Should Pastors Talk about Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday?
A number of pastors have asked us for counsel on how to address the Brett Kavanaugh nomination on Sunday. My basic counsel is, you don’t have to address it, but if you do, don’t pick a side. Instead, pray about it, showing a concern for God’s name, God’s justice, and the hurting.
Bear in mind: this counsel is very much aimed at pastors, not Christians generally. A pastor’s job is to instruct people according to Scripture, not to make political judgments about specific circumstances. God has not authorized them to bind consciences and point to the way of righteousness according to their political calculations. Rather, they’re to point to what’s explicit in Scripture and what’s clear “by good and necessary consequence,” as the Westminster Confession puts it.
There are indeed biblical themes of justice at play in these present circumstances. Think of Proverbs 17:15: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” We should always be teaching our congregations passages like these. But teaching our congregations the Bible is not the same thing as teaching our own judgment (as convinced as you may be) about what happened in 1982, as if that opinion came from the Lord.
And so, with all those qualifications in place, here’s how I tried to accomplish the objectives I described above last Sunday. This is a lightly edited version of one paragraph from my own pastoral prayer:
Lord, you command us to pray for kings and all those in positions of authority.
So we pray for the United States Senate this morning, that you would bless them with the wisdom they need. We pray that you would grant wisdom and the conviction to do what is right even among those who deny you, as you did with Cyrus. We pray for those who are angry or hurting on both sides of our present national conversation. Indeed, we trust that people are on both sides of the conversation in this church. And some of us struggle with knowing exactly what justice requires.
But you know, Father. And we pray that you would accomplish your just purposes. We also pray for those who are hurting because last week’s events have provoked painful reminders of how they have been hurt and assaulted in the past. Comfort them. Cause them to look to you as their hope and their solace amidst the temptation to fear.
Lord, we don’t presume to know either the past or the future perfectly as you do. But we do pray that you would grant our nation a proper humility, that you would teach both the righteous and unrighteous to pursue what is just, even as you cause the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. As the nation rages and panics and fights, help us as a church to be something different—a place of salt and light. Help us, in our conversations with outsiders, to always speak in a manner that gives grace and builds up, not tears down and destroys. We pray the same for other Christians and churches around the country, that Christians would be known for speaking wisely and lovingly and compassionately and according to truth.