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The Lord is King


With the rise of social media and the dissemination of massive amounts of misinformation and disinformation across all media outlets, our country has become more and more divided and politically polarized. As Christians, and particularly as Orthodox Christians, it is important that we do not add to the political and societal chaos around us by sharing unconfirmed rumors and propaganda on whatever social media platforms we use. During this time we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), evaluating everything we see and hear by the criteria of the Gospel. Christians are not extremists to the political left or to the political right. Christians are extremists for love, compassion, forgiveness and mercy in every arena of human life because our first loyalty is to Christ, by whom we measure every political and economic ideology, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. And our unity as Orthodox Christians in the Blood of Jesus transcends every political division. To think otherwise is to deny Christ and that we are limbs and members of His very Body, the Church.

Voting for our political leaders is an amazing privilege that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Christians down thru the centuries did not have. It is a fearful responsibility.

As Orthodox Christians it is good to remember the wise words of Father Thomas Hopko (1939-2015), especially in this election year: “Christ is not a socialist or a capitalist, a monarchist or a democrat, a communist or a fascist. He accepts no other vision of human life than His own. He does not condescend to error, commiserate with stupidity, or make accommodation with lies wherever they are found. And human beings are called to accept His vision and nobody else's. This is our only recourse to sanity and our only salvation from the snares of deceivers, on the right and on the left, including those deceivers who cover their deceit with His Name."

As we draw nearer and nearer to election day, and as political advertisements and commercials reach a fever pitch, each candidate vilifying the other, we need to ask ourselves: What do we want in our political leaders?

Father Hopko was once asked this question and responded in this way:

“What do we want in our political and civil leaders? Because politics is the "art of the possible," we want leaders who can practice the political art without selling their souls to the devil. We want people who can achieve maximal results for the common good, as they understand the common good, with the recognition that others can legitimately see things differently than they do. And we want leaders who know that there is no perfect and lasting good in this world, and who never dare to promise such a thing to anyone.

We want leaders who listen to others, tell the truth and learn from their mistakes. We want leaders who resist reinventing themselves every few weeks to please and appease one or another political constituency or voting bloc. We want men and women who do not demonize their critics and opponents while alleging to respect them deeply. We want leaders who can compromise their convictions within acceptable limits, without betraying their conscience, in order to achieve the best for the most, as they understand the best to be, in cooperation with their political opponents. We want people capable of changing their minds and admitting their errors. And we want leaders who don't seek "all or nothing" in ideological battles that no one wins and that produce countless casualties. In a word, we want free human beings to lead us, not ideologues or demagogues.

We want leaders who are not prisoners of power, profit, possession, position, privilege and pleasure. We want men and women who demand from others what they demand first from themselves, and who do for others what they would want others to do for them and their loved ones.

Some of us are convinced that the first step in reconstructing American political leadership is a radical change in the way we currently elect our leaders. We would like to see an end to the agonizingly extended, disgracefully expensive and endlessly analyzed campaigns that exhaust people’s patience and sanity and lead them into all kinds of temptations.

We want a nation governed by people whose actions prove their genuine care and respect (not to say love) for everyone, including America's most violent enemies whose children will be America's even more violent enemies if things don't radically change in our country, both among ourselves at home, and in our dealings with other peoples and nations.

If such political leaders would emerge in America, and indeed in all nations of the world (whatever their present political systems), their religious convictions, authentic or alleged, wouldn't matter to some of us Christians. Such leaders would, in fact, be an answer to our prayers. We would be their strongest, most faithful and most grateful supporters even when we disagree with some of their policies. We are also aware, when expressing our hopes, that - as an old proverb puts it - we get the leaders, both religious and political, that we deserve.”

"Put not your trust in princes nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation" (Psalm 146:3)". By Fr Steve Tsichlis.

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