Election night, about three seconds after my Facebook news feed lit up with the bad news, this article showed up in my Google Reader feed. (Yes, I still use an RSS reader. So what?) There were countless others like it, but that's the one I bothered to read, so it's the one I'll interact with.
First off, I don't totally disagree with anything in the article itself. We can debate whether that should have been the very first thing to write about - this election was a total disaster and will have horrible consequences, and it wouldn't have hurt to spend a little time lamenting that. But as far as the truth - yeah, it's all correct. We are unequivocally called to honor the President, just as Peter exhorted his readers to honor the emperor even as he was lighting them on fire. Let's face it - as bad as I believe this is, and as bad as it's going to get, it's tough to say we have it as bad as Nero's victims.
Let's not pretend we're exempt from the numerous commands to honor those in earthly authority over us. Someone else's sin never excuses my own. So this brings a dilemma - how do we honor someone in authority over us with whom we vehemently disagree? And this applies not just to government officials - how do you honor your parents, your employer, your church, when they do something you disagree with, especially if it's outright sinful?
The answer, as it usually isn't, is not "balance". As in, "we need to balance speaking the truth with honoring them". The big problem with balance is that it requires two things to be in opposition. Here's a hint - if God unequivocally commands two things, they are not in opposition. They are to be obeyed always, fully, simultaneously. We don't have to decide when to be full of grace and when to be full of truth. Grace always, and truth always. Same thing here - always honor whom honor is due, and always stand for what is right. The question is not how to balance them, but how to do both simultaneously.
This is where I throw it to you, dear readers. Here's your assignment (for the next four years): how do we object to sin without sinning ourselves? What does it practically look like to stand against the sinful (or unwise) actions of those in authority over us, while giving them the honor God says they are due?
There are numerous Biblical examples we can consider. The apostles before the Sanhedrin or Roman authorities repeatedly throughout Acts, Daniel and friends serving pagan kings (and pronouncing judgment on them!), John the Baptist confronting Herod, Nathan confronting David, and many other prophets standing against kings of Israel and Judah come to mind. So pick an example, and tell us how he stood for righteousness without tarnishing his witness through sinful action or attitude.
40 minutes ago