My friend Scott Lenke posted a video this morning that prompts this post.
As a Christian, I know Jesus and His gospel are preeminent (or should be). Scott reminds us that God is totally sovereign over this world. God fully presides over the outcome of this 2016 Presidential election. He will bring His plans to pass, no matter who wins. But what is the believer’s responsibility in this world ?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Our primary calling as believers involves the task of teaching and modeling the gospel, which Scripture calls the power of God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16).
Paul instructs believers in 1 Timothy 2: 1-7:
I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
If the gospel is preeminent and our mission to proclaim it, it makes sense to pray that God would allow us to have leaders who will not put obstacles in the way of living out our faith, who will not remove our current freedom to preach and worship, but who will respect, maintain and encourage this freedom.
We will come back to this point in our conclusion.
Scott in his video speaks of various voting options people are facing in the upcoming Presidential election, but I feel he does little justice to the strength of a conservative argument for Trump and against Hillary. Scott says he thinks Trump is worse than Hillary. Scott also unfortunately repeats unproven sexual allegations about Trump. And as for the charge that Trump made fun of a disabled reporter, which has been widely disseminated and Scott also repeats, there is very clear evidence that he did not do so.
But all this isn’t Scott’s main point. The purpose of the video is mainly to affirm that “it’s OK” not to vote, though Scott doesn’t provide an explicit argument as to why he thinks so. Now of course, since every individual has freedom to vote or not vote, then
technically, not voting is an option. However it is, in my view, a really bad and shortsighted option in light of the momentous election we now face.
For all the grief theologian Wayne Grudem got for his article that voting for Trump is an ethical choice (which later he temporarily wavered on), I think his ultimate conclusion –that Donald Trump is a superior candidate to Hillary Clinton– is both logical and persuasive. His argues that Trump holds better positions on all the critical issues our nation faces: national security, borders and immigration, ISIS & terrorism, healthcare, the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, Christian business owners, Christian schools and colleges, executive orders and bathrooms, churches, freedom of speech, taxes and jobs and economic growth. Hillary is not only worse on each of these important issues but would use her Presidential influence to criminalize dissent, since her intention is to install Supreme Court justices that will permanently enshrine the progressive agenda –an agenda which tolerates no dissension, as recent history shows.
So here’s where we are so far. First, God is sovereign over everything that happens; second, believers have a mission to spread the gospel; third, we should therefore ask God to provide leaders who will preserve this freedom and let us live “quiet and peaceful lives”. Together with this, there are some other pertinent facts we can consider voting in this election:
The election will certainly be won by either Donald Trump or by Hillary Clinton. True, polls are not necessarily to be believed wholesale, but it is obvious that only these 2 major candidates have any hope of securing the election in terms of number of votes and the electoral college. So don’t kid yourself, a non-vote or 3rd party vote are pretty much meaningless gestures in terms of the practical outcome. Yes, this is a utilitarian argument. That doesn’t mean it’s immoral. Because what I’m being utilitarian about is people’s welfare– of these two candidates, only one will win– so which has the policies that achieve the most good and do the least harm?
A vote that does not go to Trump helps Hillary, or vice-versa. Since only Trump or Clinton can win, and by all indications this is going to be very tight contest, then non-votes or votes for 3rd party alternatives instead of Trump risk a Hillary win. Every vote is essential, and even more so, in view of the reality of voter fraud.
The fear factor Scott speaks negatively about the “fear” being used to prompt voters in this election season, and seems to single out the Trump camp especially for this. The fact is both camps are employing the “fear” line. But fear is not always a bad motivator anyway (Jesus Himself used it). A particular fear argument is only as valid as the facts supporting it. Those who favor policies that promote traditional, conservative values, as opposed to Hillary’s extreme progressive agenda, should in fact be deeply alarmed by what has been happening in our country now, and what is bound to continue under a Clinton Presidency.
Conservatives will get another chance? One should not gamble on the notion that after a Hillary victory conservatives can somewhere down the line recoup and mount a recovery in 2020 or beyond. The damage already done through 8 years of Obama will be extended, while the courts under Hillary may become tilted in such a way that conservatism may not be able to rise again.
The Establishment GOP is not supporting Trump, though it should have. GOP leaders normally pledge to support whomever the people of America nominate as their representative, but many chose to not honor their commitment. This is outrageous– the reason so many Americans voted for Trump in the first place is they feel the Washington GOP are already not doing their job and get outmaneuvered by President Obama at every turn. They want change, not more of the same.
So by refusing to support Trump, the Establishment proves the contention that current leadership care more about preserving its own power/agenda than executing the will of the people they supposedly were elected to execute.
Ostensibly, some were triggered by Trump’s secretly taped words 11 years ago and many unproven and false sexual allegations, to drop their support. They apparently find these accusations more consequential than Hillary’s track record of lies and proven corruption, which includes selling influence and political access to the highest bidder, willful destruction of government emails, obstruction of justice, etc. But I think the Establishment folks were simply looking for a convenient way to abandon Trump and found a plausible excuse with the well-timed release of these lurid tapes. They secretly align better with Hillary’s global agenda than Trump’s “America-first” policies anyway. Perhaps then this is the real reason for their non-support.
The Democratic party (with able assistance from biased mainstream media, see evidence here, here and here) has run a 24/7 negative campaign against Trump. The Dems pursue an ends-justifies-the-means approach to their campaign. Any smear against Trump, no matter how baseless, is acceptable. It goes beyond this into manufacturing false narratives against Trump– for example, casting Trump as someone whose words incite violence, they planted paid agitators at his rallies to provoke fights with Trump supporters— then when violence predictably ensued they blamed Trump for it, thus completing their false narrative.
The current Administration, including the FBI and The State Dept, seem willing to shield Hillary Clinton. Clinton is inextricably linked to President Obama’s agenda/legacy. Bringing her down would apparently also implicate him, and would leave no one to carry on his legacy. But the problems dogging Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server are totally her own fault, no matter what comes of FBI Director Comey’s recent re-opening of the investigation. Of course partisanship is part of Washington DC. But when partisanship causes an FBI in possession of clear evidence of Hillary’s guilt to not recommend charges against her, something’s seriously wrong. Many are seeing this as a travesty of justice. And the many Wikileaks email revelations are not necessarily giving the public new information so much as confirming to them their suspicion of foul play and insider colluding when it comes to Hillary Clinton.
So returning to Scott’s video, it seems his argument is that as God is in charge, and the message of the gospel and His kingdom supersede earthly politics, a non-vote doesn’t do harm. It is OK. Yet the Bible teaches throughout that human choices have impactful and significant consequences, both eternally and in this life. We reap what we sow.
A non-vote is the upcoming election in effect amounts to a choice to do nothing to counter the very real threat of a Clinton Presidency, that continues the negative trajectory we’re on. Believers are concurrently citizens of two different worlds, and have responsibilities to each. As citizens of the heavenly kingdom, our primarily allegiance is obedience to God. As US citizens, we are blessed with the wonderful opportunity to vote and influence public policy for the good and to protect against the bad. To neglect that opportunity, with all that is at stake, seems to me a cop-out. And in this election we have one candidate promising that where her agenda conflicts with traditional Christian values and beliefs, it is those beliefs which must accommodate themselves to the new “rights”.
Trump and Pence on the other hand, are standing up for various liberties that arise from being created in the image of God: the right of the unborn to be treated as persons with rights, including a right to life; the rights of Christians and people of faith to exercise religious conscience not just in the private sphere but in their businesses, public life and speech. The right to bear arms, which Hillary pays lip service to but her policies do not really support. If Christians can no longer openly live out their faith; if speaking the truth from a biblical perspective becomes outlawed “hate speech”–then we are hindered from being able to fulfill our primary mission of preaching the gospel. These developments would be logical consequences of the policies of a Hillary Presidency. Trump’s policies, at the very least, treat religious liberty (the essential liberty than protects all other liberties as well) as the serious and important issue it is.
Yes, this election presents us all with difficult and challenging choices, given the flaws of the major candidates and the lack of alternatives. Sadly, countless voters may use that as an excuse to simply sit out the election. Many more will not take the time to study the relevant issues and vote in accordance with their best knowledge. But intelligent and thoughtful folks can and ought to do the hard work of studying the issues, sifting through the options, then voting intelligently and in accordance with conscience. This is a high and noble privilege.
Thousands around the globe envy us this freedom of choice, this amazing chance we get to make our voices heard. May we not squander it but use it wisely, while we still can.