Why I Respect Rand’s Take on Religion

Rand Paul 01Separation of church and state…

It is a topic that has been hotly debated for years, even decades. Whether one finds themselves in the camp of proponent or opponent, few would argue that public office requires a man to separate himself from his own beliefs. For many people in this nation, religion and faith are essential components of their character. Politicians are no different.

Recently while reading Rand Paul’s latest book, “Taking A Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America,” I came across this remarkable section. Here is an excerpt:

My faith has never been easy for me. Never been easy to talk about and never without its obstacles. Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, ‘I did not arrive at my hosanna through childlike faith but through a fiery furnace of doubt.’ I don’t always wear my religion on my sleeve. I’m a Christian and proud to be one, but maybe not always a good one. Like Dostoyevsky, one of my literary heroes, I have had my doubts. As a medical student and then as a physician, I have struggled with understanding God’s role in inexplicable diseases like terminal tumors in children… I struggle, too, to understand the misery and pain that war inflicts on our young men and women. I struggle to understand man’s inhumanity to man. I pray for understanding, and the Bible says that if you act as if you have faith it will be given to you (p. 205, Rand, 2015. “Taking A Stand.” Center Street, New York).

I’ll be honest. As I read those words I found myself both amazed and astounded. Just so you have some background information, I spent over 20 years of my life as a “professional” minister. In the 2 decades that I stood in the pulpit, I rarely heard such declarations of faith. If anything, people in church can oftentimes swing to opposite end of the spectrum. Afraid of what others might think and say, it is easy to act as if our own faith is all roses, rainbows, and sunshine. I say that not as a condemnation. I understand the sentiment that drives such thinking because I have been there myself. I guess that is why Senator Rand’s confession in such a public platform as a book left me quite impressed. In fact, let’s talk through just a few points he so eloquently made:

  1. It is an honest and heartfelt statement. Rand makes himself vulnerable be pulling back the curtain and sharing his own struggles and questions. Maybe it is just me, but I find myself drawn to a leader who is willing to admit that it wasn’t always easy for him. In his own display of humanity I am encouraged to think that here is a public official who might actually understand what I am feeling and thinking. Not distant. Not withdrawn. Not better than me. But a man just like me, one who wrestled with his faith and struggled with the hard questions.
  2. It is founded on humility. I am convinced that true leadership is founded on the bedrock of humility. Prideful and arrogant people may certainly accomplish much on the world stage but rarely are they equal to the task of leading and representing others. Rand doesn’t serve up pretentious statements of his own transcendent faith. He doesn’t preach. He doesn’t pontificate. He doesn’t point the finger… unless he is pointing it at himself. His states his faith but does so with a voice that is calm and gentle rather than thundering and overwhelming.
  3. It is a recognition of his own limitations and need for help. Prayer is the surest sign that a man understands his own frailties. Rand realizes that he doesn’t have all the answers. But rather than filling us with the false hope that he does, Senator Paul instead acknowledges that he prays for understanding and trusts that his faith in God will not be misplaced or wasted.

I just recently “crossed over” to the Rand Paul camp. I am still learning about the man, his ideology, and his vision for America. I understand that no one is perfect. Hey, I spent 20 years counseling others and I have lived 48 years with my own faults and failures. I get it. We all fall short. We all make mistakes. Dr. Paul is no exception. But so far I have been increasingly encouraged by the man, his conduct, his conversation, and his character. Reading this section on his own faith and his struggles therewith only further solidified my support for his 2016 presidential aspirations.

Personally, I find solace in a leadership that seeks to lead from a position of humility and service. I realize inspiration from a leadership that is willing to admit its own shortcomings and struggles. I am tired of all the Teflon-coated, larger-than-life, wanna-be leaders who made great promises but couldn’t honor the simplest of vows. The time has come for change in America. We need fresh perspective and new ideas. We need leadership that traffics in honesty, walks in humility, and is willing to ask for help and support. Rand Paul is that man. And that is why I stand with Rand.