The Power of “No”

         With the exception of talking to a few close friends, I have, for the most part, kept a sort of promise I made to myself some months back:  NOT to talk about the upcoming presidential election.  Though I hold a graduate degree in political science and will still at times “binge watch” subcommittee hearings (and other such stuff) on C-SPAN, God made it clear to me as a young believer some 23 years ago (after the candidate for whom I had been campaigning lost reelection) that He no longer wanted me actively engaged in politics.  My days would be better spent studying my Bible and what it had to say on such matters.

Notably then I have expended much time over the last two decades seeking to reconcile my years of study of those precious liberties entrusted to us through the Constitution with the standard of Truth solidly given to us in the Word of God.  Most recently, in an effort to avoid “foolish and stupid arguments that produce quarrels,” (2 Timothy 2:23), I sought to steer clear of political conversations and instead, like some of you, answer God’s call to pray for this election.  Yes, I also watched as much of the debates as I could both before and after the primaries and even managed to catch some of the interviews given by alternative candidates who are on the ballet but not part of the mainstream debate process. All this served to take me to an even deeper understanding of what I believed God had been teaching me over the course of the last twenty years: that no matter how persuasive a candidate’s position may be, every decision Christians make needs to be filtered in prayer through the Word of God. 

Emboldened by such a critical reminder I recognize that while God is not calling me back into the political arena He is prompting me to stand and in doing so remind each of us that it is ok to say “no” to that which violates our conscience.  In fact, it is our Christian duty.  With this in mind, regardless of what we may see or think, I sense God is answering our prayers for our country by calling us as believers to make decisions based on what His Word teaches us, giving the authority of the Scripture its rightful place above the “politics” of any particular party.   We need to be alert as 1 Peter 5 tells us to do knowing that the Enemy is trying hard to divide the Body of Christ.  As it is so easy to get lost in our own line of thinking, we need to pick up our Bibles and consider the words of Proverbs and passages such as Psalm One and after doing so know well that if that which we have been thinking or feeling pressured to do sets itself up against the ways of God we would actually be sinning if we did it anyway.  In light of serving a God Who has entrusted to us the precious gift of free will, we should not at any time justify or “rationalize” our decisions because we feel we have no choice. (Isn’t that why we are in the mess we are in?).  As the devil knows well, compromise can be a very dangerous thing.

It is important then, regardless of what we might have ascribed to for decades in the way of politics, to heed the words of the apostle Peter and “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) even if it puts us in a position that is outside of the Christian boxes we may have built for ourselves.  Ultimately, that means saying “no” whenever and wherever we realize that we and the things of God are being violated.  As a woman whose own memories of assault and abuse were triggered in recent days I realize afresh a call in a time such as this to come alongside a world of hurting people with the endorsement of the only One in Whom there is true hope to be found. May God enable us to stand in truth and embrace this opportunity to proclaim that Jesus Christ loves and came to save our incredibly flawed world. (John 3:16-17). -Catherine H. Cieciuch DeBenedetto