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Sad Season

By October 11, 2016 15 Comments

Probably it has a lot to do with the recent hospitalization of my mom-in-law and her dealing with some tough health issues in her late 80s.   Probably it has something to do with the death of a friend and former parishioner whose funeral I will help to conduct at week’s end.  And most probably it has something to do with this furious political season and my spending too much time pondering Facebook posts (and making posts of my own) and then reading responses upon responses to those posts.  But four weeks from election day in the U.S. and I find myself feeling tired and sad.

I’m sad at how divided we are as a nation but also as circles of friends and even in family circles and most certainly as fellow Christians.  My earliest political memory is Richard Nixon’s resignation, so you’d think I’d have sadness in my political DNA (although truth be told, folks in West Michigan were so proud that our own Jerry Ford then became President that we were the one part of the country that was not quite as shaken as everyone else!).   But although differences of opinion mark every political process and most certainly every election cycle, things have gotten palpably worse since 2000.  And because almost all of the political hatred that has been simmering and coming to a boil for the last 25 years is focused on Hillary Clinton, her candidacy this year has guaranteed a spiteful, hate-filled election cycle.  Sunday night’s debate in which a presidential candidate took the unprecedented step of threatening his opponent with prison if he ever gets the ultimate power in this nation was a pitch-perfect encapsulation of the mood of so many.  So now we’re living in Idi Amin’s Uganda, I guess.

But I am also sad to see what’s happening to the church.  Of course, my views (insofar as they are known) cause lots of people, including in my wider family, to shake their heads and cluck their tongues when I’m not around.  I make them sad.   But I am also saddened to see people posting on Facebook well-discredited lies (often in the form of memes, curiously enough) about this or that candidate–but mostly about Clinton–and when I look up the Snopes article or other credible sources that disprove the claim as a boldface lie and post it, few if any apologize, take down the post, or confess an error.   Mostly they double down like the woman interviewed outside a Trump rally in Florida two weeks ago who claimed Obama has never produced a birth certificate.  When the reporter told her that he most certainly had done so five years ago, the woman blankly said, “No, I don’t think so.”  And so it goes in this fact-resistant climate.

But back to the church: family values figures like James Dobson–who used to decry divorce and bad language and the scourge of pornography, who used to challenge leaders in the church to be family people to support that pillar of society–these leaders have thrown in their lot with a twice-divorced groper of women whose language on the Howard Stern show alone over the years counts as a form of audio pornography the likes of which Dobson used to tell us to shun.

Now evangelicals have their candidate defended by Rudy Giuliani who says that “everybody” has past infidelities and “all” men talk locker room talk about women’s bodies and we’re all in the same soup as Trump so what’s the big deal?   And Jerry Falwell, Jr. responds to a pornographic verbal exchange that glorifies assaulting women by saying “We’re all sinners” as though that suddenly levels the playing field and makes it OK for Christians to go along with these things since, again, we’re all in the same immoral soup.  But the “we’re all sinners” line–true though it is–never excuses or saves the pastor who is found in bed with the church secretary and is seldom used as a reason just to forgive him and let him keep baptizing babies and preaching sermons.  So I don’t see how that becomes a flip way to keep supporting what, when I was a boy, I was told to flee and shun for the worldliness it represented.   Now I find a large swath of the evangelical church in this country just brushing past it and supporting a tawdry, race-baiting figure because they somehow believe it’s a pro-life thing to do.   Our witness may or may not ever recover.

I think in a post on The Twelve last summer I looked ahead to this election and to this fall and said I dreaded it.  I wasn’t wrong.

But someone in my Facebook circle of friends posted something apt along these lines a while back when he reminded us that Jesus once said that in this world we’d have all kinds of trouble but to take heart because “I have overcome the world.”  That’s more than good enough for me.   These days, it has to be.  And may that same Lord somehow put us back together as his people, his Body, somewhere down the road.

Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Hanna says:

    Dear Scott Hoezee, my very good friend and I were just talking about and praying for our upcoming election, last night. What you wrote or described well is what I’ve been feeling for the last several months. In fact, I had curbed my Facebook activity very much so after having seen so many hateful posts realizing how we could not have normal, honest, and respectful discussion without name calling or worse… The stance of the “believing society,” that you described well could just shoot someone’s hope or young faith, especially if those “faith fathers” were someone they have looked up for as an example… I had felt so discouraged, helpless, and hopeless when I saw all these things you eloquently described. But then I came to a realization that the only way I can get through this season is by choosing love and peace over hate or hateful words or actions and by continuously praying for God’s will to be done. At the same time, I realized that this is all the culmination of our way of godless life styles where we have pushed God out of our lives, homes, schools, communities, and society at large. Though I have a tiny hint of hope for better outcomes, in my heart of hearts, I am not sure if things will ever get better considering how we truly are living in the end times. This view then makes me think of that nothing that is happening now is outside of what our Lord had described so many years ago and His word of encouragement that we are overcomers in Him just as He was, just as you said in your closing, is ours to hold on to. So, no matter who gets elected to the Oval Office, He or She will be the one that God has predestined in His divine working and whatever consequences we reap will be our own to bear. In the end, my hope and prayer is for those of us who truly love the Lord to know Him and cling to Him like we never had before. May God “strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way…” so that we are able to see His mighty hand move in our lives and experience personal victories despite what might be happening around us (Issiah 35:1-10). God bless you and keep you and your family as you deal with and grieve through the losses of health and life of loved ones.

  • Gail Weigel says:


  • Grace Shearer says:

    Thank you Scott for this thoughtful post. I share your sadness.

  • Gordon says:

    Sadness indeed. This past month has been FB free for me. I’d rather know my circle of friends as fellow Christians than feeling anguished over their current politics. Hence FB free is the plan for me.
    David Brooks recent release helps me to understand Trumpian political drive. He is a lonely man and will continue to be aggressive because of it.

  • Dad says:

    All I can day is a big AMEN! Thank you for writing what I, and so many, feel in our hearts!

  • Ron calsbeek says:

    Thanks, I needed this. I, too, struggle with what to post with regard to our political situation. It’s hard not to be offensive to somebody somewhere when the behaviors of the candidate in question are so outrageous. In the end, I am driven by the example of Bonhoeffer whose time and circumstances, unfortunately, parallel ours.

    In failing to speak out, we too are guilty.

  • Daniel Bos says:

    I thank you for and am encouraged by all your posts! I have been wondering how you endure the spiteful facebook responders who sound as if they have not even read what you wrote. May you continue to receive the dunamis, agape, and sophia promised in 2 Tim 1.7.

  • Bonny Mulder-Behnia says:

    Thank you, Scott. I have felt sad, too (and sickened sometimes to the point of nausea) by the things Trump has said and done throughout his campaign, and appalled that Christians continue to support him and spew such horrible hatred toward Hillary. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for speaking the truth and not backing down.

  • Amy Schenkel says:

    Amen, and well-written, Scott.

  • June Huissen says:

    Thank you Scott for verbalizing what is on my mind and in my heart. God’s blessings on you!

  • Mary Blacquiere says:

    Amen Scott! Grace and Peace.

  • Mark Bennink says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Scott. I too am deeply troubled by the state of our nation and the evangelical church as reflected in the current political atmosphere. Even though we come from a different place on the political spectrum, Christ unites us. Christ’s sovereignty is our only ultimate hope over any politician or candidate.

  • Thank you for expressing so well my own feelings of sadness. I can’t help but wonder how we as Christians can be united after this election. As you said, this is 25 yrs in the making….and it’s dividing friendships, family, and the Christian community. I also struggle with what to post/say vs. maintaining relationships I value vs. how to be most effective….but, as Ron Calsbeek said, we cannot ignore the similarities leading up to the horrific deeds of Nazi Germany. We must each struggle to find the way God would have us speak and act in such a time as this. Peace to you!

  • Thank you for writing this–as a church leader living in Western Michigan! Many of us are sad with you.

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Just read this. Another excellent piece, Scott. Where I am. After I heard the news of the Trump tape on Friday, I just wept.

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