My wife and I have been doing Blackaby’s Experiencing God study recently, and I thought this week’s memory verse was particularly applicable to the current state of evangelical politics: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps. 20:7). I wonder how many of us Christians really trust in God, and how many actually trust in our modern equivalent of chariots and horses—tanks and missiles and the omnipotent government who controls them. If we actually did trust God, would we really say things like “Hillary Clinton as president would be the worst thing for this country—she will destroy America” or “Not voting for Donald Trump is basically a vote for the enemy”? If we really trusted God, would it matter who controlled State power?
The answer, of course, is no, and yet so much evangelical vitriol has sprung up around the Trump candidacy that it seems clear that a large portion of us place more faith for salvation in getting the right guy—the right-wing guy—into office than we do in the God Who worked astounding miracles in Egypt to free His people, Who saves us from the enormous power of sin and death, and Who even created the entire universe and all who are in it—including presidential candidates. The good news is that we evangelicals are split on the Trump issue—many of us already understand that we can’t support him, even though he is the Republican. The bad news is that we evangelicals are split on the Trump issue—many of us are convinced that he is our only hope for salvation, just as we have been convinced of every presidential candidate from our party before him. But it does not matter who becomes president—whether Trump or Clinton or Johnson (although I’d personally prefer the latter, despite his imperfections)—God will still be God, and Christ will still be our only real hope for salvation, both from damnation in the next life and the troubles of this life.
My friends, you may not support Mr. Trump if you are a Christian. Certainly you can, but to do so is to compromise your own faith and principles. To do so is to say that God cannot work, cannot save or help you, cannot be glorified, if someone else controls the government. To do so is to create a false god—an idol—out of State power and of Mr. Trump himself, and we should all know how God feels about idols (hint: it’s the subject of the first and second commandments). Even such prominent evangelicals as Eric Metaxas, who for some reason frequently impinges upon my radar these days, fall victim to this sin, rationalizing away their idolatry by saying that the Trump candidacy (and, recently, Trump’s “feud” with Dr. Moore of the SBC1) is “complex” or “complicated”,2 but this is a lie. Idolatry is not complicated.
I don’t meant to pick on Mr. Metaxas exclusively—there’s plenty of rationalization to go around. “But Hillary is for abortion!” many cry. Are you sure Donald Trump isn’t? After all, he is very inconsistent and has even said that everything is negotiable. Are you sure he could even do anything about it if he were anti-abortion? Abortion isn’t a matter of legislation or executive order but rather a matter of constitutional (mis)interpretation—something quite beyond the purview of the president. Even if we were sure he was anti-abortion and could fix it with a snap of his finger, is being a single issue voter really becoming of a Christian? Osama bin Laden was openly anti-abortion and anti-gay, so would you have voted for him if he ran as a Republican? Wouldn’t it be better to vote for someone who, on average, favors the most life and liberty for all and religious freedom for all, not just us Christians, even if they’re misguided about this single issue? “But at least he’ll put a conservative on the Supreme Court!” many others cry out in obvious rationalization, “And that could move us closer to reversing the constitutional misinterpretations that have led to abortion, Obamacare, etc!” Are you sure, given Mr. Trump’s inconsistency and negotiability? Will God be any more or less able either way? “But God can still work through an evil man—even Trump—just like He did in the Bible over and over!” you may rationalize. But couldn’t the same be said of Mrs. Clinton and be just as justifiable?
“But if we don’t vote for him, we’ll split the vote and hand the presidency to Hillary!” First of all, “splitting the vote” is a load of hogwash designed to ensure that you do exactly what you end up doing—voting for a terrible two-party candidate out of mistaken loyalty to a party rather than voting for a better third-party candidate out of loyalty to God and to the principles which stem from your faith in Him. Thanks to the electoral college system, it would take far, far more than just you to vote third-party (or refrain from voting) before a state flips the other way and hands the victory to the other party. For example, in Texas, over one fourth of those who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012—over 1.25 million people—would have had to vote independent before the state would have flipped to Mr. Obama, and here in Tennessee, it would have had to have been over one third—500,000—of the people who voted for Mr. Romney.3 The possibility of support for an independent candidate causing a state to flip really only exists in Ohio and Florida, but even then, is God any less powerful if a (gasp!) Democrat wins the White House? Would Christ be any less mighty to save if Mrs. Clinton became president? Would He be any more mighty to save if Mr. Trump becomes president?
We have to give up this false belief that any Republican is better than any Democrat and that not voting for one is a vote for the other. It’s not left versus right anymore (if it ever even was); it’s State versus liberty: A State which will eventually use its omnipotence, which we gave it, to persecute and kill us for our beliefs when it finally falls into the wrong hands, versus a liberty that is added unto us for free if we seek first the kingdom of God by living as Christ—as servants and lovers of others, not as conquerors or oppressors. Supporting a right-wing tyrant, even if only to oppose a left-wing tyrant, is still to further the cause of tyranny and evil. Even the limited persecution we Christians face in America today under tyrannical left-wing rulers was only made possible by the expansion of government powers under their tyrannical right-wing predecessors—predecessors supported by us Christians! Besides, this Republican/Democrat anxiety is idolatry, for it fails to trust in God and instead places trust in State power and the human who controls it. God is not so impotent as to need Donald Trump or any Republican in order to bring about an end to abortion, homosexuality, or any other sinful practice.
Don’t be an idolater—don’t vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton; don’t worship the power of the State. Vote for the Libertarian candidate who values your religious liberty or for someone else who more closely represents your beliefs, or don’t vote at all. Worship GOD, not GOP.
- Time has a pretty decent article with the details if you’re unfamiliar.
- For example, see hour two of his program from this past Friday.
- “But I don’t want to waste my vote!” is another rationalization for supporting evil along these same lines. If anything, based on these examples, your vote is wasted when you cast it for one of the two major parties, for it is simply lost in the noise of all the others voting for those parties. That is to say, why bother voting for a Republican who is guaranteed to win your state regardless of your vote? A third-party or independent vote, on the other hand, is more noticeable and will attract attention both to the cause of that party or candidate and to your disapproval of the failed system which brought you two terrible mainstream candidates in the first place. This is especially true if you can pick up substantial numbers in even one state.