On January 6, I watched in horror as a mob assaulted the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Earlier today, I watched in gratitude as the United States transferred power peacefully from one party to another and one president to the next.
I remember standing in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and Tahrir Square in Cairo. I have visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem more than thirty times, traveled widely in the Muslim world, and visited Cuba ten times over the years. I say that to say that so many people and countries around the world could not imagine a peaceful, democratic transfer of power such as we witnessed.
While this was our fifty-ninth presidential inauguration, it was also a day of firsts:
- Joe Biden, at seventy-eight years of age, became the oldest person ever sworn in as president.
- Kamala Harris became our first female, Black, and Asian vice president.
- There were no crowds due to security concerns.
- Participants wore masks due to the ongoing pandemic.
At the same time, the inauguration had numerous factors in common with others:
- The Marine Band played as it has at every inauguration since that of Thomas Jefferson.
- The new president called for unity and sought to be the leader of all Americans.
- He forecast hardships but great hope for the future.
- He took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.”
The president’s oath extends not just to the written Constitution, of course, but to the values it preserves and advances. How can Christians join him in this oath?
How can Christians respond?
While we are called by Scripture to pray for our president and leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–2), we must also stand for biblical morality and truth foundational to our democracy. At its heart, our democracy and Constitution are built on a value articulated in our Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal.”
Let’s apply this fundamental truth to the president’s oath and our commitment to America.
We can preserve the equality of all people by extending justice to all regardless of race, creed, or background.
Systemic racism has no place in our country. As President Biden stated today, “A cry for racial justice some four hundred years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.” I would add that prejudice against Christians and those of any other faith commitment is un-American.
We can protect all citizens as equal, beginning at conception and continuing to natural death.
This fact will become increasingly important if the Biden administration proceeds with announced plans to force taxpayers to pay for abortion, revoke the Hyde and Helms amendments, and make abortion a federal and civil right.
We can defend the equality of all by defending religious liberty as our “first freedom,” a foundation essential to all others.
This will become urgent if the Equality Act and related legislation threaten religious liberty in the context of gender identity and sexual preferences.
This is a day for pride in our country and prayer for her future.
Let’s serve our democracy with passion and purpose, beginning in prayer on our knees today.