"Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs." - President Barack Obama, acceptance speech Nov. 6, 2012
When the smoke cleared from the landmark Nov. 6 election shoot-out, the shifting opinions and deeply held beliefs of Americans became clearer:
· Americans reelected Barack Obama, whose policy decisions, appointments and speeches have marked him as the most
president in history.
· Despite national law to the contrary, Colorado, California and Washington legalized the "recreational" use (i.e., getting stoned) and sale of marijuana, setting up a potential clash of state and federal governments.
· After 32 other states had rejected the notion, Maine and Maryland became the first states where voters legalized same-sex marriage, and Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
· Massachusetts voters only narrowly rejected a proposal to legalize assisted suicide, preventing the state from joining Washington and Oregon in sanctioning medical killing via ballot initiative.
Big government proponents basically beat small government advocates. Democrats largely bested Republicans by retaining control of the White House, federal agencies and foreign affairs while also keeping their judge-confirming, treaty-ratifying, House bill-blocking majority in the Senate. Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives. The partisan combination potentially sets up more Congressional gridlock, since pragmatic compromise seems unlikely as Democrats continue to slant toward the left and Republicans to the right ideological wings of their constituencies.
The election results reflect the changing American values landscape underscored recently by a Pew survey (you can read my analysis) indicating a sharp rise in citizens who do not claim or seek any religious affiliation. The results also reflect the political clout of unions, the homosexual community and women focused on "reproductive rights." While many evangelicals and Catholics put aside theological concerns regarding Mitt Romney's Mormon religion and focused on religious liberty and life issues, their votes proved insufficient to help the challenger win key battleground states.
Losing presidential candidate Mitt Romney noted in his concession speech,
"We look to our teachers and professors, we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes."
Gov. Romney hit upon a key to our future as a nation when he looked past politics to the real culture-changers--parents, pastors and school teachers. To that traditional list I would add musicians, movie makers, athletes, artists, philosophers, academics, journalists, doctors and scientists. Add in also everyone who influences peers by tweeting, posting on Facebook and circulating YouTube videos.
If we Christians are to influence our culture with biblical values, we must first infiltrate these cultural centers of influence. Elections, laws and policies matter greatly, but we can't reach our nation by politics alone; we must also influence our culture. One of the main reasons that this organization keeps an office in Washington, DC is to educate our leaders and our nation with biblical values.
In influencing our culture, we must practice what we preach. Perhaps we Christians sometimes have relied too heavily and too soon on our words when the world first wants to see our works.
Christian influence in America may continue to decline until our nation experiences a spiritual revival that leads to cultural renewal. Our job is to pray fervently and work ceaselessly toward that end. Scripture assures us that God has always been eager for such revival:
"[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. --2 Chronicles 7:14
Besides humility, prayer and penitence, we can also help lay the groundwork for such revival by following the command of Jesus:
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. --Matt 5:16
Finally, we can faithful pray for all in authority:
"…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so 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, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." --1 Tim 2:1-4