I am not going to vote for Donald Trump for president of the United States. This has caused consternation among some of my friends stuck in the binary choice paradigm that voting for anyone besides Mr. Trump or not voting at all is essentially a vote for Hillary Clinton.
I am comfortable with the decision to support and vote for Trump by those who believe that there is at least the possibility that our country will be better off with Donald as president because with Hillary we know what we will get—and it won’t be good. However, this is not a position we should attempt to impose on the consciences of others; the deliberation of both conservatives and Christians over who to vote for should be informed by a broader perspective than the “Clinton or Trump” paradigm the political and religious moderate elite want to trap us in.
America’s contributions to liberty and prosperity are unparalleled in human history. Today, however, we are best described as the “greatest failure in self-government.” We murder over 1 million of our children every year, trailing only China, Russia, and Vietnam—countries that have made every effort to eradicate God from the culture. Not to be outpaced by the communists, America is rapidly moving toward replacing God with government as the supreme authority in the land. Along with this has come the inevitable anathematizing of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square and denial of the existence of inalienable, i.e., God-given, rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Amid this decline, many Republican and Evangelical moderates tell us that if we don’t vote for Trump we will be throwing our vote away, increasing Clinton’s chances of being elected, and contributing to the decay of our nation.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It should, because this is essentially what conservatives and Christians have been told every four years since 1984 when we last voted for Ronald Reagan. The bottom line has always been: “Vote Republican because Republican X is better than Democrat Y.”
Unfortunately, the difference has often been marginal at best; one must look closely at times to discern that there have been any Republicans in Washington during the last 28 years. Our votes for moderate Republicans within the binary choice paradigm have led us to a choice for president between two life-long supporters of liberal Democratic politicians and policies. Yet the moderate elite tell us if we follow their advice this time the outcome will be different.
Perhaps a more credible perspective would be, as Doug Wilson puts it, that this is “the least important election in our lifetime.” Where will electing Trump over Clinton make a difference? Not with abortion. Despite his proffered list of Supreme Court nominees, as a longtime pro-abortion supporter Trump is unlikely to appoint someone who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And even if he does, our previous votes for president guarantee that Trump’s appointee will not be able to find four allies on the bench to join him. Can you imagine Roberts or Kennedy voting to overturn Roe v. Wade? Neither can I. The same will be true whenever Trump is persuaded to overcome his liberal beliefs to do something conservative; it will all be around the margins.
Taking a different tack, other Republican and Evangelical elites have exposed their ideological and theological weaknesses by announcing they are going to vote for Hillary, or by insinuating that their constituencies or congregations should be comfortable voting for her—much like they did with Barak Obama in 2008.
Before taking their advice, though, remember that both factions disliked Trump in the Republican primary and had a chance to derail Trump when it became obvious that Ted Cruz was the only candidate with a chance to beat Trump. Yet they refused to rally around Cruz. They decided that it was better to turn the Republican Party over to Trump—or the United States of America over to Clinton, than it was to let a conservative win the Republican nomination.
Both the pro-Trump and the anti-Trump moderate elite are stuck in a secular binary trap. Though they may have different political and theological beliefs, when confronted with the problems of the world today they too often turn to government for a solution. When dealing with the economy, the culture, or the poor, they can’t cope with what they see as the chaos of voluntary association outside the control of government. This is true even for many Evangelical leaders who still hold to Christian orthodoxy but have been enticed into supporting the progressive social gospel.
Much of this is born out of a lack of toleration of pain and suffering. None of us like pain and suffering and we want to relieve it in ourselves and in others, whatever the cost—for many even if the cost is more oppressive government. Yet while Scripture tells us time and again that we must suffer, it also informs us that suffering isn’t the end: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Instead, there is a purpose in our suffering. We suffer for Christ’s name’s sake because it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” and “reign with Him” in eternity. Sometimes, despite our objections, suffering is the pathway to prosperity and hope.
It certainly was in the case of Israel. God’s chosen people found themselves in a long-term cycle of sin, misery, repentance, and deliverance that spiraled down to the point of no return. God finally brought his judgment upon Israel on the day of the Lord in 70 A.D. by destroying it and its system of worship though the Roman devastation of Jerusalem and the temple.
Yet the hope of all of us grew out of this suffering. Through the destruction of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the people of God have been reborn as the New Israel, the church, citizens of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth with Christ enthroned as our King. God used the sin and suffering of Israel to advance His kingdom and ease the suffering of His children. And the Father calls to everyone to come join Him in His kingdom.
We don’t know what path God has chosen for America. It might be marginal improvement in our civic institutions or it might be the total collapse of liberty. Because of this uncertainty, and the failure of both candidates to meet biblical or moral standards of leadership, it is wrong to press others to vote for either candidate. It should be a matter of individual conscience.
We do know one thing, however; God calls us to repentance and to trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What we can do together, then, is issue a call to repentance. Americans as individuals must repent. America as a nation must repent. We must repent of idolatry. We must repent of abortion. We must repent of fornication and adultery. We must repent of theft through government taxation and regulation. We must repent of despising our neighbors—particularly our black and poor neighbors—through welfare and various “consumer protection” laws.
It is unclear to me how electing Donald Trump is going to move this country toward repentance. In fact, there might be a clearer path toward repentance with Hillary Clinton as president. Perhaps the suffering she and her administration impose on Americans will be enough for us to stop pretending there is no King in the land so that we can do what is right in our own eyes. Perhaps it will be enough that we will stop whoring after other gods and bowing down to them. Perhaps it will finally be enough that we will cry out to the Lord.
Of course, we don’t know this either. That is why I am fine with anyone campaigning, supporting, or voting for Donald Trump because the alternative is Hillary Clinton. But we are not restricted to a binary choice between the two; we can choose based on our understanding of a future that is not determined by the outcome of this election.
So vote for The Donald. Vote for a third-party candidate. Vote for a write in. Or, for president, don’t vote at all. However, please don’t vote for Hillary, especially out of the belief that she is somehow better than Donald or that she will serve as an adequate placeholder until we can replace her with the latest crop of moderate Republicans; in this you would be sorely mistaken and misguided.
This is not a call to disengage from the political process. Just the opposite. It is a call to engage the culture and the political process by refusing to operate within the parameters of the elite. While the presidency, Congress, and the federal courts have violated biblical precepts, natural law, and the United States Constitution, these standards are still available for the states, local governments, and people to make use of. Our hope for the future doesn’t have to be constrained by the lawless elite.
What we are constrained by is the call of God on our hearts. So, please, join me in praying that God would work in my heart and your heart and the hearts of all Americans a revival that would spread throughout our country “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In the end, we all have only one binary choice: we will either worship God the Creator or we won’t. May He move our hearts and minds so that we all make the right choice. Amen.