I’m afraid we need a little Sunday morning theology. Hopefully someone at the White House will read this and realize just how ill advised the President was to do what he did this week and we should be praying hard for him to see the error of his ways on this.
In the Bible we read these things:
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” Gen 1:28 (ESV)
“Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:15 (ESV)
“Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.” Psalm 119:73 (ESV)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (ESV)
These are clear references to God intending people to procreate and recognize that, even in the womb, God played a vital role in the formation of children and we should not casually destroy life God himself created. These passages of scripture are what inspire so many pro-life advocates to defend the unborn.
Had the President of the United States stood at the National Prayer Breakfast and uttered any of those passages and then announced his intent to protect the unborn, abortion rights advocates would have stormed the White House and the Courts all in the name of separation of church and state. The media would have had on Barry Lynn to proclaim his outrage that the President was mixing religion and politics.
Jim Wallis would have gone on the news to dance around life issues and try his best to neuter God out of them and the media would have treated him as an objective source.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, the President went to the National Prayer Breakfast and quoted Jesus Christ himself to defend a tax increase. The President paraphrased Luke 12:48, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (ESV) He said it was because he was a Christian that he thought the rich should pay more in taxes.
It’s a good thing President Obama did not draw from Matthew 13:12 instead or the poor would really be screwed.
“For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (ESV)
It is worth pointing out that the very same people who would have been outraged had the President quoted clear scripture on life to defend the unborn were willing to be silent or even applaud the President perverting the words of Christ to pursue his tax plan.
It is also worth pointing out that President Obama sat at the feet of Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, so this might be the best he can do.
But we must also point out that Christians have an obligation to pray for their leaders and, given how the President of the United State just twisted the words of our Lord and Savior, we should pray all the more fervently for him because in reading Luke 12:48, he clearly ignored or has no understand of Luke 12:47, the prior sentence, which reads
“And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.” (ESV)
One must wonder about the Christian grounding of the people in the White House who encouraged the President of the United States to pervert the words of the Living God.
What the President seems not to know is encapsulated well by Breeanne Howe here.
Christ was not talking about money. The President, in making the case for his tax plan using that passage of scripture, perverts Christ’s meaning. Christ was talking explicitly about the blessings flowing from God to the apostles and us through the Word and the need to proclaim Christ as the Living God.
To better understand what Christ was actually talking about, first understand that he was talking about an individual’s relationship with God. In fact, throughout President Obama’s speech he perverted a number of passages from Holy Scripture having to do with an individual’s obligations toward the poor and toward God, co-opting those passages as claims that the state can then tax and spend in the name of Jesus.
I dare say I’d take peddlers of the “social gospel” much more seriously if they concerned themselves first with the actual Gospel as it pertains to men’s salvation and eternity.
Not to delve deep into the theology, but Luke 12:47-48 is reflected in Hebrews 2:1-4, in which the writer preaches,
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
The Greek used for “pay much closer attention” (prosecho) and “lest we drift away” (pararheo) derive from Greek nautical terminology the original audience would have understood. Prosecho means to tie up or moor a ship in harbor (a metaphor for Christ) and pararheo means to negligently and knowingly let a ship drift past the harbor, or Christ.
In other words, what Christ is telling us in Luke and what the author of Hebrews explains in greater detail is that these passages apply to people who, like the President, claim to be Christians and claim to have experienced blessings in life and then turn their back on or drift away from Christ without securing themselves to him.1
What both Hebrews 2 and Luke 12:47 say that the President conveniently ignored is that anyone who claims to be a Christian or who has experienced the blessings that flow from being surrounded by believers and then does not accept Christ will be judged more harshly on the last day than those who never knew or experienced Christ’s love. Yeah, those levels of hell aren’t just for Catholics. See e.g. Matthew 11:21-22 in which Christ says,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” [Emphasis added]
Unfortunately for the nation, we have a President who claims to be a Christian who is willing to take God’s Holy Word repeatedly out of context, subsume God’s commands for individuals in their conduct with each other and with Him, and try to make the case for the government’s fiscal policy with that perversion.
Contrast that with his other actions this week.
The President, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has ordered religious organizations — targeting more specifically the Catholic Church — to offer health plans that cover the costs of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. I started this post with, unlike the President’s use of Luke and Proverbs, un-perverted scripture Christians use to show their objections to abortion. But moreso, these are non exhaustive passages of scripture Catholics rely on as foundations both to their opposition to abortion and to contraception. God himself said, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
The President this week chose to pervert God’s Word to make the case for a tax increase, but he also chose to ignore God’s word on life and is ordering Christians, while he claims to be one, to violate their Christian conscience on abortion — requiring Christian organizations to provide health insurance that will cover the cost of drugs that induce abortions.
He is trying to have it both ways. He is trying to use God’s Word to defend a tax policy that dissuades individuals from giving gladly and charitably to the poor as God instructs and is ignoring God’s Word in order to force fellow Christians into violating their Christian conscience — something about which God cares a great deal.
This cannot end well for him, particularly doing this claiming to be a Christian. And it might not end well for the rest of us either. Barack Obama has gone to war with Christians’ consciences and he is perverting God’s word in the process to get his way on public policy.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
Pray hard. The President needs it.