In the Facebook activity generated by my recent attempts to analyze and dismantle the arguments used to support Trump, I’ve noticed some confusion as to what I actually think we should do. So, I thought I might take a moment and lay out, in a positive way, my position on this election. In short, there are two points that I consider bedrock non-negotiables and then there my (obviously non-binding) interpretations of what to do with these non-negotiables. The former are what I believe to be moral and religious facts. They aren’t my opinion; rather, I think we have to conform our opinions of this election to them. The latter are what I interpret those facts to mean, and what I would recommend to you for your consideration.
First, let me say that I believe this may well be the most important and consequential election in living memory. What we decide to do here won’t just exhibit our opinion – it will shape our moral future and that of the Church in America. What we do will, in the words of Sam Gamgee, “show your quality” in a way that we may not yet fully appreciate. The world is watching, and our actions here will haunt us, for better or for worse. So, I beg you to take this seriously and to ask yourself the hardest questions possible.
- We must realize our loyalty to Christ must take precedence over our duty to country. Right now the church is waking up to the fact that it has lost the culture war. That is creating more situations where we must choose between following the Gospel or the world around us. Further, the U.S. appears to have had its turn in the world stage and, like so many nations before it, it has abandoned its founding principles in exchange for power, greed, and comfort. As a result, the U.S. has manifestly entered the downswing of the dynastic cycle – as most reasonable scholars could have predicted. We must do what should have been done years ago and realize that our faith and our country are two different things. Our patriotism can never be taken as a substitute for our faith. We must ask ourselves: Whom do we serve?
- We must not compromise our personal witness nor that of the church. The fact is that when this election is over, we must carry on the mission of reaching our neighbors for Christ. That will be infinitely harder if we have sacrificed our integrity and the reputation of the church as a whole in a vain attempt to influence the outcome of a political contest, especially when we do that out of unbiblical fear. When this mess is over, we will need to pick up the pieces and we need new leaders with their integrity intact to set the example. That must start at home with ourselves through earnest repentance. How can we begin to repair the damage to the church if we can’t live our own lives with integrity?
- We must demonstrate our independence to the main two political parties – particularly the Republicans. When the evangelical movement exploded onto the political scene in the 1970s, evangelicals intended to positively influence the world in a moral way by taking control (or at least guiding) the Republicans in the way they should go. It has become painfully obvious that the opposite is now true. If the Republican Party can force (or fool) evangelicals to vote for a man like Donald Trump, then they have demonstrated control of evangelicals just like the Democratic Party has of African Americans. We cannot allow ourselves to be taken for granted, mere puppets to be played by an increasingly immoral party. The only way to do that is to rebel. Are we willing to allow ourselves to be continually defined by a two party box?
- We cannot vote for either of the two main candidates. That we cannot vote for Hillary is obvious – to the point where it would be a complete waste of time explaining why to most evangelicals. Trump, on the other hand, is a “miscreant” who must be “suppressed”. When Christians vote for Trump, it demonstrates that they are willing to sell their integrity and their witness into blatant hypocrisy for a bowl of presidential pottage. It portrays Christians a whole as naive at best and brazenly stupid at worst. I see no alternative but to take a strong stand against both main party candidates. Why should the world respect what we say when we don’t even take our own statements seriously?
- We must openly repudiate the movement to support Trump. We should do this for two reasons. First, we are watching a spiritual crisis in slow motion. Intelligent, honest, earnest believers are causing moral and spiritual harm to themselves by jumping on the Trump bandwagon. We should be calling to our wayward brothers and sisters in love, urging them to come back before too much damage is done. Second, the world is watching and they are pointing to this corrupting hypocrisy in the church. They are using it as justification for the coming persecution and as a barrier to serious consideration of the Gospel. We must show them that the hypocrisy is something that has happened in spite of our Christianity, and not because of it. I believe that those who have taken a strong stand now, before the election, will be the ones best positioned to accomplish both goals when this is over. Will you and I be with them?
- We should strongly consider voting third party in the presidential election and Republican for the House and Senate. Trump must be turned aside, publicly. The Republicans must be shown that they cannot compel Christians through threats and fear to support a candidate like Trump. Both of those things are accomplished by voting third party. Does that mean Hillary might win? Possibly. But so what? That outcome became probable when Trump was chosen and it doesn’t release us from our moral obligations. Further, a Trump election doesn’t solve the problem – it just kicks the can down the road a bit, perhaps. We can’t afford to do that anymore, especially when there are other candidates for whom we can vote without morally compromising ourselves: Darrell Castle and Evan McMullin are the two best, in my opinion. McMullin, a Mormon running ahead of Trump and Clinton in Utah, has the potential to really shake things up. The more the better! That said, we should also be leveraging the checks and balances the Founding Fathers gave us. Therefore, unless we have a specific reason not to support a particular Republican at a lower level, I would do everything I could to give them the Congress. The Constitution contains those checks and balances for a reason. If Republicans control the House and Senate and we serve as their backbone, they can block Hillary’s leftist Supreme Court nominations and other policies – for four years if necessary. If that sounds uncooperative, so be it. When will we finally draw the line?
Sadly, we do face limited options. The above is the way I see to move forward. I hope you’ll consider joining us in making it happen.
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.”