Everything is political now, isn’t it? Nothing is benign. The choices we make every day aren’t just choices; they’re political statements. Things that used to be matters of convenience or preference have political overtones. Use a straw at Starbucks; drive a Prius; drive a pickup truck; eat at Chick-fil-A; watch the NBA; believe the virus is a serious threat – all are political positions in today’s world. Wear a mask (you sniveling, media-believing, socialist lemming) or don’t wear a mask (you selfish, science-denying, conspiracy-theorist Neanderthal); it’s all political. And if you’re like me, you’re very, very tired of it. So as I write this my purpose isn’t to add my two cents to one side or the other of the debate. I don’t intend to make anyone angry.
But – and you knew there was a ‘but’ after that introduction – I do want to address something that bothers me about this political era we’re in and how it relates to my faith. Specifically, it’s the notion that Christians are hypocrites if they support Trump. Now let me state up front that I don’t believe God is a Republican and I don’t think all Christians have to vote a certain way. And I’m not here to advocate one way or the other on Trump. I’m just bothered by this specific charge – that anyone who claims to be a believer and yet votes for Trump shows that his or her faith isn’t genuine.
The case against Trump is fairly obvious. He’s not someone you’d point to as a man of character. He’s been serially unfaithful to his wives, he has a loose relationship with the truth, and he has the emotional maturity of a fourteen-year-old. He’s not a man I’d want my sons to emulate, nor is he someone who inspires good in others. His leadership style has coarsened the country and he hasn’t exactly embraced the gravity of the office he holds.
That said, his administration has accomplished things that from a believer’s perspective are important. And they belie the personality of the man. His administration has been staunchly pro-life. It’s done more for religious freedom than probably any president since Reagan. And it has specifically gone to bat numerous times for religious freedom in matters of conscience.
The arguments for Trump, however, aren’t as compelling as I think the arguments are against the illogical nature of the alternative. Because the same people who say that believers are inconsistent or hypocritical for supporting Trump have no problem with those same believers supporting the other side. They’d say it’s more consistent to support a party that believes in abortion under any and all circumstances up to and including infanticide; that believes there’s no such thing as biological gender; that believes marriage is okay between any two human beings; and that believes religious freedom in matters of conscience isn’t valid when it contradicts public policy. Apparently supporting those things is somehow NOT inconsistent with the believer’s faith.
That seems a little tough to defend. On the one hand believers are hypocrites for supporting a narcissistic blowhard, but on the other they’re perfectly consistent supporting a party with a platform that in some cases directly opposes their faith. That makes no sense to me.
Now you could take the position that it’s inconsistent for the believer to support either candidate in this election. That’s what John Piper recently wrote in a blog post. He said he’s not voting for either guy. Personally, I’m not a fan of that approach (and I’m not exactly sure what Piper’s motivation was for publicly expressing it). I don’t know what’s gained by just exiting the process – it seems like a cop-out. If we as believers only vote when someone of character runs for office, I think we’ll find ourselves sitting out more and more elections as time goes on. And how high of a level does a candidate’s character have to reach before the believer deems him/her worthy of a vote? To me, Piper’s position is ultimately untenable. [I say this respectfully, obviously acknowledging the incredible impact of his ministry.]
But I’m not here to convince you to vote a certain way or even to vote at all. My only point is that it’s unfair to ding evangelicals for supporting Trump without also discussing the inconsistencies of supporting the other side. Believers aren’t hypocrites for supporting a man of questionable character whose administration is largely supportive of their beliefs. And they aren’t somehow truer to their faith by supporting a party that in some cases works directly against it. At the end of the day, Christians have to vote as they see fit. And either way, they aren’t hypocritical or inconsistent for doing it.