Responding to the State of the Union

For Christians, the month of January brought a litany of headlines and news stories that necessitated a utilization of their biblical worldview. They included California’s implementation of legalized marijuana, the continued debate about abortion (especially in light of Cecile Richards’ announced retirement), and of course the immigration policies of the United States. Christians have been captivated by the conviction of Larry Nassar and the scrutiny now placed upon the United States Gymnastics Association, especially after the statement and subsequent articles of Rachael Denhollander. Concerned by the statement that the Denhollanders had lost their church, there comes a deep conviction that something needs to be said and done. Yet, not only do I feel unqualified to write such an involved article, but there are others who have done better than, and I think it must begin with Rachael Denhollander’s very own statements (see the links below) (1). Therefore, without minimizing its importance, it is not a topic I am prepared to tackle here. Therefore, I turn my attention elsewhere: the State of the Union address this week.
For the first time since being elected, President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address, and as would be expected it was met both with heavy praise and heavy criticism, which almost exclusively depended upon which party one subscribes to. To be forthright, I rarely watch the State of the Union address, and when I do, I can only tolerate about 15 minutes before turning it off (no matter who the president is). It seems that what should be a good thing has turned into an excuse for to play more politics and promote nothing more than personal agendas (whether good or bad). Therefore it becomes a spectacle in which facts are skewed in order to elevate some positions and people and tear down those same positions and issues. So what should be a time of genuine discussion and reflection become yet another time in which the people are required to exercise discernment.
Unfortunately, while it is necessary in order to intellectually participate in discussions about the State of the Union, most people choose to neglect the aspect of discernment. Before the State of the Union address even took place, assertions were made and positions were claimed. While some chose to boycott or protest because of past statements made the President, there were others some who chose to protest in anticipation of what the President was going to say. Perhaps the worst demonstration of all were those who were reacting to the speech over the weekend.
Certainly, something such as the State of the Union address will generate a reaction, so why does it matter that people reacted? Because the speech hadn’t happened yet. This was not mere concern over what had been said or even a concern about what might be said, but instead was a blatant disregard for truth and in a very public manner. It was a response that indicated the following:
  • Lack of Information: The most obvious issue was the lack of information that people used to still form their opinions and promote as indisputable truth.
  • Lack of Respect: Furthermore, they used this propaganda as a tool of disrespect, not merely to the President by not giving the benefit of the doubt and waiting to see what was said, but to any person who might hold views and values contrary to their own.
  • Lack of Integrity: Finally, it demonstrates a lack of integrity in that one finds truthfulness unnecessary in forming opinions, but also in promoting opinions.
This is the state of our union right now. Unfortunately, the loss of these three important concepts represents that loss of a society.
As Christians, we must look upon these circumstances with gravity and concern. For many, they are left with deep questions about how to respond. In this context, there are three things that should be remembered and take place:
  1. Be Informed: The first aspect is to be informed and be able to interpret what is taking place through the lens of Scripture. This means that first and foremost, be informed about Scripture, utilizing that understanding in order to analyze the world around us.
  2. Be Respectful: I lament that we exist in a society that is unable to disagree in a respectful manner. As Christians, there is a call to model respect out of recognition that all people are created in God’s image. This does not mean we agree with them, especially unbiblical positions, but it does mean that we deal with each other out of a love for God.
  3. Be Faithful: Finally, be faithful to God. Such faithfulness will dictate the life a person will live and out of that should impact the first two aspects.
There is much that could be said about how we should behave as Christians. However, these three characteristics directly counteract the lack of information, lack of respect, and lack of integrity that dictates our modern culture.
(1) There has been much coverage about Rachael Denhollander’s statement to Larry Nassar and in the last few days, there have been articles and interviews. I would suggest the following, and all of them come directly from Rachael Denhollander herself.

Photo “On the Hill” courtesy of user Eric B. Walker and Flickr.