Pastors, Politics and the Pulpit

pulpitWe were always told not to do it. During my seminary education, we were repeatedly warned as pastors not to support specific parties or politicians from the pulpit. We were encouraged not to put campaign signs in our front yards. We had long debates about whether a pastor should even discuss his political leanings in private discussions.

We were told the pulpit is where the preacher proclaims, “Thus says the Lord.” The pulpit is no place for personal opinions. Even outside the pulpit, when the pastor speaks, people often fail to distinguish between his own private views and divine ordinances.

Don’t get me wrong. God does speak specifically to certain political issues. As Christian pastors, we should speak out against the evils of abortion and defend the Biblical truths about human sexuality. We should encourage our people to participate in the political process, vote their consciences and pray for our leaders.

We need to remember, however, that many of the hotly debated issues today fall squarely in the area of Christian freedom. As Christians, we can honestly disagree on immigration, the economy, gun control and the like. The Bible does not say whether you should be allowed to own a gun or not. The Bible does not advocate or condemn socialism. The Bible does not tell us the best way to protect our borders.

Faithful Christians can fall on both sides of the aisle. Though abortion and gay marriage are important issues, they are not the only issues. A Christian rarely will agree with any given candidate on every issue. What issues should carry more weight? That is up to the individual Christian to decide.

In the end, God is not a Republican nor a Democrat nor a Libertarian. I, as a pastor, should never give the impression that he is.

Personally, I have felt frustrated at times because I have strong opinions about certain candidates and issues. I deeply want to share my thoughts with others and engage in the debate. In the end, though, I see the wisdom of pastors not preaching politics from the pulpit.

The rise of social media, however, has created a new dilemma for us. Social media has become its own bully pulpit. Especially in this year’s presidential election, Facebook feeds are filled with propaganda for certain candidates and diatribes against others.

I’ve noticed a surprising number of pastors joining the fray – sharing posts, liking memes and engaging in the rhetoric. What is even more alarming is the insinuation in many of the posts that a true Christian will vote for a certain candidate or belong to a certain party.

I honestly struggle with this issue and don’t claim to have all the answers. I do, however, see the wisdom in what my professors taught me so many years ago. What do you think? Should pastors and clergy publicize their political leanings and engage in political discussions on-line?


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