Christians in the Age of Trump: A Contrasting View

Donald Trump rose to power amid controversy. Two and a half years into his administration, there is no sign that’s ever going to change. No doubt, he’ll continue to be a controversial figure long after his administration has moved into the history books.

I agree with much of what Greg Barkman had to say on the topic yesterday, particularly the negative assessments of President Trump’s character and behavior. I agree also that some of the President’s policies have been helpful to the nation and sensible in the eyes of conservatives. I concede, too, that in an election, deciding what candidate to support can be difficult—especially if we only consider those who have a chance of winning. If we accept that constriction, we’re stuck with what the parties decide to offer us.

Those are the primary points of agreement. Philosophically, I’m sure we agree on much as well. Most of the controversy among conservative Christians has to do with how to apply principles we share. Still, these principles are often not articulated in the more Trump-friendly perspectives I hear from fellow-Christians. I believe that if these truths are more front-of-mind, they’ll have more influence on how we evaluate presidents and make electoral choices.

1. Christian perspective is long and deep.

I’m using the word “Christian” in this post in a particular sense: not “the way Christians actually are,” but rather, “the way Christians ought to be,” that is, the way we are when we’re true to what Christianity is.

When I say the Christian perspective is long, I mean that Christian thought always puts now in the context of the whole story of humanity—which is God’s story. So our analysis of consequences should be quite different form the analysis that is normal in our culture. Rather than, “If we do X today, what will happen tomorrow?” Christians should think, “If we do X today, where does that fit into eternity?” From there, we work backward to the present: “What’s the consequence generations into the future? What’s the consequence in twenty years?” Admittedly, we often can’t answer those questions. But it gets easier when we get down to, “What impact does this have in a decade? Or in eight years?”

But I think we rarely start our analysis of consequences with the question of eternity. How will my choices in this moment matter when all this is over? (and they will matter—Matt. 12:36, 2 Cor. 5:10). When it comes to public policy and elected officials, we just about as rarely consider political outcomes a couple of election cycles down the road. This is a failure to look through the Christian lens.

The Christian perspective is long. It’s also deep. When we’re looking at things Christianly, we’re not only driven by our relationship to the God who sees the end from the beginning, but also to the God who sees and knows the real essences of things and is never fooled by mere appearances (Heb. 4:13, among many others).

The deep perspective takes some work. “Man looks on the outward appearance” (1 Sam 16:7), and by default, surface realities are what’s most real to us. But at the current political moment, we’re called to look past both the bashing of left-leaning punditry and the cheerleading of right-leaning (or right-off-the-edge!) punditry to sift out what’s really factual and wise. We’re called to tune out the noise and dazzle and hype, and read thoughtful, reflective considerations of the issues we face in our times.

2. Christian ethics looks beyond results.

Genuinely Christian ethics does include results when evaluating the rightness or wrongness of actions. “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (NIV, Rom. 13:10). “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (ESV, Rom. 14:21).

But outcomes are not the only consideration, or even the primary consideration. This is because everything a Christian does is personal. Worshipful service of our Creator is supposed to be an ever-present motivational layer in all we do (Rom. 12:2). The apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 6:16 that Christian sexual ethics is not only driven by the goal of holiness but by the fact that Christ Himself is joined in some way to everything we do. Elsewhere Paul describes his own motivations in life as a drive to “please” a real person—Jesus Christ, whom we call Lord (2 Cor. 5:9).

Whatever else we might say about Christian ethics, we have to acknowledge that what ultimately determines right and wrong from our perspective is how Somebody feels about it. This shatters the popular utilitarian reasoning that whatever brings about the greatest good for the greatest number is the morally right thing to do.

Because Christian thought takes the long and deep view, we know that discerning what really brings about the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run is often impossible to know. Because we evaluate our choices through a personal grid—the good pleasure of our God—human good isn’t even mainly what interests us.

It’s possible to accept all that and still believe that a Christian should (a) vote only for a candidate that can win, and (b) vote for the least objectionable candidate that can win. But there’s a lot of thinking and evaluating that should happen before we even get to that point. In the long, deep, and Personal analysis, what really constitutes “winning”?

3. Christian values emphasize persuasion over coercion, understanding over compliance.

If we managed to put the ideal candidate in office—one who lacks all the character and conduct negatives of a man like Donald Trump—there’s still only so much he could get done, and only so much that would survive the next swing of the electoral pendulum. There’s only so much external constraints can accomplish.

Christian thought understands that faith in God-revealed truth is eternally transforming (Rom. 10:9-10, 17). There isn’t anything on earth more mighty than genuine Christian faith, because that faith is a heart-soul-mind surrender that permanently entwines us with the Creator God.

No law, or set of rules, or series of court decisions can do that.

And even on the time-bound plane of social concerns and public policy, only winning hearts and minds—genuinely persuading people of enduring truths—can produce changes that endure through election cycles.

A president who can get some policies enacted but who does it in a way—and from an ethos—that closes minds to important ideas and values may well do more harm than good. On the other hand, a president who is opposed to Christian views of society and justice (as those on the left are) but who provides a clear and sharp contrast with the ideas at the core of both conservatism and Christianity, may unwittingly persuade many to reject leftist beliefs.

To sum up, none of us really knows beforehand what the long and deep outcomes of a presidential election are going to be. We often don’t even know that years afterwards, with much confidence. What Christians should do then, in the electoral ethics department, is ask ourselves what pleases our God. And though that also doesn’t make the decision obvious, it does change the equation. We know that our Lord is at least as interested in how we get somewhere as He is in where we arrive.

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8).

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G. N. Barkman's picture

Aaron, I expected I would probably disagree with the column you announced yesterday.  Actually, I find myself in substantial agreement.  I guess the difference occurs in how we apply these excellent principles to the present political situation.

G. N. Barkman

Ed Vasicek's picture

An important reminder:

There’s only so much external constraints can accomplish.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Mark_Smith's picture

Compare him to Obama.

Did Obama lie regularly (you can keep your doctor... I heard about that when I read the paper...)

Did he appoint people who made godly choices?

Did Obama have affairs? How do you know one way or the other?

Did Obama ridicule opponents?

Did Obama tell the truth when asked?

Did Obama appoint people to the judicial bench who would promote godly justice?

What was Obama's past? Reefer bus...

On and on... really look at him in comparison to Trump. How far apart are they? Don't just go off of what CBS and MSNBC tell you. Really look. I suspect you'll find they are not that far apart. 

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

@Mark... I don't see Obama as relevant. Unlike Trump, he had an actual political philosophy and an agenda consistent with it. For that reason, he was never someone I considered voting for.

My topic in the post was how to approach weighing options as a conservative Christian voter.

@Greg, yes it's certainly possible to apply the principles differently. Most of the arguments I see for backing someone like Trump, though, are focused on results--and short-term, superficial, and coercive ones at that. With those removed, there isn't much left to commend a vote for Trump. It becomes a toss up, at best.

I didn't find it difficult at all to vote for a man who couldn't win in 2016, because I had a very different idea of what a win for conservatism could actually mean in that election. 

GregH's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Compare him to Obama.

Did Obama lie regularly (you can keep your doctor... I heard about that when I read the paper...)

Did he appoint people who made godly choices?

Did Obama have affairs? How do you know one way or the other?

Did Obama ridicule opponents?

Did Obama tell the truth when asked?

Did Obama appoint people to the judicial bench who would promote godly justice?

What was Obama's past? Reefer bus...

On and on... really look at him in comparison to Trump. How far apart are they? Don't just go off of what CBS and MSNBC tell you. Really look. I suspect you'll find they are not that far apart. 

It is certainly interesting that about the best a lot of people can seem to do to defend Trump is to compare him to someone they consider worse. Not only is such a comparison meaningless from a logical standpoint but in this case, it is hardly fair to suggest Obama may have had affairs with not a shred of evidence and bring up a reefer bus reference (as if that defines him). 

However, if we have to make this about comparisons, I will say this. I am just not sure what one can say to convince those who can't see the new lows that Trump has brought the presidency through his juvenile actions and words. Here is the truth in a nutshell: in spite of his problematic beliefs, Obama acted with dignity almost all the time; Trump rarely does. Obama may have lied some (though I don't think your example is a lie regardless of how many times FoxNews says it is) and Trump lies thousands of times in obvious ways where he clearly doesn't even care if he is caught lying.

Mark_Smith's picture

Obama was the most recent. Man you guys.... Really compare him.

My point is if you really look, Trump is actually more honest. He shows you what he really thinks, while others hide it.

For example, Trump yesterday called the British ambassador "wacky." You might say that lacks decorum, and you would be right. Who cares? Obama (picked because he was the last president and my memory is better, not because I am a raving anti-Obama type) was recorded multiple times saying all kinds of unkind things about his opponents in private fund raisers....

My point, ultimately, is if you think Trump is bad, you are a hypocrite for not seeing the bad in previous presidents. There is little difference between Trump and them other than your opinion.

Mark_Smith's picture

For conservatives, Reagan was the last Republican president that had a consistent philosophy that was based on his thought. Both Bushes were establishment more than conservative. We can see that now. I actually think Trump is doing a respectful job with his government work. I only wish the Republicans the first 2 years had supported him better rather than joining the Russia train and the 50+ retiring and not running for reelection. Congressional Republicans failed him.

When it comes to Democrats, they are all about philosophy, and that is what is so scary about them! They mean to remake America in their image. No thanks. I have no respect for their philosophy and I give them no points for it.

mmartin's picture

I agree with Mark Smith quite a bit.  For all this anxiety about how a conservative Christian voter should think of Trump, of course he's a blowhard and often behaves with an appalling lack of grace.

But, go ahead and name one Democrat you would rather have instead of Trump the way they are right now.  Can you name just one?  Name one, even one "moderate" Democrat you would vote for who would dare to not follow their current extreme leftist lemming culture.

Also, name one president whose overall policies didn't have problems or influenced negative consequences down the line.  Name one president who made every decision out of principal and ignored political expediency. 

Please name one.  We'll wait.

At THE end of the day in the 2020 election its either Trump with at least some chance at conservative values being enforced and promoted OR a vote towards open borders, giving illegals free this & that, trillions of dollars going to pay off student debt, the Green New Deal thinking, hyper-triggered snowflakes, and (insert your favorite socialist American value sucking program here). 

And Yes, a vote for someone other than Trump IS a vote for the Democrats because who other than Trump has any chance of defeating whatever candidate the Democrats put out against him?

As conservative Christians and Americans it would be ideal if our president was a true born again Christian and would follow Biblical and conservative principles with every single decision.  But, that isn't what we've got and even in our country that will not happen . . . . ever.

So, at the moment, we are left with either Trump or . . . .

From my perspective, Trump, with all his flaws, is doing an overall good job as president.  He gets things done.  Further, you know he is an American and cares about America.  After all, this is America, right?

I may be holding my nose while I vote for Trump in 2020, but I will be voting for him.

G. N. Barkman's picture

mmartin, you understand the situation exactly as I do.  Anyone who fails to vote for Trump will be helping a left-wing candidate be elected.  Politics, unfortunately, is almost always about how to prevent the worst results.

G. N. Barkman

pvawter's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

mmartin, you understand the situation exactly as I do.  Anyone who fails to vote for Trump will be helping a left-wing candidate be elected.  Politics, unfortunately, is almost always about how to prevent the worst results.

It's funny. I didn't vote for President Trump in '16, and I was told by many that I was helping Hillary win the White House. This binary thinking is simply not accurate. 

Jay's picture

It's funny. I didn't vote for President Trump in '16, and I was told by many that I was helping Hillary win the White House. This binary thinking is simply not accurate. 

Ditto.  The person I voted for has proven to be a disappointment as well, and maybe I did 'waste' my vote, but I can pillow my head knowing that I refused to vote for either of the two major players with all of their accompanying baggage.

If President Trump acted more like a President and less like an obnoxious and immature child, it would help him immeasurably.  But I think that'll happen when pigs fly, and it may cost him the Presidency in 2020 if the Democrats can just nominate someone who isn't utterly crazy.  I agree that the current list of Democratic contenders leaves...tons...to be desired.  Maybe Howard Schultz is that man. I don't know.  Right now I'm leaning towards voting for Godzilla.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Dave White's picture

GregH wrote:
I am just not sure what one can say to convince those who can't see the new lows that Trump has brought the presidency through his juvenile actions and words.

Two points:

  • We all know Trump had affairs (pre-White House)... but as far as we know he hasn't stepped to this "low"
  • See Kennedy: All the President's women and specifically Mimi Alford (White House intern): "That afternoon she was invited to what she thought was a “welcome-to-the-staff get-together” that turned out to be in the White House’s family quarters. “Would you like a tour of the residence, Mimi?” the president asked. And then, ushered into Mrs. Kennedy’s bedroom to admire the décor, she was a goner. ... “Once Upon a Secret” includes a couple of truly vile episodes in which the president humiliated Mimi by telling her to service other men sexually."
G. N. Barkman's picture

Why is it not accurate to conclude that a vote removed from Trump does not help his opponent?  That seems like pretty straight forward mathematics to me.

G. N. Barkman

GregH's picture

Dave White wrote:

 

GregH wrote:
I am just not sure what one can say to convince those who can't see the new lows that Trump has brought the presidency through his juvenile actions and words.

 

Two points:

  • We all know Trump had affairs (pre-White House)... but as far as we know he hasn't stepped to this "low"
  • See Kennedy: All the President's women and specifically Mimi Alford (White House intern): "That afternoon she was invited to what she thought was a “welcome-to-the-staff get-together” that turned out to be in the White House’s family quarters. “Would you like a tour of the residence, Mimi?” the president asked. And then, ushered into Mrs. Kennedy’s bedroom to admire the décor, she was a goner. ... “Once Upon a Secret” includes a couple of truly vile episodes in which the president humiliated Mimi by telling her to service other men sexually."

Speaking for myself, the lows I refer to are not the womanizing. I am referring to the fact that the guy speaks and acts like a 4th grader and is the laughing stock of pretty everyone important in the world from his own staff to world leaders. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anyone interested in commenting on the whole concept of evaluating the ethical choices by something other than short term results ... or other than "results" at all?

  • Not in dispute: that voting for someone unelectable indirectly helps the worst electable candidate win
  • In dispute: that this result is the only criterion that matters
  • In dispute: that this result is the most important criterion among others
  • In dispute: that the voter is morally responsible for secondary outcomes when he/she is presented with two bad options and refuses to select one

I categorically reject the idea that if someone presents me with two bad choices and says "Pick one or I'll pick," that I'm responsible for what happens if I say "no, thanks."

Some things that don't matter:

  • Whether Trump is or more less honest than some other past president or candidate. This would be relevant if someone was claiming Trump is the most dishonest president ever. I'm not making that claim. I imagine someone does make that claim, but that's not a view I'm at all interested in.
  • Whether Bush and others had a conservative political philosophy as well developed as Reagan's. This would be relevant if someone was claiming that Trump shouldn't be supported because his political philosophy isn't as fully developed as Reagan's. Some probably make that claim. My own view is that Trump believes in very little at all beyond fighting, "winning," proving how great he is, increasing his own power, and disrespecting everyone who disagrees with him. This is quite different from saying "has a political philosophy not quite as well thought out as Reagan's"!
  • Whether Bush et. al were conservatives or "establishment." This is a false disjunction to begin with, but supposing that these men were scored zero on the conservatism scale, what relevance would that have? This proves Trump is better because he scores a bit better? This would require a truncated conservatism scale: one that completely ignores character and credibility. If we suppose that's the scale, I can say sure, it's relevant and it's possible that Trump wins.
    But this is not the sort of scale I use and I deny that this is really a conservative scale at all.
josh p's picture

I also agree that it is not a vote for Hillary to refrain from voting for Trump. I will never understand that logic or lack thereof. I voted third party. I voted for the person that I voted for knowing full well that he had no chance of being elected. I think there is a common assumption that every believer who chose not to vote for Trump was primarily rejecting his morality. Personally, I am not looking for a pastor-in-chief. I do understand the argument for a moral man but i’m not looking for (or expecting) an actual Christian.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

In some ways, it can be better to have a pres. who makes no claim to evangelical faith. Because the office is so high-profile, people automatically associate many of presidents' views and behaviors with whatever faith he claims. So one advantage of a non-professing pres. is that the faith is not potentially harmed by association with what he does.

On the other hand, if a pres. has a deeply Christian (as opposed to vocally/ostentatiously Christian) framework for his conduct and interactions as well as his policies, he can be a credit to the faith, at least in some ways. We've had some presidents who, while being weak in some ways, were a credit to the faith, I believe.

As for Trump, I wish he claimed neither Christianity nor conservatism. They're both better off without association with him. It would be more honest and less complicated to just cast himself as "A guy who wants to defeat the libs and their policies--according to what I believe them to be.... and defeat anything else I think is bad for America."

I would feel a lot more open to backing him that way. Really would. Still probably couldn't quite do it, but that kind of transparent simplicity would be truer to both the electorate and to himself.

So I have to backpeddle a little bit maybe on what I posted above: I think it's possible that there is one thing Trump really believes in besides fighting and his own greatness: he may well truly believe in "opposing whatever is bad for America, as I see it." I'm open to that. And that's something, at least.

Ken S's picture

Dave White wrote:

 

Aaron Blumer wrote:
As for Trump, I wish he claimed neither Christianity nor conservatism.

 

I literally know NO Christian that thinks Trump is one.

 

I know a number of Christians who think Trump is one, but I don't think that's the greatest concern even if it is somewhat disheartening. More concerning to me is that non-Christians see Trump claiming to be Christian and I believe it gives Christianity a very bad representation in the eyes of literally the whole world. I'm not sure that whatever gains were to be had by electing Trump are worth this.

I held my nose and voted for Trump in 2016 mainly because I hoped for conservative court appointments, and I also assumed he would become more presidential once he became president. I'm happy with the court appointments, but almost everything else has been a major turn-off to me. If there is a Democrat who is even half-way decent in 2020 I'll be voting for them, or more likely not voting/third party voting.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I also agree that it is not a vote for Hillary to refrain from voting for Trump. I will never understand that logic or lack thereof.

This is actually an easy one to answer and I am shocked how many don't get it. It is connected to what it called "plunking" in a multiple vote contest. When an election is "Choose two of the following" in which the two highest vote getters are elected, choosing two actually harms a candidate. If you vote for Joe and Bill, and your neighbor votes for Joe and Jim, you hurt Bill by giving him Joe a second vote that enabled him to have more votes than Jim or Bill. So in a "Choose 2" election, you only choose the one you really want to get elected (unless there is a strong preference).

So in a two candidate race ("Choose One"), if you there are ten people who vote for Joe and ten people who vote for Bill, and you vote for Jim out of principle, you cost either Joe or Bill the election because your vote would have given one the deciding vote. So to not vote, is to vote, just like not choosing is choosing something. The question is, Is there a better option between two candidates, even if both are substandard? Almost always, the answer is yes. 

Some will be quick to point out that no state was decided by one vote. But that is to miss the point entirely. And yes there are states where the voting is so one-sided that a person can legitimately make a "protest" vote. I have done it. But there is a bigger picture going on.

I am convinced that there are a number of well-meaning people who are, dare I say, selfish. Their own idealism actually hurts the country and community they live in by refusing to vote wisely. They have satisfied themselves while hurting others. I think civics and voting is about more than us as individuals. It is about our community, our so-called social contract with one another to pursue a better society. When one votes only for themselves, it is a dangerously selfish thing to do.

Jay's picture

This is actually an easy one to answer and I am shocked how many don't get it. It is connected to what it called "plunking" in a multiple vote contest. When an election is "Choose two of the following" in which the two highest vote getters are elected, choosing two actually harms a candidate. If you vote for Joe and Bill, and your neighbor votes for Joe and Jim, you hurt Bill by giving him Joe a second vote that enabled him to have more votes than Jim or Bill.

So in a "Choose 2" election, you only choose the one you really want to get elected (unless there is a strong preference).So in a two candidate race ("Choose One"), if you there are ten people who vote for Joe and ten people who vote for Bill, and you vote for Jim out of principle, you cost either Joe or Bill the election because your vote would have given one the deciding vote...Some will be quick to point out that no state was decided by one vote. But that is to miss the point entirely. And yes there are states where the voting is so one-sided that a person can legitimately make a "protest" vote. I have done it. But there is a bigger picture going on.

We don't have the voting power to swing a hypothetical election because not all Christians (or Evangelicals or Fundamentalists or even Independent Baptist Fundamentalists) have the political power to do so. I'd argue that between the popular vote in the states and the Electoral College, the voting is already so one-sided that protest votes are almost required.  It's why I keep holding out hope for a legitimate third party to form, although I seriously doubt one will.

So to not vote, is to vote, just like not choosing is choosing something. The question is, Is there a better option between two candidates, even if both are substandard? Almost always, the answer is yes.

You've made my point exactly, but I'll return to that at the end of this post.

I am convinced that there are a number of well-meaning people who are, dare I say, selfish. Their own idealism actually hurts the country and community they live in by refusing to vote wisely. They have satisfied themselves while hurting others. I think civics and voting is about more than us as individuals. It is about our community, our so-called social contract with one another to pursue a better society. When one votes only for themselves, it is a dangerously selfish thing to do.

I don't think this is aimed at me, but as I said before, I will stand before God and say that neither of the two candidates met the kind of standard that I'd like to see in political leaders.  I don't see either candidates (in 2016 or again next year) being the kind of person that I want running the government.  Are there some that are more acceptable than others?  Sure, I'd take Romney in a heartbeat over anyone else currently running.  But if the options are someone who can't handle classified information and someone who brags about sexual assault and has multiple affairs on his record, I can't trust them with much more than what I can personally watch them doing, and not even that.

This argument seems to boil down to "you must drink poison" or "you must shoot yourself in the head".  It is wise and right to say "I will do neither".

I should also note that in most modern countries this isn't even a discussion worth having. So we are exceptionally (un?)fortunate.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

 It's why I keep holding out hope for a legitimate third party to form, although I seriously doubt one will.

I agree on both.

I will stand before God and say that neither of the two candidates met the kind of standard that I'd like to see in political leaders

This is my point. I don't want to be too blunt, so forgive the directness and don't read too much into it, but this view says, "I am the only one that matters." There seems no concern for the society around and the future for our children and grandchildren. Again, don't take that too personally because it is not intended, but this statement is exactly what I am addressing. When we enter that voting booth, it is not just us. We have a civic duty to those around us to preserve something for the future, to take another run at it. 

Take judges and justices for example: How can we say to our children and grandchildren, "I know we have judges who have moved us drastically towards the left and we had a chance to do something different but at least I satisfied myself"? 

Sometimes the right answer is save enough for another day. It isn't kill it and walk away.

Drinking poison or shooting yourself in the head might be a good analogy. If you drink poison, it is slower and it gives a chance for an antidote to be provided. Shooting yourself in the head rules out the chance for an antidote in the future. So it is wise to take the option that provides the best chance at a future in which change might be affected.

Or perhaps another analogy: You go to the doctor and he says you have incurable cancer. We can do nothing and you have six months to live. Or we can treat it and give you five years and perhaps in five years there will be a cure for it. Or there might not be and you will die in five years. Which would you take? I would imagine the five years right? At least it gives you a chance.

I do agree that most countries don't have this discussion. Which makes the hatred of "nationalism" all that much more weird to me. It seems that there are a great many who want to make the US just like countries where this isn't even an option. 

Darrell Post's picture

As I said on the prior thread, voting is not the same as endorsing. Once Trump made his promise to appoint conservative judges (a promise he kept), it made a clear enough distinction between the two 2016 options to pull in enough of the reluctant Trump vote. The fact is, had enough idealist voters won the day and still refused to vote for Trump, then Clinton would have won and the Supreme Court would right now be lost for the next 20+ years instead of currently being a 5-4 conservative majority. The lower courts would also have been restocked with young socialists instead of the conservatives Trump has put in those vacancies. Politics is not chess where you give up a pawn and bishop planning for 5 moves down the road where you think you might gain a castle and a knight. There would have been no point to throwing away the courts for the rest of many of our lifetimes on some idealistic principle that somehow it might work out eventually for some better good. Not when there was a promise given for conservative court appointments. 

Voting is not endorsing. It is simply getting the best you can with what options you have. There is no reason anyone should wrestle with feelings of guilty conscience over voting for a candidate who cannot be personally endorsed. 2016 presented perhaps the two worst options for president ever--in terms of personal integrity, morality, and fitness for the office. I could not and would not endorse either candidate, but I voted for what might be possible--more conservative federal courts, and that is what we received, for which I am thankful. And because I voted in the state of Virginia, my vote counted for nothing anyway, as all 13 electoral votes went to Clinton. 

josh p's picture

Larry I somewhat agree with what you are saying but one must vote before God as an individual. Sure I would like to stop the leftward move of the country as much as you but I’m just not willing to vote for the guy that is one percent to the right of the democrats which would be necessary from the position you are advocating. If Bernie was the Democrat candidate and Biden the Republican would you vote for Biden to fight the left? I just don’t think it can be quantified in the way you are suggesting. At a certain point a person must refrain from voting or vote third party. That’s different for everyone of course. I do admit that Trump has made good on some things that I didn’t think he would. That’s the problem of course with a person who lies continually. It’s hard to know what they are actually going to do. These days I am more libertarian so I’m outside the discussion is some ways anyway. Tariffs for example are an utter disaster from my standpoint and a major reason I couldn’t vote for Trump. It will be interesting to see what he does with his second term (which I believe he will get).

mmartin's picture

I get it that some folks do not feel comfortable voting for Trump - both in the sense of not voting FOR Trump OR voting against Hillary or any other socialist the Democrats are likely to trot out.

To me though, I see those arguments with very little acknowledgement of possible, if not probable, consequences of that thinking.  Sure, you may not have voted for Trump because of his morals, childish behavior, women chasing, etc.  Great!  But, what about his opponent?  Imagine where we would be at with Hillary as president?

It's like not wanting a certain dog guarding the sheep because you think that dog acts in a manner you don't like.  Meanwhile, there are actual wolves only too happy to guard the sheep.  Yes, you voted your conscience which is your prerogative.  You feel great about not letting THAT sheep dog around.  Terrific!  Yet, the actual wolf would be wreaking havoc far worse than the sheep dog. 

Again I ask, who would you rather have, Trump (such as he is) or Hillary/whoever the democrat running against him?  (I feel this binary question does hold water since no other third party candidate had a chance of winning.)

Not a great choice to be sure, but I'd rather have Trump.  As Darrell Post commented, "Voting is not the same as endorsing."

Regarding the arguments that a vote for someone other than Trump is not a vote for Hillary/democrats, in 2016 we kinda got lucky.  Going into election day few people thought Trump would actually win.  Generally speaking polling consistently showed Hillary was going to win.  I think that argument only works if it isn't a tight race.  I would argue that in 2016, & possibly 2020, that a vote for someone other than Trump WAS a vote for Hillary/Democrats.

Jay's picture

This is my point. I don't want to be too blunt, so forgive the directness and don't read too much into it, but this view says, "I am the only one that matters." There seems no concern for the society around and the future for our children and grandchildren. Again, don't take that too personally because it is not intended, but this statement is exactly what I am addressing. When we enter that voting booth, it is not just us. We have a civic duty to those around us to preserve something for the future, to take another run at it. 

Take judges and justices for example: How can we say to our children and grandchildren, "I know we have judges who have moved us drastically towards the left and we had a chance to do something different but at least I satisfied myself"? 

I don't get any perverse sense of pride out of refusing to vote for either, and I'm not really excited about telling the Lord that both options were so bad I refused to vote for either.  I'm much rather say that I believed that _______________ was the best candidate and I supported them wholeheartedly.  The whole electoral system, to be honest, makes me sick most days because it seems guaranteed to provide the worst possible outcome in just about every case.

Sometimes the right answer is save enough for another day. It isn't kill it and walk away.

Drinking poison or shooting yourself in the head might be a good analogy. If you drink poison, it is slower and it gives a chance for an antidote to be provided. Shooting yourself in the head rules out the chance for an antidote in the future. So it is wise to take the option that provides the best chance at a future in which change might be affected.

Maybe that's the core of the disagreement then.  You seem to hold out more hope than I do for the fate of this nation.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Darrell Post's picture

"telling the Lord"

"one must vote before God"

"I will stand before God"

I am not sure what any of these statements has to do with voting. Voting is not endorsing. When the Apostle Paul elected to appeal to his Roman Citizenship in light of the circumstances he was in, he did not have to endorse Caesar to do so. He didn't withhold usage of the citizenship Caesar provided him until a better or ideal Caesar was in office. 

By God's providence and sovereign plan, we faced a situation in 2016 where either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be president. It is not the path any of us would have chosen, but that's what we had. I for one had my concerns that Trump might well go full-liberal if elected. But when he promised to appoint conservative judges prior to the election, there was enough distinction between the two bad options that there was something I could vote for--I could vote for a chance at getting good judges. I would have wanted to be able to vote for much more, but that's about all there was on the ballot that had value to me. 

So the vote had nothing to do with worries about standing before God to give account, or idealistic appeals to conscience, or anything like that. We are not omniscient to know how things are going to turn out. We had a choice of two options and of the two, one of them promised something that would be beneficial, if delivered. Thankfully Trump delivered on that promise. 

But for some reason, many have taken the position that voting is the same as endorsing, and thereby trained their consciences that to vote for less than an ideal betrays their relationship with the Lord and makes them feel guilty. Voting is simply selecting a product. If I go to the grocery store to buy a box of cereal, I might buy Cheerios if I feel I need the oats to reduce cholesterol. If I have other perceived dietary needs, I might choose Raisin Bran. But I don't have to endorse General Mills or Kelloggs to vote for the box I take home. In 2016, I walked into the voting booth, and chose the option of possible conservative judges against the other option of liberal/socialist judges. I didn't have to endorse Mr. Trump to do so, and it has nothing to do with conscience and the account I will one day give to the Lord. 

pvawter's picture

Larry wrote:

This is my point. I don't want to be too blunt, so forgive the directness and don't read too much into it, but this view says, "I am the only one that matters." There seems no concern for the society around and the future for our children and grandchildren. Again, don't take that too personally because it is not intended, but this statement is exactly what I am addressing. When we enter that voting booth, it is not just us. We have a civic duty to those around us to preserve something for the future, to take another run at it. 

My concern for my children and future grandchildren drove me to reject Trump. He was/is a populist, not a principled conservative. When I expressed my concerns over his lack of a genuinely conservative platform, I was told "At least he fights." That's not a long-term strategy for success. Even if he manages to win a second term and all his judicial appointments live up to conservative expectations, he's not convincing young minds to embrace conservativism and pursue long-term goals. You may look down on it, but my vote was very much made with my civic duty in mind. 

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