Israel began its incursion into Gaza over the weekend and, as we wait for further details to emerge, that will be the focus of tomorrow’s Daily Article. Today, however, I’d like to discuss the new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, and some comments that are revealing of both the divide among those he is charged with leading and what we might expect from his time as speaker.
Johnson has represented Louisiana’s fourth congressional district since 2017. Prior to running for office, however, he was a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom and defended the state’s anti-abortion laws and same-sex marriage ban. While he has never chaired a committee in the House, he has served in increasingly prominent roles as his terms in Washington have progressed.
Still, the fact remains that he has spent less time in the House of Representatives prior to becoming speaker than any other speaker in the last 140 years. That inexperience, however, might be part of why he was eventually selected.
As Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma put it, “Politics is like the fight business, the longer you’re in it, the more beat up you get.” It is likely that Johnson benefitted from his relative anonymity when compared with those who had sought the role before him.
That anonymity, however, has also resulted in a steady stream of deep dives and strong opinions on the new speaker across the days since he ascended to that role.
The stories have largely fallen along partisan lines, with one side seemingly convinced he’s going to save the government while the other is convinced he’ll usher in its final downfall. What’s most interesting, however, is that both sides are largely relying on the same evidence to draw those conclusions. It is a clear example of the divide that exists between political parties in our culture today and offers us the chance to discuss two aspects of Johnson’s career to date that might be particularly instructive to us as well.
A biblical worldview
When asked about his stance on controversial topics like same-sex marriage and abortion, Johnson replied, “Go pick up a Bible,” later adding that he “genuinely love[d] all people regardless of their lifestyle choices” and that “this is not about the people themselves.”
He concluded by saying that the best way to understand what he believes about a given subject is to “go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it—that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe and so I make no apologies for it.”
Of course, for those who disagree with what the Bible teaches on many of these controversial topics, a biblical worldview is hardly a valid perspective from which to govern. And that should be expected.
Such opposition does not invalidate the truth of God’s word or the authority it should have in the lives of all Christians, but we should not be surprised when it also serves as a lightning rod for criticism and derision. That’s why a biblical worldview alone is not enough to transform our culture or the lives of those still lost within it.
Here too Johnson’s example can offer us some help.
More than a political prop
As Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick described, Johnson has not “acquired a single enemy in his time here.” And, as discussed previously, it’s not because he refused to take a strong stance on controversial issues. Even beyond his past arguments in favor of biblical marriage and the sanctity of life, his most contentious stance was in working to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Regardless of how you feel about those results—for more, see “How fair are the US elections?”—several of the previous candidates for speaker had lost in no small part due to their decisions in the aftermath of that election. And while the majority of Congress still disagrees with what Johnson attempted to accomplish, Rep. Don Bacon spoke for many when he said that he still believes Johnson “is a man of strong character” and “treats everyone with tremendous decency.”
Others have added that “he’s a really nice guy, and he’s good at getting along with people.”
As such, it seems at least that the biblical worldview to which Johnson claims to subscribe is more than the political prop it is often used as by others. After all, Scripture should inform not only the way we think, but also the way we act and the way we approach other people. When the kindness of Christ characterizes our interactions with others, it can earn us the latitude to disagree without being seen as disagreeable.
The highest reward for a faithful life
It is impossible to know, sitting here less than a week out from Mike Johnson being sworn in as the new Speaker of the House, if he will do a good job managing the often-difficult factions within his party and within the House as a whole. And the nature of politics is such that there will almost always be one side convinced that he has failed in that endeavor.
My prayer this morning, though, is that as he attempts to lead the House through those struggles, the same things regarding his commitment to Scripture and to being a kind person can be said of him when the next speaker takes his place.
That consistency will prove difficult, but it is how God will define if Johnson’s term is successful. And the same is true for each of us as well.
Warren Wiersbe once wrote that “the highest reward for a faithful life is not what you get for it but what you become by it.”
If our worldview is truly defined by a commitment to God’s word, then we should become more kind and caring as a result.
Will your life show that kind of commitment today?