Keep reading, the following verses get worse. So, the call is for a shortness of days and removal of office, but in context, this is to be due to death.

Now, as "witty" (and I use this term lightly) as this use of Scripture is, the point is made that there is a dislike of the President, and they would like his days in office to be few. Now, in their defense (not that I know their true intent, but giving them the benefit of the doubt), they did simply use verse 8. Verse 8, used, abused and chopped totally out of context, as a stand alone thought is fine - point taken. I too could agree with the sentiment. In the ways President Obama is setting this nation up for great harm, I too pray for his days to be few (impeachment anyone?). I hope and pray that his harmful influence and potential for damage to be thwarted. So, taken "as is" and out of context, their point is somewhat acceptable.

However, anyone who looks it up, is not going to stop at verse 8, and it is very irresponsible to strip things out of context to make such a point. So, for that I would condemn such a slogan as not only a poor witness of Christian love and charity, but it is an abuse of God's Word as well as a display of public disrespect for the office of President.

However, then you have those professing Christian like Frank Schaeffer making some pretty strong leaps in this case.

SCHAEFFER: No. Actually, it means something more threatening. I think that the situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of Biblical language, language from the anti-abortion movement for instance, death panels and this sort of thing, and what it's coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler, as they have already called him. And something foreign to our shores, we're reminded of that, he's born in Kenya. As brown, as black, above all, as not us. He is Sarah Palin's "not a real American." But now, it turns out, he joins the ranks of the unjust kings of ancient Israel, unjust rulers to which all these Biblical allusions are directed who should be slaughtered, if not by God, then by just men. So there's a parallel here with Timothy McVeigh's t-shirt on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. He said the tree of liberty had to be watered by the blood of tyrants. That quote, we saw at a meeting where Obama was present carried on a placard by someone with a loaded weapon.
Again, in the slogan creator's defense, the slogan strictly asks for prayer to God for Obama, that his days in office be few. Looking strictly at the slogan, they do not seem to be promoting physical violence by man, but simply a calling on God in prayer (at least I pray to God that is their intent). If such a slogan provokes another person to take physical violence, then you cannot hold the slogan at fault per se, anymore than holding a gun responsible for someone using it to kill someone. However, the point is made that things are already at a heightened state of "hostility" over Obama's action (you would think he'd take a hint and stop), so I would have to honestly ask if this type of slogan is really to an advantage for God's Kingdom or if it could be dangerous?
SCHAEFFER: What we're looking at right now is two things going on. We see the evangelical groups I talked about in my new book, Patience With God, enthralled by an apocalyptic vision that I go into in some detail there. They represent the millions of people who have turned the Left Behind series into best sellers. Most of them are not crazy, they're just deluded. But there is a crazy fringe to whom all these little messages that have been pouring out of Fox News, now on a bumper sticker, talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him. Really, this is trolling for assassins. This is serious business.
I agree that there are many in the "Christian" world that are blinded by this delusional "end time" apocalyptic anti-christ scenario, that are already on a heightened alert from years of being told we're living in the "last days" that stirring up this kind of fear and hate could provoke them to physical violence. But again, if some wacko sees himself as fulfilling some last days scenario and commits violence, you cannot really hold the whole of Christianity at fault, or even a slogan. Especially considering that the very Word of God that the wacko attempts to use speaks against people taking such direct violence.

My biggest point of disagreement comes over Schaeffer's words that "Look, this is the American version of the Taliban." The radical Muslims use their scriptures to condone and promote physical violence, not by using it out of context like this slogan, but because their scriptures do literally promote it to begin with. They are not asking their followers to simply pray, they are promoting the taking of violent actions against the enemies of Allah. They are not saying, pray against the infidel, they are saying flat out that it is fine, just, and commendable to kill the infidel. That is quite a drastic difference to telling people to pray against an unjust ruler. If the Muslims radicals were simply gathering in large groups to pray against (and even pray for the death of) the infidels, then I feel confident saying we'd have little to worry about.

The difference is, the Christian Scripture do not call for individuals taking violence unto themselves; unlike the Muslim scriptures which clearly do.

So, is the slogan bad? On the surface, taken at face value, I do not think it is, and would hope that the creator of it is innocent of anything other than good intentions. However, given the current political climate, is it wise to promote this new "Pray for Obama" slogan? I would have to say it is probably more likely to be harmful than beneficial at this time.

We as Christians are to love one another, we are to love our enemies, and we are to submit to our rulers (Romans 13), acknowledging than they, even the ungodly ones, are placed into office by the sovereign hand of the Almighty. We get what we (as a nation) deserve; and considering the way we have let our country go, we deserve what we get. Hopefully it will be a wake up call for Christians to take action, get off their butts, and take a part in the political system of this country, by voting and running for office and by contacting our leaders and demanding they take the godly paths in situations. Take action, pray, get involved...if not, don't complain at what you "allowed" to get into office.

Does America need a revolution? Maybe?
Does it need a revival? Definitely!
Will displaying products with this slogan promote revival? No!

Pray for President Obama. Pray that God will open his eyes to the truth. Pray that God will grant him godly wisdom, to do the right thing, to lead America back to it's Christian foundation. Pray that God will restore justice, order and truth to our nation, it's leaders, and it's laws. Pray that God will convert and save Obama that he can then be used to promote and defend justice and godly principals; but if not, pray that God would see fit to remove him from where he could cause harm, and replace him with a more godly leader. Do all things in love and compassion, and do not provoke others negatively, as I am sure this slogan would be more prone to do.

What are your thoughts? Post them below.