God Takes Sides in Politics
By Patrick Oden
Former Senator George Mitchell once noted, "Although He is regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in American politics."
The one time senator from Maine and Majority leader may know the law, and he may know politics, but he's not a theologian. It is ludicrous to believe God does not take sides-at least from a Christian perspective. The personal God we believe in is engaged with culture and certainly chooses between people.
The warning is not that He doesn't take sides; it's that we should never be too confident which side He is on. The reality is that He's not always on our side. That is the lesson of the history of Israel as told in the various Samuels, Kings, or Chronicles. God does choose.
The Civil War is a fine example. One could argue the south had more genuinely religious leaders: fine church-going folks who fought for a bad cause. Both sides prayed to the same God. Which did He favor? Stonewall Jackson was shot by his own pickets. The battle plans for Antietam were left on the road for Union soldiers to find and to use for wrapping cigars. Neither France nor England, nor any of the supportive international community, offered assistance or recognition. Why?
Maybe it's all coincidence.
Hitler stopped at the English Channel. He could have pressed onwards to and through Britain. He didn't. Germany had a state church praying to God. Who did God choose?
Now politics is trickier because we don't have vile people on either side-no matter what partisans say. Both parties have leaders who live their lives with a great measure of regard for public service.
This is not a proclamation of God's choice. I'm not a prophet, nor would I deign to speak for God, even if I have suspicions.
God does choose, however, and sometimes we can see the effects of his choice. When Israel faced Ai, they lost courage and fled, confused by a weak and smaller foe because God had chosen against Israel. When David faced Goliath the miracle wasn't that a small boy was able to kill a giant. The miracle was that a teenager had the courage and faith in God to try.
When God chooses, hearts are affected. Small things add up, weird patterns develop. Things go wrong for one side, and the weaknesses of others are hidden. There seems to be what can only be called 'bad luck,' despite great potential. All the way through, these things happen; piling up to create an aura which changes hearts and minds across the land.
God does choose. That is a fact. Our humility always comes in the fact we don't choose for Him. We are called to discover His values in our voting, even if this means letting go of some dearly held choices of our own at times.
Patrick Oden lives and works in the mountains of Southern California. Education web design pays the bills. Writing and enjoying the beauty of God's Creation fills his soul. If you would like to write to Patrick, you can do so through the letters page of this magazine.