Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (Cover Photo by Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines)
As Christians, we are taught of the importance of love for one another, just as God has first loved us. With this, we have been raised to never discriminate individuals, no matter what their race, gender, religion, their status in life – we are taught to treat everyone with utmost respect.
The latest tirade of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte against the doctrines of Christianity, these past few days, has been hard to deal with for us Lutheran Christians who acknowledge the Bible as THE WORD OF GOD – the accounts of God’s love for all mankind. So hard that there have been some of our members who have resorted to reacting emotionally on social media about the matter.
Yes, it is but natural for human beings to react when provoked – especially if the matter conferred pertains to one’s principles – one’s faith for this matter. It is hard that one’s faith, which he/she has been believing in, holds dearly, is mocked upon. What is worse is that it is being mocked by no less than the President of our country, someone we hold dear and respect – someone we see as the father of our nation. Someone we honor in obedience to the commandment that says: “ Honor you father and your mother…”
As president, we all look at Him as a father-figure for all citizens, someone we put our trust upon. Just imagine how disappointed people have been when the president gave those statements – that the god depicted in the Bible is a “stupid god”.
The country may have different ethnicity, people of different religions, but the fact of the matter is, the president is father to all. A family is supposed to be a unit where trust abounds, a safe zone for all the members because it is built on love and respect. But what has happened is that the president has inflicted pain to the Christians of this nation – who are supposed to be part of his family.
No father, in his right mind, would ever hurt his children. A father never does anything to jeopardize the relationship he has with his children. Yes, he claims that the god he believes in is different from the One True God we Christians believe – the one we read about in the Bible, but it is irresponsible (insensitive perhaps) on his part to mock our God for being different from the god he believes in.
We know he has his quarrels with the some Church leaders, but as leader to this nation, he should have dealt with the matter as a mature leader, a mature father, putting into consideration the welfare of the people, his children, who would be caught in the middle of the conflict. There is always a correct way of dealing with issues.
But amidst all these, the members of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines, as Christian believers of the Triune God – depicted in the Bible, the redeemed flock of Christ through his saving act on the cross – as depicted in the bible, are still prayerful that this matter will be resolved in God’s rightful time, and that wounds will heal, leading to the reconciliation of the people of this nation. This may be a long-shot, but nothing is impossible for our ONE TRUE GOD.
As for the president, he has all the right to be vocal about his faith, and we respect that. But we would also like the president to respect our faith, the same way as we respect his faith. We will not show any disrespect to him or to his administration because we believe that as Christians, our lives are a reflection of our faith – of what we believe – a reflection of our GOD who revealed Himself in Christ Jesus.
James (1:19-20) “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Still the Bible is not lacking of this kind of paradigm. St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 : “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”
However we are also taught from the same Bible which we regard dearly as Word of God to obey and respect the “Civil Government” as God’s ordained institution. Despite of the “hurt” the president has inflicted among us Christians, we will continue to support his administration, all its officials from the lowest to the highest office, all its laws and decrees, and all its branches of government. As the Christian church is given the “Word” to teach and preach the Word of God, the government is given the “Sword” to punish evil and curve the outburst of sin in a given society. Both Church and government are God’s institutions to serve the general welfare of the people. It should not be in conflict with one another but to support and collaborate with one another in harmonious relationship of servant-hood. The Church produces good citizens and the government protects the citizens.
To you our President, we convey our message of love and earnest prayers that, despite our hurt, in our God’s (the God in the Holy Bible) perfect timing, He will reveal to you His Son, Jesus Christ, and that just like St. Paul who persecuted the early Christians, you will have a change of heart and become His servant.
Rev. Antonio del Rio Reyes
The Lutheran Church in the Philippines