Throughout 2020, we all grew weary of hearing the word "unprecedented." Many of us hoped that "unprecedented" would fall out of use once the calendar turned to a new year, and "normal" would be the word for 2021.
That fantasy was shattered this week.
The events that unfolded in the Capitol on Wednesday were unprecedented, as well as despicable and wrong.
I have been an outspoken supporter of President Trump since the early days of his first presidential campaign.
As a pastor, my motivation has always been biblical.
His policies line up best with the principles I find in Scripture. These include, for example, support for the sanctity of human life and defense of religious liberty.
My fidelity to the teachings of the Bible led to my continued support for the Trump administration’s policy agenda, and in the process, I have also developed a personal friendship with the president over the last five years that I value.
It was also my unwavering commitment to the teachings of Scripture that compelled me to condemn the violence and riots that broke out during Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
The same commitment to the teachings of Christ found in Scripture informs my sentiments today about what we witnessed at the Capitol on Wednesday.
What the angry mob did by storming into the Capitol was not only a crime, it was a sin against God.
Every American can assemble to protest. This is a God-given right acknowledged and protected by the First Amendment. Peaceful protest is a vital part of our political tradition, and it has long served us well.
What happened on Wednesday when a mob infiltrated the Capitol building was not a protest. It was lawlessness.
It doesn’t matter what your political cause is—whether it’s left or right, far-left or far-right—no "good" end can be sought by rotten means.
Shouting profanities, beating back police officers, destroying property, intimidating elected officials… These are not forms of political argument, no matter who uses them. They’re just an ungodly power grab.
Celebrating evil is evil. It corrodes the soul.
Too many of us, in the heat of this political moment, have fallen into an all-consuming hatred for our fellow Americans, fellow human beings made in God’s image.
- Tucker Carlson: Who will stand up for everyday Trump voters facing retribution from the left?
- Doug Schoen: Capitol riot incited by Trump shows democracy at risk — Dems & GOP must work together peacefully
- Tim Graham: No excuse for Day of Infamy at Capitol — democracy was under siege by people wearing Trump hats
This bitterness has clouded our vision, causing us to lose sight of God’s command to love and seek peace.
The Apostle Paul told us to seek out common ground and unity whenever we can, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Romans 12:18).
The same Paul who wrote these inspired words about seeking peace, before his conversion to Christianity, participated in and approved of radical violence done against his enemies.
The first time Paul shows up in the Bible, he is the guy watching the coats for a mob of people who angrily stoned an innocent Christian to death (Acts 7:58). He was "breathing threats and murder" against his sworn enemies when he set off on the road to Damascus.
There is one way, and one way only, to change an embittered, riotous heart like that: An encounter with the risen and reigning Son of God.
This is what happened for Paul (Acts 9). Hate melted away in an instant and turned into sacrificial love, in the blinding light of the glorified Christ.
So changed, so transformed by this event, the same man who once celebrated violence later wrote, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Seeking peace does not require laying aside or compromising your deeply held convictions. I know I haven’t. But every political cause has to be sought in the right way—not through violence and hatred, but instead with respect for law, personal humility, and charity towards all.
My prayer for America is that people from all over the political spectrum would find freedom from slavery to bitterness and anger today.
Bitterness and wrath consume the containers that hold them. But through Christ you can be transformed into an agent of reconciliation that helps unite a fractured country.