Final Reflections on the Election

I’m done ranting against a Donald Trump vote. I’ve made my voice clear about that, and if anyone can find a way to vote for Trump without violating their conscience, it’s between you and God. Instead, here are a few other reflections on the election today.

  • I believe the election this year plays a critical role in God’s judgment upon our nation. In Scripture where God’s dealings with the nations are most clearly explained, there is a regular pattern of moral decay, violence, then wicked rulers, and divine judgment through foreign powers. This happened to Israel, Judah, Egypt, Edom, the Roman Empire, and many other nations as recorded in the prophets. In more recent history, it seems to have also happened to 20th century Germany.  Now it seems it is our turn, handed over (by our own hands!) to wicked rulers that they might lead us into military devastation. Whoever wins this election, it will mean that God has let us take ourselves into ruin. In most cases, God’s judgments seem to arise organically out of the nation’s sins, and this is most evident in this election, when we will literally be choosing for ourselves which person God will use to desolate our country. If Clinton wins, our history of foreign intervention and hawkishness will likely reach a climax against Russia, and if Trump wins, well, he could spark a conflict with almost anyone else. It will not end well, and it pains me to see how many people on both sides of the aisle are embracing this coming execution with welcoming arms. (I’m also not the only one to think this right now.) We must now pray that God will have at least some mercy on us, and that whatever military destruction comes of this Presidency is not too horrendously deep.
  • Whoever wins the election, social conservatism is in for a really hard time. If Hillary Clinton wins this election, we are almost guaranteed freer abortion laws and a Supreme Court hostile to any attempts any states might make to regulate the practice. While she may or may not actively pursue the displacement of religious liberty by supposed transgender rights, she will certainly always pick the latter when she does get involved. This Babylon Bee post is probably spot on, really.

    On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins, it is impossible to guess what he will actually do about these issues, but it seems doubtful given their relative (lack of) prominence in his campaign that he will avoid them. More importantly, social conservatism will lose all of its moral credibility. If social conservatives claim that abortion, family, and religious liberty are fundamentally moral issues, but elect a man who has no character and awful moral status at all, whose sexual conduct among other things opposes everything social conservatives believe, then people will certainly stop taking social conservatism seriously and see it as fundamentally hypocritical. As well, the Republican establishment is funded by big business donors for whom social conservatism is a liability now. People are less likely to do business with you if you oppose abortion and LGBTQ rights now, so many of these donors are becoming less and less okay with socially conservative positions. This means there is more reason than ever for the Republican Party to stop trying on social issues, and since Trump has proved they can get a pretty strong (in terms of polls) nominee who only gives lip service to these issues, we may well find that the GOP gives up all interest in working on important social issues (you know, even more than they already have). Thus while social conservatives will still have their issues checked on the GOP box, they will no longer have any active support in either party.

  • All of this will pass away. One day Trump, Clinton, and (if Christ delays that long, which could easily happen) even the United States will only be a footnote in history. Nothing that is happening in the ballot booths today is ultimate. The election and its political consequences are primarily temporary and pertain only to this age, not the age to come. As Christians, we are members first and foremost of the age to come. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God before we are citizens of the United States. In 10,000 years, we will still be citizens of Christ’s Kingdom but we will rarely think back to our citizenship here. Our first duty is to Christ, with all civic duties being second. So we should not worry. We should not stress. If anything in this election concerns us, it should be the way it affects Christian life and witness. Our wrath need not be focused on Trump or Clinton: God’s wrath will take care of them unless they repent. But we should direct our focus and fightings against the spiritual forces at work right now, dividing the Church and inspiring partisan hate, blindness, delusion, and judgments. We should fight the forces which drive people to act the way they do, the power of sin that made Trump and Clinton our major choices in the election. In these areas the Gospel has power, in these areas souls are in danger from greed, pride, deceit, and dissension, and in these areas there will be eternal consequences. But our country? All things shall end, including it. If God has chosen to put the American kingdom down this year (which I believe is true no matter who wins), we must still focus on the Kingdom that endures.
Final Reflections on the Election

Why Christians Should Totally, Definitely Vote for Donald Trump

I’ve repented.

I have crusaded against Trump for over a year now, but with the election in four days, I have seen the light and turned from the error of my ways. I now endorse Donald J. Trump for President.

Why?

Because I had an epiphany about Jesus’ teachings. I finally realized what all of my evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell, Jr. and James Dobson have been trying to tell me.

The ends justify the means.

Isn’t that simple? The ends, whatever good we’re trying to accomplish, can actually justify the means, the things we have to do to make it happen, however bad. If I want something good to happen, it is perfectly right and just to do bad things to get there. All my misdeeds on the way are covered up and made okay by my attempt to make something good happen.

This is what we Christians are called to do for Trump. Hillary is basically the Devil incarnate, after all, and electing her would obviously obliterate the shining paradise that is our nation today. Therefore we are justified in doing anything that is less bad than the destruction of the whole country to stop her. With the stakes this high, something like voting for Trump is no big deal at all, just what we’ve got to do.

I’ll admit, a vote for Trump is pretty sketchy in and of itself. I mean, he’s made loads of money exploiting and degrading women (and men, really) by owning strip clubs, and he’s made more money exploiting and ruining the poor and/or gullible by running a casino empire, which is a blasphemy inviting of swift divine judgment, to  be sure. He’s a serial adulterer who brags about his sexual immorality, probably even including sexual assault, if not rape. Yeah, he lies over and over again about basically anything and everything, even if half the time he doesn’t actually see a difference between lying and telling his truth. And of course, he supports the kind of sexual lifestyle that leads to rampant abortion even if he’s technically pro-life. He doesn’t know anything about policy, and he’s willing to order the use of war crimes and torture. Certainly he has used racially provocative language and tactics to secure the entire white supremacist vote.

But, however bad all of that would be in any other situation, none of it matters this year. Because the ends justify the means. Hillary Clinton is a demon from hell sent to destroy the United States of America, so it’s irrelevant how completely abominable Trump and all he stands for may be on their own. Compared to an old woman who takes really bad email advice detrimental to national security and plays politics in a self-serving way just like anyone else who’s spent decades in Washington, Trump is almost a saint. But even if he’s not, that doesn’t matter, because the ends justify the means. We can do anything, no matter how bad or compromising, if our goal is to stop Crooked Hillary from getting into the White House for a few years.

The Christian way, then, is pretty simple. We are called to make whatever compromises we have to in order to keep the Democrats, especially Killary, out of the White House. If we have to make a deal with the Devil (oh, wait, the Devil’s Hillary, I forgot), so be it. Jesus is our example here. If He were offered a chance at political power, but He had to bow to a wicked ruler first, He would do it for the greater good.

After all, what good is it if you lose the Presidency but gain your souls?

Why Christians Should Totally, Definitely Vote for Donald Trump

Moving Past Polarization: The American Solidarity Party

If you’ve read my post on Trump from a little while ago, or especially if you’ve followed me on Facebook, you know that I am very unhappy with the state of American politics. The offerings our two major parties are giving us for the Presidency are each quite awful enough, and yet it is even more frightening to realize that this merely reflects the awkward combined state of each party’s establishment and normal voters. There is a direct correspondence between the infantile rhetoric of our candidates and the infantile rhetoric of their supporters. This year more than most, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, hate each other and cannot agree on anything. And, to our shame, too many Christians are simply taking one of these sides and towing their party lines. And, to even greater shame, too many Christians are willing to participate in the same polarization, name-calling, hate, yelling, straw men, and impropriety which characterize normal partisan politics.

This is, of course, an antichrist way to do politics, and it must be rejected. Christians cannot wed themselves to the political philosophies and powers of this age to act and think on only their terms. Christianity is not Republican or Democrat. Jesus is not a modern conservative, a classical liberal, a modern progressive, or anything else along those lines. He never promoted, endorsed, and created any system like capitalism, democracy, communism, authoritarianism, republicanism, libertarianism, or socialism. He is the being, the very nature and existence, of the Church, and the members of the Church are thus not free to bind themselves to any of these things.

None of this is to say that Christians can’t work with or align ourselves with any political party or candidates. We are certainly allowed to do so. But we cannot let them set our agendas, beliefs, or our vision of human freedom and flourishing. We must stand on our own, Christian, Scripture-informed principles and beliefs without giving a single inch of authority to the parties or movements we ally with in this age. They have no authority over us, but only Christ does. We may find them as useful partners in advancing the causes we believe must be advanced, but we must not be misled into advancing their own unique causes under the banner of Christ.

This brings me back to this election. I am (quite strongly) of the opinion that both the Democratic and the Republican parties have proved themselves entirely worthless as allies or partners for Christian political efforts. Democrats have, among other things, made themselves allies and servants of Death by fully adopting the cause of abortion. This is an unforgivable sin. The Republican Party has also nominated Donald Trump as their Presidential candidate, something which I think is (or should be) a major problem for Christians. But even apart from Trump, the party is splitting into useless factions, one very rich part towards social liberalism, another towards authoritarianism, and others still in many directions.

So where do Christians turn? No doubt, many will be willing to compromise with the two awful dominant parties still, some in good conscience and some out of fear or partisan desperation. My suggestion, though, which has caught my eye in the past couple of months, is the American Solidarity Party. If you haven’t heard of them, bear in mind that I have no delusions that they will be winning national elections, at least in anything like the near future. But at the local level, any party can make something of a difference with enough hard work. And even with our national elections, I believe being able to vote consistently with conscience is not only morally preferable but also has, over time, the capacity to influence things.

So what is the American Solidarity Party? I will be doing some more blogging on them to elaborate, but as an introduction, they are a Christian Democratic party. They are socially conservative, taking strong positions in favor of life, marriage, and family. They are also economically distributist, an intentional third way against capitalism and socialism which favors small business, local markets and governments, and private property for the common man. Their motto is “Common good. Common ground. Common sense.” Their policies are very centrist: both ideological leftists and right-wingers will probably chafe at some of their policies and love some others. People who have wedded all of their political thought to the Democrats or the Republicans will not like them at all.

But for those who are willing to keep an open mind, I think the ASP has a great deal of value, and there is a lot that they stand for which I believe is truly Christian. I’m not saying every Christian will or should agree with everything in the ASP platform. Even Spirit-filled believers can disagree on what policies are the best. I’m not sold on a handful of their policies. But I think the ASP is the best option we have at the moment, both in having overall the best policies and having the best goal: a Christian approach to our pressing political problems. In future posts I will elaborate and summarize some thoughts on their platform.

Moving Past Polarization: The American Solidarity Party

Don’t Vote Trump, And If You Do, At Least Frown

I’m #NeverTrump all the way. I will not vote for that man. But I realize many people feel compelled to, even if they don’t like him. Hillary Clinton is, after all, a frightening possibility if you care about things like abortion or religious liberty. If you really feel like Trump’s the lesser evil here, and you think your vote is actually a worthwhile and useful tool, then I won’t stand in the way of your conscience. (And before I say anything else, I should point out that I’m also #NeverHillary and I’m not thrilled with #GaryJohnson2016.)

That said, I would like to offer some considerations for your conscience to digest before casting a vote for Trump. If nothing else, I want to point out that a vote for Trump cannot be, for anyone who cares anything about Christianity, an enthusiastic vote. Compromise with Trump is one thing, but positive support for him is entirely unacceptable.

So, why do I think that Christians should refuse to vote for Trump? A handful of reasons.

  • Trump was pro-choice about 30 seconds ago. Is it really a coincidence that a sexually promiscuous man, people like whom benefit from abortion, only started saying he’s pro-life when he sought the nomination of a predominantly pro-life party? I find that awfully suspicious. It seems more likely that he’s just saying what his target voters want on this issue. If that’s true, we shouldn’t expect much help from him on abortion. More importantly, if that’s true, a vote for Trump is a vote for someone who actually doesn’t mind abortion, which is horrendous. After all, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:14).
  • Trump builds wealth for himself  by exploiting people with sin and vice. It’s no secret that Trump gets lots of money from casinos and strip clubs. These are institutions that Christians tend to oppose, and for good reason. Casinos take advantage of people’s greed and weakness, and of what they know about human behavior, to ruin them financially for profit. Gambling institutions break down families and drive people into bankruptcy. Yes, the people who suffer must take responsibility, but so must the businesses who know these effects and use them to get rich, anyway. The same goes for strip clubs, except instead of ruining people financially they ruin them morally and sexually. Can Christians really say, “I think a man who pays young girls to take off their clothes and parade themselves before lustful men should run the country?” Yet Trump owns and runs both of these kinds of businesses for but one reason (there really is no other reason for these businesses): the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). If Trump will use these kinds of corrupt, immoral, vile, and antichrist methods to acquire money, what might he do for money with the power of the Presidency?
  • Trump is anti-family. Trump, we should recall, is a serial adulterer who has divorced two women so far to marry mistresses. We as Christians believe that stable, traditional families are the bedrock of civil society and were always intended to consist of lifelong faithfulness (Gen. 19:4-6). The benefits of marriages like this are numerous and well-documented. The damage done to society by the breakdown of these marriages is also extensive and well-known. Yet Trump contributes to this very breakdown, putting at the helm of our country someone who actively participates in one of the most destructive forces known to human society. Imagine, my conservative friends, if Trump was married to man. How many of you would vote for him then? Is repeated adultery, divorce, remarriage, and inappropriate sexual comments and conduct any better? To willingly endorse Trump is to give up all right to claim to care about “family values” or traditional marriage. Moreover, if this man cannot be trusted to even keep the most important vows of his life and be faithful to his wives he’s claimed to love, how can he be trusted to keep the oath of office and be faithful to the American people?
  • Trump is, well, morally bankrupt. It’s no secret that Trump has no virtues of any kind, or any redeeming moral qualities. Besides his sexual promiscuity and willingness to break sacred vows mentioned above, he is also cruel, arrogant, selfish, greedy, proud, a compulsive liar (far more than Clinton, who is dishonest enough), sexist, intentionally incendiary, and disrespectful to all people. Maybe charges of racism and xenophobia are exaggerated and misguided (or maybe they’re not), but it hardly matters when he treats all people poorly either way. Every time he has a chance, he proves these traits over and over. He speaks of people he doesn’t like in a way that I would spank my children for. The comments he makes about women are frequently either perverted or painfully demeaning. He bullies and attempts to silence people who disagree with or criticize him. He also uses corrupt, underhanded business practices to enrich himself at the expense of others, as mentioned above. And the disrespect he has shown to veterans and their families is entirely unacceptable.
    As conservative Christians, we have frequently made the character of our political leaders an important issue. Bill Clinton was rightly criticized for his sexual immorality (something Trump is familiar with) as President, and Christians lamented his reelection for, among other reasons, that very reason. He is not the only one to have been subject to this criticism, and rightly so. Character counts. Christians should hopefully realize this more than anyone, for “when the wicked rule, people groan” (Prov. 29:2). As Samuel Adams said, “Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable character.” Noah Webster agreed: “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.'”
  • Trump is spiritually bankrupt. To be sure, I don’t think we are obligated to vote only for Christians, much less spiritually mature ones. Nonetheless, I think politicians should be held at least somewhat accountable to the faith which they claim to adhere to. This is, to be sure, a problem for many politicians, and I wouldn’t usually consider it a make-or-break issue on its own. Nonetheless, Trump shows even the worst of the worst here. Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be as fake and nominal in his “Christian” faith as possible. His character mentioned above, plus his casinos and strip clubs mentioned also, prove that beyond a doubt. So do many of his statements from his own mouth about his faith, such as saying early in the race that he had never asked God for forgiveness, and later that he doesn’t plan on having to ask God for much forgiveness. His answer to “Who do you say that Jesus is?” is as shallow and worthless as any cheesy, MTD platitudes. His statements about his relationship with God and the Church reveal a complete lack of interest and involvement, and every time he mentions religion he does it in an obviously self-serving way. Trump is a blasphemer through and through, pure and simple. An honest atheist would take my vote a million years before Trump.
  • Finally, he can’t save America. Even if America is in as precarious a situation as most Trump-supporters imagine, which seems highly unlikely, there isn’t any actual evidence or reason to believe that Trump has any ability to improve the situation, or that any of his policies would be sufficiently better than Hillary Clinton’s to warrant him as a “lesser evil” vote. His brash, unpredictable nature makes for disastrous possibilities in foreign policy, an area which can save or kill thousands or even millions of human lives. His experience in business has hardly anything in common with the Presidential office, no matter what people ignorantly say to the effect that the “government is basically like a big business.” He has no self-control or self-restraint, which will only make our enemies hate us more and our allies like us less. He has a history of bullying and punishing people who criticize him, an awful tendency for the leader of the executive branch of the United States of America. If Congress doesn’t cooperate with him, which is quite likely, he will almost certainly be prone to continue and expand the practice of abusing power through executive orders. His use of torture will only add more blood to the hands of a nation already drenched in the blood of the aborted (speaking of whom, he will likely do nothing to help them, either). The comments he’s made about US borrowing are economically dangerous, to put it lightly, and he has had to be told repeatedly why he can’t just bust out the nukes. He is dangerous, probably moreso than Hillary Clinton (and that’s saying something).

So there is is. This is my own contribution to the #NeverTrump position in Christianity, and I hold to it firmly. If you still feel the need to vote Trump, if your conscious forces your hand, then do so. But at least don’t smile about it. An enthusiastic vote for Trump, I believe with all my heart, is blatant sin, for all of the reasons listed above. To take pleasure in Donald Trump’s run for President is to take pleasure in an abomination before God. Let us never do such a thing. Our kingdom is not of this world, and it will last under the reign of Christ for all eternity, long after America is just one empire among many in boring history textbooks. The stakes are never as high as they seem in the politics of this age, but the stakes for our souls remain always paramount. Trust in God, not men, much less men like Donald Trump. To burn a pinch of incense to Caesar was always wrong, but so would it have been to join the barbarians who took Rome down.

Don’t Vote Trump, And If You Do, At Least Frown

Love the Trumpers, Hate the Trump

(Before I say anything, I just want to point that I would never actually condone hating anyone, Donald Trump included, even usually in jest. But it was the best title idea I had.)

I believe that Donald Trump is an awful person, doesn’t know what he would really be doing in the White House, and has no business being President of the United States. I do not believe it would be appropriate to vote for him, especially as a conservative Christian, to whom the competence and character of our leaders should matter. (As John Adams said of the White House, “May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” Donald Trump is neither one.)

Nonetheless, I am not happy with the way many people treat and speak of Trump supporters, who make up a third of all Republicans, not to mention more-than-insignificant portions of other groups. There are a lot of people out there who want to vote for Mr. Trump, and I think the whole “these people are the scum of the earth/what’s wrong with America” mentality is arrogant and uncharitable. Assessments of their motives and feelings like that of Rachel Held Evans strike me as fundamentally misguided and overly judgmental. Are we really to believe the reason so many people support Trump is that they just want to be easy winners who abandon the downtrodden instead of bearing the Cross with the least of these?

What so many people seem to be forgetting is that, even though Trump is obviously a one-percenter, his supporters are mostly not. They are not the privileged (despite the fact that they’re mostly white), they are not the well-off, but they themselves are in fact the poor, needy, and oppressed. Trump’s supporters are mostly white working class people, not the most destitute on earth but neither quite the comfortable middle class. They’re generally ignored or maligned by the socially acceptable, progressive, upper middle class, as well as the donor class which power the government, and the non-white lower classes to boot. They have no friends or allies in politics, media, or the respected blogosphere. People dismiss them as privileged, racist, and bigoted (and certainly at least some of them are), and feel justified in giving them no voice or sympathy.

Many people have already written more and better on this than I can. Rod Dreher, for example, has shared an enlightening letter from a Trump supporter and an interesting article about why Trump matters to his main constituency. Similar articles abound, though I can’t find some of the other good links I was looking for. I recommend you reading and contemplating them if Trumpmania confuses or interests you.

The plights of people who support Donald Trump are real, and I want to make this point in direct opposition to people like Evans (above) or the media folks who just “can’t even” at his supporters. Most of these people love to preach tolerance, inclusion, and doing good to the least of these. Even when people as a group tend to statistically share certain negative characteristics, a root cause is sought out with empathy and slowness to judge. Except for people like Trump supporters. No charity is extended to them. Despite the struggles, poverty, and frustration of the white working class, they are simply scolded for their vulgarity, racism, and bigotry (whether real or imagined for each) and told to join in the progressive love-fest for all of the other suffering people out there.

My challenge is for people to take the progressive rhetoric seriously. Do you want to reach out to the poor, the neglected, and the disenfranchised? Is that essential to your Gospel? Then, however you feel about Donald Trump himself, be kind to his supporters. They’re real, normal people with concerns and aggravations that Trump is willing and unafraid to address. Do you find Trump’s deport-them-all ideas racist? (I find them mostly absurd.) Instead of judging his supporters as such, try empathizing with the frustration of rural Jim Bob whose son can’t get a job doing farm work because it’s cheaper to hire José who snuck into the country. Trump speaks to Jim’s struggle, so ponder the solution rather than condemn him.

Basically, feel free to oppose Donald Trump. But if you hate the Trump, don’t forget to love the Trumpers. (Though if you have a stable friendship or family relationship with one, by all means feel free to [gently] rebuke him.)

Love the Trumpers, Hate the Trump