“If I wanted Obama to succeed… I’d be encouraging the republicans to lay down and support him! I don’t want this to work… I hope he fails!” – Rush Limbaugh
[Update: It seems I unintentionally misrepresented this quote. See the comments below (especially the one by Bill Blair), and check out the full context here. I’m truly, truly sorry for that. I should say, however that I still stand behind the overall thesis of this post. ]
They weren’t quite the most shocking words in the world. Everyone expects Rush Limbaugh to say something shocking and divisive – it’s how he keeps people listening to his show. And yet, for some reason – the act seems too politically unwise to be a cynically calculated move – Obama felt the need to respond. During talk of whether the stimulus bill might finally make it through the legislative process he pointed out, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” And with that mention from the bully pulpit, the debate amongst Republicans was on: How do we feel about Limbaugh again?
McCain took the initiative to actually defend the man: “Mr. Limbaugh is a voice of a significant portion of our conservative movement in America. He has a very wide viewing audience. He is entitled to his views, and he has a lot of people who listen very carefully to him. I don’t know why that the President would take him on. He’s part of the political landscape, and he plays a role.”
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey attempted to be honest about Limbaugh: “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing.” Later, he called Rush live on his show and apologized profusely for offending anyone.
So where ought Christians stand in all of this? The truth is, Rush Limbaugh’s show is almost fundamentally flawed and unhelpful in general. It’s an example of the sort of thing a Christian ought not to recommend. After all, is Rush what Paul had in mind when he declared we ought to “live a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity”? Certainly not. In fact, what we know about talk radio and television tells us that the system simply doesn’t encourage real Christian values.
No, I’m not talking about the pro-life cause, protesting gay marriage, or even gambling legislation. I’m talking instead about the fruits of the spirit: love, not a wish for someone’s failure; joy, not constant discontentment in our country’s political state; peace, not a spirit of wrath; patience, not a complete and utter lack of eternal perspective; kindness, not brashness; goodness, not a belief that the means justifies the ends; faithfulness, not a sense that we must take matters into our own hands; gentleness, not a simple desire to speak one’s mind no matter the cost; self-control, not an unchecked anger.
It’s those things which ought to dictate the way in which we seek to promote our prolife, anti-gay marriage causes. Further, when someone whom much of the world believes to be popular with Christians goes so clearly off-track in so many varied, blatant and seemingly intentional ways, it’s up to us not to just turn off the radio, but to make it clear: he is not one of us.
My challenge is simple: if you find yourself listening regularly to Rush and his cohorts and nodding your head, take the time to stop and check yourself for the fruits of the spirit. And do something a little bit less predictable than what Rush has done: Pray for Obama to succeed.
“…I think President Obama is in special need of prayers right now. I want President Obama to succeed. I didn’t vote for him, I’ll admit that right now. However, he is my President… these are serious times calling for serious leadership and I truly want President Obama to lead and lead successfully. Paul instructs us to pray for our leaders at all times (I Timothy 2:1-2); I think our leader could use our prayers and supplications right now as he adjusts to the intense rigours of one of the most difficult jobs in the world.” – Adam Carrington, writer for Christ and Pop Culture, and even more importantly, a Christian living out Christian ideals.