The Inauguration

This past week President Joe Biden was sworn into office. The oath he took was 35 words long. He placed his left hand on the Bible, raised his right hand and swore, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Chief Justice John Roberts officiated and Mrs. Biden held the Bible that the president swore on. While all of that is common in an inauguration ceremony, there was a lot that was anything but common. There were many soldiers present for security, barricades, walls and fences were built, everyone was wearing masks and people were sitting six feet apart, just to name a few. Yet that was not the most interesting part. The interesting part of the inauguration, for me, was the amount of biblical references that were present. 

First there was the Bible itself that the president swore on. NBC Washington reported that the Bible is, “...the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month.” 

Then, there were the scripture references that the president used in his address. Tevi Troy and Stuart Halpern reported for the Wall Street Journal, “Presidential inaugural addresses are unpredictable, but it’s a good bet that they will refer to the Bible. President Biden did, quoting Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” This is part of a welcome, long-running trend toward more religious language in public life. Mr. Biden has cited Psalm 30 in speeches before, and it seems particularly apt in these dark times. Mr. Biden also encouraged his fellow Americans to “open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” an allusion to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, beginning with Exodus 7:13.” Even though we have certainly not become more godly as a country, the Biblical references are very common. They continue, “Although the U.S. has grown increasingly secular and religiously diverse, biblical references were less common earlier in American history. In the 29 speeches from Washington through William McKinley’s second inaugural in 1901, only 11 alluded to the Bible. The frequency has increased since, with 23 of 30 speeches making a biblical reference.” 

President Biden is Roman Catholic and shares often that his faith is a big part of his life. NBC Washington states, “Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history.” Yet is it all for show? Is he genuine about believing the Bible he swore on? Tevi Troy and Stuart Halpern warn, “Biblical allusions are not risk-free. When one does cite the Bible, it is best to be genuine about it. Few Americans saw Donald Trump as a deeply religious man—a reputation he solidified in 2016 by referring to “two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.” And Mr. Biden, despite his frequent biblical references, recently pronounced “Psalmists” as “palmists.” Gaffes like these can lead the religious and secular alike to wonder reasonably about political leaders’ sincerity.”

Gaffes for me are fine. They are understandable. Who hasn't said a word wrong in their lifetime? I know I have misspoken many times , so not to hold that against someone. What matters more is the life of the person. Do their actions reflect the Bible they read? Do they place their faith and trust in the scriptures? I more or less want to know if the person lives by the Bible they say is so important to them. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) James teaches us that faith without works (i.e. living according to the Bible) is a dead faith (James 2:14-26). Someone who says they believe in the Bible would follow it. Someone who is a follower of God would follow His word. Jesus told us that those who are genuinely His disciples know His voice (John 10:27-28). Is Biden such a man? Yesterday in the NY Times, they reported that, “President Biden is perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century.” Really?! That should be encouraging, right?

So if President Biden’s “faith” is such a central part of his life, if the Bible is so important to him, then it would show in his life. Well it didn’t take long to see that the Bible is more or less a prop for the president then his life’s guide. On January 22, the White House released a statement from the president about the anniversary of Roe V. Wade. It stated that the administration is dedicated to “codifying Roe v. Wade”. Or to put it another way; they want to make laws that ensure abortion is possible in case Roe V. Wade is ever overturned. The statement also said, “In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack.” It is very interesting the words that were used to vilify the anti-abortion movement. Especially because the biblical position is that life begins at conception (Psalm 139:16-19). And the Bible also teaches that any life that is killed is murder (Exodus 20:13). So how can the president say the bible is important to him if he is not willing to follow it? Especially something as dire as murder! President Biden can claim he is a follower of God all he wants, but it will only matter if his actions line up with the scriptures. And he should be careful for he will be held accountable for all of his actions (Romans 2:6-11). Instead of a christian I think something Jesus said better describes President Biden, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 15:8
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