THE THEOLOGICAL ENGINEER  



Donald Trump and John Proctor

Christians and the 2016 Vote


By Jeff Laird





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Lest we lose sight of the point, this is not about demanding a perfect candidate. Nor am I suggesting we not vote at all — quite the opposite. But there comes a time when supporting the lesser of two evils crosses a line from "tolerating flaws" to "giving power to evil." A vote is "for" whomever it is "for"; one is not endorsing candidate X simply because they fail to vote for X's most competitive opponent.

As a Christian, I am not called on to "win;" God is ultimately in charge of all that happens in this world. I am not asked to be relevant; some of Christianity's greatest moments have happened when the faith was culturally taboo. I am not tasked with victory; sometimes, evil prevails and service to God means suffering under that evil. Nor am I told that God's will for my life is to figure out the "least evil" way to get what I think is best.
As Christians, we are not called to "win" or be "relevant." God is in charge, and we are not of this world.tweet
In short, as a Christian, I'm called to be obedient, not in control.

I cannot, for the life of me, find anything in Scripture, theology, or my faith which tells me I am morally justified in voting for a patently anti-Christian, functionally godless, dishonest and truly dangerous person, no matter who he runs against. So, gallows or not, I will not give Trump my support. I will vote; but not for either of the two major party candidates.

I understand the math. Functionally, if evangelicals abandon Trump, there's that much more likelihood that the Democrat party will win. I realize how many believers feel led to vote for Trump in order to resist an even more noxious candidate from taking office. And I'll be tackling some of those arguments in the next post. For now, suffice it to say that every argument in that vein hinges on one flawed assumption: that Christians are actually permitted to choose any evil, as long as one we think of the alternatives is even more evil. But we're not. We're told to be staunch, not scheming.

Proctor's exemplar was never more powerful, more influential, and more impactful than when he was willing to accept worldly defeat. Paul, Peter, and Bonhoeffer did exactly what their Christian faith told them was necessary: stand your ground, and let the world run you right over if need be. Christianity's greatest champions have never been those who played political or mathematical games with evil. They're the ones who refused to cross certain lines, and in so doing proved the power and resolve of the faith.

As believers, we're called to change culture from the soul on out, not from the White House on down. In other words, there are indeed consequences if Christians "lose" an election — and they have nothing to do with the eventual winner. Rather, they're related to the integrity we carry in seeking to make culture more Christ-like.

I will not give my approval to a Donald Trump presidency. Who he runs against is immaterial: he is not a candidate worthy of the support of Christian believers. That might well translate into an advantage, in one election, to a different candidate. So be it. I trust God to use my faithfulness and obedience according to His will. He won't do much if I cling to the reins. "Winning" one office is not worth sacrificing moral authority everywhere else.

Like Proctor, I can't justify lecturing my children — let alone my neighbors — how to live with faith and conviction if I can't even make that choice in the voting booth. The fictional Proctor faced death. So too did the very real Apostles and martyrs of the centuries. They accepted worldly defeat, both in person and as a culture, in order to take an immeasurably more powerful stand. We accomplish more for the sake of good, by refusing to sell out, than we do by lame and faithless attempts to out-politick God.

As believers, we need to reclaim our "name." If we falter in the face of defeat, and compromise our message trying to be in control, rather than simply being obedient, then we are not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang.


The next post will explain why, in this author's opinion, various well-meaning pro-Trump arguments fail.



Image Credit: DonkeyHotey; "Democratic Donkey — dD Icon"; Creative Commons
Image Credit: DonkeyHotey; "Republican Elephan — 3D Icon"; Creative Commons



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Published 5-16-16