We are entering into the political season, with more announced (and unannounced) presidential candidates than I can count or keep track of. So it’s time for me to make some political statements that apply to the church and to me as a pastor. I ask you to read these carefully and prayerfully, and let me know what you think!
We are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ first, politicians second. Our primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ. Any allegiance to a candidate or party is secondary.
We do not (as an organization or a group within that organization) endorse candidates or political parties. We ask our leaders to refrain from using class time, pulpit time, church social media pages, church letterhead, church facilities, or other church venues or media to promote any candidate, party, or political philosophy.
Church leaders and all believers are free to discuss, endorse, and participate in political speech on their own time. We just ask you to make sure that your hearers know it is done as an individual and not as part of your official position within the church.
We do encourage individual believers to participate in the political process. Study. Think. Pray. Vote. Run for Office. Debate. Discuss. Endorse. Disagree. But do it all with the love, grace, and compassion of Jesus.
Refuse to post articles or use personal speech that degrades people, puts down others, call them names, stretches the truth, or incorrectly states the opinion of an opponent. Christians need to be graciously honest.
Be willing to admit that there are other legitimate positions than our own. None of us possess all wisdom. Listen carefully to opponent’s positions; there may be truth in it. Allow for disagreement without destroying personal relationships. Guard the fellowship in the church; unity in the church is much more important than political agreement.
Refuse to state the “Christian” or “Biblical” position on issues in which the Bible is not extremely clear. (Honestly, there is no clear “Biblical” position on tax policy, gun policy, immigration policy, or many of the issues that divide Americans.) There are general principles that help us on all issues, but there is room for disagreement. To state a clear Biblical position that doesn’t exist is intellectually and Biblically dishonest.
Understand that many politicians seek the “Christian” or “Evangelical” vote, so be discerning. I personally want to know more than the “talking points” and “positions” of a candidate. What are his personal values? How strong is his family? Is he active in his church when it’s not “political” season? Is he generous with his personal money? Is he honest with his opinions even when they’re unpopular in his party or constituents? Can he engage in polite discussion and debate with those who disagree with him? Will he make the hard choices even if they are politically inexpedient for the sake of the country? Does he possess personal integrity, morality, wisdom, and honesty?
Allow for growth and change without harsh judgment. I do not mind if a politician “changes his mind” on an issue. I have changed my mind on many political issues over the years. I respect politicians that can say, “I was wrong and I’ve changed my opinion.” But I do want to know why an opinion was changed. Is it for a deeper reason than political correctness or a desire for political popularity or to get votes or endorsements?
On a personal level, let me state that I am a deeply political person. I have opinions—often very strong ones—on political issues. But, publicly, I want to be identified not by my political stances, but by my personal belief in God, Jesus, the Bible, and the church. I often “bite my tongue” to refrain from making political statements at inappropriate times and places. I am perfectly okay with discussing politics with you (as long as we don’t do it at church or in my professional capacity as a pastor) and as long as you will respectfully allow for differences of opinion. I will do the same with you.
But I’d rather talk to you about Jesus Christ!
About Pastor Jack
Pastor Jack Marslender is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Avondale. He is married (Dawn) and is the father of Tina, Rebecca, Kimberly, Melinda, Angela, Maria, Kenneth, Kevin, and Lorissa. He is also the grandfather of Wyatt, Emilie, Everett, Olivia, Dylan, Charlotte, and Aiden.