The Apostle Paul commands Timothy (and us), “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). It is our duty, as followers of Christ, who uniquely have access to the Father through the mediation of his Son (1 Timothy 2:5), to pray on behalf of others, and specifically on behalf of government officials who have authority over us. It is no doubt tempting, of course, for conservative, Bible-believing Christians to pray against these officials when their policies work against us or at least run contrary to our convictions. But we do not have that option. We are to pray for them – for their conversion, for their protection, for wisdom, and well-being.
This does not mean, however, that we cannot voice dissent in a free country, or that we cannot pray for and urge political leaders to reconsider their positions. I think such prayers are in order for our President, in light of his official endorsement of homosexual marriage. This endorsement should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about President Obama. I am not shocked in the least bit by such a shift in the President’s official stance regarding gay marriage.
However, I do believe that this provides Christians with a wonderful opportunity to pray specifically for the President. In an interview in which he explains his change of mind on this issue, he states, “I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together,… at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” In the same interview he later says of himself and the First Lady, “we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
Here’s the issue: the President claims that he made this decision based upon conversations with others “over the course of several years” and that he “concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm” gay marriage. He then reads Christ’s words through the lens of his own values – values arrived at through conversation and personal reflection – and interprets them in such a way that he is able to say that his moral judgments reflect those of Christ. Never mind that Christ constantly quotes the Old Testament to establish his teachings. Never mind that Christ upholds the whole Old Testament as true. Never mind that the Word of God – to which Christ appeals and which he upholds – condemns homosexuality. Never mind that the Word of God defines marriage as a lifelong, covenant relationship between a man and woman. Never mind that Christ’s apostles treat homosexuality as sinful and unnatural behavior. This is the world in which we live today. We all get to form our own opinions with no reference to the Scriptures, and then we bend and twist the Scriptures in order to claim that they agree with us. No longer is the Word in authority over us; it sits under us. No longer does the Word determine meaning for us; it waits for us to force meaning upon it. That is not biblical Christianity, and it results in all manner of abuse and misunderstanding.
So, we need to pray for the President. Pray that he will sit under the authority of the Word of God, rather than use it to suit his own purposes. Pray that he will submit himself to Christ, rather than twist his words to suit his own agenda and pacify a certain slice of his supporters. Pray that he will trust in the Jesus found in the pages of Scripture, and have his mind transformed by the Spirit of God at work through the Word of God. Pray for him, not against him. Pray for his protection, his well-being, and his spiritual state.