I graduated from Murray State University with a degree in Political Science. I used to be obsessed and easily rattled by the results of elections. In almost all of those elections, I thought there was a clear candidate who should be elected for the good of the American people. Then along comes this election! In light of what I view as the uniqueness of this election I would like to share some of my thoughts, especially as it concerns Donald Trump, Evangelicals, and the Never Trump crowd:
If you missed part one, how a vote for a third candidate is not a wasted vote or a vote for Hillary, you can check that out here.
A Disclaimer for this series:
I am sharing my views with conviction but that does not mean I think you are crazy or do not have a valid argument if you disagree – There has been a lot of strong rhetoric in many directions around this election that has been ugly (some of which I will write about below). I strongly stand in the camp that a 3rd option is best for the reasons I will lay out but that does not mean I don’t understand the position of those who believe Trump is a horrible candidate but at least he says he will be strong on abortion and appoint conservative justice so they will hold their nose and vote for him (which is a much different argument than some evangelicals are making that he is a good candidate). I have been grieved at the lack of charity and rhetoric I have observed (and I have been guilty myself). I pray that this will be a helpful series and that even if we disagree we can do so agreeably.
- Trump support could hurt our gospel witness – Some say that Evangelicals support of Trump cannot harm the gospel witness of the church because the gospel cannot be harmed. It is true that the gospel cannot lose its power but it is misguided to say our gospel witness cannot be hampered by our support of Trump. Paul says in Galatians 2:4-5, “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” Here Paul is clearly concerned that the gospel might be preserved from error.
In addition, Paul is horrified that the Corinthian Church overlooks and therefore implicitly condones sinful behavior, not even tolerated by pagans, precisely because it hurts their gospel witness in the world. He says in 1 Corinthians 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” It is very possible for our gospel witness to be hampered as we support a man who jokes about sexual assault and then dismisses it as locker room talk. It is possible for us even to look hypocritical as we give our support to a man who has donned the cover of Playboy, broken his marriage vows repeatedly, bragged about it his affairs, used horrific language, and on and on we could go. I have witnessed some unbelievers on social media even using the word hypocrisy to describe evangelicals’ support for Trump. (Note: As you read this point consider my first caveat where I lay out 2 distinct groups when it comes to voting for Trump, but I would also urge us all to be cautious in the language we use to promote our vote or in seeking to influence others.)
- It is possible to forgive someone and at the same time not see them as fit to be president – This has been one of the more mind-boggling arguments I have observed about this election. Many are saying we are not electing a pastor-in-chief and that everyone deserves forgiveness. I agree that forgiveness is available to anyone, as long as they actually ask for it. But often in our evangelical circles I am afraid we misunderstand forgiveness. Just because we extend forgiveness to someone does not mean they are entitled to whatever they desire. I think the gospel demands we extend forgiveness even to the repentant pedophile, but it doesn’t mean that we let him work in childcare. Fitness for forgiveness doesn’t equal fitness to be president. In the lesser of two evils debate, I fall squarely in the camp that we are called to flee evil not put it in office. Again, I think we vote for values and character and leave the results in God’s hands.
- Where will we go from here – I am afraid that this election could have even further silenced our voice in the public square, which is why I wish Christians en mass would vote a 3rd option (I want to state clearly that Clinton is just as unfit, crooked, untrustworthy, and unworthy of a vote – see this video of how trustworthy Clinton’s positions are). I am afraid that this election has given even more credence to the adage that evangelicals are in the Republicans pocket. What would Trump had to have done to lose evangelical support in this election or what will future Republicans (as long as they say they are pro-life) have to do to lose evangelical support? I am by no means a prophet and I hope that I am wrong. I do believe we, as evangelicals, need to do much evaluation of how we engage in the political process moving forward.
- Jesus Christ will still be on the Throne after Election Day – I think voting is important but I am also amazed at how many Christians view each election through apocalyptic lenses (Dire Christian Predictions not New). I do believe this election is important and will have ramifications for years to come, but it will not thwart Christ’s kingdom. We, above all people, should not fret at what happens on Election Day because we know one day there will no longer be two parties or even a president, but simply a King and Kingdom where peace, justice, and righteousness reign!