Why Is My Pulpit Silent?
Originally posted 12/2/2020 by Pastor Jim to the English Ministry community at ECC-SKC.
These are his personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of the church as a whole.
Last month (Nov. 2020), I mentioned at the beginning of my Sunday sermon that “I try to keep politics out of the pulpit.” I made that statement a few days before one of America’s most politically, socially and racially charged elections ever. Everybody was anxious about it. Everyone was talking about it. So why keep the pulpit silent?
Is it because God has no say in the society we're in? The answer is an obvious NO- the Bible does indeed have much to say about how we live our lives. Our faith surely impacts how we vote and the principles and policies (and politicians) we support. So why keep the pulpit silent?
Brothers and sisters, allow me to briefly offer 3 personal reasons why I choose to keep politics out of the pulpit here at ECC-SKC.
DISRUPTS UNITY IN CHRIST
Firstly and most obviously is that worldly politics disrupts the Unity that we have in Christ. A 2-party system by design divides us down the middle. It pits one side as “right” and the other as “wrong.” Or worse- one side as “righteous” and the other side as “sinners.” It’s easier to cast the first stone when you feel like you have backup.
But the Kingdom of God should not be this way! Christ calls us to a culture of Unity so radical that “every tribe and tongue and nation” can worship and serve and fellowship and flourish together. Our churches are to be embassies of this great Kingdom, welcoming and inviting all who confess sin and call upon the Lord.
I never want to turn someone off from the Gospel because of my personal politics which they may disagree on- the beliefs they’ve formed in their personal faith journey. What we hold in common is so much more important: our sinfulness and God’s grace!
So, I will keep my pulpit silent when it comes to politics, partisanship, divisions, denominational differences. When the bickering begins, let us say along with Apostle Paul: “For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Cor. 3:3-4, 16-17, emphasis mine)
The Unity we have in the Lord is our birthright as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ. What God has brought together, let no man (or politics) separate.
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES > WORLDLY POLICIES
What about all the other issues that the Bible talks about and the worldview it presents. Shouldn’t we be free to talk about those things too? By all means! However, we should be careful to make a distinction between biblical principles and worldly policies.
God’s word is timeless. It transcends history and language and culture. It speaks to the human condition. Likewise it also presents truths which are very relevant for our daily lives. Take for example, the biblical principle of “the sanctity of life.” We believe that human life is not merely random cells working together in biological concert. Human beings are God’s crown jewel of Creation which he intimately and personally breathes life into (Gen. 2:7) and knits together in the womb (Jer. 1:5). Human life is immeasurably precious, and I have no problem proclaiming this from the pulpit- because I stand on biblical ground.
What I do have issue with is conflating “sanctity of life” with a crusade against abortion. Abortion is only the latest incarnation of this evil, unholy normalization of Death. It will certainly not be the last. There have been child sacrifices throughout history. Murder of all kinds. Death penalty. Euthanasia. Forced sterilizations. Fetal tissue harvesting, etc. The imagination of human depravity is endless.
Let us not pretend we can stay one step ahead of the curve and legislate against all immorality. America never was, and never will be, the Kingdom of God. We are a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people.” That’s it. That’s politics.
So, I will keep my pulpit silent in regards to people’s political agendas and the laws of the land. The pulpit is a sacred space for proclaiming God’s timeless truths, not the machinations of man. Scripture presents a worldview which shows our utter sinfulness and our need for salvation. We do not dig ourselves out of this hole, bible in hand. We reach out to God who graciously intervenes.
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
Does this mean we do nothing, say nothing? Holed up in our churches, convinced that the world is hopeless, lost and “gone to Hell”? May it never be!
We have been called and commanded by Jesus to be salt and light: a godly witness to the world (Matt. 5:13-16). The prophet Jeremiah says: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:7). Enacting godly change is our right and responsibility.
But I cannot tell you how God wants you to vote. I do not know what God is burdening you to act on. That is your freedom of conscience, and personal responsibility. As I preach and teach the “whole counsel of God” to you week after week, I am trusting the Spirit will form your values and lead you to make your own decisions. Through your Bible reading, your life experiences, your prayers, your fellowship, God is shaping you to be His witness- to make His world a brighter place.
No pastor can dictate what should be highest on your list of priorities. Sanctity of life? Social justice? Law and order? Immigration? Foreign policy? Religious freedom? Economic inequality? Racial reconciliation? The Bible touches on all these issues but does not rank them in importance. Nor does it give the solution for how to “solve” each problem.
So, I will keep my pulpit silent in regards to holding any one of these issues higher than the other. That is up to you, the individual believer, to decide. As an American, it is your civic duty to vote. But as a Christian, it is your duty to love. On the last day, you and I will stand before our Maker and Judge. My hope is you can say to Him with a clear conscience: “I did my best to love You and love my neighbor.” (Matt. 22:36-40)
So, my brothers and sisters, it is not that I have nothing to say about politics. I absolutely do. But there is a time and place for that. In my humble opinion, the pulpit is not it. You may disagree with me, as many pastors do. But these are my convictions. These are just a few of the reasons why I choose to keep politics out of my pulpit.