As 2020 winds through caucuses, primaries and finally the election, what are the most important qualities people of faith should look for in a commander-in-chief?
For me, I’d like to see our president for the next term embodying Christian values.
Sometimes that phrase “Christian values” becomes linked with social issues. Topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights stir quite a bit of debate within the Christian community itself.
Some values, though, are non-debatable. What Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) meets that criterion. This homily lays out the values that define his followers. Such disciples are: Compassionate. Merciful. Humble. Honest. Moral. Non-judgmental. Courageous. Peace-loving. Forgiving. Devout. Disciplined. Self-aware.
He never said that such values are limited to the populace and not to the leaders. Nor did he say that to embrace such characteristics you had to affirm creeds or dogma. Simply put: to live in the kingdom of this world as his disciple, you must live as if the kingdom of God really matters.
So, regardless of party or even religion, I want our next president to claim such a moral stance.
This sounds idealistic and naïve, given the hard realities of political life. A good leader must also be smart, politically savvy, experienced, and a strategic thinker. The person must also know when to compromise for a greater good, such as when armed conflict may be the only alternative.
Yet, I will feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the most powerful person in the world has a solid moral base.
Having a moral base promotes a broader vision rather than a narrow one. Christian values transcend national boundaries, party lines and even religious barriers. They are the glue bonding the whole of human society.
Also, someone who lives out such values with integrity is a person I can trust. I will more likely believe what they say without necessarily fearing a hidden agenda.
Finally, if a president’s values align with those preached by Jesus, then the values will influence policies. Immigration. Relations with the international community. Equal rights. Climate. Health care. Business regulations. Policies reflect priorities, and priorities should arise from what someone holds as sacred truths.
So, in the ensuing debates, caucuses, and election, I’ll be re-reading Jesus’ first sermon as a refresher. I hope whoever wins in November will do the same. If so, regardless of the person’s creed or lack thereof, I’ll sleep better. If they share values Jesus thought were important, that’s good enough for me.