Saturday, August 6, 2016

Trump or Hillary and the Role of Conscience

Who should we vote for? More specifically, who should Christians vote for?
Trump or Hillary
Hillary or Trump
As a Christian I can't even half-heartedly entertain the notion of voting for Hillary for ANY reason (unlike a certain member of The Gospel Coalition who says we should vote for her). There is no circumstance in which I would ever vote for Hillary to be the most powerful person on the planet. And no serious Christian thinker is really considering Hillary as an option. There is serious concern as to the genuineness of your salvation if you want to vote for Hillary and legitimate concern if you are willing to vote for her. 

The real question at hand is whether or not a Christian -a genuinely regenerate man or woman striving for personal holiness in the image of Christ who has a worldview grounded in the Bible- can vote for Donald Trump. That's the question we're asking, right? 

Let's first examine what the role of government is according to the Bible and then we'll examine the type of leader God blesses and see how Donald Trump measures up to these standards. Finally, I'll explain where I currently stand and why. 

Romans 13:1-4
13 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

1 Peter 2:13-14
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
We see here that the preeminent purpose of any and every government is the punishment of evildoers and the praising of excellent citizens.  A ruler must punish evil behavior and reward good behavior. Simple, right? Quite simple indeed. Do you think Donald Trump knows the difference between good and evil? How has he displayed this? What evidence do you have that he can be relied upon to faithfully (not perfectly) punish evil and reward good?

I could vote for Mitt Romney with a clear conscience because by all indications he was a very moral man. He's trapped in a religious cult and without the divine grace of God he will die and go to hell because he, as a devout Mormon, insults the person of Christ (rejects the divinity of Jesus) and insults the work of Christ (by trying to earn his way to heaven, Romney spits upon Christ's accomplished work). But he remains a moral man in spite of his aberrant beliefs. I didn't vote for him to be my pastor; I just voted for him to uphold a standard or morality that facilitates civility and to sustain the principles established in the Constitution.

So can Donald Trump consistently and faithfully distinguish between good and evil?

In 1 Kings 3 we read that Solomon was granted whatever he wished from God. Solomon, as we all know, asked God for wisdom. 
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
Indeed! Who can govern without being able to discern right from wrong? Solomon's request pleased God. 

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
The basic component of a any truly great leader (in the eyes of God) is someone who can distinguish between good and evil; right and wrong. This case is firmly established. 

So what about Trump? I'm not going to tell you to vote for him or to not vote for him. That's between you and God. If you feel it's a sin to vote for him, then do not vote for him. Your sanctification and sensitivity to sin is more important than voting for the lesser of 2 evils. I would hope we all agree with that. I find it to be selfish and unChristian to guilt a person to violate their conscience just to prolong the desecration of a once great nation. Maybe that's just me. 

For those of us, like me, living in swings states like Ohio the idea of voting for the best candidate or abstaining from voting for a president is significantly more difficult. Because I live in Ohio my vote is more valuable than if I lived in California or Oregon or New York. I would probably always vote 3rd party if I lived there.  So if you're on the outside looking in and you wonder why some aren't as #NeverTrump as you are, that may have something to do with it. 

There's also the Romans 1 theology in play. If you are convinced that God has turned over America to its sin, then not voting for Trump is a lot easier for you. I'm of the mindset that we probably have been turned over but if there's like a 2% chance we can have some sort of national revival I could see myself voting Trump *gag* in hopes that he slows down our spiral enough for us to see the error of our ways. But until we make it illegal to kill babies, dismember them and sell their body parts I'm not holding out much hope. 

Maybe because of God's sovereignty you won't vote Trump. You see voting for Trump as a bad thing and no one who trusts in God's sovereignty over all things wants to consciously do something bad as that displays a lack of faith and trust in God's perfect plan or redemption. 
Or maybe, because of God's sovereignty, you will vote for Trump. You see voting for Trump as a small thing. You understand that God reigns and saves and will reign over Trump and save him if He wishes. Ultimately, your vote is one of countless "lesser of 2 evils" choices you make in a given day. Solomon wasn't perfect. He made many bad decisions but he still was a good king. The founding fathers were very imperfect. They weren't all moral men but they still governed well*. Trump isn't nearly as bad as Hillary and a 3rd party vote is a waste so I might as well do what I can to prevent the worst possible person from obtaining more power. 

Final Thoughts
I think there's a big difference between supporting Trump (hanging signs, knocking on doors, yard signs, bumper stickers, etc) and voting for Trump with your fingers crossed knowing he's not the best man for the job. Mike Huckabee's departure from conservative politics has been the most depressing thing I've witnessed this election season. I looked up to him immensely and really really respected him as a man for what I thought was an uncompromising attitude toward Biblical principles. That he now kisses Trump's ring and bashes men like Ted Cruz is profoundly sad. It also serves as a sobering reminder than men in politics, sports and entertainment should scarcely be admired while they're alive. That's exactly why I wrote a post about it a few years ago. 

Casting an anti-Hillary vote might be the safest way to vote for Trump. If I just think of it as a vote against Hillary, I can stomach the idea. There's also the probability that Trump won't accomplish much while in office so his policies (which will inevitably have pendulum effects that hurt conservatives or just hurt Christians immediately) won't get implemented. Then again, he's also like Obama in that he'll just issue executive orders (he's promised he will) to push through what he wants. If it's wrong for Obama to have too much authority, then it's wrong for Trump. That Trump might do stuff that benefits us doesn't make it alright. 

I still don't know what I will do on the first Tuesday in November. Will I bite the bullet and vote for Trump? Will I then regret it and wish I'd stuck to my guns when he turns out to be exactly who I thought he was? Or will I stick to my guns and then regret doing that when Hillary becomes somehow even more extreme? My aim here was to give you, my 14 readers, some meat to chew on to help you make a theologically informed decision that's consistent with your increasingly Christ-like conscience. 

*That argument hinges on one being convinced that Trump's understanding of the Constitution is consistent with what the founder's believed. I clearly do not think Trump understands the authors' intent so I think Trump is limited in potential both by his immorality and his incompetency. 

1 comment:

  1. Can a person rightly say they are voting for a political party which they believe has the best combination of

    a) representing one's beliefs
    b) has a chance at winning THIS election?

    Can a person say that?