Reasons for Trump, Trumped by Reason

Christians and the 2016 Vote

By Jeff Laird

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Continued from Page Two

6) ...need to be relevant in electoral politics. As the argument goes, "wasting" votes on a third-party will mean politicians ignoring Christians from here on out. (Aside: those paying attention know that faithful Christians are mostly ignored by mainstream politics already.) Easily, this is the most spiritually ignorant of all justifications for voting for Trump.

Sadly, and with all due respect, take another quick scan of the other arguments given above. Every one subtly implies this exact attitude: that "winning" is the most important part of our decision-making. That the ends justify the means, and we as Christians need to be "victorious" in our politics. That's not only spiritually wrong, but a vote for Trump probably won't be a "winner" anyway.

Realistically, there are only two scenarios likely to play out, if evangelicals support Trump. Neither is good.

Most likely, Trump loses (look at his disapproval ratings with women and minorities — those are not typos). In that case, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and evangelicals will be painted as politically irrelevant. We'll have sold out, and still lost. Worse, we'll have forfeited our moral relevance in the culture, cutting our own throats in a failed attempt to "win." This is the double-whammy loss.

If Trump wins, through evangelical support and a miracle (look at those polls again, please), then the media will crank their conflation of Trump-ism and "Evangelicalism" up to 11. His every misstep, mistake, crass quote, flaw and failure will be slathered all over Christianity, fair or not. And we won't have much room to disagree: if we put him there, we're taking electoral responsibility for what he does. Don't forget, this post started by showing the disparity between the media's "blame" of evangelicals for Trump with actual facts. This will only get worse.

I only see one realistic option where things work out as well as can be expected for Christians. That is to vote third-party in large numbers. Ideally, for the same third party candidate. Is that likely to happen? I wish. If it happens, will it most likely mean Clinton wins the White House? Yes. But, just imagine if she does so...

...after an election where evangelicals showed enough backbone, to reject not only her, but also her closest competitor.

...when the Senators and Congressmen she needs to make her plans work are looking over their shoulders, at a political bloc which is passionate, principled, and not for sale.

...facing a GOP sweating under the pressure of evangelicals who want integrity, not pandering.

...amid a rising tide of alternative parties sick and tired of Red vs. Blue, and willing to go through a dogfight to get their people into office (there are similar conversations among the Left at this point, believe me).

...opposed by a community which can not only influence an election, but has the moral authority to change the culture.

In other words, imagine the social, spiritual, and political power of millions of Christians who vote as Christians, rather than as political commodities to be bought with cheap tricks.

For those worried about how, or if, we can be "salt and light" in such a dark time, there's my answer. We can be unashamedly, bravely, potently, brilliantly defiant in the face of a false choice between two evils. Two thousand years ago, a handful of men and women transformed the world in spite of being politically, and socially marginalized. It was integrity and faithfulness which resulted in victory, not compromise and conniving. Our battle today is nowhere near as lethal, but it's just as crucial.

Historically, those Christians with the greatest cultural influence were those who focused on being obedient, and faithful, not "in control." Victory in 2016 is not about who wins the election, but whether or not we acquit ourselves as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. That's a tough spot to be in, but imagine how much easier our choice is...or should be...than those faced by Christians of centuries past. They influenced culture for the good, by choosing good, in spite of evil, because they did not partner with evil.

I will not vote for Trump, even if the practical outcome is Clinton or some other Democrat in the Oval Office. I won't be "yoked" with evil, in order to borrow some of its spotlight, or because it promises to help me fight some other evil.

Integrity gives me more power, as the minority opposition, than I'd have as a majority sycophant. Integrity allows me to stand before my family, and my Savior, knowing I wouldn't shake hands with a demon just to spite the devil. My witness and ethical consistency are too valuable to fritter away defining "winning" in crassly human terms, rather than heavenly ones.

Please, fellow believers who feel led to vote for Trump, especially for any of the reasons above, I say this with love and respect...don't chicken out. Have enough faith to reject worldly and short-term thinking (Colossians 2:8), so we can show the world what real victory looks like (Ephesians 6:12).

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Published 5-31-16