"Just what does it mean to pray for our leaders? In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 the Apostle Paul urges "that entreaties and prayer, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior...." ...
...In December it was made public that president-elect Barack Obama had tapped Rick Warren, evangelical pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, to give the invocation at the inauguration on January 20 in the nation's capital.
A ruckus immediately broke out, as some Christians criticized Warren for even accepting the invitation. For example, in an open letter to the Saddleback pastor, WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah blistered Warren. Farah stated his "profound and abject revulsion" at the fact that Warren would be giving the inaugural invocation.
Farah said he believed it was the responsibility of Christian leaders to "stand up to leaders, like Nathan did to King David," and confront them with God's truth. Specifically Farah said that meant that Warren should be confronting Obama about the president-elect's unwavering support of abortion. ...
..."I'm sure you would not want to invoke God's blessing on the inauguration of a figure like Adolf Hitler, whose rise to power brought the destruction of millions of lives," Farah said.
Ah, the Hilter card. It's hard to top that one. (Even a Stalin card can't trump it.) But let's follow this argument. Obama is like Hitler because, while Hitler primarily slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust, Obama's support for abortion is similarly evil.
Now I think the moral equivalency of the Holocaust and abortion is a good, defensible argument. Both objectified a category of human beings and then took horrifying steps to pursue their murder. The depths of evil connected to the Holocaust and abortion are equally difficult to comprehend.
However, Farah's argument contains a non sequitur. Just because one prays for Adolph Hitler does not mean the prayer is meant to "invoke God's blessing." One could, conceivably, pray for Hitler's conversion, or for God to prevent the man from carrying out his wicked plans.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul does not appear to restrict the command to pray for leaders in any way. He does not say, "Pray for good leaders, but not for bad leaders." In fact, one could make the argument that Christians have more reason to pray for wicked leaders than good ones.
Thus, it would be the content of the prayer that would be decisive on January 20. If Rick Warren asks God to give Barack Obama success in every endeavor – which would include Obama's quite clearly expressed plans to push both abortion and the gay agenda – then Warren would be wrong to do so.
But if Warren prays for God to give Barack Obama wisdom and compassion, if he asks God to protect Obama and his family from harm, if he prays for God to give the new president a heart that responds to the leading of the Holy Spirit, is that a wrong prayer?
The vicious Nero was emperor when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2 – the same Nero, ironically, who, according to Christian tradition, ordered the execution of Paul and the Apostle Peter. If Paul could urge Christians to pray for Nero, then we can certainly pray for Barack Obama.
And so can Rick Warren."
A Letter to the Editor
6 years ago