Yeah, whatever. Politics.
2015-2016 will go down as the most fascinating chapter God has written for my life. I moved into a tribe and lived in one of the most remote places in the world, learned a language, almost lost my daughter to a bacterial disease twice, helped disciple a seedling church in the heart language, almost lost my wife to depression, came back to America, accepted an Associate Pastor position, bought a house (which I promised I would never do), and now I run the youth program (which I said I would never do), preach sometimes, but teach full-time, and the Cubs are, by far, the best team in baseball.
Oh yeah, and now we’re faced with two tuna sandwiches posing as Presidential nominees, one a criminal, one mentally unstable.
So there’s that.
For Republicans, this whole presidential selection-process has been unapologetically built on the sandy foundation of anger: “I’m angry at the Clintons, everything she stands for, and the establishment, so I’m voting for Trump.” I agree that her baby-killing, marriage-suffocating, Gospel-of-the-LGBTQXYZ policies are contemptible as well, but using anger as your conduit for decision-making creates lots of problems and cognitive dissonance, and this is not at all commendable. The crux of this piece: Biblically, anger is not only a less-desirable reason for making decisions, like voting for someone into the Oval Office– it’s foolishness and spiritual adultery.
We’ve heard ad-nauseum from Top Men in politics that the reason DJT is now the GOP’s Best is because voters are tired. They’re angry. Consider this paragraph from Samuel Goldman’s TAC piece about what comes next for the conservative movement, through the eyes of many working-class whites:
You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.
ANGER, DISGUST, REVENGE: Trump was made nominee because of those. Feel good about that?
Let’s do a little bit of work. Hang with me…I see the gloss over your eyes, dreaming about pumpkin spice lattes and stuff. I’m teaching through the book of James in Sunday School and we’ve come to verse 19 of chapter 1:
“19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
“Know this,” James writes to his scattered, weary readers. They were doing well in Palestine until the death of Stephen. Now, probably around the time of Acts 11:19, through God’s wonderful providence, they were being sovereignly removed from their homeland and transplanted into the Samaritan and Gentile world to be His witnesses.
οιδα means “Get this,” “you need to understand”; It would startle the readers, and it’s coming fresh off the heals of the previous context, “Hey, God doesn’t tempt you, your sin nature does. God gives only good gifts, which includes your regeneration by the spirit.”
He follows that up shortly with “my beloved brothers.” Not only does he consider them his brothers, which is already a symbol of a close-knit relationship — he considers them brothers that he prefers over all others. His choice people. What he’s about to say is going to carry lots of weight, first through his authority in Jerusalem and beyond, and second, his relationship to them as a pastor. He wants what is best for them, and he’s going to use the themes in these next few verses to build an entire letter.
The readers seem to have been Jewish Christians who have left their homes in Israel and are facing economic distress, including persecution at the hands of wealthy landowners. The middle of the First Century in the Middle East was marred by famine and general economic distress as well as by a tendency for wealthy people to buy up land and force farmers to work their land on their own terms (c.f. Jas. 5:1-6).
One class of Christians was mistreating the other (Ja. 5:1-6), and the poor were fighting amongst each other (2:1-6), about to revolt against the rich who were taking advantage of them (Ja. 3:13-4:12). These scattered people indwelt by the 3rd Person of the Trinity were to be witnesses, but instead they were beginning to look an awful lot like the world they were called to reach in Matthew 28:19.
Here’s the bottom line:
“Be quick to hear:” our first reaction when our faith is being put to the test by difficult situations should be to listen (Prov. 18:13).
“Slow to speak:” our words cause all kinds of trouble when we aren’t being taken advantage of, so be intentional to keep quiet when it all hits the fan (Ja. 3:5; Prov. 10:19, 17:27; 21:23).
This “don’t talk so much, listen well” stuff is extremely common in Jewish wisdom literature, which his audience was drenched in, and James uses it to drive home his point about anger.
[be] “slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Man cannot control wrath, execute it justly and in an unbiased way like God can, therefore it doesn’t produce the things that are right in God’s eyes. Think of it this way, Trump with the nuke codes is like man with anger. Man must learn to stay out of the anger business, because all we do with it is screw things up. I mean, look at Proverbs 14:29:
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Anger doesn’t bring about the things that please God in the Christian life. Actually, it’s product is terrifying. When we’re mad, do we typically make clear, wise choices? Uh, no.
It’s no secret that I’ve firmly planted my glorious, Chicago Cubs-monikered flag on the #NeverTrump mountain of political despondency. Am I, as a Christian Evangelist and Disciple-Maker, really doing what is best for my country by saddling up with a guy that may or may not be a racist (probably is) in the name of religious liberty? As John Newton wrote, True Patriotism is sharing the Gospel with your neighbor — isn’t that what frees a man from his wicked allegiances and God-hating ways? You want America to stop putting the clamps down on our freedom to worship? Okay, then share the Gospel clearly with someone, teach them the Word, and let the Holy Spirit transform them…don’t depend on money-grubbing politicians to do the church’s work for you, fella’.
Why is a Christian morally-obligated to trust unregenerate Donald J. Trump to do anything he has promised to do? He knows that, in order to get even his most hesitant voter’s support, he just has to do a little bit better than Hillary — and that’s a really low bar, folks. His famous line, “I could go out on the street and shoot someone with a gun, and people would still elect me as President” is 100% accurate. I guarantee you, TrumpBart would run a ThinkPiece with a headline that reads, “DJT Murdered an Innocent Guy on the Street Yesterday, but Hillary Has Killed Way More With Her Server.”
Throughout this election cycle, one premise has gone largely unchecked: Anger is morally neutral in God’s eyes when making a decision.
The same catalyst behind those horrifying riots in Ferguson, MO, with all its wickedness and filth — what was behind Abolishing Human Abortion’s unhinged response to Dr. James White and others’ call to balance and a return to clear thinking; The same controlling factor behind “micro-aggressions,” “white privilege” and “safe-spaces,” is the ingredient that created GOP nominee Donald Julius Trump: Grade-A, Human-Variety Wrath. If we live like there’s no God, and we’re not content, we’ll do whatever it takes to milk whatever happiness we can get out of this life — even if that means destroying people.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. – Ja. 4:1-2
So America got drunk on anger and vengeance, made a really, really poor decision, and God allowed it. Why would I give my approval by voting for him? That’d be like a teenager driving drunk and his parents saying, “Yeah, its not the best option, but at least he’s not smoking crack and driving! Go ahead, son.”
I guess what I’m saying is, the fact that America made this decision while drunk on wrath should’ve been, you know, a red flag.