trumpwithbibleThis time out, I’m talking to my fellow Christians who believe that a vote for Trump may not be morally right. A prominent Christian magazine has a scathing editorial against him, and I’ll be responding to that. And if you’re not a Christian, you might want to listen anyway, to get a little inside scoop of what those wacky people are thinking. Hey, I’ve always said I would try to give you a perspective you may have not heard before.

Mentioned links:

Evangelical magazine publishes scathing anti-Trump editorial

Speak Truth to Trump

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Show transcript

A friend of mine pointed out an article to me on the Christianity Today website. The point of the editorial was that Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent on the moral failings of Donald Trump.  The author, Andy Crouch, says that, while the magazine does not make endorsements, they still have non-political opinions on the candidates regarding morality. In his words, “Just because we are neutral, however, does not mean we are indifferent. We are especially not indifferent when the gospel is at stake. The gospel is of infinitely greater importance than any campaign…”

He goes on to write about his concern about the evangelical support for Trump, and how Trump’s failings seem to be less of a concern for them, while they go after Clinton all the time. Crouch does note that, “[B]ecause several of the Democratic candidate’s policy positions are so manifestly incompatible with Christian reverence for the lives of the most vulnerable, and because her party is so demonstrably hostile to expressions of traditional Christian faith, there is plenty of critique and criticism of the Democratic candidate from Christians, including evangelical Christians.”

His ultimate concern is that evangelicals are putting their ruler, or at least their choice of candidate for ruler, above God. That would be what we call “idolatry”; idol worship, putting the created above the Creator. My friend highlighted one quote from the article, because he was aware of my ultimate point in voting for Trump; the Supreme Court. Here’s what Crouch says about that, “Most Christians who support Trump have done so with reluctant strategic calculation, largely based on the president’s power to appoint members of the Supreme Court…But there is a point at which strategy becomes its own form of idolatry—an attempt to manipulate the levers of history in favor of the causes we support. Strategy becomes idolatry…when we make alliances with those who seem to offer strength…”

So then, here is my response.

I have been just as concerned about Christians of any sort, evangelical or otherwise, giving their support to Trump on religious grounds. Other Presidents (and there are many examples) gave lip service to their faith, while their private behavior fell way short. You have Kennedy with his sexual encounters, Nixon with his racism, Bill Clinton with his … Bill-Clinton-izing, as examples from both sides (and not just talking “youthful indiscretions”).

The difference here is that Trump’s private behavior has become very public before the election. If Bill Clinton had done what he did to an intern at the Arkansas governor’s mansion, and it came out at about this time in his campaign for President, would Democrats have called for him to drop out?

I understand that it’s a hypothetical, but I predict No. The party was split, but only just a bit, in responding to his behavior. In general, the party denounced his behavior, but stuck with him when he said, “Even presidents have private lives. It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life.” Democrats stuck with him in spite of his behavior.

Now, from a Christian perspective, we should call out sin where it is. I agree with the general gist of the article, but I would also ask Andy Crouch if he voted for any other President in the past that had moral failings. Are moral failings caught on tape worse than those that are hidden? I would ask if he is voting for a national pastor or a national President.

He is correct when he says, “The Gospel is of infinitely greater importance than any campaign.” But this is where the issue of the Supreme Court rises high. Under who’s administration, and under who’s influence that justices will be chosen (judges throughout the federal justice system; not just the Supreme Court) will the Gospel be allowed to flourish more? Under the influence of someone who agrees with all the decisions that have pushed the influence of the Gospel further out of the culture? Under one who would further restrict religious liberty?

Yes, God can overcome government. But, with the apostle Paul I would ask, should sin abound so that grace can abound even more? Should we encourage the killing of inconvenient children so that God can overcome it? Should we saddle future generations with the bill that we ourselves should be paying? And I’ll answer with Paul’s answer; by no means! Voting for someone you believe will do better at keeping those and other things from happening is not idolatry.

Make no mistake; I think Trump is probably the worst candidate for President that the Republicans have ever presented. But if spreading the gospel is of prime importance, as Crouch seems to agree it is, then … what? Light a candle instead of curse the darkness, Mr. Crouch. Indeed, I share your concern that some Christians may be imparting to Trump qualities that he doesn’t have, or downplay his failings. Ok, but I plan to vote in November. You call out his problems, and you seem to say that voting for him is a sin. What’s your answer?

My answer is, vote for the candidate who will better allow our message to spread, and protect those who need their constitutional rights, and their very lives, protected. As political as some of that is, it is also morally right. “Manipulating the levers of history” to that end is not idolatry, regardless of the moral failings of the candidate.

And then beat the drum like never before for the idea that character does matter. It’s not some quaint notion; we need good people in government. Not just good at the job, but actually good people.

One thing I will note in all of this is that many Republicans are willing to vote for Trump even with the things he has said, but I think it’s worse that Democrats are willing to vote for Clinton even with the things she has actually done. We’ll both hold our noses, but which voter has to excuse the worst offense?

Overall, I do agree with Crouch’s assessment of Trump, as I do most of his editorial. It’s just the application of those ideas I have some issue with.

Filed under: ElectionsReligion