Photo by Ivan Radic on Flickr
Few phrases have captivated American pop culture this year more than “Let’s Go Brandon.” It has become commonplace for spectators at football games, NASCAR races, and a myriad of public events to break out into orchestrated chants of this now-famous phrase. Airplanes drag the message around crowded stadiums. It is found on billboards, coffee mugs, T-shirts, face masks, Halloween costumes, and even used as a sign-off to political speeches.
The origin of this phenomenon is sad but also predictable, given the divided nature of our culture on a host of social issues. In early September, people began chanting “F_ _ _ Joe Biden” at public events. You hardly need a starker reminder of the coarse nature of public life then when supposed adults speak about our nation’s president, whomever she or he might be, in such a vulgar fashion. Then on October 2, reporter Kelli Stavast was interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown after his victory in a race at Talladega, Alabama when she heard the chant in the background. Apparently unfamiliar with the phenomenon, she suggested to Brown that the crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” to celebrate his victory.
Critics pounced on her faux pas and accused Stavast of practicing fake news and trying to cover up the country’s growing dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden. Now people who in many cases would never lob the F-bomb in public have the supposedly perfect substitute – Let’s Go Brandon.
This provides a fascinating opportunity, challenge, and question for followers of Jesus Christ. Is it appropriate for Christians to use this phrase in any sense or setting? The answer from Scripture is an unqualified “no.” The fact that such a reminder would even have to be given to the people of God shows how far Christ’s church has fallen from our purpose and position of being visible representatives of our invisible God.
Because of our Call to Purity
Jesus instructed His followers to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The apostle Paul spoke in a similar vein when he taught the Philippians to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
Our Savior and Lord shed His blood on the cross so that men and women might repent and believe in Him and then begin a journey of growing Christlikeness. This process of progressive sanctification is intended to produce people whose values, desires, beliefs, speech, and conduct is markedly different than those who do not yet know the Lord. Paul explained it this way to the Ephesians:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)
Some will argue that our President and Vice-President are pursuing policies that are immoral and destructive to our nation. In some ways I would agree, and affirm that especially in a participatory democracy, we should speak truth in the public square whenever possible and necessary. However, methodology matters. When the people of God are caught up using words and phrases that are wicked to their very core, we have shown that politics has become more important than purity. Whenever and wherever that occurs, judgment needs to begin at the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).
Because of our Call to Prayer
Every Christian who has been gleefully standing and shouting “Let’s Go Brandon” needs to answer this question: have you spent an equal or greater amount of time on your knees quietly praying for our president? Scripture could not be clearer on this point:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
This is one of the disappointing aspects of how this trend has been embraced even by some evangelicals. We turn to God’s Word to point out what we believe are the failures of our political leaders. That is well and good I suppose, but why don’t we use the same source of truth when evaluating our own choices? Jesus died so we would have unfettered access to His throne of grace, yet we are too busy shouting profanities to quietly and obediently pray for our government leaders? That is hypocrisy to the extreme.
Someone might object that during the last administration, those on the cultural left used similar words to describe President Trump. That is undoubtedly true and could easily be proven by multiple examples of Hollywood elites screaming such words at their awards ceremonies with impunity. But are they now the standard? Is our best defense that we cast insults instead of praying because entertainers started it? Perhaps before we start praying for others, we should cry out for repentance for ourselves?
Because of our Call to Peace
Our nation is divided on an entire array of social, political, and cultural issues. To some degree this will always be true until the Prince of Peace takes His rightful place on the throne of David. Only then will swords be beaten into plowshares and lions will lie down with lambs.
However, the church should never needlessly sow seeds of discord and strife. We should be known as peacemakers and those who love people with whom we disagree. It’s called speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Let’s go, people of God. We can and must do far better than this.