Editor's Note: Eric Metaxas is the author of "No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power Of True Belief In A Time Of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast Speech."
By Eric Metaxas, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Imagine that the president of the United States had to sit and listen to you for 30 minutes in a public setting. Imagine that he couldn't escape and had to endure whatever you said. If you disagreed with him politically, would you try to embarrass him? What would you say?
Well, this actually happened to me. A year ago I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an event attended by the president, first lady, vice president, and 3,500 other dignitaries. No one was more shocked at the invitation than I. Previous speakers include Mother Teresa, Tony Blair and Bono. No pressure.
By the way, I disagree with the president in some important ways. But as a Christian, God commands me to love those with whom I disagree, to treat them with civility and respect, as creatures made in God's image. That's a command, not a request or a suggestion. Again, no pressure.
In my speech I spoke about my heroes, William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Wilberforce's faith led him to fight for the Africans being enslaved by the British; Bonhoeffer's faith led him to fight for the Jews being persecuted by the Nazis. I used them as examples of people who passionately lived out their faith by standing up for their fellow human beings when most around them merely gave it lip service.
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I also joked around a lot, because as any of my friends will tell you, one of the ways I show love is by joking and teasing people. Who said prayer breakfasts had to be boring? At one point I said that George W. Bush had read my Bonhoeffer book, and then I glanced at President Obama and said "No pressure." I'm glad he laughed!
Later in my speech, I talked specifically about the idea of loving our enemies. I said this was the test of real faith. Speaking to my fellow pro-lifers, I said that those of us who believe the unborn to be human beings must love those on the other side of that issue. I also said that those of us with a traditionally biblical view of sexuality are sometimes demonized as bigots, but we must love even those who call us bigots. I cited Wilberforce and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as two men who took seriously God's command to love their enemies in the midst of the most serious political battles of their day. They honored God in how they fought, and he honored them.
At the end of the breakfast the president told me he would read my book on Bonhoeffer, and Vice President Biden took my picture with the president. No kidding. It was an extraordinary day and I'm not telling the half of it.
President Barack Obama holds up a book given to him by author Eric Metaxas
But the reason I'm writing now is that during the past election I was disappointed to see the president's campaign utterly abandoning these ideals of treating your opponents as you yourself would wish to be treated. Good people with principled and profound convictions about when life begins were cynically demonized as "enemies of women." Americans who had worked hard to build businesses, and who had given millions to charity and to the government, were denounced as fat-cats who weren't "paying their fair share" and whose wealth was ill-gotten gain.
These scorched-earth tactics were not presidential, much less Christian, and because the president openly professes a Christian faith, I feel I must speak about this.
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Of course many will dismiss campaign hardball rhetoric as "what works." This is to miss the point. What we say matters deeply, and how we say it matters deeply. All of it has serious long-term consequences. For all of us.
For one thing, our children are watching and listening. We tell them it's less important who wins or loses than how we play the game. Is there no truth to this at all? Do we not see that this behavior erodes faith in the very political process and in democracy itself? Do we not see that by doing this we encourage our opponents to do the same - and worse - the next time around? Shouldn't we care about that?
Any victory won in an ugly way is somehow a tainted victory. In this case, the president has "won" a deeply divided nation, one that he - alas - has had a hand in dividing. Now what?
If he is to succeed in the tremendous challenges that lay ahead, he must repent of these tactics and must make amends with his opponents, if it's not too late. Or else he will face gridlock and more gridlock. He also must show the door to those who cynically encouraged this "winning is the only thing" behavior.
His legacy and America's future depend upon it. Many will be praying for him.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eric Metaxas.
Wow... this shameless Pharisee (that's an insult to Pharisees, actually) has the nerve to portray those he persecutes as bullies, to side with the wealthy over the poor (what would Jesus think of that?) and worst of all, to compare himself to MLK and Bonhoeffer. If I believed in a devil, I'd buy this guy being one of his favored servants.
Michael – if this is your definition of persecution, then I'll make a mental note – when you talk of persecution, you aren't referring to persecution at all. You are merely referring to an event where you heard an opinion you didn't agree with.
You do a disservice to people who have really been persecuted.
Jawn, has you been persecuted
Well. . .it's unfortunate that the author did not follow the rule of "Don't mail anything until you've read it three times AND slept on it." If he had followed the rule, we would not be reading all this nonsense. Too much vitriol - though the author made some attempt to hide his mean-spiritedness. Too much "clever" language–though the author pretends he cannot help himself in the service of so-called truth. Too little self-awareness–though the author pretends to be self aware
Try the three times and sleep on it rule next time.
If this is what you mean by 'mean-spiritedness' then the next time you talk about someone being mean spirited – I'll remember that you aren't really talking about anything real – mere political disagreement, being escalated to something more than it was – by a person prone to hyperbole.
John, we'd like you to try the three times rule and post when you can make sense.
It made sense Sam. What confuses you is an opinion different from your own.
What you are trying to do is shut down debate with insult – hardly a character trait worth emulating, so I'll pass.
It worked ok for you a minute ago...on someone you didn't agree with...dude, are you high??
Maybe the issue is that you hear insult where none was given, and then you respond with real insult, believing you are justified.
Honestly I don't care what your reasoning is – next time you tell me someone is high – I'm going to make a note of the source.
You aren't a judge of who is high, clearly – you claim people are high, when you disagree with them. Try writing things down 3 times, and ask yourself – do you really believe this person is high, or do you insult when you disagree?
You like to take plenty of notes.
You were doing so well on one of the other pages, so I can't tell if you have a split personality or if maybe you're just having trouble with this one subject. I'll have to flip a coin.
Honestly I have no idea what you are talking about.
One of the other pages? This is my first time posting on CNN ever.
Sam – you are now a judge of split personality.
So someone trying to express an opinion is alternately persecuting people, high, has split personality order – amazing.
Just amazing. You don't recognize why you do this – but here is why – to shut down debate. That's the reason for the tactic, not very complicated.
Also not very useful. It's tantamount to dropping on the floor, kicking your feet and wailing.
Sigh. One of the other comment pages on this *same article*. Are you now having comprehension problems as well? If so, you may be having a mild stroke. Get to a doc. If not, and it's someone else posting decent sense on the other pages, then, never mind. I'll go talk to the version of you that makes sense instead.
Sam, you make a lot of medical diagnosis, it's a bad habit. It's not good debate form, it doesn't advance the discussion.
Do we really need debate where Sam accuses the other person of having a stroke, split personality, comprehension disorder, being high, etc.?
In may not make any sense to you – but it makes sense Sam. I can't help the political creatures that only know who they agree with and who they don't, and never a bit of logic to confuse – but for those that want to discuss the topic of the day – discourse and public debate, I doubt many are really going to come down on the side of 'more medical diagnosis' by the participants.
If only Obama had more often accused Romney of having a stroke and Romney had accused Obama of spreading cancer – then and only then, would debate improve in America.
Good luck with that.
Shhh, shhh. You're getting all cranky. Go take a nap.
"These scorched-earth tactics were not presidential, much less Christian". Really? I find my self wondering if Mitt had won, would you have said the same thing to him? Your holier than thou, "I'm the expert on being Christian" stance is annoying, patronizing, and typical of the know-it-all right wing. You can do better than this, CNN.
Finally... a CNN article worth reading. Truth is that 45% of the nation agrees with you, 20% do not, and 35% are blind and clueless.
You have some links to back those percentages up porta-John?
Or are you speaking out of your ar_se like most of you fundies do?
And when you get back to us on the links to your numbers, how about giving us some proof of your sky fairy.
John is an idiot. 87% of all people know that.
Well, going by these comments, I would say that about 5% agree with the author of this article.
you sure it's not 47% of the nation agrees with you?
Dude, are you serious? have you been paying any attention to what the Republicans have been doing for a very long time now? At some point you have to stand up and defend yourself. Enough said.
Trying to force legislation that would outlaw abortions in every single case, including conceptions via ra pe or inc est, or when the life or long-term health of the mother is at stake (ie. the 'Personhood Amendment'), is indeed what I would consider a 'war on women'.
The choice to have or not to have an abortion should be between a woman, her doctor, her family, and other professionals (yes, even priests if she so determines), not up to a select few elected officials on capital hill who have never even met the woman and do not know her circu mstances.
S e x is not only a physical embolism but is also an emotionalized pleasantry. In either stance one should yes consider before the "deed done" is made. Does a couple who embraces each other in the physical throngs of emotionalized pleasing do so without any planning involved? Are we all just wanting the pleasures of s e x to be had without planning for a child's birthing? If so, then aren't we found guilty of wanton s e x u a l pleasures despite said pleasures potential outcome?
First, I disagree that people should only have 's e x', as you put it, with the intention of having a child. Second, the 'personhood amendment' goes way beyond unintentioned pregnancies. If your daughter got pregnant as the result of a ra pe, then you will probably be very glad that such an amendment probably will never be passed.
So then, you believe in wanton s e x u a l pleasures without the foreseeable consequences? Your standing upon r a p e principles or a mother's potential healthiness due a child possibly being conceived is noteworthy. Should the governing bodies allow all s e x u a l activities no matter what? Is the shame for having s e x for pleasure's sake something to be overlooked and judgmentally weighed out-of-bounds due that everyone needs a little 'action'?
The root of this desparate and irrelevant tirade appears to be buried deeply in the right-to-life rhetoric. I believe there is a solution so simple that it defies human understanding. My advice to you, Mr. Metaxas is this: If you don't want an abortion, don't get one. The last I checked, you are not my doctor. If I (or anyone I know) needs an abortion, you will not be on the list of medical service providers. I'm pretty sure I know God, and Mr. Metaxas, you are not God. Until you reach that status, please refrain from judgement (as you are commanded), and try to address the log in your own eye before you become concerned about the mote in mine.
What really confuses me is watching religious types constantly fumbling over when to abandon faith and when to take up political arms. How can you really subscribe to both? It confuses me as much as an Atheist bringing religion into every subject imagineable. I think the President walked as humbly as he could through Hell on the way to reelection and a second term, where we can finally force the treasonous GOP to put forth some effort in earnest for the American people. The GOP showed what their nature is when they think they've got a political victory within their sights...they didn't even TRY to accomplish anything on merit and hard work during President Obama's first term all the way up until the election. The ONLY thing that will even get them to come to the table NOW is some perceived chance at political victory. Siding with the political right in this country is about the most unholy thing imagineable. Even if you are religious, I don't see how an allegiance with the right wing is justified. If you've got issues with the Democratic party and its tenets, that are all otherwise more "Christ-like" than those of the Republican party (feeding the poor, healing the sick, etc), and you think the President of the United States and legislation is the answer, maybe you aren't spending enough time doing what you SHOULD be doing in "spreading the gospel." This is why it appears that politically involved religious figures are conflicted...have abandoned their faith. You're just another politician or lobbyist when you step outside of the church and enter the political atmosphere. What makes you think that you deserve any more respect than that? God complex.
You "said that those of us who believe the unborn to be human beings must love those on the other side of that issue."
Oh, I do love killers of defenseless babies, mothers who would for selfish reasons defy with death what may be the greatest bond possible between two human beings, that of mother and child. I do love such people, and except for the most thoughtless and outspoken of them, I am able to forgive most of them – since their responsibilities for their abominable acts is diminished by the effectiveness and near omnipresence of pro-abortion brainwashing from others in our society. I can love and most of the time, forgive.
But when it comes to discussion about the issue of abortion itself, there can be no room in one's conscience for moral relativism. To wit, having a stance such as "I believe abortion is wrong, but what is wrong for me may not be wrong for someone else..." does not even qualify as having a moral stance. Such a stance is not moral. It is spineless. It is cowardice.
"Moral relativism" and "ethical subjectivism" when understood sufficiently, can be clearly seen for the oxymorons they are.
Knowing that few here are either into philosophy or will do their homework on this matter, I'll offer a few clues:
Morality is, and must be objective. If morality were not objective, obviously there could be no objective right or wrong. Without an objective morality, it would be impossible to even define such a thing as a "crime against humanity." Conversely there could be no concept of a great reformer.
MOST IRONICALLY, proponents of abortion rights typically espouse some system of moral relativism, while nonetheless defending the progress of womens' rights as being morally and objectively good.
To be morally relative is to be amoral.
Ah. The perfect closed mindset. Congrats.
Really Dave? The only reason to have an opinion against abortion is a religious one (not biblical of course, but what the old guys in dresses have told the sheep). If you want to have that opinion – fine. But not everyone holds that sway (not even within your cult). If you think forcing that onto others is fine, take your spot beside the Taliban.
Morality is defined by your paradigms- for we all are products of the environments we were raised; basically my morality in my culture may be different than yours, and subsequently, the religious right has decided to label who and what they deem "moral" and what they don't. The woman's right to her own body is very moral- what is unmoral is the fact that men (mostly white men) with opinions of how THEY feel about a certain topic over the years in America have been able to deem what they feel is "moral" or not, without any rhyme or reason except for the occasional trist w/ the Bible and its contents- they usually are wrong with what they find and we the women have to suffer "barefoot and preggers" and all that- It's our own INALIENABLE rights that gives us permission to make our own decisions whether it be abortion or not.
** also, as much as republicans cry about people being on welfare, I'm surprised they haven't taken a "relaxed" approach to that topic because essentially, we all know they are referring to minorities and they definitely don't want to take care of such children in a "welfare Obama Society" let them call it ( as if welfare and these phones haven't been along for years- guess they've never read their phone bills but I've worked for a phone company so I knew what the USF was in 2007 before he became President but that's neither here nor there). If you don't want to take care of them, feed them, insure them, then let women make the right choices for their families and lives. Shouldn't be a question to abortion except "when did this become your business?"
What I'm being told here (and elsewhere) is that it's objectively wrong for me to oppose abortion rights, because there is no such thing as an objective right or wrong – which is self defeating nonsense.
All in all, a very self-indulgent, self-important, self-satisfied article from a self-obsessed dingbat.
Very well said.
It is not Obama's faut Romney is a negative campaigner.
uh this writer has gone off the deep end- apologize for saying what the American public needed him to say?! What about Romney and the Republican propaganda? I'm so SHOCKED that we are even hearing from anyone who voted for the republicans! CNN- this is trash & u seem to be publishing it more by the droves~ Politics is not a "hmmm here's my neighbor and we disagree but let me be nice". Had it not been for the cries that President Obama was a muslim, socialist, communist, and everrything else, maybe President Obama wouldn't have had to go there; maybe if you take care of home first, then you can look across the river and name the reflection- Republicans are so narrow minded, mean, tasteless, and despondent. They blame everything on "liberals" as if they are "coloreds" like rejects of the 1960s. And yet, when you call them on it, they have a million one excuses why they do the things they do. The point they miss everytime: If you are a child of God you know that he is the ultimate judge, we are not to be judging our fellow man (and talking the way they do) and they will have to answer to God and Jesus for that.. wonder what they will say? When God looks them in the eyes and says "You tried to do my job but you did it wrong and in poor taste, what can you say about that?" I wonder what the answer will be, I wonder will they blame the "libs"then... These people hide behind the Bible and yet haven't even read it! Sad .. and I'm sick of hearing them.
A good idea is a good idea – no matter where it comes from. Be it the Bible, Torah, Qur'an, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, John Lennon, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Communist, or a six year old.
Love thy neighbor as thyself – a good idea.
If you don't have something nice to say... don't say it – a good idea.
In polite conversation stay away from Religion, Politics and money – a good idea.
Archetype, stereotype, or belittle someone – a bad idea
Not saying 'sorry' when you made an honest mistake or inadvertently hurt someone – a bad idea
Thinking that, somehow, you are better or superior to someone else – a bad idea.
I find it amazing that the habits, philosophical viewpoints, and behaviors we work so hard to instill in our youngsters in Kindergarten somehow are thrown out the window later in life.
I think it would be good for everyone to go back and re-read Mr. Fulghum's essay on life lessons learnt in Kindergarten.
There is a lot of wisdom in the mind of someone who does not have the prejudices and hang-ups we learn later in life. I posit that if you cannot explain it to someone under 10 then you don't understand the problem, issue, or situation. I think all of us can learn from the wisdom that such thought brings forth. Even ordinary people can think deep thoughts.
God bless America,protect us from the damages Obama will force on the American people..
Yeah, I see the sky falling already.
Obama is the cause of all the worlds problems, plus why my cable does not work.
America will never survive the Obama onslaught.
Might as well move to Cananda now to avoid the rush.
Oh wait, they are socialist in Canada....
I'm going to assume this is tongue-in-cheek, because if it's on the level, I'm going to agree with Sam:
tongue firmly in cheek.
Obama is phony and opportunistic to the core. He is a nominal Christian at best. His actual worldview is that of a secular Marxist.
Of course it is. He has been faking going to the same church for 20 years. What a great plan. ID10T
Guy can't win...not christian enough, not white enough, not black enough, not american enough...whew, plenty of tall orders. What ruler are you using to measure who's christian enough? You must be quite the upstanding citizen yourself.
The fact that Obama does not base his policy on his faith is one of the things I like most about our President.
Can you give us some proof of that Half Blaked?
And while you are at it, could you give us some proof of you magic sky fairy too?
at least he has a world view
People who are politically aligned with the president, will be mystified by this article. Those against the president, will agree with it whole heartedly.
Few will get the point, it's all politics, all the time.
And if he sells a few more books along the way.
This guy preaches about loving your enemies and no doubt tells his followers that all Muslims must be killed. He is a hypocrite, a typical Republican.
Random thoughts that enter your head don't fall into the 'no doubt' category.
There is no evidence for that in the article, but you have such a blind hatred of Republicans that you are sure it's true. Once again, the pot calls the kettle black.
Ill have to agree w/ Zorak.. as you see when you eloquently stated your opinion, you were attacked by jealous meanspirited people with no position of intellectual conversation to hold because they have none.. they just have the name calling, finger pointing, God said and usually they are WRONG! I guess they haven't read in the Bible how "false teachers" are dealt with by God.. teaching his words w/ false pretenses and hate.. They really should be ashamed of how they talk about our current President after all the trash he was handed by a republican president– we're cleaning up the republican trash and they have nothing better else to do but call us names, say we vote for 'gifts" say we're not children of God, say anything they can but they are losing support in drones because people are not stupid and they are rejecting hate and no ethics. We're sick of the republican leadership calling us names and then wanting our vote... and now we sit ready to fall off the Fiscal Cliff because these idiots from the republican party can't understand that we didn't vote for them because we wanted them to harm our economy anymore. They will do it anyway because we pay them to do nothing- take away Congress' pay for a while and then see how the country turns!
Finally, a non partisan post.
is this a serious article? for shame CNN.
"What we say matters deeply" – CNN should be shamed for what exactly? Allowing someone to express that thought? Or any thought critical of the president?
They don't need to be ashamed for giving a forum to one political viewpoint.
The left vilifies the right – it's a strategy (anti-abortion=women haters). The right vilifies the left – (Obamacare, being about 1% different than Romneycare somehow = Marxism)
This is what we do – divide. Be outraged. Divide some more. It's OK if we talk about it. It has to be OK – otherwise we are stuck in this childish rut forever.
Conservatives don't hate women. Liberals are not Marxist. If you think these things – pull the hook out of your mouth, because you are on the line, my friend.
This moron had to be threatened by god to be civil to people he disagrees with? That's just common sense and courtesy to the rest of us.
Is he really that out-of-control? Or is he just ascribing basic human social behavior to his imaginary deity?
Does he actually think that the Democrats are the ones who have abandoned civility? Is he not paying attention to the spit-poison psychosis of his own side?
Your reply in itself speaks volumes of the authors character vs. your own. He speaks of truth and patience. He speaks of his love for God and desire to keep His commandments. He wants to see civility and a respect for differing opinions. He shows tolerance. Now you start your response by coming out with guns blazing calling this man a moron. You belittle his faith, but probably subscribe to the principle of "telorance". As hard as it is to accept this notion, it was the Judeo-Christian principles that allowed spiteful individuals like you to rant on with your hate and intollerance. It was the love of God that allowed an individual such as the author to love his enemies and even pray for them. Which side do you think would be better for mankind? Hypocritical idealists who champion tolerance, but only as far as when it agrees with their opinions or humble people who follow a God whose very purpose was to forgive the very sinful nature you display and in fact, we all display? As our world gets smaller, we see more people self indulge while trying to maintain an air of compassion and telerance. People like you have no "skin" in this game, yet feel your precious opinions show that you are hip and cool and part of the new culture. The Bible is quite clear about the progression of man. We will feel like we are more in control of our own destiny while all the time fooling even ourselves into societal suicide. Through it all, God does consider you, me and everyone else His children. Amazing love.
Interesting. You claim tolerance and you you call me spiteful and hating and "intollerant",and other slurs.
You too are a hypocrite.
That's super deep, man. Do you write fortune cookie fortunes, too?
"That's super deep, man. Do you write fortune cookie fortunes, too"
EMC2 makes a perfectly valid point. Is that snide remark the best response you can come up with?
"As hard as it is to accept this notion, it was the Judeo-Christian principles that allowed spiteful individuals like you to rant on with your hate and intollerance."
Yeah, such great points! OMG! How could I not see how great.
Believer, have you almost run out of crazycakes BS today, or did you store up over the weekend?
Civility is common sense and courtesy. Like starting out a response referring to someone as a moron. It just screams civility.
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