Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After Ahnuld: Politics in the Era of the Recall

In 2003 the voters of California voted to remove their governor, Gray Davis, and replace him with Arnold Schwarzenegger. If I was telling you this in 2002 you would probably think I was crazy. In fact, I did tell someone prior to the recall election and they did think I was crazy. I couldn't see the future but even at the early stages of the recall I knew that the chance to put the guy who played the Kindergarten Cop in office was not something the people of California would miss out on. This isn't to demean Californians... it was a novelty that I'm not sure many people would have turned down (see Minnesota and Jesse Ventura) It was a crazy time. I mean seriously, the Game Show Network took the craziest candidates and had them "debate."

Enough about the history of it. If you want to know more, there's a Wikipedia article about it. It's where I got most of that info. The point is that outside of the novelty was that Gray Davis was being recalled because people were upset about the price of their electric bills. Basically. Someone who actually lived there during that time could probably give a better reason but the bottom line is that he hadn't committed any serious crimes, he was being recalled because people were unhappy with his job performance.

In recent history that hadn't been the case. Leaders had been removed for crimes or serious ethics violations. They still are *cough* Kwame Kilpatrick* cough... *cough*Blago *cough* but since the successful recall in 2003 we live in a different world...

In this world, recalling of elected officials is becoming more and more common.

In Michigan, an effort led mostly by teacher union members is afoot to recall the governor because of his budget cutting process. What they don't realize is that in Michigan the Lt. Governor would take over if he was recalled and he was put on the ticket because conservatives didn't think the Governor was conservative enough.

In Wisconsin, six state senators are facing recall today over their policies regarding collective bargaining rights. Plans are also underway to recall the governor but under Wisconsin law they have to wait until he's actually had the job for a little bit longer.

The common thread between these two situations is that it is purely over ideological differences that they are being recalled. They have not broken any laws they are simply implementing policies that some people do not like.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that conservatives don't like some of President Obama's liberal policies. In the same way, liberals will not like conservative policies. It makes sense. That doesn't give people the right to demand that the elected official step down though. What it does is put us on the slippery slope that only ends with politicians who, even more than they do now, choose to do what is popular rather than what they believe to be right.

Politicians without conviction.

You might argue that we're already there but if that's true we shouldn't go and recall them anytime they do show conviction, on either side of the aisle!

I've got two pieces of advice. One for everybody and one specifically for my brother and sister Christians.

First, let's stop this era of the constant threat of recall and let democracy work. Even if someone is elected that isn't from your party, that has a different ideology than you do, they will be up for election again. It's the natural way the government is set up to remove politicians that we don't like because of their policy choices. Politicians should be able to focus on governing, not fighting an extra election in August after only a year of being elected...

Secondly for Christians, we need to do better at submitting to our elected officials. Romans 13 tells us that the government is God's servant for our good. And Paul was talking about Roman emperors when he wrote that! We aren't subjecting ourselves well and we are not spreading the name of Christ very well if we are constantly berating the politicians we don't like. If we are posting hateful things about them on our Facebook, how can we be submitting to them? Yes, it's ok to have a political point of view. If you have a problem with how things are being run, then contact your representative with your displeasure... that's what you're supposed to do in our system of government!

Being so caught in up how you think the country should be run so that people know more about your politics and the way you feel about specific politicians than they do your faith is a tragedy.

It would be much better for the state of politics in America if we'd stop recalling... and started praying.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marriage: The "Unwritten" Requirement in Ministry

I'm still planning on heading to grad school in two weeks but that doesn't keep me from looking at what Youth Pastor jobs are out there. I mean, you never know, maybe there's one where they don't care that I'm going through school and in fact want to pay for it, supply a free house and still pay me enough to satisfy my Starbucks addiction. One can hope.

I was looking at job post a few months ago and saw one in Pennsylvania that seemed like a good church. I read the expectations and felt like I could meet most of them. I read the doctrinal statement and was glad that we were on the same page of the essentials. Finally, I went through the job requirements: bachelor's degree- check, a call to youth ministry- check, be married- uh, not check.

Seriously... "be married"?

I tweeted this after I read it and almost immediately got some support from a friend that's youth pastoring while single. The subject had already been something in the back of my mind for awhile though. While in my first year of college, a roommate asked if I planned on getting married and I replied "Yeah, but we'll have to see." His response was "Well, don't you plan on working in a church?" At the time I took him to just be a bit extreme but a couple of blogs that I had read a few months prior to this job posting brought up the same issue. Both were responding to a New York Times article on the subject but one was from a single pastor and one was from a seminary president. The pastor wrote about how his church had really come around him and learned to appreciate his singleness. He wrote that he'd like to be married but that it hasn't happened yet. The seminary president wrote that he tells students that, whether it's right or wrong, they'll have a harder time getting a job in a church if they're single.

While this made me angry, he's probably right.

A lot of churches operate under the impression that the reason their pastor or youth pastor needs to be married is that there's no way they could minister to both men and women, guys and girls if they aren't married. You know what, that's probably true in some cases!

There is a barrier there when there's an issue that should be dealt with by a girl speaking to a girl or a guy speaking to a guy and someone who is single doesn't have that spouse there to step in. On the other hand, singleness is a gift... not a curse. Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians 7 that the unmarried are able to focus more intently on ministry. There's less to worry about. It's not that singleness is better than being married because it's clear that, on the whole, we were not meant to be alone. Both are gifts, however, and both have their limitations.

All of that being said, I don't write this as someone who intends to be unmarried for the rest of my life.

I write this as someone who doesn't want to get married just to get a job.

In an age where so many are constantly fighting for the Biblical definition of marriage, it just doesn't make sense to view marriage a job requirement rather than understanding it as a gift that God gives at His own discretion. (This has nothing to do with the need for guys to initiate and everything to do with God's sovereignty.) Marriage is so special and unique that it's what God uses as a picture of His relationship to His church. We cheapen it by simply viewing it as a needed skill set for ministry.

So, this is a call for those in a position to hire people into ministry. Marriage is good. It is not a job requirement though. Let's stop treating singleness like a disability and start treating it like a time in life that God has placed people to be able to serve Him with a single focus.

I also pray that when I am married... I do not forget what it is like to be single.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Link to my sermon on Romans 6

Just thought I would post the link to the sermon I did last Sunday on Romans 6: "Living Like You're Dead to Sin" in the rare case that someone sees this that doesn't know me on Facebook....