“What do they teach them at these schools?” – The Famous Professor Kirke
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Today’s “argument” is really an assertion that, when taken together with an unspoken, unexamined premise, is assumed to mean that we should vote for Trump. It goes something like this:
“I know you’re worried about Trump’s character, but it’s okay. [Insert famous evangelical leader here] has said that Trump recently accepted Christ.”
There are a couple of very obvious issues here, but before we dispense with them, we need to uncover the hidden premise. The last line should really read, “…and vote for him since he’s the only ‘real’ Christian in the race.” (After all, Clinton claims to be a Christian too–a United Methodist.)
I’m not going to deal with the question of whether or not Trump’s conversion was “real”. Frankly, that’s not for me to say and I also think it is beside the point (Check here for more on the topic). I’m going to assume here in good faith that Trump is indeed a legitimate and real believer. Even so, news that he is now a Christian still ranks as one of the weakest reasons to vote for Trump as president – especially if Christians claim to really care about his soul and his salvation.
First, as the Trump supporters were once so good at reminding us before the story of their candidate’s conversion appeared, there is no Biblical passage that says Christians must vote only for Christians. There’s a reason for that. The simple fact is that to say “If it’s Christian, it should be better” is an ideal (often ignored), rather than a reality. Christians are humans, and humans have varying degrees of ability and success in different jobs. I am a Christian. I am also horrible at hanging and mudding drywall. Therefore, frankly, you would be just this side of an idiot to ask me to wall in your new construction just because I happened to go to church. This is common sense, and I think even Trump supporters would agree. The presidency is also a job, albeit markedly more difficult and substantially more important to the lives of billions of people than a little construction. If you wouldn’t trust me to hang your drywall on the basis of my Christianity, why should you elect Trump president on the basis of his?
Secondly, the push to elect a new believer to the most difficult job in the world betrays a significant and callous disregard for Trump’s own well-being, spiritual and otherwise. Any parent can tell you a new baby needs to be protected and nourished (for years, by way of the analogy); he/she needs the chance to grow strong to be able to face the dangers of the larger world. You can’t take a toddler, throw him into a den of wolves, and expect things to turn out alright. You could, perhaps, throw the child to the wolves as a distraction to save yourself, but we would agree that would be wrong–period. Baby Christians are no different. They need time to grow in their faith before they are seriously tested. But throwing them to the wolves is exactly what the American Church does with to far too many of its “famous” converts. As soon as the news breaks that “so-and-so has become a Christian,” the person is a paraded like a trophy rather than preserved like a treasure. In this election in particular, many Christians in fact seem eager to throw Trump between themselves and a government they feel might devour them–without any real regard for what it might do to him.
Therefore, if Trump is now indeed a Christian (and I truly hope he is), the best thing we could hope for him would be to withdraw from the election. He needs to seek serious and regular spiritual instruction with no immediate timeline to re-enter public life. The fact that some are so excited to see him do otherwise shows far more concern for their own skins than for the eternal soul of Donald Trump.
In either case, this argument furnishes us no compelling reason to vote for Trump. On the contrary, it should encourage us to do otherwise.
Answering the arguments:
- “We allied with Stalin. Why not vote for Trump?”
- “If you can’t vote for the candidate, vote for the platform. Vote Trump!”
- “Haven’t you heard? Trump is a baby Christian now!”
- “Why is it only Bill Clinton gets away with rape? Vote Trump!”
- “Because Hillary. Vote Trump!”
- “You have an obligation to vote for the pro-life candidate. Vote Trump!”
- “Vote Trump. Because SCOTUS.”
- “But Trump is surrounding himself with good people! Vote Trump!”
- “If Hillary wins, it will all be your fault! Vote Trump!”
- “You should repent of your arrogance and vote Trump.”
- “You will answer to God if you don’t vote Trump.”
Interested in what I think we should do about it? Find out here.