Thursday, June 05, 2008

Seven Reasons Conservative Whites and White Evangelicals Should Stop and Enjoy Obama's Nomination

A dear, dear friend gave me a ride to O'Hare airport this past week. He's a white brother, a precious saint, who takes great interest in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I'm thinking he's read more and thought more about that history than I have. He from time to time asks me what I think about this or that aspect of African American history, culture, current events, etc.

On the ride to the airport he asked me, "When reflecting on the significance of Barack Obama's run for president, how do you feel when your white brothers immediately start talking about abortion? Does that anger you? Do you feel like they just missed the point of your reflections altogether?"

I thought for a moment. I don't think it angers me or frustrates me much. I think I'm mostly saddened by it. I'm saddened that for those moments brothers and sisters in Christ cannot or will not enter into my experience for a little while... just a little while... without asserting their own agenda. I generally think that a great opportunity is missed, an opportunity to see the world in wide screen rather than full screen, to get more into view instead of having the screen filled with a more limited picture. It's a loss for me and them.

So, this is a short post with a seven short statements about why... not indefinitely and not in dismissal of other important issues... my white politically and theologically conservative friends should take a long weekend and enjoy the significance of what's happening with the Barack Obama nomination. You can resume the advocacy and much-needed critiques on June 9th. But here are some reasons to come share with those who perhaps see a little bit more or a slightly different angle than yourself.

1. Rejoice with those who rejoice. A significant part of the Christian world is rejoicing in a landmark achievement. Obviously, not all the reasons for rejoicing are reasons everyone can share. But certainly the nomination of an African-American presidential candidate (the first in U.S. history), a signal achievement for any African-American or ethnic minority is worth longer appreciation than has been given it by some politically and theologically conservative folks.

2. Mourn with those who mourn. For most African Americans Christians, this is bitter sweet on at least two levels. First, there are the same laments that you have regarding Sen. Obama's position on moral issues like gay rights and abortion. Those positions are not widely shared among African-American Christians and cause something of a real dilemma for Bible-believing African Americans. Second, this achievement comes on the heels of 400 years of blood, guts, and tears struggle. Slavery was nearly apocryphal. Jim Crow was only marginally better... a penniless people freed into a monied economy with legally sanctioned disenfranchisement. Along with the rejoicing comes the memory of what was.

3. There's an opportunity for unity or further misunderstanding. That's really another way of saying numbers 1 and 2 above. White evangelicals are not praised or known for their sensitivity or support in African-American circles. Rather, they are suspected of being disingenuous, politically self-seeking, and disinterested in the true well-being of African Americans. They're seen as having been on the wrong side of history on too many concerns important to African Americans. For Christians black and white, there's much divide to cover and repair. Here's a moment to pour an inch of bedrock into that cavern which seems miles wide at times. Our brother Lance penned some words that I think are helpful in describing this opportunity:

Senator Obama’s candidacy could present some unique challenges for white evangelicals and black bible believing Christians. And trust me, if you thought (though didn’t understand) that African-American believers loved the Clintons (true, not anymore) you have no idea of the deep emotional connection they feel towards Barack Obama. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of black believers will vote for and support him with relish. However, their support will be contrasted with the disdain that many evangelicals have for him. And thus while an Obama administration might actually work toward bringing white and black non-believers into a closer more integrated relationship it might actually do the opposite for white and black believers.

I have to confess, there have been many times that I've read or received comments that made me want to dig through my closet for my 1980s t-shirts, the one that reads, "It's a black thang... you wouldn't understand." And I recognize that that's an indication of some profound missed opportunities at mutual understanding and appreciation. My white evangelical brothers have an opportunity to understand a bit better, and I hope it's not missed. Among Christians black and white, there's an opportunity to sit quietly together--for just a moment--and recognize that when one part of the body suffers we all suffer with it, and when one part rejoices we all rejoice with it. If my evangelical friends can do that for a weekend where Obama's nomination is concerned, it won't solve a lot but it will help demonstrate appreciation for this moment and what it means to others.

4. It's an American achievement. If you review even the briefest historical timeline of African American political engagement in the U.S., one can't help but stand stunned at the quantum leap forward in "race" relations and opportunities that has occurred in America. Just one generation ago, significant numbers of Americans were protesting for the right to vote. Now they can vote for one who wouldn't have had the right himself in 1960. The move from voting disenfranchisement to the ability to vote for an African-American president has occurred in one lifetime when most didn't think it would ever happen. In Star Trek terms, that's warp 9. In Stargate terms, that's hyper-drive. And it's an American advancement. America needed to make strides. And she has. Of the 18 million folks who voted for Obama, most of them were white, particularly in states like Iowa, Montana, etc. This is not one man's achievement or one ethnic group's achievement. It's the country's achievement. And everyone in the country should "stop and smell the roses" at least until Monday June 9th.

5. This nomination puts us closer to a post-"race" future than we've ever been before. Have you considered what this potentially does for identity and identity politics? Consider the recent report suggesting that transracial adoption is bad for black kids personal identity. You'd think that would certainly be true in the case of someone like Barack Obama, and yet he stands ready to run for the oval office, seemingly well-adjusted and comfortable in his own skin. Some African-Americans have said, "He's not black enough." Some whites have tried to make him the next Malcolm X by plastering Jeremiah Wright all over him. To the chagrin of both, he's still standing, which suggests to me that the tide of racial politicking may be way out to sea as most African-Americans have not applied some "blackness" litmus test and significant numbers of whites have decided that he's not anti-white by association. Just a few years ago, I don't think either "side" would have been able to see past these issues. But apparently we have. And if we can truly move to judging men by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, then we will have advanced American society in unimaginable ways. I'm not arguing that Obama himself advances us in this way. I'm arguing that the country as a whole has an opportunity and can make this important advance. That's worthy considering and rejoicing over, even if you have no intention of voting for Obama.

6. Your beef isn't with Obama per se. Few are the people who are saying they will not vote for him because he is black. Those folks exist, and they prove the irrationality of "race" by casting a vote against that 1/2 of his genetic background that comes from his father while ignoring the other 1/2 of his ancestry. But you've consistently said that you abhor his policies on abortion in particular. Presumably, then, you would be opposed to any candidate with this position. I'm right there with you. But since your objection is to the policy he promotes and not his ethnic background, surely you can lay aside the policy objection for a long weekend and appreciate what's happened on an ethnic and social level. Monday June 9th will be a great time to resume the policy discussions, most of which has already been said. But watching an African-American say, "I am the Democratic nominee for President of the United States," well... that's only been heard once thus far in American history.

7. He's not President yet. November is a ways off. There's plenty of stuff to be said and done. Monday June 9th, begin with earnest to say and do it. But for just a few days, unplug the TV pundits, take a walk with your kids, tell them a bit of American history, and together think about what the country is becoming and our ongoing part in trying to make it even better. A weekend of reflection won't kill us and, contrary to what the talking heads would make us believe, it won't determine the election. Neither Obama or McCain are President yet. So, let's just enjoy the moment with each other before we go to our respective corners and come out swinging... if Christians should come out swinging at all.

34 comments:

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Rejoice re: the nomination of someone who thinks partial-birth abortion should be "legal" when it is MURDER?! I think not...

John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

JLof@aol.com

Glenn said...

Brother Thabiti,

Thank you for this impassioned plea that white men like myself do indeed "rejoice with those who rejoice". I will do that for all the reasons that you name. And as a believer in the one Sovereign God & His son, Jesus, I know that whoever sits in the oval office this time next year will be there because God allowed or directly willed it. It IS an astounding time in American history, and we all should thank God that we are blessed to live in a free country that has suddenly become more free because of Obama's candidancy.

Steve said...

Thabiti,
I love your ministry and your shepherd's heart. But there are some things bigger than race. I rejoice when God in his providence gives us a good leader, regardless of his color. The agenda of evangelical Christians, i.e. one issue voters perhaps, concerned about abortion, and unconvinced by your exuberance over the historic run of Obama, concerns me less than the agenda of Planned Parenthood and the Democratic party elites. Like I said before, babies of many colors never see the light of day.

Chris Roberts said...

It is great to see a black man win the nomination of a major party. It is not great to see Barack Obama win the nomination of a major party.

Seeing a black man win the nomination reflects something already present in society. The fact itself does not change things - rather, it reflects changes that are already present. Granted, it can change things in the hearts of those who felt hopeless about race relations. It shows that America really has come a long way and can help motivate people in the white and black community that it really is possible to do things that seemed impossible.

But I still feel that the nomination of a black man simply reflects changes that have already taken place in culture. However, a president is able to push for change, and Obama has demonstrated one of the changes he wants is easier abortion. That disrespect for human life goes a long way to undermine any claims he makes to upholding civil rights.

I will rejoice that America has reached the point that a black man could potentially become president. I will not rejoice that Barack Obama could potentially be the president.

ajcarter said...

Courageous my brother. As I am preparing for our time in Chicago and some of the issues revolving around my assignment, I can not help but say, "Courageous."

Can't wait to renew our fellowship and speak more deeply on these issues.

Tony

GUNNY said...

"4. It's an American achievement."

I think that's the key, at least for me. I'm no Obama fan and am admittedly a conservative in the lineage of Barry Goldwater.

So, while I would have much preferred to have seen this historic achievement entail a JC Watts or an Alan Keyes (or even a more moderate Collin Powell or Condoleezza Rice), I can honestly say that I'm proud to be an American when a black man in this country can win a presidential nomination.

Now, when it comes to winning the thing, I don't feel all that jazzed about any of the options.

FellowElder said...

Chris,

You wrote: "I will rejoice that America has reached the point that a black man could potentially become president. I will not rejoice that Barack Obama could potentially be the president."

I think that's all I'm really appealing for in this post. If we could all do that, I think we'd be making progress in our own individual hearts as well as collectively.

Steve, there certainly are things that are more important than "race." But that's not the same thing as saying "race" (or how we understand ourselves and get along) is unimportant. Personally, I'm very much in favor of abandoning "race" as a social construct. Whatever "exuberance" I have about Obama's bid is not connected with him in particular and certainly not his policies; it's connected with that post-race potential the bid opens for us in ways that are unprecedented.

Rejoicing in the moment 'til Monday June 9th,
Thabiti

j razz said...

Thabiti,

I am a bit confused as I listened to your speech given at T4G and read this post. They seem to be contradictory in nature. Are they? Or am I missing something? No ill intentions, just asking an honest question.

j razz

Steve said...

Thabiti,
Point taken. I was wrong to disregard your position so quickly. Certainly, the "post-race potential" is the bigger picture, and a great step for America. I do rejoice with you in this.
All I am saying is that if so many African-Americans, in disproportionate numbers, had not been aborted over the years, we may have reached this milestone years ago. The population shift alone would have allowed for unimaginable change. I realize now that you are not speaking of policies, but the historical significance of a black man rising up phoenix-like out of the ashes of American history. That is worth celebrating.

FellowElder said...

j razz,

I'm confused, too! :-) Actually, what you're probably picking up on is the limitation of language. I feel somewhat forced to use the language of "race" to communicate on this issue. Also, what I'm trying to point to mainly is that this could be a transitional moment where we find language for a new social reality where the old category of "race" is permanently abolished. So, on the one hand it's a language/existing social construct problem, and on the other hand it's living in the "in between".

Hope that helps. I'm trying to read the potential for the country through the lens of the T4G talk, however imperfectly.

T-

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this clear and insightful exposition of the momentousness of this nomination. One of my chief hopes for the Obama candidacy, whether he wins or loses, is that he can put to rest some of the demons about America "not being ready" for a dark-hued man to be President. So much of the divide in America is predicated on a purported essential union of ancestry and culture. Obama has done more than any person I can think of in modern times to dispel the illusion of that inherent union.

My hope is that even if Obama becomes president (which I dearly hope does NOT happen because of his policy positions), people will begin to see that the primary economic and social hindrances for many in the darker nation are cultural and linguistic, not genetic.

j razz said...

Thanks for the response.

j razz

Shawn Abigail said...

I'm not rejoicing because I think he would be a disaster for America. If someone better qualified for the Presidency was running, who also happened to be black, I would rejoice that a historical wrong is being righted. However when a far left one term senator with no foreign affairs experience and no military experience gets the nomination, I really can't rejoice just because he happens to be black. And I consider it almost as much of a tragedy that people would vote for him because he's black, as I would consider it a tragedy that people would not vote for him because he's black.

Laura said...

Right on. Pastor T, thanks for both your winsomeness and your boldness in this post, brother! I appreciate this perspective more than you can know as I wrestle with our confusing, complex political "scene" right now.

Rejoicing with you.

Billy and Sarah said...

Thank you for this post Thabiti! Though I must admit that I am disappointed by some of the comments I have seen so far. For those of you that are leaving these negative comments, please take a few minutes and prayerfully re-read the original post.

I am a white politically conservative Christian who does not like Obama as a candidate/politician at all(for many reasons). HOWEVER, RIGHT NOW THAT DOESN'T MATTER! We (white Christians)have a wonderful opportunity to both give and receive. We can give grace and sensitivity to our african american brothers/sisters in the way in which we discuss these important issues and interact in general (i.e. not trying to crash thabiti's celebration of the first african american presidential candidate of a major party by saying everything we think is wrong with him :)

But beyond giving, we can receive so much more. There is a rich learning experience to be had here. Maybe there is a group of white Christians out there that understands perfectly what it feels like to be an african american. If so, please feel free to enlighten the rest of us! I don't know it all, but I do see the excitement of those I know personally and those who I respect greatly for their ministries, and that makes me pause. I can't speak for anyone else, but I am trying to take this opportunity God has presented and make the most of it. I will spend more time listening than talking and more time gaining understanding than dispensing it. Is there anything to be lost by taking such a course?

Thabiti, again thanks for the post, but don't let us off so easy with this weekend thing. We can debate and disagree on the issues all the way through November and beyond (which I plan on doing :) but we can do so in a humble manner that seeks to gain wisdom, honor our brothers and sisters, and therefore honor God.

Viola said...

I just wanted you to know I have linked to this article at, www.naminghisgrace.blogspot.com. I appreciate your words and hope other white American Evangelical Christians will rejoice with you. And of course have sorrow too.

The Reverend Dr Who said...

Thabiti, I have no desire to gainsay everything you've said. I am genuinely happy for you. Perhaps less than I should be because, being white and British, I really can't imagine very well what society would be like with the kind of segregation you guys had even within my parents' lifetimes. (I was born in 1987, so I've no idea what exactly it would have been like if I'd grown up black in America, though I guess it would vary wildly depending on which state).

Still, I wonder exactly how big a step forward this really is for America as a whole. I think it's been clear that a black presidential candidate, even a black president, has been far from unthinkable to the American liberal tradition for a little while now. For example, the hugely popular series 24 (broadcast 2001) had David Palmer, a black (strongly implied democrat) senator winning the Election. Though race relations come up on a couple of occasions in series 1, it doesn't seem to have caused a stir. The liberals in Hollywood, then, were clearly there years ago. While obviously it's a big thing because it's a first, does it really represent a paradigm shift in the way Americans as a whole have thought about race that the liberal community has put a black man forward as their presidential nominee? It seems indicative of the fact that he's won through in a group of voters who clearly arn't clinging carefully to old American prejudices that the other big hitter was a woman. Could you honestly imagine the Republicans doing likewise next time round?

My worry is that, while this demonstrates, happily, that a black man really can be the president of the United States of America, yet it still has to be a certain kind of black man - a culturally liberal prochoicer - because it is probably still only the Democrat party that will put a black man forward. Once a morally conservative black man manages to secure the Republican nomination, with all the historically racist states that form the Republican heartland, then we can really be sure that America is moving into post-racial cultural discourse.

Until then, I am pleased for you that so much progress has been made so rapidly in at least one section of the American public, but (and I feel really mean for saying this) a post racial America is, in my opinion, still quite a long way off.

Ed

berry said...

I am anti-abortion and long for the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned but I am surprised at what seems like such a limited perspective reflected in many of these comments. Clearly a Democratic nominee was going to be named that is pro-choice, that was a political given. I don't think our brother was asking you to forget that one of the two major parties has a historical pro-choice position. Just that for one weekend, since that was going to be the stance of the Democratic nominee regardless, that we could all rejoice in a historical milestone.

Similarly, I believe many of our African-American, democratic voting, brothers and sisters would rejoice with us if a day comes when there is an electable Democratic nominee that is pro-life.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but having meditated on the 1st and 2nd post by Thabiti, as well as the commments posted thereafter, I am still at a loss to see such exuberance in Mr. Obama's nomination. One comment from the original post is as follows: "But it is undeniable that the sovereign hand of God has moved to change things radically." My fear is that the sovereign hand of God has moved to give us exactly what we have asked for...i.e. King Saul.

Jeremy

Hayden said...

Thabiti,

Would you have thought the same way about Hillary Clinton getting the nomination as the first women? That too would have been historic.

I just watched the movie "The Great Debaters" which was pretty good, though in some areas was overtly liberal politically. To see the difference in the America depicted in the movie (lynchings and separate everything) does make me pause and rejoice that Obama did receive the nomination. BUT here is the rub, I believe that he received the nomination BECAUSE he is black . Think about that a minute. How many people when asked why they voted for Obama cannot produce one reason outside of soaring speeches? How much racial harmony has that produced? I would be appealed if John MacCain received his nomination because he was white.

Condi Rice became the first black woman as Secretary of State, and we hear nothing from the media. Why?

I really love some of the thoughts you have put to paper here. They are thought-provoking which is why I come here to read. I have an uneasiness with any candidate of any color that is being propped up as a MESSIAH which is what Obama is being billed as. I think this is where my uneasiness lies.

Keep writing though provoking article my brother. I really enjoyed meeting you at T4G.

LouLove said...

Hey Pastor T:
Thanks for the post and thanks for being bold.

I am really pleased by some of the comments by folks who are trying to hear you even though it's a struggle.

Eagerly awaiting the New Life Conference, see ya in a couple weeks Lord willing.

KG said...

Thabiti,

Thank you for this insightful and personal post. I am going to link it to my blog with the hopes that others will read.

Although, I am from Chicago and have known of Obama before all of the national hype, I most likely will not vote for him based on policy differences.

That being said: I am excited and rejoice myself and with others that he has made it this far. We have so far to come as a country. We have so much sin in our past and present in how we relate to each other as Americans that has not been dealt with.

Barack's nominations can give hope to many discouraged and disenfranchised Americans that we can change. We can learn to treat people as equals. We can learn to listen and understand each other. I pray that we would learn this.

So I rejoice. I rejoice that we are progressing on this issue of morality.

Of course, I still won't vote for Obama or maybe not even McCain, because politically I see quite differently on issues of morality than both of them.

Just my two cents.

FellowElder said...

Hayden,
Good to hear from you, bro. And thanks for engaging this and asking a thought-provoking question of your own.

Let's see... Hillary.... Since so many of you have been transparent about your own reactions to and struggles over Obama, I'd have to return the favor.

Truth is, I'd be less excited, though still excited to watch the history unfold. All along, my wife and I, like a lot of people, have known and recognized that whatever happened on the Democratic side we'd be watching history unfold. So, as history and sociology buffs, we've been stoked all the while.

But I would be less excited for a couple of reasons.

1. Like many of you who don't like Obama for various reasons, this campaign has really hurt my already lukewarm feelings for Hillary. I'm disgusted with the S.C. shananigans and the way she has played to "race" throughout all of this. So, I'd be happy, but I'd have to set aside these things in order to rejoice.

2. It would be truly historic, but a White woman presidential candidate has always seemed more plausible to me than an African American of any gender. Perhaps that's a perception thing. I'm not trying to minimize the strides and struggles that women have had to make. But we've got a White woman as the majority leader, and we've had the Madelyn Albrights, and at least once there's been a White female v.p. candidate. All of this, in my mind at least, makes the Hillary nomination historic but a bit more plausible. The main thing I'm saying here is that while neither a woman or an African-American have been president, I could more readily imagine a White woman president. It's not that I think either would have an easy time, just that I thought it was impossible for an African-American. Impossible. Faithless, I know. But that's honestly where I'm coming from.

As for Condi (and I'd add Collin Powell), I was just as happy to see the two of them become Secretary of State, and in Colin's case Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And I was as pleased to point out that, up to that point, the highest posts held by African Americans were Republican appointees. I can't speak for the media or the rest of America, but I've rejoiced over those in much the same way. As I recall, there was a fair bit of fanfare over Powell's appointment as Chairman of Joint Chiefs. Frankly, I think Bush and the animosity toward him hurt any celebration over Condeleeza. Guilty and unworthy by association in the eyes of half the country. That would be my hip pocket explanation for the absence of fanfare.

To my British friend a couple comments back, please don't assess American political and social reality by a drama like 24! I was shocked that the show had a black president during that season. Shocked for all the same reasons. It just broke the line of plausibility for me. Maybe that's why I stopped watching during tha season. And because the black man always gets killed in the movies. :-) But Hollywood is not a barometer for main street America. And that's what makes the Obama bid so astounding, in my opinion. Main Street has widened her thoroughfare and more folks can apparently drive her lanes. I'm happy. Really happy.

As for Obama receiving the nomination BECAUSE he is black... I don't really buy that. It's never been so fashionable to be Black that people are willing to "give" you the White House. And I think Steele is waaayyy off the mark in saying Obama's campaign has been completely about "race." I can list lots of folks who give specific reasons for their support of Obama apart from soaring rhetoric. The rhetoric sets him apart on the Democratic side because all the candidates were saying the very same things with insignificant "tweaks" here and there. My guess is that when we move to the general election, the sharp distinctions in policy positions will move center stage and there will be much more to discuss. But I don't think flowery speech has won him the nomination. It's helped. And as a preacher, I have to give some points to speech-making. :-) But I think it's an over-statement to say he won because he's black, when there were so many opportunities for him to lose for that very reason. And honestly, so many folks who tried the strategy of attaching "radical blackness" to him in an effort to overthrow his bid.

And Hayden, thanks for mentioning "The Great Debaters"--an excellent film. If you've not seen it, it's a couple hours well spent. When you remember that the events of that film were a mere 50 years ago, a period when a black man's life was worth less than a pig's, when he could be lynched and shot without recourse... well, like Hayden, I think you'll see something of the awesomeness of this moment in American history.

T-

enthumesis.com said...

Thabiti,

I appreciate your passion for eliminating "race" as a social construct, but the quote you included in this post states

"My guess is that the overwhelming majority of black believers will vote for and support him with relish."

And you, yourself, said that Senator Obama's

"positions are not widely shared among African-American Christians and cause something of a real dilemma for Bible-believing African Americans."

It seems, and I think you are correct, that "Bible-believing African Americans" are tempted, and many will yield to the temptation, to vote for Obama because he is black.

I fear you may have more work to do among blacks than you do among whites to eliminate racial prejudices.

If race were truly a non-issue that we, as Americans, have moved past, then Senator Obama's skin color would have nothing to do with influencing anyone's vote. Sadly, it will, both for and against. I think the overwhelming majority of voters who will be influenced by his skin color, will be influenced for, rather than against, him.

If a person is truly Bible-believing, then the candidates character, moral convictions, and job experience would matter more than skin color.

I'm afraid we still have a long way to go to move past race in this country. We haven't moved past it, we're celebrating it. :-(

Hayden said...

Thabiti,

Thanks for your candid responses. I do disagree with you on some points but do respect your perspective and opinion greatly. (I tend to agree with Michael Steele on this one. When is the GOP going to get smart and give thsi man some 'props'?) You are a great thinker.

Currently, I am working through a Wednesday Night series where I am talking about "God's Sovereignty Over.. People, Nations and Nature". One thing that has really struck me is that people are ok with the sovereignty of God when things are ok but when they do not go well, watch out! I do see this in the reactions that some of my friends have had on the presidential election.

If Obama is elected, I will not have "the sky is falling" attitude many have. I rejoice in the fact that it is historic.

By the way, have you ever listened to or read Larry Elder. I used to live in LA and thoroughly enjoyed much of what he had to say on 'race'. I didn't always agree with him, but he, like you, always made me think :)

FellowElder said...

enthumesis,

You wrote: "I fear you may have more work to do among blacks than you do among whites to eliminate racial prejudices."

Hmmm.... I'm not sure how one would measure the relative work to be done among blacks or whites, or brown or yellow for that matter. Seems to me that "race" as a construct is so foundational to everyone's worldview that thinking in terms of who has more/less work to do is likely to be distracting. It's work that belongs to us all and starts with us all.

You also wrote: "If a person is truly Bible-believing, then the candidates character, moral convictions, and job experience would matter more than skin color."

That's correct. Yet, it's not the same thing as saying skin color does not matter at all. Certainly, as Bible believing Christians, we understand that God is somehow glorified in the diversity of His creation and in the diversity of peoples who will bow in praise of His name. The key question isn't whether skin color or character matters more. That's easy--character. The question for us is: In what way does skin color matter? In what way does a brown-skinned man running for president in a country where that's never happened bring glory to God?

That's the question I'm interested in. And that's why, though we have tons of reasons to oppose Obama's policy positions, we need to stop and drink in God's providential work among us... so that He might be glorified. For surely He makes His power known even in the raising up and hardening of Pharoah, another brown-skinned ruler.

To be certain there is a long way to go. But can we not recognize that perhaps God just moved us significantly down the path?

FellowElder said...

Hayden,

I appreciate your comments about our reaction to the sovereignty of God when things seem not to be going our way. You're on the money with that one. And yet, that's precisely when our trust in God's goodness, love and sovereignty should be comforts to us, isn't it?

I've heard Elder on TV a couple times. Not listened to him much. Not much of a talk show/radio kinda guy. Thank you for making me think today!

T-

blbartlett said...

Thabiti,

Thanks for the helpful post and interaction with comments.

One thing that troubles me in this election is the assumption of moral superiority for the conservative standpoint. Having worked for Congress, I know that there are a lot of policies on both sides that Christians should disagree with. I also know that too often, white Christian voting blocks are ignored because everyone knows who they will vote for anyway (this has been a criticism of African American voting blocks in the past, as well).

I think it's interesting that during the Clinton years, we as Christians consistently talked about the need for a moral man in office, and how Bill Clinton was unfit due to his adultery.

And yet as far as personal morality, there's almost no contest (as far as we can tell) in this election- Obama is clearly a more spiritual and moral man. And McCain is an admitted adulteror.

All of this should be a clear reminder to us that no political leader or party is ever perfect. Each voting decision is made as a citizen of the United States, informed by a desire to create an environment in which the gospel can flourish (whatever that means). We must avoid the notion that our goal as Christians is to muscle Mosaic Law into law, and then our job is done.

Now, when you run your vote through that paradigm, I'm happy for you to vote your conscience. But be very careful about assumptions like, "Jesus is for the maverick adulterer and against a professed Christian who thinks abortion is legally acceptable."

The fact is that God will direct the election as he sees fit- but far more fearsome to us as believers is the fact that he will be watching the status of our hearts in all of our anger, arrogance, and lack of compassion for those with a differing perspective.

Be spiritually wise with your vote, and work to avoid theological pride in regards to a secular election.

Linnea said...

Thank you for your perspective and insight. I appreciate that you would take the time to point out what it means to African-Americans, a perspective I don't hear often. Point #4 was especially poignant.

Hayden said...

Thabiti,

Oh, by the way, no more picking on '24'! I love that show and would vote for David Palmer any day. Funny thing is that when the actor (Dennis Haysbert) was interviewed as to who he modeled his character after he looked in the camera and said, 'Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter'. WHAT?? You're kidding me I thought. I guess it all depends upon perspective ?!?????

Dave Moody said...

Great post. Thanks. And for a weekend, Amen- rejoicing at what has transpired in the space of one generation.

dm

The Reverend Dr Who said...

Thabiti,

I didn't mean to base my entire analysis of modern American culture around 24. Rather, I intended to demonstrate that the idea has been in mainstream (indeed,very popular) American cultural products for a while now. I did this to demonstrate my concern that while a black man can become the president of the USA, it's only a certain type of black man. Still, it's a bit presumptuous for me to mete out cultural analyses of countries I've never been to, even if I find myself bombarded with their cultural artefacts.

If it really was that surprising to you guys, I'll raise my eyebrows and take your word for it.

Incidentally, seeing as how you stopped watching, I don't know if you know, but they did kill off President Palmer. And his wife, for that matter. His brother becomes the next president though.

Incidentally, it's this kind of post, that provides another perspective from a culture I'm unfamiliar with (and have no real access to) that makes me love your blog.

In Him

Ed

Pastor Pablito said...

Enough about killing off President Palmer on 24. They let "President" Morgan Freeman survive an asteroid attack on Deep Impact, so it's a wash! :-)

Cornelius said...

I appreciate what you wrote. I am an evangelical Christian and I am planning to vote for Obama. I am African-American, too. Please can you comment on why homosexuality and abortion should be my primary concern with chosing Obama for president. What about other social issues such as poverty, the war in Iraq, social injustice, fiscal responsibility, the handling of Katrina? I feel like these issues are equally important.