For a second Saturday in as many weeks, explicit chants denouncing President Joe Biden erupted at college football games – a growing trend that seems unlikely to subside anytime soon.
But it should.
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with President Biden, we shouldn’t be cursing him with vulgar talk – instead, we should be praying for him.
It was the apostle Paul who wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2:1-2).
Keep in mind Paul was not some pollyannish softie unfamiliar with the world’s realities – he had been beaten and imprisoned, a marked man who nevertheless stood tall despite the threats of dictators who would have preferred him dead.
To be sure, Paul’s command to pray for our president and other leaders doesn’t necessarily mean we have to pray that their specific agendas will succeed – but pray for them we must.
We pray, among other things, that God will give our president wisdom (Psalm 2:10-11), guidance (Proverbs 11:14), understanding and a tender heart (Proverbs 21:1). We pray he will acknowledge God’s ways and will (Proverbs 3:4-6). We pray he will respect all life and protect religious and civil liberties that have been won at an incalculable cost.
Frustrations and anger are understandable. We find ourselves at a cultural crossroads where God’s laws seem increasingly at odds with the country’s elites.
Yet there is something increasingly unsettling about tens of thousands of football fans swearing with a smile. It cheapens our society, damages our witness and communicates to children that crassness is somehow therapeutic and the way to effect change.
Even setting aside the target of the vulgarity itself, the proliferation and normalization of profane speech in general is disappointing. Even some politically conservative commentators frequently use it on Twitter or other social media platforms. We read it in leaked transcripts from politicians of both parties.
I’m grateful I was raised in a home that didn’t use profanity. In fact, my mother used to say it was sign of a poor vocabulary, which is only partly true.
Fans of “salty” language will often suggest that language is neutral – context is what makes it profane. But the apostle Paul also warned, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Ephesians 4:29).
Is it helpful to vilify the president with stadium wide shouts of profanity?
I don’t think so.
When I was a young boy, I had a teacher who urged us, whenever we heard a siren, to offer up a prayer for the person those first responders were tending to. All these years later, I’ve never forgotten that advice
We shouldn’t just pray for the president when we hear someone or some crowd curse him, but that might just be the best way to quietly and privately respond when they do.
Paul Batura can be reached via email: Paul.Batura@fotf.org or on Twitter: @PaulBatura.com.
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